Gaming Disorder Now A Recognised Illness According To World Health Organisation

The 72 World Health Assembly (Photo: NCD Alliance)

The World Health Organisation has decided to add gaming disorder to its list of recognised illnesses. The 194 members of the group made the decision today at the 72nd World Health Assembly.

WHO agreed to adopt the eleventh revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, which is also known as ICD-11. This new revision of the ICD includes gaming disorder as an illness. According to WHO’s ICD-11 this is the definition and characterization of gaming disorder:

“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:

  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; and

  3. 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.”

According to Gameindustry.biz, WHO explained the decision to include gaming disorder was made by experts from different disciplines and regions and was based on reviews of available evidence.

In June of 2018, WHO finalised the ICD-11 and various video game industry organisations, such as the ESA, pushed back on the decision. Gameindustry.biz reported last year that the ESA felt the decision in June “recklessly trivialises real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder.”

Today, WHO has announced the ICD-11 will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Gaming addiction has long been a problem for some and has been a highly debated and often discussed topic among health officials, gamers, researchers and politicians. Dr. Douglas Gentile, a psychologist, and the Iowa State University’s Media Research Lab head told  Kotaku in an interview in 2017 that, after surveying thousands of subjects, “We found that gaming precedes the depression if they’re damming enough areas of their life where it counts as a disorder.”

This classification and recognition of gaming disorder by The World Health Organisation is a big step forward in the debate surrounding gaming addiction. Recently, members of the US Congress began creating legislation to ban addictive loot boxes.

 


Comments

    Noe every dodgy quack and rehab clinic in United States and China can feel legitimate as they quote WHO and overcharge rich parents for their lack of parenting skills.

    Agreed. It has taken them long enough for them to recognize 'gaming disorder' as an illness.

      It's been recognised for years, and for nearly a year within the WHO itself.
      All the classification does is create a foundation for future research and funding within the UN framework.

      If anything it just means we now need to be more critical of how this classification is used.
      You will find that before we get any practical research and treatments devised that it wil likely be used as a chance to over medicate people or used by politicians to scare and legislate.

        Apart from over medicating, how would it even be possible to treat a gaming addiction? New hobbies? Social activities?

        Sounds like treating depression, which (as I mentioned below) is often the real problem in cases of obsession/addiction like this, not the games themselves.

          No I agree, the underlying issue is often depression, which these days has fallen in to a state of over medication, same with behavioral problems with kids, so if we aren't careful that's exactly what's going to happen here.

          I'm not going to even touch the adult side of it but in the example of kids, where screen addiction is also a growing problem with proven effects on behaviour and development, treatment is exactly what most people seem keen on avoiding, structure, consistency and not letting it become a problem in the first place.

    This is so stupid. People who are considered 'addicted' to games eventually get bored or burnt out and go do other things. You don't get bored of heroin, you know, because it's actually an addiction.

    People usually get drawn to things like gaming because they are lacking something in their normal life - sociability, a sense of accomplishment, etc - and when they find those things in gaming, they can throw themselves into it like an addiction. With that said, the gaming itself isn't the issue, people who are obsessed with games don't physically get ill when they have them taken away, the gaming addiction is just a symptom.

      People who are considered 'addicted' to games eventually get bored or burnt out and go do other things
      Not always true, i know people who I'd have classed as addicted for 5-10 years. Never holding down a decent job and never wanting to go beyond playing games for 10+ hours a day. I know marriages that have dissolved because one of the partners preferred playing games until 2 or 3 in the morning instead of being present for their partner and children.

      People usually get drawn to things like gaming because they are lacking something in their normal life
      this is true for nearly all addicts and not unique at all for video game addiction.

      With that said, the gaming itself isn't the issue, people who are obsessed with games don't physically get ill when they have them taken away
      Addiction isn't defined as being 'physically ill' when you don't get your fix.

      The bottom line is, there are more people addicted to video games than before. Yes addiction is caused by many factors, not always a chemical addiction from a substance. This gives this particular addiction a category so it can help health professionals, teachers, parents, addicts more readily find access to material and treatments to help reduce the harm real video game addicts are causing themselves.

        Not being able to keep a job seems more like a lack of effort than anything else. It's contradictory that one could game for 10+ hours but not work 8 hours (or less part-time).

        Back in Uni I'd probably spend 6+ hours gaming daily and double that on weekends. Now I work 50-60 hours a week to the detriment of my free time. Am I work addicted? Where do I draw the line between being a provider and being an addict?

        Recognising poor choices/priorities as an addiction seems like a cop out. Same thing with obesity, yeah maybe there's an actual medical cause for some people but mostly it's just laziness and bad choices.

          You're clearly a very out of touch individual. Makes sense considering how much you're working, it's the same as being under a rock, and at that rate it's certainly not just your free time it's a detriment to.

            Out of touch? No I just have a wife and kids. Want to buy property within the next 12 or so months.

            How do you reckon being fat is a choice but gaming excessively is not?

          I wrote a fairly decently long response, but it basically boils down to you having a different opinion of what you think Video Game addiction is compared to actual health professions.

          Take note of two of the points the APA makes on definitions of video game addiction, as being:
          'experience clinically significant impairment or distress as a result of excessive internet gaming''
          and 'experiences symptoms of withdrawals if they are not able to access video games', which seems to be something you haven't considered.

          This seems to be at odds with what you seem to hint at that video game addiction is just fecklessness.

          As far as work addicted? it's not in the DSM, and if it was it wouldn't be a one shoe fits all kind of thing. But if you think you have a problem you might, it's always healthy to take stock of what you are doing and why and make sure you aren't neglecting your family life. If it's a short term thing for a long term gain and your family are onboard with that then OK... if you're hiding at work because you are avoiding a home life issue then maybe not OK.

            To me that's either vaguely or poorly worded. So they have to suffer impairment or distress from playing excessively *and* suffer from withdrawal of they don't play? How do you even help them if that's the case?

            It also seems like a slippery slope. Am I a music addict if I get annoyed at busted earphones? If someone flips out over movie/TV spoilers are they addicts of that content or medium?

            Maybe I'm just insensitive, I don't know. I always thought I was addicted to this, that and the other. More often than not it ended up being bad choices and plenty of excuses.

              You've misinterpreted the "And"
              The context is here are two points X and Y in relation to video game addiction as raised by the APA.

              Not that these are the two criteria one must meet to be defined as addicted.. there were other points but these were the most salient to the conversation.

              Also I can't fathom the reasoning of your slippery slope argument? It seems you are unable to grasp that there is a fundamental difference between the reaction of someone who has a clinical addiction and someone who is simply annoyed by not being able to enjoy their hobby.

              Maybe I'm just insensitive, I don't know. I always thought I was addicted to this, that and the other. More often than not it ended up being bad choices and plenty of excuses.
              You probably weren't clinically addicted then.

                So is there such a thing as toy addiction? Pinball machines? Literature? There were ways to escape reality before video games but no recognised disorders connected to them? Even TV addiction isn't recognised?

                What's so hard to fathom? Games aren't the problem, it's a mental health issue. At this rate we'll be blaming everything but their mental health.

                  So is there such a thing as toy addiction? Pinball machines? Literature? There were ways to escape reality before video games but no recognised disorders connected to them? /q>
                  if they were found to be clinically addicted then they would fall under behavioural addiction. TV addiction was proposed as a separate focus but it hasn't been admitted as it's own distinct addiction.
                  Video Game addiction comes with it some differences that often make it very similar to gambling addiction.

                  Games aren't the problem, it's a mental health issue/q>
                  Yes, it's a mental health issue. hence why its now recognised as such.

                  It's almost like someone has broken their arm falling down, and you're complaining that you don't need to heal the broken arm because it was the decisions the person took that led them to falling down.

                  @beatsbynelly

                  No it's like someone falling, breaking their arm, then saying that floors are a problem and not acknowledging the slip/trip hazards or just plain clumsiness.

                  @rufati
                  I don't agree at all. and I find it a bit arrogant that you think your own experience with mental health trumps that of hundreds of health professionals. But it seems I'm unable to convince you otherwise.

                  @beatsbynelly

                  It's not arrogance. I'm just aware of the professionals' track record when it comes to games.

                  We don't blame abuse victims for the actions of their abusers. Why blame games for the actions of the mentally/emotionally unwell? More power to you if you think that's the way to go but I'm gonna have to disagree.

    As a health care professional, this feels like WHO have just classified a symptom as a disease. It would be like your GP diagnosing you with 'runny nose' when you are suffering from a cold.

      Thats the same with any addiction in the WHO or DSMV, the listings for all the types of addiction (and their counter point of withdrawel) is excessive though the symptomns, behavioural traits, and mental trauma is the same regardless of its cause or susbstance.

      I wish their was a singular diagnosis an "addiction scale" with behavioural addictions on one side to full chemical and pathological addictions on the other.

      At the end of the day is it gaming addiction, internet addiction, ADHD, depression, narcissm (if they are streaming), or is it patental neglect... caise and effect can make such a huge difference and quickly jumping to a conclusive diagnosis so its easier to bill on health insurance is insane.

      Exactly. I know anecdotal evidence means little but when I mentioned this article to a friend before, they argued that it is clearly a disorder as the child of mutual friend is addicted.
      "They go berserk when you try taking their games away and I wouldn't say there's depression or social anxiety at play." The problem there is that while it probably isn't caused by those issues, there are still deeper seeded issues - largely that the parents are in a constant rotation of spoiling the kid or ignoring them. Teaching discipline or a balanced lifestyle doesn't enter the equation.

      Exactly. Which is ironic because they don't refer to "Smoking addiction", they call it "Nicotine addiction".

      Agree - as a HCP too I found this a little bit questionable. I had two friends who were 'addicted' to video games (if we want to call it that) but it was just symptomatic of depression. They would play games to try to improve their mood. That said it certainly didn't help their situation and they'd often skip meaningful education or employment to play games (and it was predominately games like WoW that required significant time commitments).

      It's probably important to remember that it doesn't exist in a vacuum - it's more likely a patient would be Dx with this with something else like depression as the primary diagnosis.

    Gaming disorder is a thing > not to be confused with 'obsessive gaming' can be a symptom other mental health issues.

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