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Is it right to classify excessive video game play as a health disorder?

Is it right to classify excessive video game play as a health disorder?

February 5, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

"Once we say games are also an activity that pulls for that compulsiveness, the question is why aren’t more people then getting pulled into it?"

- Senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University Dr. Netta Weinstein on the legitimacy of "gaming disorder".

In a piece published by The Guardian today, industry figures gave their opinions about the World Health Organization's decision to include "gaming disorder" in its draft of the next diagnostic manual (the International Classification of Diseases). 

The US-based Entertainment Software Association has already expressed their doubts over the classification, as well as the UK game industry trade body UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment).

“We are very concerned about the inconclusive nature of the research and the evidence that WHO is using to base this potential classification on,” explains UKIE’s chief executive Jo Twist.

It seems that researchers also agree. Senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University Dr. Netta Weinstein is still unconvinced. "In our research,” she notes, “we found very small correlations, if at all, of symptomology with broader life wellbeing. So we actually didn’t find, for example, that symptoms correlated with health directly.” 

But Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University believes the inclusion is necessary. "The bottom line is problematic gaming. Whether you call it ‘gaming disorder’, whether you call it ‘gaming addiction’, there is a small minority of people out there where gaming has completely taken over their lives.”

The classification could have other ramifications as well. “It’s a big deal to have something officially a clinical diagnosis, and one of the reasons it’s a big deal is that it becomes expensive," says Weinstein. She worries that its inclusion might shift resources into methods of treatment instead of whether or not treatment is actually necessary. 

However as Griffiths points out, its inclusion in the ICD would mean sufferers in countries like the United States could get treatment covered by their health insurance.

Be sure to read the entire piece over at The Guardian

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