The World Health Organization included gaming disorder (GD) in the eleventh revision of International Classification of Diseases in 2019. Due to the lack of diagnostic tools for GD, a definition has not been adequately applied. Therefore, this study aimed to apply an operationalized definition of GD to treatment-seekers. The relationship between the diagnoses of GD and Internet gaming disorder (IGD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was also examined.
Study participants comprised 241 treatment-seekers who had engaged in excessive gaming and experienced related problems. Psychiatrists applied the GD diagnostic criteria to the participants using a diagnostic form developed for this study. Information on gaming behavior and functional impairment was obtained through face-to-face interviews conducted by clinical psychologists.
In total, 78.4 and 83.0% of the participants fulfilled the GD and IGD diagnostic criteria, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of GD diagnosis were both high when the IGD diagnosis was used as the gold standard. Participants with GD preferred online PC and console games, spent significantly more time gaming, and showed a higher level of functional impairment compared to those who did not fulfill the GD diagnostic criteria.
The definition of GD can be successfully applied to treatment-seekers with excessive gaming and related problems. A high concordance of GD and IGD diagnoses was found in those participants with relatively severe symptoms. The development and validation of a diagnostic tool for GD should be explored in future studies.