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Gaming is fast becoming recognized as an addictive behaviour and the World Health Organization announced in 2017 that it is including Gaming Disorder in the upcoming edition (11th revision) of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), due to come into effect in 2022.

The American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which was published in 2013, listed Gaming Disorder as a proposed condition for further study. Gaming Disorder is defined in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Young people are especially at risk to become addicted to gaming with unfortunately profound effects during important developmental stages of their lives, potentially disrupting social-emotional developmental tasks with peers and especially disrupting important schooling or study activities or early career opportunities during late adolescence or early adulthood.

Whether gaming has started as an escape from feelings or difficult issues or not, once it becomes an addiction, it will require intervention.

Signs of Excessive gaming can include:

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about, anticipating or engaging in gaming.
  • Experiencing irritation, anxiety, boredom, cravings or sadness when not being able to play.
  • Needing to spend an increasing amount of time gaming.
  • Efforts to stop or cut down gaming are unsuccessful.
  • Losing interest in previous hobbies or entertainment.
  • Continuing gaming despite being aware of negative psychological or social consequences.
  • Lying about or hiding to important others how much time is spent gaming.
  • Gaming to escape negative feelings or sad mood.
  • Problems at school, work, with studies or relationships due to gaming.