Gaming disorder recognized by World Health Organization

Henrietta Brewer
June 19, 2018

Video gaming can be addictive in the same way as cocaine or gambling, the World Health Organization said Monday in a much anticipated update of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

"We acknowledge there could be benefits to formalising gaming disorder, many of which were highlighted by colleagues in their commentaries, but we think they do not yet outweigh the wider societal and public health risks involved".

Last year, a study from almost 30 academics opposed the gaming disorder classification, saying their addiction was best viewed as a coping mechanism associated with underlying problems such as anxiety or depression. Those who partake in gaming should be aware of time spent on gaming activity when it excludes other daily activities.


Continuation of gaming despite negative consequences.

Risky behaviours associated with gaming or its context. The overwhelming majority of video game adepts are young, many in their teens.

In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the United Nations health agency said Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition.


However, she warns that video gaming addiction affects just a small percentage of the world's population - but adds that "it must be recognised" early, as it can "last a year before diagnosis". Among these new classifications is official recognition for "gaming addiction" which covers an unhealthy obsession with playing video games.

Due to this, the NHS, which is the Health Service in the United Kingdom, will be treating people who have this condition.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade group for the video game industry, has issued a statement regarding the World Health Organization's new "gaming disorder" disease.


'You have these short, obsessive bursts and yes, people are playing a lot, but it's not an addiction, ' he said. The question is whether the games industry can provide enough current research to counter the gaming disorder definition before the manual is approved sometime next year. Housing almost 55,000 medical issues, the ICD-11 is used for clinical care, research, and is rarely given major revisions, so it is a legitimately big deal that gaming addiction has been added to its pages. It is concerning to see the "gaming disorder" proposal in this draft despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community. The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive.

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