North Americans had “Pac-Man Fever” as far back as 1981, but it has taken until now for the World Health Organization to officially recognize that playing video games too often could be a mental health disorder.
The WHO is planning to add the term “gaming disorder” to its official list of diseases in 2018, according to a draft of the organization’s 2018 International Classification of Diseases.
The WHO’s description of Gaming Disorder says that those who are afflicted are characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, either on digital devices like smartphones or video-gaming offline on machines.
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According to the WHO’s description you may have a problem if your symptoms include impaired control over gaming — you just can’t stop playing. Right now you are jonesing for a round of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Assassin’s Creed: Origins or Star Wars: Battlefront II, and you feel that millions are playing at this very second while you’re left out. This could be a red flag.
Or, you give an increased priority to playing video games to the point they take precedence over other life interests and daily activities like eating and sleeping and socializing.
And, the continuation and escalation of gaming continues even after you suffer negative consequences like getting fired for playing on company time or you keep losing relationships because you just aren’t present.