The World Health Organisation (WHO) might introduce a “new” mental illness in the next ICD (International Classification of Diseases) update: “gaming disorder”. Of course, they’re not talking about gaming as a hobby but as an addiction.
Gaming can become a hardcore hobby for PC or mobile devices users but in some cases, it develops into an addiction. Those compulsive gamers are the ones WHO is considering for their next ICD update.
In the draft they’re working on right now, gaming is seen as a mental disorder when the patients lose control over this habit, they start prioritising it over other activities and can’t stop doing it even though it’s negatively affecting their lives.
When those effects become symptoms similar to the ones from disorders related to the use of alcohol, drugs, then this hobby could become an issue.
It has to be severe enough to cause “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” It doesn’t matter the platform, just the behavior and how much is it affecting those lives.
Needless to say, there are positive aspects to gaming. It has been shown to improve eye-hand coordination and relieve stress. The American Psychiatric Association hasn’t classified gaming addiction as a disorder yet and that’s partly because it’s difficult to diagnose. This could change in the following years though, if WHO makes the first step in that direction.