By ABCS RCM
Video games are now part of modern culture. From the United States to South Korea, video gaming is a serious hobby. But can a hobby be taken too far? Is video game playing an addictive activity? Is excessive video game playing a diagnosable mental health disorder?
Video game playing is now considered a mainstream activity with millions of people playing games like Fortnite, Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. Research states that in 2014, there were 1.8 billion people who were considered active gamers. By 2018, this number had increased to 2.3 billion. Trend lines predict that by 2021, the number of active gamers will rise to 2.7 billion people.
Gaming as a Mental Health Disorder:
With the increasing popularity and sophistication of video games, behavioral health providers are concerned that symptoms of addiction will become more prevalent among gamers. The expansion of access to high-speed internet will allow more people to play online video games. A trend that could make this new mental health disorder more common.
Children diagnosed with mental health disorders are a growing population in the United States. Video game addiction, along with the use of social media, is increasingly creating concern among parents, healthcare professionals and educators. People are especially concerned about the impact of video games on the adolescent brain. However, video game addiction can also appear in adults.
As of 2016, 1 in 10 gamers were actually considered addicted to video games. Similar to other addictions, like gambling, internet gaming can create addiction-like behaviors that hook people through the psychological rewards that are scattered throughout the games. People with this addiction are at a greater risk of experiencing depression, impaired work/school performance and damage to relationships.
Not everyone who plays video games, particularly the online version, will develop an addiction. As a behavioral health condition, addictions are a complex health condition. Many environmental and genetic factors influence the development of addictions. Most people do not display any addictive behaviors, while a minority of players experience negative impacts on their everyday life activities due to excessive game play.
In the United States, there has been some debate as to whether video gaming is actually a mental health disorder. The World Health Organization (WHO) first added the term "gaming disorder" to its medical reference book known as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) in 2018.
The American Psychiatry Association’s manual, the DSM-5 which is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders; did not list video gaming as a disorder. Instead, the American Psychiatry Association (APA) stated that additional research was needed on the subject. Addiction to gaming is described in the DSM-5, but the manual stated that there was not sufficient evidence to determine whether the condition is a unique mental disorder. However, it did recognize "internet gaming disorder" as a condition that warrants additional research.
In the most recent version of ICD-11 has formally adopted the term Gaming disorder. The revision to the ICD-11 takes effect on January 1, 2022. The language of the new disorder is very close to the language for gambling disorder. Both of these disorders are organized under the category of Disorders due to addictive behaviours.
The ICD-11 describes Gaming disorder is characterized by:
“A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online ( i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:
1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”
Signs of a Potential Gaming Disorder:
The following are a few of the signs to watch for in individuals who routinely play video games. Even though the DSM-5 does not officially list “gaming” as a disorder, it does include a section that lists the warning signs of problem video gaming. Individuals need to display at least 5 or more of the 9 signs over a year to meet the criteria of a potential gaming disorder.
Here are the 9 signs of a gaming disorder:
Keep in mind, the act of excessive video game playing may be an avoidance or coping behavior. In fact, another mental health condition may exist as the primary driver of the behavior, like depression.
About Providers For Healthy Living:
For additional questions about video game playing and gaming disorder, contact the staff at Providers for Healthy Living. Their mental health services provide a full range of treatment options for both children and adults. In addition, they have four convenient office locations in the Columbus metropolitan area.
Please DO NOT use this email address for medication refill requests or for emergency situations.
Click here for refill requests instead of using email:
Medication Refill Request Form
If you have a medical emergency, email is never the appropriate way to communicate your needs, and you should instead call 911 or go to the nearest ER. If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone immediately, you can contact Suicide Prevention Hotline at the number (and link) below.
Communications via email are not secure. Although it is unlikely, there is a possibility that the information you include in an email can be intercepted and read by other parties besides the person to whom it is addressed.