PARIS: Video gaming can be addictive in the same way as cocaine or gambling, the World Health Organization said Monday in a much anticipated update of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
“After consulting with experts across the world, and reviewing evidence in an exhaustive manner, we decided that this condition should be added,” Shekhar Saxena, director of the WHO’s department of mental health and substance abuse, told AFP.
Online and offline “gaming disorder” is grouped with “disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviours” in the ICD’s 11th edition, the first major revision in nearly three decades.
The wording of the new entries has been known since January, when the WHO announced problem gaming would be recognised as a pathological condition.
Key symptoms include “impaired control” — notably the inability to stop playing — and focusing on the game to the exclusion of everything else.
“The person does so much gaming that other interests and activities are ignored, including sleeping and eating,” Saxena said by phone.
In extreme cases, gamers unable to pry themselves away from a screen drop out of school, lose jobs, and become cut off from family and non-gaming friends. The overwhelming majority of video game adepts are young, many in their teens.
Symptomatic behaviour must continue for at least a year before it is considered dangerously unhealthy, according to the new classification.
Some 2.5 billion people — one-in-three worldwide — play some form of free-to-play screen game, especially on cell phones, but the disorder only affects a “small minority”, said Saxena.
“We are not saying that all gaming is pathological.”—AFP