Historians agree that the video game is the greatest human invention since crop rotation. Gaming can be a release, a purpose, a comfort, and with the right attachments, a lover. And when you hit that perfect combo or finish that multi-level raid, the sensation is better than crack, heroin, and hot fudge combined (or a "tarpit," as it's known to connoisseurs). So thank goodness we're finally being forced to treat it like the debilitating affliction it can be.
After a year of staring at the mental health "Continue?" screen, the World Health Organization has classified gaming disorder as an illness at its 72nd World Health Assembly. This means that "gaming disorder" and "hazardous gaming" will now be considered as potentially harmful for one's health and well-being as other forms of addictive behaviors. Of course, this decision will meet with a lot of resistance by the video game industry, from the U.S. to South Korea, and gaming culture as a whole. They claim there isn't "sufficiently robust evidence" that games are any different from any other immersive hobby -- though none could point to any evidence of people having lost loved ones to the scourge of model train building.
Sure, feel free to grit your teeth for the new wave of moral panic whereby Fox News starts scaring parents into checking for signs of whether their kids have been "grinding for purples" all night long, but despite the scary and official sounding news, most gamers will be just fine. The warning patterns for gaming disorder are severe and strict, so unless you show drastic signs of impaired control (playing Fortnite all night on a work day), give unhealthy priority to games (skipping work to play Fortnite), and escalate your gaming despite negative consequences (are glad you got fired from work so you can really focus on playing Fortnite), you should be dandy.
Furthermore, classifying gaming addiction as an illness doesn't automatically mean pointing a blaming finger at gamers, but does let us point one at the framework that allows for it to happen. Maybe this will finally force parents to consider whether letting their kids spend ten hours a day offering orcs back-alley favors in return for some magic frost resistance gloves could be just as perilous as them partying all night. And maybe the threat of having to slap a warning label on games will send a message to an industry in which addiction is a feature, not a bug, and which gleefully allows its product to serve as a gateway to actually life-destroying addictions, like online gambling and writing long Twitter rants about ethics in journalism.
Cedric has been grinding the purple since it was still blue. You can follow him on Twitter.
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