Researchers say there’s no need to classify “gaming as a clinical disorder in its own right”

Game addiction is more likely to be a symptom than a cause

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Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation voted to recognise ‘gaming disorder’ as a disease under the International Classification of Disease. The group’s discussions about taking that step had already proven controversial, and another recent bit of research suggests that the WHO’s official recognition of gaming disorder as a disease was a bit premature.

The new research suggests that most excessive gamers aren’t truly addicted to the games themselves – instead, they’re using gaming as an escape from other problem areas of their lives. The researchers at Oxford Internet Institute (via argue that previous studies have “failed to examine the wider context of what is going on in these young peoples’ lives.”

This study examined the habits of over 1,000 teenagers, including both self-reported habits from the teens and information from their parents and other caregivers, and finds that there’s no evidence that excessive gaming itself leads to substantial behavioural problems among adolescents.

“In light of our findings we do not believe sufficient evidence exists to warrant thinking about gaming as a clinical disorder in its own right,” lead researcher Andrew Przybylski says.

Przybylski has led similar research in the past, and has been critical of the WHO’s move to classify gaming disorder since well before the decision was finalised.