Are you addicted to video games?

  People hooked on video games such as Fortnite will be able to seek help from the NHS from today, as the World Health Organization (WHO) adds gaming addiction to its list of officially recognised medical conditions   “Gaming disorder” appears in the new draft of the organisation’s International Classification of Diseases, the “highly regarded compendium of medical conditions”, says The New York Times (NYT) The classification is expected to be formally adopted next year The designation may “help legitimise worries about video game fans who neglect other parts of their lives” and make gamers more willing to seek treatment, says the US newspaper  There have been a number of recent high-profile stories about video game addiction, including reports of a nine-year-old who was found sitting on a urine-soaked cushion because she couldn’t tear herself away from the screen  One doctor likened his patients with a Candy Crush Saga obsession to cocaine addicts “Their lives are ruined, their interpersonal relationships suffer, their physical condition suffers,” he told the NYT  WHO will now notify governments around the world that they will be expected to incorporate “gaming disorder” into their health systems, although some critics are skeptical about how many resources the NHS will devote to the problem, says The Daily Telegraph  So how do you know if you have an addiction?What is gaming disorder? According to WHO, players with an addiction feel like they are not in control of their gaming habits, give priority to gaming over other interests and daily activities, and continue to play despite the negative consequences  “For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months,” the WHO website says Should all gamers be concerned? An estimated 2

6 billion people worldwide play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, a US body representing video game publishers However, studies suggest that only a small proportion of players will be affected by gaming disorder  WHO recommends that players should “be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities” They should also watch out for any physical or psychological changes that might be attributed to their gaming behaviour What does the video game industry say? The industry has pushed back against the gaming addiction, says The New York Times A coalition of video game organisations claims that the new classification is  “deeply flawed” and that the “educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games is well-established and recognised”

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