Is Gaming a Disorder: The World Health Organization Thinks So

When the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to adopt the Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) it also meant they would officially deem excessive gaming a disorder. The decision took place at the 72nd World Health Assembly, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The World Health Organization Outlines the Symptoms of Gaming Disorder

The manual lists gaming disorder as a pattern of troubling behaviors regarding gaming. This includes prioritizing gaming over other things in an individual’s life. And even to the point where negative consequences happen.

People must demonstrate a long-established pattern of symptoms to qualify for the disorder. An individual’s inability to control their gaming behaviors, even to the point of seeming disaster, is a defining characteristic of the disorder.

Those suffering from gaming disorder can game so much they lose their jobs. Also, they neglect relationships and suffer educationally. However, this does little to curb their gaming behaviors.

But Do Gamers Agree?

A number of international organizations have already expressed outrage. Industries from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Korea, Brazil, and South Africa have come out against the decision. They are requesting the World Health Organization reexamine their actions because they say there isn’t enough evidence for it to make sense. They also claim the decision is detrimental to those who use gaming as a coping mechanism for varying disorders.

Still, the decision is not without precedent. The WHO began examining whether to adopt the classification of “Gaming Disorder” in as early as late 2017. However, it took them time to determine the exact language of their classification. Additionally, the WHO distinguishes between online and offline versions of the disorder, as well.

Some mental health organizations around the world already consider addictive gaming a form of mental illness. But others balk at the notion. However, the decision provides an impetus for member states of the WHO to find ways to combat the “disorder” in their countries. Countries including South Korea, China, and the UK have taken steps to help individuals recover from the disorder.