Is “Gaming Disorder” Really a Disease?

September 13, 2018

On Monday, June 18th, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified video gaming disorder as a disease. Whether being addicted to playing video games is really a disease or not has been a controversial matter. WHO confirms it as a mental health issue, but are they really correct?

The symptoms of gaming disorder include: inability to quit, migraines due to intense concentration or eye strain, poor personal hygiene, lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing, isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming, etc.

WHO’s official definition of gaming disorder is: “a behavioral pattern of at least 12 months, the pattern must include ‘increased priority given to gaming,’ and behavior that affects one’s relationships, education, or occupation.”

Psychologists believe that these symptoms are very similar to that of a substance or gambling addiction. Video game disorder has been given the nickname: “digital heroin.”

Some health insurances now cover gaming disorder. Convenient, right?

Psychologists hope that “people who suffer from these conditions can get the appropriate help.”

Not all psychologists think that video game disorder is worthy to be included in the International Classification of Diseases, known as the ICD. There are many gamers throughout the world who would not be considered as having a gaming disorder, despite their intense gaming.

Classifying video game addiction as a disease might be a little too far. Some people use gaming as a coping mechanism for depression or anxiety. “Gaming disorder” may be a little too far-fetched, according to some.

Some of these symptoms are similar to that of other mental health disorders, but it is still hard to believe that gaming can be classified as a disease now. Whether or not this helps or hurt the mental illness stigma remains to be seen. But if playing video games can be classified as a disease, what else can?