The International Olympic Committee will host a meeting to consider including esports in the 2024 Olympic Games, just days after the World Health Organization recognized excessive video gaming as a mental disorder.
Because of the time and practice required to compete in esports professionally, all of the potential Olympic competitors would meet the WHO’s standards for Gaming Disorder. The IOC will host the meeting July 21 alongside the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), considering the profitability of adding esports to the global arena.
The addition would not be the first time an international competition has added esports to the roster. Several esports titles are set to be featured in the 2022 Asia Games as a medal event, and dedicated esports arenas are already abundant across Asia and popping up in the West as well. (RELATED: Western Michigan University Drops $500,000 On Cutting Edge Gaming PCs)
The WHO recognized excessive gaming as a mental disorder on June 18 to widespread criticism. The organization said there are three major indicators of gaming disorder: “impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” (RELATED: World Health Organization Says Transgender People Aren’t Mentally Ill, But Gaming Addicts Are)
Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director at The Telos Project, a nonprofit mental health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, is critical of the decision and argues U.S. mental health groups shouldn’t follow suit.
“It’s a little bit premature to label this as a diagnosis,” Bean told CNN. “I’m a clinician and a researcher, so I see people who play video games and believe themselves to be on the lines of addicted.” In his experience, they’re actually using gaming “more as a coping mechanism for either anxiety or depression.”
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