World Health Organization declares compulsive video gaming a mental disorder

Henrietta Brewer
June 20, 2018

Ukie, the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, created a "gaming disorder" FAQ about the proposed inclusion, including details about what the ICD-11 list is, their concerns for classifying "gaming disorder" alongside other disorders such as alcohol, drugs and gambling, and an Open Debate paper by 36 global mental health experts, social scientists and academic scholars opposing the inclusion due to lack of scientific study.

"For mental health conditions, ICD codes are especially important since the ICD is a diagnostic tool, and thus, these are the conditions that often garner much of the interest in the ICD", the WHO said today. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 per cent of all gamers believed to be affected. Separate from addiction, this refers to a pattern of gaming that "increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences for the individual or others around this individual".

In a statement in January, justifying the inclusion of gaming under the addiction head, World Health Organization said: "A decision on inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 is based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by World Health Organization in the process of ICD-11 development".


'Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view, ' said Dr Griffiths, a professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

Are you addicted to gaming? In addition, ICD is the standard for global reports on the diseases. Homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in 1948, but was removed from the ICD in the 1970s.

At Video Games Etc! in Cedar Rapids, workers have heard rumblings the World Health Organization would add video games to its list of addictions.


"Being involved with playing video games on a regular basis, on a daily basis for hours and hours can certainly become problematic", said Dr. Walter White, executive director of the Family Guidance Center of Alabama. The U.S. video game industry - through its Entertainment Software Association lobbying group - threw its support behind several academics who opposed the WHO's efforts when it confirmed previous year that they would include "gaming disorder" as a condition.

These things clearly take a lot of time and consideration; this is the 11th revision of the manual, and the 10th revision was approved way back in 1992. The present version also has for the first time a chapter on traditional systems of medicine.


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