Excessive gaming is a mental health disorder? There’s no need to panic…

World Health Organisation’s classification of excessive gaming as a mental health disorder may be a good thing.

If you are just joining the conversation, World Health Organisation recently classified excessive gaming as a mental health disorder. In my prior updates, I explain why the classification is good for game studies and impart with my top tips for parents, guardians and the players. By now, many should be familiar with the traditional benefits of gaming, such as: hand-eye coordination; team-working; and modelling; just to mention a few.

If you are not familiar with the traditional benefits of gaming, here are some benefits of playing video games that will surprise you. Finally, I impart with my perceived benefits of gaming for lifelong learning here.

World Health Organisation’s Draft

Gaming, not video games, is a tentacular and reverberating phenomenon, and in my opinion, the draft is timely and a much-needed checkpoint for game studies. The draft does not interfere with current and everyday approach to game studies, rather, the draft intrinsically facilitates due diligence and resourcefulness. 

There hasn’t been much of a significant development in gaming for the past decade. Simply, nostalgic mental models that continue to employ ancient data-sets and data models. Many of which presume that only children indulge in gaming activities. The draft inherently sets a collective path for game scholars, media providers, geographers and game enthusiast.

The draft is quite straight-forward and in line with contemporary approaches to game studies and gamification. The draft reflects the challenges with contemporary gaming. Today’s gaming devices are portals to infinite social and entertainment worlds, identical to common social media platforms.

As with many things in life, excessive gaming may suffice as evidence of an underlying issue in one’s life. These cases are rare, and rightfully, the draft emphasises that only a few are at risk. Below, I condense how to make sense of the draft:

1. Everyday Approach To Research

The classification is based on a review by a diverse and multi-disciplinary group of experts from distinct geographies – this is a reflection of emerging research methods. British educators, for example: Lynda Kaye (Edge-Hill University) and Tara Woodyer (University of Portsmouth) have openly called for collaboration, further understanding, and for public engagement.

2. Connectivity and The Web

The classification is driven by the development of treatment programmes for people with health conditions identical to those characteristics of gaming disorder. The initial focus of WHO’s study was smartphones, tablets, PC and the cloud and the web. Rightfully, gaming encapsulates the subjects of WHO’s study. 

3. Only A Few Affected

The draft does not in any mannerism imply that everyone involved in gaming are susceptible to the disorder. The draft explicitly states that only a few are threatened and the classification is not a reflection of the whole. The draft alerts and focus the attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to galvanise research methods and public engagement.

4. Awareness and Time Management

Finally, the draft also highlights the importance of space and time management in the discourse. The psychology of space and time-management are simple but critical success factors. We seldom forget that gaming is about both Children and adults, and male and female.


Consider the finance, time and space that research cohorts committed to Tetris in the past – was it not wasteful? Whatever your perspective to Tetris, I’m sure you have your reasons. Thankfully, you don’t have to seek afar to identify with a sense of urgency that traditional current methods won’t suffice for the learning that’s going to occur in the future. 

Gaming devices are more than a box where you play video games, they are cloud and web-enabled portals to many social and entertainment worlds. Research shed light on how increasingly difficult it’s becoming to separate gaming discussions from everyday discussions on social media. The risk (opportunities and threat) of escapism is real in gaming paradigm. 

Final Word

We have done a marvellous job in including gamer’s and gaming in digital discussions, our achievements are exemplary. Due to the smart work of scholars, practitioners and enthusiast, we now know more about gaming than we did demi-decades ago. The draft is timely and has arrived at a good time when game studies are plagued with repetitions, persuasive rhetoric, twitter scholar-celebrities and pseudoscience. The draft does not alter research proceedings, rather, it encourages due diligence, public engagement, collaboration and resourcefulness. 

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Excessive Gaming Is Now A Mental Health Disorder

The World health organisation classifies gaming as a mental health disorder. What does this mean for game studies?

The W.H.O has classified excessive gaming as a mental health disorder in the draft for 2018 diagnostic manual.

According to the health organisation, a gaming disorder is characterised by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline.

Manifested by;

1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities and;

3) continuation or escalation of gaming 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 pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.

The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

– World Health Organisation

The Spence’s

I was particularly drawn to World Health Organisation’s  draft due to the initial focus of their study; tablets, smartphones, computers and social media. Like WHO, if you bear any apprehensions for social media networks, smartphones, tablets and the whole online thing – perhaps you should be worried about gaming. 

The video game is merely an object, however, contemporary gaming devices are windows to many social worlds and universes of discourse, and it encompasses all the concerns mentioned above.

The Spence’s

Gaming is not so disparate, and how a video game is used relatively depends on the player, motivation and space, and the possibilities are vast. It is widely known that consumers do not necessarily interact with products in a manner the developer intended. The holistic adopting of social media as a bridge in gaming changes the scope of game studies. This is the primary motivation for including parents/guardians and gamer’s in my longitudinal game study at the University of Portsmouth.

Personally, I welcome the World Health Organisation’s draft and I think that the draft is a much-needed wake-up call for scholars, practitioners and enthusiast, everywhere. My support for the draft is succinctly condensed into the two areas below;

(1) Research Development

(2) Market development and penetration

1. Research Development

Gaming as a field of study is loosely defined and not understood. This is due to many factors, for instance, misplaced funding, diversity and lack of skills and experience in the distinct and connected fields that make efficient game studies. 

By now, most are aware of the early benefits of gaming such as hand-eye coordination, multi-tasking, creative thinking, executive functioning and employ-ability, just to mention a few. That said, modern gaming is so much more than eye-coordination, today, gaming devices are portals to infinite social and entertainment worlds. People/players can now play games, enjoy movies, share music and much more with their friends and relatives around the world via their gaming devices. The essence of my story, there hasn’t been a significant development in gaming studies in the past decade – since Galaxy Zoo in the UK.

2. Market Development and Penetration

The proliferation of computer-mediated-communication in our daily lives has transformed the way we live, the way we love, the way we do business, and the way we play. The change has prompted calls for new and responsive models in most walks of life.  There is an emerging sense of urgency that traditional methods may not suffice for the learning that’s going to occur in the future.

Gaming devices have come a long way from the early handheld and arcade systems to powerful consoles underpinned by cloud and web communication technologies. There is a ton of contagion and distortion going on as brands penetrate what is largely an untapped market with unregulated and persuasive models. For instance, as we experience with eSports, where brands and individuals with historical and sometimes nostalgic mental models of gaming seek profitability through hyper personalised models.

Gaming is not a topic that can be tackled behind the walls of a classroom, with mere questionnaires or by taking players out of the space and geography that defines them. There are many lessons that we can diffuse and adapt for gaming paradigm. As an abstract system, gaming paradigm is an excellent print for emerging digital and connected economies. Understanding gaming paradigm requires new collaborative research methods that include academia, media service providers, lawmakers, parents and guardians, players and the third sector.

I think the draft is a good start and inherently sends out a strong signal that echoes gaming is very much part of online, social media, micro-learning, digital literacy and mental health discussions.