Gaming disorder — an addiction to playing video games — will be recognized as a new mental health disorder, according to a draft of the World Health Organization's 2018 International Classification of Diseases.
To qualify for the disorder, playing video games must cause a person "significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning," according to WHO criteria.
What are the warning signs?
Self-diagnosing a gaming disorder might be as simple as asking a few questions. They are the same questions used to determine if someone has an alcohol addiction, Forbes magazine says.
● Have you ever felt you should cut down on your gaming?
● Have people annoyed you by criticizing your gaming?
● Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your gaming?
● Are video games usually the first thing you think about in the morning when you wake up?
An increasing amount of time spent on video games and mood or behavior changes are additional warning signs.
Counseling and behavior modification are the main treatments for gaming disorder, Tech Times reports. Consulting with a psychologist or mental health professional is also recommended.
Can excessive video gaming become a health hazard?
Like other addictions, video games can be hazardous to a person's health. Some gamers are driven to play for hours and even days on end.
Although it's rare, gamers have died during marathon gaming sessions, according to the Washington Post. Brian Vigneault died at age 35 while participating in an online video game marathon that was raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Virginia Beach, Virginia, man played “World of Tanks” for 22 hours then got up to take a break. He never returned. A moderator for the event messaged Vigneault but was answered by a detective who said Vigneault was found unresponsive in his home.
Other examples of death during gaming marathons reported by the Post include:
- a 24-year-old man collapsed and died after playing “World of Warcraft” for 19 hours in a Shanghai Internet cafe in 2015;
- a Taiwanese teenager died at an Internet cafe, playing “Diablo 3” for 40 hours in 2012; and
- a South Korean man suffered heart failure 50 hours into a “Starcraft” marathon in 2005.
Are there benefits to playing video games?
Video game enthusiasts should note that it's not all bad news. There are certain benefits to playing video games.
For example, playing 3-D video games can boost memory. And a Canadian study found that playing Super Mario or other three-dimensional video games may help in preventing dementia. Also, video games can “improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time.”