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Friday, June 21, 2019

Gaming Disorder Official in ICD-11. Good!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Videogame addiction ain't fiction.

In early January 2018, I wrote about how the World Health Organization would add a “gaming disorder” to the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases, 11th edition). If you're not familiar with what the ICD manual is all about, that article does a better job than other contemporary gaming outlets did at describing it, so check it out.

Now that it's mid-2019, I can report that they've done it. Gaming disorder is officially a thing, a child of “disorders due to addictive behaviours.” Here's the description of gaming disorder:
“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:
  1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
  2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
  3. 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.”
Makes sense to me. But it's also very familiar. Compare it to the description of gambling disorder:
“Gambling disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gambling behaviour, which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:
  1. impaired control over gambling (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
  2. increasing priority given to gambling to the extent that gambling takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
  3. continuation or escalation of gambling 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 gambling behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gambling 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.”

Yes, gaming disorder is basically a clone of gambling disorder, which already has existed in the ICD. They're sibling disorders, and from the looks of it, identical twins.

If you accept gambling disorder as legitimate, why would you not also accept gaming disorder as legitimate? Lawmakers are certainly seeing an equivalency. Yet the Entertainment Software Association (the ESA—the videogame industry's lobbyist group with all of the major software companies)'s big objection to adding gaming disorder to the manual is that because gaming systems have parental controls, gaming disorder shouldn't be a classification. Yet casinos, land-based and online alike, have self-exclusion programmes and many online gambling sites have account settings such as deposit limits, among other responsible gambling initiatives.

Pokémon HeartGold SoulSilver play Voltorb Flip level 2 game corner
Voltorb Flip was invented as a gaming alternative to a gambling experience,
so Pokémon wouldn't be banned in Iran.
(Good thing President Donald John Trump didn't just bomb them, by the way.)
But gaming and gambling can now both be classified as addictive, so...

The industry's efforts don't change the basic existence of a disorder. Trying to prevent, mitigate, and treat a disorder is not the same thing as the disorder never existing to begin with. That's stupid logic. The ESA is promoting that argument because their main concern is that they don't want gamers (and the videogame companies the ESA represents) to be stigmatised in the culture in the same way that gamblers are.

Gamers are already stigmatised that way, however, whether there's a formal medical classification or not. The top results for “gamer” in stock image portfolios still have a dude in front of a giant monitor in an otherwise dimly-lit room. But hey, it happens to all kinds of people. I'm a dude in front of two monitors in a dimly-lit room, but I'm existing at this particular hour as a writer, not a gamer. (Just to plug my gamer credentials, today I played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to train for next week's official online tournament you can join for free, Splatoon 2, and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. All while it was daylight.)

That's why the ESA works so hard to promote gamers as well-rounded individuals with a diverse set of interests, to combat that stigma. But there is a small percentage of gamers, just like gamblers, who that well-rounded description doesn't apply to. And they're addicted. And they need help. And the classification is the medically-needed first step to get it.

The majority of gamblers aren't problem gamblers. The majority of gamers aren't problem gamers. Whatever “stigma” already exists obviously hasn't stopped the videogame industry from becoming the most popular form of entertainment media... only behind the collective gambling industry. It's a non-argument, and I don't accept it.

Let people get the help they need. 


Ludwig views gambling and gaming as cousin industries and sees their respective disorders being twins as a bit lazy on the ICD writers’ end. Feel free to completely misread both the disorder description and this article by writing foolish comments about how all gamers now have a disorder or something.


Ludwig doesn't support this ICD-11 classification as a means for which trial lawyers start suing game companies for getting people addicted.

10 comments :

  1. It took the phrase, "continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences" for me to be okay with this, but I'm okay with this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's kind of the critical component. It's not a disorder if there's no negative consequence or impairment to it. That's just order.

      #1, #2, and #3 are connected by an "and" statement, meaning that all of them need to be true.

      Delete
    2. Exactly. Even with it there, I'm still slightly concerned about people or organizations attempting to "conveniently forget" that part in order to advocate unreasonable curtailing of video games and playing them. But since it is there, the law *should* be against people trying to do such things.

      If anything, I want them to make that part as obvious and emphasized as they can. I don't want this being an excuse for another Jack Thompson to come out of the woodwork. It feels like we barely said good-riddance to the last one.

      Delete
    3. Since you mentioned it...

      Reminder that the ICD and the WHO and even the DSM are not law-making bodies or publications. There's no influence on law here.

      Delete
    4. Well, that does make me feel a good bit better still, so thank you. Though I did mean "the law" in the sense of like, the courts and stuff, and psychological malpractice such as I'm describing I have to think would at least potentially come to the attention of that world, so to speak.

      Delete
    5. Courts follow the law as in what the legislatures write!
      Hard for a court to consider psychological malpractice when it's up to a psychologist's discretion to judge what's negative/impaired/functioning.

      Now, you may say, hey, it's up to their discretion so they can over-diagnose this, but unless someone is forcing you (like your family or a court for another reason), you can... always see another psychologist.

      Delete
  2. I feel like I have the exact opposite of a gaming disorder. Even though I have a backlog of games to play, I spend more time reading about the newest releases than actually playing them. I guess I could be considered a gaming procrastinator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...Well, there's nothing in the manual about procrastination.

      Delete
  3. I actually had gaming interfere with my marriage and even my parenting. I got multiplayer co-op games like Super Mario 3D World so we can play together but the skill difference ended up with me frustrated at my husband that I decided to just play the games alone while my husband engages in activities he likes instead so we all can be happy.

    For how gaming interfered with my parenting I hate to list them all but one that comes to mind is how when my daughter was sleeping already in her crib my husband alerted me about something, I was in the middle of a Turf War in Splatoon 2 and did not want to betray my team mates and thought it was not that bad. I ended the match and saw my daughter and prefer not to say much but at that point I decided to drop everything for her and never sacrifice for my teammates if my daughter needs my assistance again that my husband can't handle. I may end up being yelled about in r/saltoon but my daughter should always come first.

    I am happy to recognize this before I really had a true disorder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...Well, I don't think it's in the spirit of the disorder that it's necessarily an... addiction issue if you can't pause the game for five minutes and need to complete a task.

      Delete

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