WHO Classifies Video Game Addiction As a Mental Disorder

Friday, 31 May, 2019

According to the World Health Organization, "gaming disorder" is characterized by a "pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" online or offline.

"People who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities - particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities - as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour", said the WHO.

At the World Health Organization's World Health Assembly on Saturday, member states officially recognized gaming addiction as a modern disease.

As Polygon noted, the language for the disorder - which was finalized in 2018 and formally adopted May 25, 2019 - is almost identical to ICD-11's description of "gambling disorder", which precedes it in the chapter.

Our multi-billion dollar industry includes many products that have seen instances of destructive behavior and even severe harm due to addiction.

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that "burn-out" remains an "occupational phenomenon" that could lead someone to seek care but it is not considered a medical condition.

In a move passed by the World Health Assembly last week, the peak global health body hopes to "liberate" trans and non-binary people around the world.

Still, not all behavior experts agree that gaming is distinct enough from other internet or smartphone-based behavior, and question why gaming is singled out.

The multi-billion dollar gaming industry has been unable to respond to this World Health Organization decision.

The updated ICD list was drafted past year following recommendations from health experts around the world.

The new ICD-11 ruling cementing the decision will officially come into effect from January 1, 2022.

"The problem with gaming and other...new media is that they produce a different culture", says Carras, who also considers herself a gamer.

When asked to elaborate on the decision, Dr Douglas Gentile, a psychologist and Laboratory Head at the Iowa State University Media Research Lab, told Kotaku that "gaming addiction has always been a problem for some and has been a highly debated and often discussed topic among health officials, gamers, researchers and politicians".

In order to shed more light on the current situation, WHO's expert Shekhar Saxena assures that this kind of addiction would "only affect a small section of gamers engaging in games for almost 20 hours a day and prioritizing games over meals, school, sleep, or other daily activities".

According to Walker the next conversation should be with a medical professional to help confirm a diagnosis and determine how to treat the symptoms.