New addiction center in London to focus on gaming disorder

A week ago, the World Health Organization officially recognized “gaming disorder,” a mental health condition in which those affected are unable to control the frequency and intensity of their gaming habits. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has wasted no time in its efforts to treat it, as a London-based hospital will soon open an addiction center focused on gaming disorder.

According to The Guardian, the center eventually expanded to focus on other technology disorders, such as internet pornography addiction, and will be called the Centre for Internet Disorders. Initially, however, it will focus exclusively on gaming disorders, and funding for a “weekly therapy group for gaming addicts” has already been set aside.

Funding for the center will come partially from the NHS, with potential money also coming from private charities and philanthropists, according to founder Henrietta Bowden-Jones.

In order for one to be diagnosed with gaming disorder, their personal, familial, social, educational, or occupational lives have to have been negatively impacted by their habits, and this usually must occur over a period of at least a year. Your Fortnite addiction probably doesn’t qualify, particularly if you’re still enjoying and engaging in other areas of activity.

Gaming disorder is, according to WHO, separate from “hazardous gaming.” The latter term refers to a pattern of gaming behavior that results in “physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual,” and can occur either online or offline. It’s this that would likely apply to the case of Chinese World of Warcraft player Wu Tai, for instance, who died after a 19-hour marathon session of the game. Though it was likely not the sole reason for his death, a police spokesperson said at the time that there was “little doubt” it played a role.

World of Warcraft is particularly addictive due to the constant quests for better equipment and ongoing player-versus-player battles. At least one of us at Digital Trends has fallen down the rabbit hole, though the game is perfectly healthy to play in moderation — as are most games. If you’ve seen the sun set and rise during one sitting, however, you might want to take a break.


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