Since my last post was about gaming, it compels me to write about gaming being an addiction in this post.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in its latest draft revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) has defined “Gaming Disoder” and included it in the same category as substance abuse.
What is ICD?
WHO uses this classification to categorise diseases and health conditions. It helps practitioners in reporting conditions better and researchers in analysis of global statistics and in further categorisation. WHO periodically revises its classification and the latest revision is ICD 11 which it will publish soon.
What is Gaming Disorder?
The WHO defines gaming disorder as it defines addiction due to any substance abuse. In WHO’s words, gaming disorder is
“a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”
Every word here is important. A casual gamer is not a gaming addict. As with other addictions, gaming becomes a disorder when it starts taking precedence over every other activity in your life,routine activities included. And, even after the gamer has realised that the activity is having detrimental effects on his/her health, he/she is not able to control gaming addiction. This is the same as other common addictions like alcohol and nicotine.
Should gaming have been classified as a disorder?
Although classification as a disorder has garnered a lot of flak from the general public, I, being a doctor support this move. Too much of anything is really bad, gaming included. As in addiction to alcohol or drugs, the centres and neural pathways in the brain that get activated in pathological gaming addiction are more or less the same. This has been demonstrated by functional MRI.
Studies have demonstrated that pathological gamers have craving for the game and even exhibit withdrawal symptoms when forced away from games. This is probably true for addiction to any substance or activity.
The significance of inclusion of “Gaming disorder” in the ICD11 lies in recognising true pathological gamers and treating them. There have been reports of gamers dying at their desks, gamers being found in a pool of their own excreta….
If this is not addiction, what is?
Reports of gamer deaths: