Video game addiction will be classified as an official mental health condition next year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will recognize “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition in its next revision of the International Classification of Diseases, coming in 2018.
Gaming disorder as described by the WHO is “characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior,” including not feeling like you have control over how much you play, putting gaming over other life priorities, and continuing to play games despite negative consequences.
What it boils down to is basically video game addiction — playing games for unhealthy amounts of time and not feeling like you can stop. And when ICD-11 is published in 2018, it can be a more easily diagnosable condition.
These symptoms generally need to persist for about a year for someone to be diagnosed with gaming disorder, but in extreme cases it can be diagnosed in a shorter amount of time, according to the WHO.
In the past, video game addiction has led to some pretty extreme outcomes, including one death in 2005 when a man played StarCraft for more than two days straight with barely any breaks. More recently in 2010, a couple that was occupied playing a game neglected to feed their 3-month-old baby, who died of malnutrition.
The WHO entry does not include any information about prevention or treatment of gaming disorder, unfortunately.
If you think you may be struggling with gaming disorder, another mental health disorder, or addiction, call the free Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).