The detrimental impact of addiction to computer games is being overplayed, it was claimed yesterday.

Last month gaming disorder was added to the World Health Organisation's 'International Classification of Diseases'.

The system is one of the two leading mental health 'manuals' used globally, along with the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Yesterday a national UK newspaper ran a front page headline 'Fortnite made me a suicidal drug addict', introducing a story about the relationship between the 'Battle Royale' game and one user.


The story attracted a backlash from the gaming community and beyond yesterday after one games developer shared online his insights into the alleged methods of the journalist behind the story.

Chris Bratt, a games developer from Brighton, posted Twitter screenshots of the journalist circulating a previous email appealing for stories for cash. These were to tie in with a piece on the dangers of another game that achieved worldwide popularity, Pokemon Go.

Bratt describes how he opted to respond to the appeal and made up an elaborate fictional account of the game 'ruining his marriage'.

Bratt alleges that the journalist, a freelance who's story was published in The Mirror, responded acknowledging that he suspected that many of the details may have been 'embellished, but that he would run the story anyway'.

Tweets from the thread were retweeted over 10,000 times in a matter of hours, with a fellow freelance Mirror journalist, Ryan Brown, backing Bratt over the author, Matthew Barbour, calling the piece 'sensationalised s****'.

NHS treatment

Yesterday's controversy surfaced just as it was being reported elsewhere that children as young as twelve are to become the first to be treated by the NHS for gaming addiction.

Psychiatric staff from Central and North West London NHS trust have identified patients aged 12-20 whose addiction is so severe it has kept them off school, damaged their family relationships or isolated them from friends.

The pilot group will shape a model for diagnosis and treatment to be applied across the UK.

"We'll record in depth everything we can in order to develop the largest database in the country to better understand the illness," said researcher Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones.

"They are different to gamblers or alcoholics. It's a younger generation. As it doesn't involve substances, the neurological processes will be different."

The World Health Organisation says an individual's behaviour must be "of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning" to receive a diagnosis.

The addiction will "normally have been suffered for at least a year".

Dr Bowden-Jones, a member of WHO's expert panel and the royal college of psychiatrists' spokesman on addiction, is also proposing to develop a six-point classification system to assess the addictive risk of individual games such as Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto.


The Telegraph is campaigning for a statutory duty of care on gaming and social media firms to protect children from online harms.

The NHS group will run for eight weeks, with face-to-face and online sessions so it is available across the UK.

Diagnostic test

Mark Griffiths, professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University, has established a question set for diagnosis a gaming disorder. All six questions need to be answered with a yes in order for a diagnosis to be considered by a psychiatrist, under the proposed test.

  • Is your child totally preoccupied with gaming and playing for long periods (four or more hours) every day?
  • Does your child become irritable, restless, anxious and moody when they are not gaming?
  • Is your child's education suffering because of their gaming?
  • Has your child lost interest in all other leisure activities except gaming?
  • Has your child lied to your or other family members about the amount of time they spend gaming?
  • Does your child use gaming as a way of changing their mood to make themselves feel better?

There is no suggestion that yesterday's Mirror story was embellished.

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