World Health Organization Finds “Gaming Disorder” an Official Modern Illness

Recently, The World Health Organization (WHO) added “gaming disorder” to its list of modern diseases in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Gaming disorder was added to the ICD at the 72nd World Health Assembly, despite trade group opposition which brought up contradictory research pointing to gaming being a good thing for players. Yet, it was still added.

In the ICD, gaming disorder is classified under the disorders due to addictive behavior.

The definition for the disorder is: “A pattern of persistent or recurring gaming behavior, which may be online or offline, manifested by impaired control over gaming, 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.”

However, the issue of gaming addiction is not new.

The DSM-5, the American mental health handbook issued by the American Psychiatric Association, lists gaming addiction as “up for discussion.”

On the other hand, the American Medical Association refused to label video gaming an addiction in 2007.

WHO notes that “For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”

WHO notes that gaming disorder has been included due to treatment programs which have been created in order to help people recovering from their gaming addictions.

While many people may play video games, not everyone should be concerned about developing gaming disorder.

The disorder comes with an increased amount of time spent gaming, where the act of gaming pushes aside the drive to do other things. This can alter both “physical and psychological health” according to WHO.