What is a game disorder?

According to Business Insider, “gaming disorder” may receive official status as a mental health condition by The World Health Organisation (WHO). While some question the status of obsessive gaming as a disorder, others worry that this type of addictive behaviour is detrimental to mental health in Singapore, particularly for young adults. Find out which three characteristics could take gaming from the recreational zone into the realm of a disorder.

Pastime or Passion?

For some gamers, playing games online or on a console is simply a form of entertainment or an occasional pastime. For others, it’s a passion that crosses over the line into addiction. In some cases, work performance may suffer, school grades may drop, and personal relationships may become secondary to the pursuit of gaming.

The Three Characteristics

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will soon be updating the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), and “gaming disorder” is on the list of possible additions. In a recent draft of the document, the WHO specifies that gaming could qualify as a disorder if three things are true.

  • The person has lost control over his or her gaming habits.
  • The person is prioritising gaming over other activities, interests, or responsibilities.
  • The person continues to game in spite of negative consequences (specifically damage to work, school, health, and relationships).

There is a precedent for classifying certain behaviors as mental disorders if they become addictive or obsessive. For example, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and marijuana are all substances that can lead to obsessive use and a loss of control.

The Definition of Gaming

For the purpose of the WHO’s list update, gaming refers to any type of digital game, regardless of the device. Obsessive or addictive gaming disorder could refer to playing a simple game on one’s phone for hours on end or sitting on a couch in front of a console for hours. It also applies to games played on a PC, handheld device, or tablet.

Positive Aspects of Gaming

Of course, not all gaming is bad. Only the excessive gaming that interferes significantly with life is considered harmful. According to the WHO, the behaviour might be classified as a disorder only if it results “in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” When it’s a controlled form of recreation, gaming can actually be beneficial, teaching players important teamwork skills and helping them think critically about strategies and tactics.

Reasserting Control Over Gaming Habits

Do you know someone who games so much that he or she has lost a job, suffered deteriorating health, or harmed personal relationships? If so, that person may have crossed the line from overuse into addiction. Encourage your friend or family member to seek help from a psychiatrist in Singapore. Often, the source of such obsessive gaming may be other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression in Singapore. At Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic – Psychiatrists and Psychologists for Mental Health in Singapore, we can address those underlying problems and help patients regain control of their lives and habits.

Article by Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic Blog Team