Proposed Criteria for Video Game Addiction

The American Psychiatric Association has proposed criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition under the “Conditions for Further Study” section, which may eventually become a part of the revisions to the manual at a later date. Here they are, for posterity:

Internet Gaming Disorder

Proposed Criteria

Persistent and recurrent use of the Internet to engage in games, often with other players, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as indicated by five (or more) of the following in a 12-month period:

  1. Preoccupation with Internet games. (The individual thinks about previous gaming activity or anticipates playing the next game; Internet gaming becomes the dominant activity in daily life.) Note: This disorder is distinct from Internet gambling, which is included under gambling disorder.
  2. Withdrawal symptoms when Internet gaming is taken away. (These symptoms are typically described as irritability, anxiety, or sadness, but there are no physical signs of pharmacological withdrawal.)
  3. Tolerance–the need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in Internet games.
  4. Unsuccessful attempts to control the participation in Internet games.
  5. Loss of interests in previous hobbies and entertainment as a result of, and with the exception of, Internet games.
  6. Continued excessive use of Internet games despite knowledge of psychosocial problems.
  7. Has deceived family members, therapists, or others regarding the amount of Internet gaming.
  8. Use of Internet games to escape or relieve a negative mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety).
  9. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of participation in Internet games.

Note: Only nongambling Internet games are included in this disorder. Use of the Internet for required activities in a business or profession is not included; nor is the disorder intended to include other recreational or social Internet use. Similarly, sexual Internet sites are excluded.

Specify current severity:

Internet gaming disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the degree of disruption of normal activities. Individuals with less severe Internet gaming disorder may exhibit fewer symptoms and less disruption of their lives. Those with severe Internet gaming disorder will have more hours spent on the computer and more severe loss of relationships or career or school opportunities.

The manual further goes on to describe the PROPOSED disorder in more detail, listing Subtypes (none currently identified), Diagnostic Features, Associated Features Supporting Diagnosis, Prevalence (“seems highest in Asian countries and in male adolescents 12-20 years of age”), Risk and Prognostic Factors (Environmental; Genetic and physiological), Functional Consequences of Internet Gaming Disorder, Differential Diagnosis (social media use and porn are not considered analogous; excessive gambling online may qualify for a separate diagnosis of gambling disorder), and Comorbidity (Major Depressive Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).

Again, this is PROPOSED and has not been approved as the actual criteria or even if it is a disorder to be included in the DSM-5.x yet.