The World Health Organization (WHO) moved this week to include gaming disorder as a disease into the International Classification of Diseases. The WHO’s discussion of gaming disorder began in 2017.
While it is good to recognize that gamers have unique psychological and psychiatric needs, simply classifying a disease is not enough. We want to see robust solutions for gamers and their mental health.
“Labeling a condition is not the beginning or the end of mental health needs for gamers,” said Dr. Alok Kanojia. “I went through this in 2001. Games have only gotten more immersive and engaging since then. Some games now never even end.”
Healthy Gamer co-founders Dr. Alok Kanojia and Kruti Kanojia went to talk more about this on The Take with Sue O’Connell.
“The voice of gamers is missing in this discussion. While institutions like the WHO represent academic medicine and the gaming industry represent the video games, no one is representing gamers,” Kruti said.
The sense of community, identity and accomplishment that can come with gaming is generally highly positive. The skill, strategy and team-building that comes with gaming is also highly positive and can directly translate into real-world success.
The WHO defines gaming disorder as “the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities” with behavior escalating over 12 months.
Our stance is that mental health is unique to everyone. Gaming can be good. Gaming addiction is a real thing. The key points are:
- You can recover from gaming disorder while still being a gamer and playing games in a healthy way.
- Requiring 12 months of behavior is arbitrary. The point at which gaming life becomes mutually exclusive with real life can happen much faster and should be addressed then.
- The many positive aspects of gaming should be included in the solution to gaming disorder. Merely adapting other behavioral disorders or addiction paradigms is not enough.
- It takes a network of gamers to lift up a gamer.
We think it takes a gamer to take on video game addiction. If you are a gamer and want to be part of the solution, join us!