By Alyssa Lozano
PHOENIX – The World Health Organization just classified excessive gaming as a mental health disorder.
In its latest updated International Classification of Diseases (ICD), “gaming disorder” has now become an official medical diagnosis according to WHO and was officially approved at the 72nd World Health Assembly.
It looks like all those hours of playing Fortnite may have a lasting consequence for game players who prioritize the hobby over their daily life.
In order to be diagnosed with the addiction, a person must show 12 months of “severe” symptoms. That’s typically seen when a person invests all of their time into gaming while their personal and professional life fall by the wayside.
The WHO defines the disorder as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior, manifested by impaired control over gaming,” meaning an individual prioritizing video games over “other life interests and daily activities” while ignoring “the occurrence of negative consequences,” due to gaming.
The idea of video games becoming a mental health hazard was first introduced last June by WHO as a way to help individuals and health workers deal with it effectively.
The proposal was met with criticism from the gaming community and industry executives stating that the WHO’s “guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts,” arguing that the decision was not “based on sufficiently robust evidence.”
According to the Entertainment Software Association, more than 150 million Americans play video games — an industry that produced nearly $44 billion in sales last year preceding movie theaters and streaming services.
With no slow down in foreseeable future for gamers, the industry calls for a rethink in the WHO’s decision to label excess gaming as a disorder.
The actual revision won’t go into effect until January 2022.