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Local gamers, parents react after to 'gaming disorder' being labeled as a disease in 2018

Posted at 6:20 PM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 18:20:41-05

For friends Lucas Runkle and Nathaniel Auld, both 17, video games bring them together

“I guess that's the most appealing to me, just being able to spend time with friends,” Nathaniel says.

It also allows them to get away.

“The storylines are amazing, and they make you just want to be in that world,” Lucas says. 

They say they only play a few hours a week, but mental health experts say getting lost in that world can be detrimental.

In 2018, the World Health Organization will list gaming disorder on its list of mental health conditions. 

It’s marked by a "persistent or recurrent" behavior pattern of "sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning."

“You can think what you want, I don't think it's a mental disorder,” Lucas says. 

“They're just another platform for people to enjoy just like being addicted to a sport,” Nathaniel says.

In fact, Lucas' mom says the games aren't to blame.

“I don't believe video games cause the disorder,” says Lydia Runkle. “I think they're a symptom of what's already there.”

At the other end of the spectrum sits Kim Kunkle, who agrees with WHO’s decision. 

“It should be,” she says .”If you look around, nobody looks up anymore.”

She says the new label could be a wakeup call for parents.

“Maybe more parents will become more aware and not just shove their kids in the door and throw them on the game,” she says.

Nathaniel says he’s not powering down anytime soon. 

“Try one for yourself, see how you like it,” he says.