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World Health Organization may recognize 'gaming disorder'

Jacob Tierney
| Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, 3:12 p.m.
Controller for Sony PlayStation
Controller for Sony PlayStation

The World Health Organization may soon recognize “gaming disorder,” a newly defined mental disorder for when the lure of virtual worlds harms people's ability to function in the real one.

The organization included the disorder in a draft of the 11th version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, which is used by doctors and health care officials around the world to classify hundreds of maladies, physical and mental.

According to the draft, sufferers of “gaming disorder” have trouble controlling when they play games, how often or for how long, to the point that video games take priority over daily activities.

To qualify as gaming disorder, the compulsion must be severe enough that it causes “significant impairment” of a patient's personal life, relationships with friends and family, work or school.

It is listed under the same category as other addictive behaviors, such as gambling and substance abuse.

The document also lists “hazardous gaming” under a seperate section to describe video game compulsion that causes a risk of physical or mental harm.

Although the International Statistical Classification of Diseases receives regular updates, the pending 11th version is the first full rewrite since 1992.

The draft is not expected to be finalized until 2018 and is subject to change.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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