Home Gaming This Is What The WHO Says About Gaming Addiction

This Is What The WHO Says About Gaming Addiction

written by Logan Brklacic June 23, 2018
A person lies on the floor with their hand reaching for a controller representing a gaming addiction

Ever wonder if you had an addiction to gaming? Ever claim there is no way you are addicted to playing video games? Well the World Health Organization takes all the guess work out and lays it out for us as to what a gaming addiction is. The WHO, the United Nations health-care organization, released a new disease-classification document that includes recognizing gaming addiction as a mental-health condition and likens it to gambling addiction and other impulse-control disorders.

Addictions typically involve substances, such as alcohol for people who have a drinking problem or drugs. It’s therefore interesting to see that too much time spent playing video games can also be considered an addiction.

The WHO recently updated the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems recently after 18 years. This classification is a way to create international and universal guidelines for nations monitor health concerns. The ICD is the base for health statistics, and includes any injury or disease we could encounter in our life as well as anything we might die from.

In order to be clinically diagnosed for a gaming disorder the person needs to exhibit three bahaviours:

  1. Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
  2. Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
  3. Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences

The ICD-11 also states that the gaming behaviour should be evident for at least 12 months, but if symptoms are severe the duration may be shortened.

Hands hold a video game controller with the cord wrapped around the wrists to represent a gaming addiction.

Gaming addiction portrayed as a controller cord wrapped around the wrists like hand cuffs

According to WHO, being diagnosed with a gaming addiction is not something that your parents or friends can do. They emphasize that it is a clinical condition and professional diagnosis is required. A member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, states that a gaming disorder is not a very common occurrence.

“Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder,”

– Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

A big objection for this classification of gaming disorder is being made by the Entertainment Software Association. The lobbying group which is made up of companies in the gaming industry released the following in a statement:

“Video games across all kinds of genres, devices and platforms are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide, with the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games being well-founded and widely recognized. We are therefore concerned to see ‘gaming disorder’ still contained in the latest version of the WHO’s ICD-11 despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community. The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive. We hope that the WHO will reconsider the mounting evidence put before them before proposing inclusion of ‘gaming disorder’ in the final version of ICD-11 to be endorsed next year. We understand that our industry and supporters around the world will continue raising their voices in opposition to this move and urge the WHO to avoid taking steps that would have unjustified implications for national health systems across the world.”

What do you think about this classification of gaming disorder? Let us know in the comments.

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