Games industry pushes back against new 'Gaming Disorder' classification

Modesto Morganelli
Giugno 19, 2018

WHO has officially declared "Gaming Disorders" as a mental health condition and has defined this disorder in their disease classification manual.

In its latest revision to an global disease classification manual, the United Nations health agency said Monday that classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will "serve a public health objective for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue".

The draft also outlines how to diagnose "Gaming Disorder": "The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning".

Others welcomed WHO's new classification, saying it was critical to identify people hooked on video games quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don't seek help themselves. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.

Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.

Separately, the WHO listed "hazardous gaming", which is when a pattern of gaming "appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to this individual or others around this individual".

So-called "shooter games" such as "Fortnite" - described on the support website Game Quitters as the "hottest game in the world" - are either played online or on offline consoles. "For the vast majority it is a recreational activity".

The ICD-11 is still under review, so its content may shift. A diagnosis would have to include evidence of this type of behavior lasting for more than 12 months, the organization said. The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive.

In 2018, more than 150 million Americans are playing video games and 64 percent of American households are home to at least one person who plays video games regularly, or at least three hours per week, according to the ESA.

"Given the gravity of diagnostic classification and its wider social impact, we urge our colleagues at the World Health Organization to err on the side of caution for now and postpone the formalisation", they wrote in a study reviewing academic literature.

WHO will be notifying governments that they'll be expected to add gaming disorder to their public health systems.

The inclusion of "gaming disorder" in WHO's revised catalogue of diseases met with resistence, both from industry and some experts.

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