Leadership Awareness – Gaming Disorder: 27th May 2019

Leaders across the gaming industry are calling for a rethink after the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially identified gaming disorder as a mental health related condition. Leaders believe that there is not enough robust data available to make a decision.

Gaming Disorder is set to come into effect with the 11th edition or ICD11 as decided in the 72nd meeting in Geneva.

The WHO have recognised gaming disorder as a persistent and recurrent gaming behaviour that causes significant impairment in family, personal,educational,social, occupational or any other area of human functioning.

The WHO’s definition states that the disorder manifests in three ways, “Impaired Control” over gaming or prioritizing gaming over “Other life interests” Furthermore, continued gaming in despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

Games industry representatives from the United States, Europe,Canada,Australia,New Zealand,South Korea,South Africa and Brazil are requesting that the WHO re examines its decision at the earliest date.

The Variety report states that if the WHO does recognize gaming addiction as a disorder, member states will be given until 2022 to implement. The UK’s National Health Service has already taken steps in that direction, having opened its first publicly-funded internet addiction clinic in June 2018, shortly after the WHO committed to its “gaming disorder” definition.

Leaders and industry bodies have pushed back stating “Loving games is not a mental health problem. Making games your hobby of choice is not a disorder,” the IGDA said in a June 2018 statement. “The WHO’s creation of a “gaming disorder” has the potential to do significant and serious harm to people who use games as a coping mechanism for anxiety, depression, and stress-and may encourage doctors to address the symptoms but not the underlying illnesses.”

Gaming disorder is a new classification, so there is no clear treatment plan in place yet. However, it is likely that treatments for other addictive behaviors, such as gambling addiction, will also be relevant for gaming disorder.

Treatment for compulsive gambling may include therapy, medication, and self-help groups.

Ideas for Treatment:

Some of the following treatments may be used:

The statement said “The WHO is an esteemed organization and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts. ‘Gaming disorder’ is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools,” said the statement, jointly made by organisations such as the Entertainment Software Association, The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE).

  • Psychoeducation. This involves educating the person about gaming behaviour’s and their effects on mental health.
  • Treatment as usual. The treatment focuses on helping the person to control cravings, deal with irrational thoughts, and learn coping skills and problem-solving techniques.
  • Intrapersonal. This treatment helps people to explore their identity, build self-esteem, and enhance their emotional intelligence.
  • Interpersonal. During this treatment, the individual will learn how to interact with others by working on their communication skills and assertiveness.
  • Family intervention. If gaming disorder is negatively affecting relationships with others, family members may need to take part in some aspects of therapy.
  • Development of a new lifestyle. To prevent excessive gaming, people should explore their skills and abilities, set goals for themselves, and find activities other than gaming that they enjoy.

Any co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety and depression, may also require treatment.

Certainly some food for thought here, maybe we can identify people in our work place, community, family etc that requires support.

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