The World Health Organization has confirmed that they will move forward and officially recognize ‘Gaming Disorder‘ in the upcoming ICD-11. This is a huge victory for people who struggle with a video game addiction, and improves their ability to receive affordable and quality care.
What is a video game addiction?
Gaming Disorder is defined “as 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.
For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”
The benefits of this decision:
- Improved accessibility to professional services, including the potential for services to be covered by insurance.
- Improved quality control. Currently there is no standard protocol for therapists and mental health professionals to follow for prevention and treatment of gaming addiction. Quality care begins with an official diagnosis and means of assessment.
- Reduced stigma and moral panic. Research shows stigma–the first of being judged, dismissed, or misunderstood–to be the biggest barrier to gaming addicts seeking help.
By officially recognizing gaming disorder, not only does that validate the experiences gaming addicts are having, encouraging them to seek professional support, but they can also be reassured that their concerns will not be dismissed when they do, as professionals will be properly trained on how to assess and treat this issue.
Not only that, but this decision is also good for healthy gamers. For too long it’s been possible to suggest that someone has a video game addiction based on your own subjective reasoning. No longer. We now have an official diagnostic criteria rooted in science and those concerned about someone’s gaming can trust a professional assessment.
Finally, this decision encourages researchers and mental health professionals to divert resources stuck in the debate about whether video game addiction is “real” or not, and instead invest them in finding effective treatment protocols, prevention models, comorbidity factors, and more. To recognize “gaming disorder” is not to take any legitimacy away from other mental health conditions or illnesses; it only furthers the important message that if you are someone who is struggling, we want you to seek help, and we want you to have the best evidence-based support available.
Personally, this decision has been a long-time coming.
I began sharing my story about gaming addiction 7 years ago, and for the most part, I was speaking into a void. It was a lonely road at times, but one where I constantly heard from thousands of fellow gaming addicts around the world that my work mattered and was helpful to them.
Today I’m so proud to share this major victory with you all. It’s an important milestone and one I know will help so many people around the world. This decision doesn’t change my work at all. I will continue to wake up every day and fight for the rights of gaming addicts worldwide. I will continue to use my voice and platform to share their stories, and use my gifts to improve the quality of care.
Thank you to those who have believed in me and supported our efforts over the last 7 years.
– Cam Adair
Founder of Game Quitters
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