World Health Organisation Classifies Gaming Addiction as a Mental Health Disorder

Wednesday, 20 Jun, 2018

World Health Organization officials say statistics, mainly from East and South Asian countries, show only a very small two to three percent of people are addicted to Gaming.

In an announcement that will make parents around the world go, "I told you so", The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially declared video game addiction to be a mental health disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association has not recognized gaming addiction as a mental illness.

She added, "In terms of health care provisions, we don't expect much change, because this category will still have a place in ICD".

The proposed disorder falls under the category of substance abuse or addictive behaviors, which reads: "Disorders due to substance use and addictive behaviours are mental and behavioural disorders that develop as a result of the use of predominantly psychoactive substances, including medications, or specific repetitive rewarding and reinforcing behaviours". And in South Korea, at least two children have starved to death, likely because their caretaking parents were busy playing video games.

And yet, that hasn't spotted the larger game industry from coming forward to criticize the diagnosis.

Gaming also piques gamers' interest in new hobbies and careers such as history (15 percent), information technology (12 percent) and art (7 percent), while 34 percent cite improved cognition, problem-solving or social skills thanks to gaming.

"My nephew gets stuck on it, and he does it all night long", one person said about their relative's video game habits.

Gaming disorders are now being listed as a mental health condition, meaning that it can be diagnosed by doctors.

It's worth noting that WHO's stance on gaming addiction is different from that of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the handbook used by health professionals in the us and other countries to help diagnose mental health disorders. 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 a year ago that they would include "gaming disorder" as a condition. The WHO was discussing adding gaming addition back in December 2017, when it introduced it in a draft version of ICD-11.

WHO has been studying the issue and now has formally classified "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition. As you can see here, gaming addiction is still there in the ICD-11. The research supporting inclusion is highly contested and inconclusive. The World Health Organization says classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will "serve a public health objective for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue".

One-in-three people worldwide play some form of free-to-play screen game.