Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

Henrietta Brewer
June 19, 2018

In a new draft of the International Classification of Diseases to be released on Monday, addiction to video games will officially be recognised as a mental health condition.

"Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder", he said, adding that the overall prevalence of this condition is "very low".

Key symptoms include "impaired control" - notably the inability to stop playing - and focusing on the game to the exclusion of everything else.

The first one is when gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities.


Griffiths said playing video games, for the vast majority of people, is more about entertainment and novelty, citing the overwhelming popularity of games like "Pokemon Go".

"We are not saying that all gaming is pathological".

Almost 40 percent of those sales are in east Asia, especially China and South Korea.

Last week, the Mirror UK reported that a 9-year old girl was sent to rehab for video game addiction. In fact, she urinated on herself while sitting down playing the game.


The inclusion of "gaming disorder" in WHO's revised catalogue of diseases met with resistence, both from industry and some experts.

In a study to be published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, a group of 36 researchers said there was insufficent evidence to warrant the new category.

About 2.6 billion people around the globe play video games on a regular basis, and while it has been proven that gaming can be beneficial, many people have also become addicted. It urges the World Health Organization to reconsider before officially placing it in the final version of the medical classification document.

The highly-influential IDC is a gold standard for diagnostic classification, as it helps doctors around the world track trends of diseases and mental disorders.


The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health - such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced, the statement said.

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