Something that gamers already know is about to become official during 2018. Video games are addictive. The World Health Organization (WHO) is about to add excessive video gaming to its list of addictions along with gambling addiction.
The proposal is that the WHO will add “gaming disorder” to the International Classification of Diseases for 2018. This gaming disorder will be added to the group of diseases that the WHO says are caused by substance abuse or addictive behavior. The WHO notes that such disorders develop not only from things that are ingested but also can come from repetitive behaviors that are rewarded.
PCGamer says that the gaming industry is in an uproar about this classification of video gaming as a mental illness and is planning to fight the classification proposed by the WHO. There is no question that video game designers specifically try to make a game addictive because this increases the fun of the players. However, one psychologist Dr. Chris Ferguson says the move by the WHO to make a new disease out of this is not appropriate.
Dr. Ferguson equates the rush of playing a video game and the pleasure derived from it as being similar to the experiences of eating chocolate or having sex. It activates the pleasure center of the brain. It feels good but is not the same as taking heroin or cocaine. Others disagree and can cite many examples of gamers who go without sleeping, eating, showering, brushing teeth, or changing clothes while playing an exciting game for days on end.
There are even examples of video gamers that died while playing video games in tournaments or in marathons. One example from 2017 reported by the Washington Post, is the gamer that died during a 24-hour marathon conducted live on the Twitch online system while raising money for charity. He stopped playing during the 22nd hour and the police who went to check on him found him dead in his apartment. There was no unusual cause for his death; he simply died of exhaustion.
The WHO further defines a disorder that results from an addiction as being recognizable and manifesting clinically observable syndromes that cause distress and interfere with normal personal functions and relationships. With gaming, the addiction can be occurring from the activities that are both offline and online.
Gaming addiction occurs when people who have this disorder cannot stop after a reasonable amount of playing time. They always need to continue to get to the next level in the game, get the next reward, or hop into the next match. They even have difficulty putting a game on pause. They may become very irritable from playing the game or if they are interrupted during gameplay. In the worst cases, they may be unable to do anything else except play video games.
If the WHO has its way and you have this gaming addiction, you may be able to seek professional help for this problem after it is classified as an official disease.