Addiction to video games is to be listed as a disorder for the first time by the World Health Organisation.
The condition “gaming disorder” will be included in a draft of the organisation’s 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as part of the group of disorders due to addictive behaviours.
The draft document describes the condition as being “a pattern of recurrent gaming behaviour” which becomes so intense that it “takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities”.
The description also refers to sufferers continuing to play despite “the occurrence of negative consequences” in terms of personal, family and social life.
The idea of gaming addiction has already been identified as a public health issue in some countries, including the UK, which has clinics for treatment of the condition.
In South Korea, a ban has been introduced for under-16s which prohibits access to online games between midnight and 6am, while in Japan gamers are sent notifications when they exceed a certain number of playing hours each month.
The ICD guide is used to code diseases and illnesses, offering signs and symptoms to help doctors and researchers diagnose various conditions.
The document suggests that addictive behaviour towards video games should be evident for at least 12 months before a diagnosis can be made, but added that that period could be reduced if the symptoms are “severe”.