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Can You Be Addicted to Video Games? The WHO Certainly Thinks So

December 20, 2017

If you think you have a gaming problem, you might be right. New Scientist reports ($) that the World Health Organization will include gaming disorders in its updated International Classification of Diseases in 2018. But there’s some debate about whether or not it’s a good idea.

The definition: The WHO will diagnose someone as having a gaming disorder if playing video games “takes precedence over other life interests,” continues even if it causes negative impacts on other aspects of life, and persists, usually for a year or more.

The case against: Allen Frances at Duke University in North Carolina warns New Scientist that it could lead to a flood of people being diagnosed with conditions when they’re actually just passionate. “Perhaps hundreds of millions of recreational gamers without severe impairment will likely be … overtreated,” he says.

But: The WHO has rejected other technological disorders, such as smartphone and Internet addiction, saying that there is a “a lack of evidence” to suggest they’re real.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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