Excessive video gaming to be named mental health disorder

SAN ANTONIO – As the old saying goes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. That apparently holds true for video games, according to the World Health Organization.

Starting in 2018, playing video games excessively may be recognized as a "gaming disorder," a mental illness characterized by a lack of control over one's gaming habits.

In the latest draft of its International Classification of Diseases, the WHO stated the behavior can "result in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning."

But, as the WHO noted, symptoms of this disorder should be evident over the course of year for the diagnosis to be made -- though exceptions are possible:

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

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