The World Health Organization has now officially voted to include “Gaming Disorder” to its list of recognised illness, following its proposed inclusion back in June last year.
The move, which has drawn criticism from some corners, came during the 72nd World Health Assembly. The addition of Gaming Disorder marks the 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).
According to WHO’s ICD-11 Gaming Disorder is described as “A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline.”
It goes on to specify that the disorder may manifest itself through “impaired control over gaming”, increasingly putting video games ahead of other “life interests and activities”, and continuing to put in long play sessions despite obvious negative consequences in matters of “personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”
In order to be diagnosed with the disorder, the patient would have to exhibit the above behaviour for a minimum of 12 months – though if “symptoms are severe”, a diagnosis could be reached quicker.
In light of WHO’s decision, various Entertainment Associations from across the globe, including the US, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and the UK have come together to criticise the move and implore that it consider more reviews and independent experts.
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.
However, WHO explained to Gameindustry.biz that the decision to formally include Gaming Disorder as a recognised illness was based on a number of reviews of available evidence, with the help of multiple experts from various disciplines.
A decision on 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.
WHO has confirmed that the ICD-11 will officially go into effect on January 1, 2022. This news comes just weeks after a Republican Senator announced a bill that would aim to ban loot boxes in video games.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.