The American Medical Association is preparing to recognise 'Internet/video game addiction' as a 'formal diagnostic disorder'.

This move would have wide ranging implications within the law as the ever-growing list of lawyers attempting to blame 'sick videogames' for crimes ranging from street robbery to mass murder, call on a medically-recognised disorder to bolster their defence. It will also inevitably lead to pharmaceutical companies coming out with a range of high-priced and pointless cures that can be dumped inside people.

The proposal comes in the form of a 'Report Of The Council On Science And Public Health: Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games" chaired by Mohamed K. Khan, MD, Phd.

Included in the report is the AMA's definition of a 'gamer':

"A gamer is a term used to describe a person who plays games. Historically, a gamer was someone who played role-playing games or war games, but more recently the term has come to include computer and video game players. Although the term technically includes those who do not necessarily consider themselves gamers (ie, casual gamers), it is a commonly used colloquial term to identify persons who spend as much of their leisure time as possible playing or reading about games. Video gaming has traditionally been a social experience, and most video games are playable by more than one person. Multi-player video games can be played either competitively or cooperatively online by using multiple input devices, or by "hotseating."

Recognise yourself?

The report concludes with the following calls to action:

1. That our American Medical Association (AMA) urge agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission as well as national parent and public interest organizations such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board, and parent-teacher organizations to review the current ratings system for accuracy and appropriateness relative to content, and establish an improved ratings systems based on a combined effort from the entertainment industry and peer review. (Directive to Take Action)

2. That our AMA work with key stakeholder organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians to (a) educate physicians on the public health risks of media exposure and how to assess media usage in their pediatric populations; and (b) provide families with educational materials on the appropriate use of video games. (Directive to Take Action)

3. That our AMA, in accordance with the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics, support the recommendation of 1 to 2 hours of total daily screen time, and that the total time allotted to playing video games should be included in that 1 to 2 hour allotment. (Directive to Take Action)

4. That our AMA support increased awareness of the need for parents to monitor and restrict use of video games and the Internet and encourage increased vigilance in monitoring the content of games purchased and played for children 17 years old and younger. (New HOD Policy)

5. That our AMA encourage expanded research by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to fund research on the long-term beneficial and detrimental effects not only of video games, but use of the Internet by children under 18 years of age. (Directive to Take Action)

6. That our AMA strongly encourage the consideration and inclusion of "Internet/video game addiction" as a formal diagnostic disorder in the upcoming revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV. (Directive to Take Action)

In the event that 'videogaming addiction' is recognised in the U.S.A. we can certainly expect the British Medical Association to follow suite.