Gaming has officially been classified as a mental health disorder, according to the World Health Organisation. After years of parents complaining and pestering their kids about the abuse of video games, often referring to it as “digital heroin”, doctors are finally on their side. This puts it on par with drug addiction, which is also a mental health disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Ironically, gaming and drug use go hand in hand in Egypt, as you would know by witnessing the cloudy smoke waves and hash aroma in many of the internet and gaming cafes across the country.

Gaming is huge in Egypt, and though many won’t admit it, is often used as a coping mechanism to dealing with anxiety and depression, disorders present in 30% of Egyptians, according to Egypt Today.   

This new classification of addictive gaming as a disorder “means health professionals and systems will be more alert to the existence of this condition, and so people who suffer can get the appropriate help," according to Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

There are three criteria that define a gaming disorder; if you’re not sure you’re an addict, check out the below:

  • The gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery
  • Impaired control of these behaviors. Even when the negative consequences occur, this behaviour continues or escalates.
  • The condition leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational lives. It may include "disturbed sleep patterns, diet problems, or a deficiency in physical activity."

 After reading these criteria, it makes more sense as to why gaming is now an official mental health disorder. If you’ve only just become addicted to Fortnite recently, fear not – a person is only diagnosed with a mental health disorder if these patterns are present for at least 12 months. Poznyak insists that "millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder, and that the overall prevalence of this condition is very low". Ok, now that’s a relief.  

Today, it’s easy to find actually licensed “video game addiction therapists” around the world with a simple Google search, and it probably won’t be long till we see them in Egypt.