World Health Organization classifies ‘gaming disorder’ as an illness

The World Health Organization moved forward with a proposal to classify “gaming disorder” as an illness.

After a consideration period starting in June 2018, the 194 members of the WHO decided to enact the proposal, known as ICD-11, at the World Health Assembly today.

WHO added gaming disorder to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. This refers to gaming disorder as a kind of addiction, or “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline.

It is manifested by “impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

Stanley Pierre-Louis, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the video game industry in the U.S., has opposed the move because it lacked research foundations and could lead to bans on video games in various countries.

In a statement today, the ESA said, “The global video game industry—including representatives from across Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, and Brazil—today called on World Health Organization (WHO) Member States to re-examine at an early date its decision to include ‘Gaming Disorder’ in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).”

The ESA added, “The WHO is an esteemed organization and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts. ‘Gaming disorder’ is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools.”

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