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‘Gaming Disorder’ Is Now An Officially Recognized Illness By WHO

It’s official.

  • “Gaming disorder” is now a medical diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization.
  • According to the WHO definition, gaming becomes a disorder when it interferes with daily life.
  • The video game industry has loudly opposed this classification since the WHO first proposed it in 2018.

This has been a long time coming. In late 2017, gaming disorder became part of the 2018 draft of the International Classification of Diseases and then in mid-2018, it was included in the beta version of the 11th edition ICD.

Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized gaming disorder as an illness. The long-awaited decision was agreed by WHO member states at the agency’s 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to WHO’s ICD-11, this is the definition and characterization of gaming disorder:

“A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘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 behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

In response, various Entertainment Associations from around the world, including the US, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and the UK, immediately called on the WHO to rethink its decision.

They wrote in a joint statement:

“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.”

The organization confirmed that the ICD-11 will officially start on January 1, 2022.

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