World Health Organization recognizes gaming addiction as real medical condition

Gaming addiction is very real according to the World Health Organization.

In a new draft of the International Classification of Diseases manual, an entry for “gaming disorder” is currently pending approval. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gaming disorder is being considered as a possible addictive behavior with the draft in the International Classification of Diseases manual expected to be approved in as little as one year’s time.

The International Classification of Diseases manual lists two different types of gaming disorders. First, standard gaming addiction is described as the following:

“Gaming disorder is characterized by 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. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

Then, another disorder known as “hazardous gaming” is classified where the person suffering plays games to the point of physical harm:

“Hazardous gaming refers to a pattern of gaming, either online or offline that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual. The increased risk may be from the frequency of gaming, from the amount of time spent on these activities, from the neglect of other activities and priorities, from risky behaviours associated with gaming or its context, from the adverse consequences of gaming, or from the combination of these. The pattern of gaming is often persists in spite of awareness of increased risk of harm to the individual or to others.”

While both are being considered, the medical community has responded to the draft in different ways. For example, the Department of Health and Social Care stated in an interview with Eurogamer: “Very large numbers of people play games on and offline. For the vast majority it is a recreational activity. But research shows that for a small number, their gaming can become harmful, or an addiction. We welcome the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11, which will over time help to understand the true prevalence of harmful gaming.”

Whether you agree or disagree with how gaming disorder is being defined, the draft will likely be approved. This is because the last revision to the ICD-11 occurred back in 1992, which means updates need to be made. Not just on gaming, but on other modern health issues. What do you think of WHO’s inclusion of gaming disorder as a medical condition? Do you agree, or do you think the entire thing is being blown out of proportion? Let us know down in the comments!

Morgan is a writer, indie game lover, and socially awkward coffee addict. When she's not gaming or caffeinating, you can reach her at morgan.shaver@allgamers.com or say hello using GIFs on Twitter.

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