Indy man speaks out after obsessive gaming to be classified as mental health disorder

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Gamers are speaking out after an announcement earlier this week from the World Health Organization.

On Monday, the WHO released the beta draft of its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which includes “gaming disorder” in its list of mental health conditions.

“I think this is silly,” said Matt Manning, an Indianapolis gamer. “I attribute a lot of my success to gaming and my work ethic to gaming.”

According ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics, “gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior which may be online or offline.”

To read more on the full definition of “gaming disorder” by the WHO, click here.

Manning started gaming when he was 10 years old. He is now 26, and says video games have become a big part of his life. He said obsessively playing video games can become a "habit" but not necessarily a mental health condition.

"Yes, I could see that there were definitely some times when I would put way too much time into it, but that was on me and something I kind of had to deal with," Manning said. "I don't think it was a mental health issue, I think it was more of a lifestyle choice that I was choosing at that time as a young, goofy teenager."

Manning said parents should better monitor their children if they are concerned about their gaming habits.

"I think a lot of parents are just letting that mentality develop in their children and continue on," he said. "So, we're seeing a lot of this and it's really, really sad that it's become this big of an issue."

Kimble Richardson is a licensed mental health counselor at Community Health Network. He said the recent classifications from the WHO can be instrumental in people's lives.

"I think it's a great opportunity for people to reach out for help if they believe that any type of social media or video games, especially, are interfering with their life."

Richardson said it's important to recognize when video gaming may become an addiction.

"One of the ways that we understand it becomes a problem in someone's life is if you continue to do the activity despite adverse consequences," he said. "You miss classes, you don't do homework, things like that. Or as an adult, you miss meetings, you don't get enough sleep, you blow off other relationships with other people."

Manning said he plays video games no more than two hours a day and enjoys having a life outside the gaming world.

"Having great dinners out on the town, flying drones, living life, traveling-- it's completely doable. I actually really do enjoy getting away from it, but it's nice to still be able to play with my friends and have something fun to do after work."

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