I’ll be honest, this piece of news has me racking my brains as to what to say but here goes. On Monday, the WHO (World Health Organisation) declared video game addiction as an official mental disorder.
The newly classified mental disorder was announced during WHO’s 11th edition of it’s International Classification of Diseases. On the decision, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak said that the organisation followed “the trends, the developments, which have taken place in populations and in the professional field.”
With this being said, not everyone agrees with the inclusion. Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director of The Telos Project (a non-profit mental health clinic) believes that people with anxiety and depression use video games as a coping mechanism. So ‘video game addiction’ is merely a side effect of deeper mental health issues and when they ease, so will the continuous hours of gaming.
It’s also interesting to note that Dr. Poznyak says that “Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder”. He then reaffirms the idea that “this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that”.
I understand the feel of escapism that someone gets from video games. But it’s the same escapism or comfort that many feel in other addictions; gambling, drugs, food or even exercise. So yes, video gaming can be taken to an extreme or levels of addiction but is this simply an individual’s defense against more negative aspects of life? Or even a symptom of the larger discussion on mental health? A case can also be made that video games help mental health.
There is an important discussion to be had, no doubt. And perhaps this ‘official diagnosis’ will further the discussion on wider mental health in the gaming community. Personally, I think that everyone can get a little carried away in gaming. Who hasn’t played a game for 24 hours straight? No? Anyone?
As long as you are taking steps to ensure your own physical and mental health, then find comfort in gaming. Just don’t make it everything you do.