“Gaming Disorder” Has Officially Been Declared an Illness by the WHO

Despite opposition from major video games trade organizations such as the ESA, the World Health Organization has added “gaming disorder” to the latest revision of the ICD (International Classification of Diseases). The decision officializes gaming addiction as a disease, which the WHO defines as the following:

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, 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 behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour 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.”

The Organisation says that: “The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 follows the development of treatment programmes for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world, and will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures.”

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