W.H.O.'s 'gaming disorder' classification faces controversy

Published: Jun. 21, 2018 at 3:53 PM EDT
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This week, the World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" to its list of mental health conditions. However, the decision has been met with controversy.

"So among researchers who study potential negative impacts of video games, this World Health Organization decision is pretty controversial, Dr. James Ivory, a professor at Virginia Tech explained.

He said unlike other addictions, the W.H.O. criteria to determine whether someone is addicted to video games is only a vague guideline.

"The W.H.O diagnosis criteria is kind of fuzzy," he said. "It's like, do you play video games too much? Do you play video games so much that it's effecting other activities in your life?"

Ivory believes more research should have been done before the W.H.O classification was announced.

"We don't know enough yet about why people some people play video games so much to pathologize it. So there's sort of a dangerous precedent here."

He says diagnosing someone who plays a lot of video games as an addict runs the risk of diagnosing other things people do a lot of as an addiction.

Virginia Tech senior, Miya Oshiro, admits she plays a lot of video games, but it's something she's passionate about not addicted to.

"I love video games personally because I think they have the potential of doing a lot of good in the world," Oshiro said.

She said video games are a creative outlet for kids to make discoveries about themselves.

"They're exploring different parts of themselves through these games. Like the decisions that they make, the way they dress up their character. These are things that the kid wants to explore about themselves and I think that's really important to keep going," she said.

Ivory said another area researchers are studying is whether playing a lot of video games is a symptom of a problem or the cause of a problem.