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Video game addiction could be made an official disease

Video game addiction could be made an official disease after it was officially recognised and classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The disorder has been suggested by some medics as a distinct behavioural addiction characterised by excessive or compulsive use of computer games or video games that affects an individual’s daily life.

Last June, WHO included gaming disorder within the 11th revision of its international classification of diseases and next week it will vote on whether to make it an official disease.

Games developers have said they are listening to and acting on rising concerns about the disorder.

Microsoft said it is giving more power to parents to control how much time their children can spend gaming.

Microsoft’s head of gaming Dave McCarthy told Sky News: “We put a lot of controls in place that parents can leverage to manage things like screen time and game usage.

“And we also think as an industry there is more we can and should do around research and collaboration.”

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Other concerns among parents of children who play video games also include safety and violence, aggression and misbehaviour.

Dave McCarthy
Image: Microsoft’s Dave McCarthy said the company is giving more power to parents

WHO has said that only a small number of people are actually affected by gaming disorder.

However the consequences can be catastrophic for those suffering from gaming addiction.

Former gaming addict James Good became addicted to video games during his teenage years and his obsession led to depression and extreme mood swings, affecting every part of his life.

He told Sky News: “Most of the time I would tell my friends I couldn’t go out because I had work to do – but I would just stay at home and play video games until three in the morning.

“Then I would do my coursework, hand it in at 9am and then go back to bed”.

Since kicking his addiction nine months ago, Mr Good has developed new interests and joined a community called Game Quitters, where he helps other addicts and advises worried parents.

James Good became obsessed with gaming
Image: James Good became obsessed with gaming

It has been unclear how much gaming disorder is caused by the gaming activity itself, or whether it could be an effect of other disorders.

In 2008 researchers at the University of Rochester investigated what motivates gamers to continue playing video games, with lead investigator Richard Ryan claiming individuals play for more reasons than fun alone.

He said that many video games satisfy basic psychological needs, and players continue playing because of rewards, freedom and connection to other players.

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