‘Gaming Disorder’ Is Now An Officially Recognised Illness
Published in May 2019 / Updated in Aug 2021
It’s official: Gaming disorder is now recognized as an illness by the World Health Organization.
First voted in December 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) included Gaming Disorder in their 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Problems, which has caused a stir among the gaming community.
According to WHO:
“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline.”
And the disorder was officially added to the Classification of Diseases on Monday, June 18th, 2018.
WHO continues to specify that Gaming Disorder can manifest itself in several ways, including “impaired control over gaming.”
It can also manifest through increasingly prioritizing video games above all “life interests and activities.”
The third manifestation of Gaming Disorder is continuous and escalating gaming despite the obvious negative consequences it causes to your “personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”
To get a proper diagnosis of the disorder, the ICD states that the features and behavior should be evident after a period of one year. But it can be shortened if ‘all the requirements are met, or if symptoms are severe.’
“The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”
So, if your child gets obsessed over a particular game for a short while, then after a few months, they lose interest, it’s probably not a disorder.
According to WHO, Gaming Disorder is just like any other addiction because it causes negative consequences and can interfere with a person’s daily activities.
Also, if the gamer cannot control the urge to play video games, it’s a disorder. Otherwise, it isn’t a problem, it’s just gaming.
However, several Entertainment associations throughout the world, including the US, South Korea, Canada, the UK, and Australia, have criticized WHO’s decision.
In a joint statement, the associations wrote:
“Gaming disorder is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools.”
“The consequences of today’s action could be far-reaching, unintended, and to the detriment of those in need of genuine help.”
WHO responded to the critics by explaining to Gamesindustry.biz that their decision to include Gaming Disorder in illness listing was based on proven evidence.
The health organization also said that their research was conducted by various experts from diverse disciplines. WHO reported:
“A decision on the 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 WHO in the process of ICD-11 development.”
Other organizations such as the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) also touted the economic, political, creative, and academic benefits of gaming in protesting the WHO’s decision.
Despite the critics, WHO has decided to stand by its newly-added Gaming Disorder decision.