A Closer Look at “Gaming Disorder” Part 1: What is “Gaming Disorder?”

A Closer Look at “Gaming Disorder” Part 1: What is “Gaming Disorder?”

In 2018, World Health Organization officially included “Internet Gaming Disorder” in the 11th Revision of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The decision was a controversial one. Some believe that it is a step in the right direction; others regard it as another attempt to demonize gaming as a whole.

This blog series will explore:

  • What “Gaming Disorder” is
  • My personal opinion as a gamer on the decision
  • Controversies surrounding the classification
  • The historical context
  • What all of this mean for everyone

I will also offer my thoughts on the subject matter, and would love to hear yours in the comments section.

Part 1: What is “Gaming Disorder?”

“Gaming Disorder,” outlined in the 11th Revision of International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), is a pattern of gaming that results in the following three main “symptoms.”

  • “Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)”

This is what some gamers would describe as “I can’t stop/I lose myself.” A common example I like to use is when we tell ourselves “I’m only going to play an hour or two, shouldn’t take too long.” Before we realize how much we actually gamed, the clock reads four in the morning. Three hours of sleep is all we can get before it is time for us to rise and shine.

  • “Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that it takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities”

When gaming becomes the only thing in life that we can look forward to, it becomes dangerous. Some of Dr. K’s lectures (link) cover this. It is important to have other interests as good reasons to put the controller down. A lack of competing interests can lead to gaming gradually eating up more and more of a gamer’s time and energy. Eventually, everything but gaming takes a backseat.

  • “Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”

These negative consequences can range from missing a homework deadline, to severe harm towards our health. We all struggle with procrastination every now and then. However, this “symptom” really becomes a problem when gaming takes precedence over basic life necessities (sleep, hygiene, nutrition, etc). Horror stories of gamers burning themselves out to go on insane marathon sessions are some of the more extreme examples.

More on Internet Gaming Disorder

WHO’s guidelines for “Gaming Disorder” emphasizes that the “symptoms” must be severe enough to lead to “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” These harmful patterns of gaming must also be evident for over at least 12 months for a proper diagnosis. That said, exceptions can be made for particularly severe cases.

The full descriptions of “Gaming Disorder” can be found in the ICD-11 and on the Official WHO Website itself.

For the next part of this blog series, I will offer my personal opinion on the decision as a gamer myself. What do you think? Are the descriptions for “Gaming Disorder” provided valid and reliable? What is your reaction to the announcement? Let me know in the comments section and let us get this discussion started.

Until next time, this is HabitGamer, signing out.

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