Gaming Addiction Considered a Mental Health Disorder?

Gaming has been a hobby for most people during the past years. It provides improved hand-eye coordination, teaches teamwork, better problem-solving skills, and the list goes on.


But too much of anything is definitely bad for you.


Dahil sa Kakacomputer mo yan eh!” [It’s because of your Computer Addiction!], as popularized by a viral meme.


We might have heard this from our parents countless of times. But now, they might have been right to nag us about it.


The World Health Organization (WHO) included “Gaming Disorder” as a new mental health issue.


Gaming as a Disorder?!

Gaming as a Disorder?!

Image Credit: WSB Radio


You heard it right! With the BETA DRAFT of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), “Gaming disorder” is classified as a disease under Disorders Due to Addictive Behaviors alongside Gambling disorder.


ICD-11 states:


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:


– Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

– Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and

– 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.


Should Everyone Stop Playing Games?


This does not mean that playing video games is entirely bad. It is the chronic addiction that’s being in question here. Doctors classify it as addictive behaviors.


Also, it included “at least 12 months” in its definition. A sudden binge gaming period does not automatically conclude a disorder.


It is your degree of reliance on the game that is assessed. This tells you that if your life is controlled by that game, how different is it from drug addiction?


It is not yet final though as the complete version of the ICD-11 will be released in June 2018. But assuming this holds, how does a simple game become harmful to a person’s health?


Physical Health


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In regard to physical health, gaming addiction can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. This can lead to obesity alongside the health complications of this state such as high cholesterol and diabetes.


Moreover, some gamers are so engrossed with their “virtual adventure” that they forget the perception of time. Sleep deprivation can be a complication as this is present.


People have reportedly died from extreme gaming addiction. Some cases might be pure coincidence, but others are undoubtedly caused by their continuous gameplay. So watch out.


Relationship Problems


Detachment from reality might be good for some time. This may allow the person to cope up with the banality of everyday life. In games, you can earn achievements. You can socialize with people. You can definitely be a hero.


But gaming addiction might lead to your real life connections to crumble. For children, it might be at the expense of normal social development. This addiction might make his/her emotional intelligence lower in the long run.


For adults, this may cost their relationships. Marriages have ended because of this addiction. They are too focused on playing games that they have no more time to take care of their family.


How to Spot if You’re Addicted

How to Spot if You're Addicted

Image Credit: Shutterstock


In an article in Forbes, Dr. Bruce Y. Lee suggested checking the CAGE questionnaires for alcohol use. Just replace “alcohol” with gaming. Measure your addiction with these questions:

  • Do you feel like you need to cut (C) down?

  • Are you annoyed (A) by people criticizing your gaming?

  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty (G) about your gaming?

  • Are video games usually the first thing you think about in the morning when you wake up — your eye (E) opener?


This is not a 100% diagnostic tool, but it can provide an estimation for your peace of mind.




Even a good thing can turn into something bad when abused. Know your limits and let’s have a healthy life ahead of us. Cheers!

Leandro Eclipse

Leandro Eclipse is an entrepreneur who loves to travel. He believes in building multiple Location-Independent Sources of Income. Because if you are going to work anyway, might as well do it while exploring the world. Self-proclaimed foodie and tech geek. Follow him on IG @mikoeclipse.


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