Here’s some news that’s sure to worry even more parents of Fortnite players: Video game addiction is officially a recognized mental health disorder.
The World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to their International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems list during the 11th revision, which goes into effect in January 2020. Defined as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” that “takes precedence over other life interests”, it falls under disorders caused by substance use or addictive behaviors.
Don’t start unplugging those Xboxes all willy-nilly, though, as the WHO clarifies that gaming disorder is relatively rare. Shekhar Saxena, the WHO’s mental health and substance abuse expert, called most binge gaming habits “occasional or transitory behavior.” It’s only when gamers get stuck in cycle of endless playing in favor of sleep, food, obligations, and other typical activities for over a year that an addiction diagnosis applies.
Unsurprisingly in this era of nuance-lacking era, trade organizations and lobby groups are fighting back against the classification. They argue that plenty of studies point to the educational and therapeutic benefits of video game, in addition to their obvious recreational values.
Then again, we all know the dangers of alcohol addiction, but the Mayo Clinic points to the health benefits of moderate indulgence, including a reduced risk of heart disease. Just because video game addiction is a real thing, doesn’t mean that games don’t also have real merit as well.