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WHO ruling on video game addiction divides health, interactive professionals

ORLANDO, Fl.  — Inside UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, producers, programmers, and artists work to make video games.

  • World Health Organization classifies gaming addiction as mental health disorder
  • Says it affects no more than up to 3 percent of gamers
  • Video games must dominate a person’s life, causing them to struggle in real life for a year or

The graduate students are learning with the hopes of one day working in the gaming industry.

But the World Health Organization (WHO) announced they now identify excessive video gaming to be a mental health disorder. They listed it in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases.

“Obviously anything in excess is probably not good for you, whether you are exercising, watching television, or playing video games, gambling,” said Ben Noel with UCF Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy.

Some in the health industry think this choice to make video gaming a disorder is a good idea, especially after talking to concerned parents.

“It just makes people lose themselves in the virtual reality world, to the extent to where that sometimes for many people has become their life, that they’ve created avatars, they created their own personas and that’s who they are essentially,” said Kenny Tello with Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families.

According to the WHO, signs include video games dominating a person’s entire life to the point they struggle with normal day-to-day functions for a year or more.

But to be clear, only a health professional can classify this as a disorder.

And WHO said their studies show this only affects a very small portion of people, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.

“It will be very similar to when I was growing up, and people said they are watching too much television, and maybe we were at times, so get out of the house, go ride your bike, go do something with your kids,” said Noel.

WHO said the recognition of disorders helps with relevant prevention and treatment measures.

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