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World Health Organisation now lists "hazardous gaming" as health disorder

And "gaming disorder" as an addiction.

The World Health Organisation has listed several gaming-related conditions in its updated International Compendium of Diseases.

The latest draft of the document is available to view online - and new entries for both "gaming disorder" and "hazardous gaming" are now included.

Gaming disorder is listed under "disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviour", and filed alongside addictive gambling.

The WHO characterises it as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" where the sufferer lacks control over how often or how much they play games, where their behaviour "takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities" and continues to do so despite "the occurrence of negative consequences".

"The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning," the WHO described.

These patterns of behaviour would usually have to be present for at least a year to earn the above diagonosis, the WHO noted, although this period could be shortened if symptoms were "severe".

Hazardous gaming, meanwhile, is described as "a pattern of gaming, either online or offline that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual".

"The increased risk may be from the frequency of gaming," the WHO continued, "from the amount of time spent on these activities, from the neglect of other activities and priorities, from risky behaviours associated with gaming or its context, from the adverse consequences of gaming, or from the combination of these. The pattern of gaming is often persists in spite of awareness of increased risk of harm to the individual or to others."

It's worth remembering the document has yet to be finalised for its planned publication, due some time later this year, so the above entries may change.

When published, the update will be the ICD document's eleventh major revision - the first since 1992.

The above descriptions, and particularly the idea of hazardous gaming, bring to mind the extreme cases of people dying in public internet cafes after playing games non-stop for days at a time. But it feels like the WHO is also recognising a broader spectrum of addiction - and conditions which can affect the lives of those addicted and those around them over extended periods of time. Here's hoping improved terms for diagnoses can prompt swifter care for anyone affected.

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