World Health Organisation adopts 'gaming addiction' as official illness despite industry opposition

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World Health Organisation adopts 'gaming addiction' as official illness despite industry opposition

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a decision to go forward with a proposal that recognises "gaming disorder" as an illness.

Per the World Health Organization, a Gaming Disorder falls under their 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and has been characterized as a disorder due to "addictive behaviors," which also includes hallucinogens, medications and other controlled substances that can either become addictive, through psychoactive changes or through repetitive behavior. The ICD-11 was officially accepted by the 194-member organization on Saturday.

The classification for gaming disorder was added to the ICD-11 revision in mid-2018 as the gaming industry faced increased scrutiny over games that encouraged compulsive play.

The WHO state that, to be diagnosed with the disorder, "The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent", and requires a 12 month period to assign an official diagnosis - that is, unless symptoms are "severe" enough to warrant a more prompt classification.

There isn't much to editorialize about here: Video games certainly can be addicting in certain forms, though various industry groups have battled against the distinction in a variety of ways. The new classifications will come into effect on 1 January 2022.

"You could easily take out the word "gaming" and put in "sex" or "food" or 'watching the World Cup, '" Oxford psychologist Andrew Przybylski said of the matter, arguing that the WHO's "new" classification isn't even about games, in particular - a fact that he feared could "lead to a kind of pathologization of every aspect of life".

"Gaming disorder" lives under the "disorders due to addictive behaviour" section of the ICD.

The definition of gaming disorder has remained more or less the same since the WHO introduced it as a mental health disorder past year.

A number of European gaming industry representatives have called for the World Health Organization to reevaluate the decision, saying it's not based on enough "robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO's most important norm-setting tools", they said in a statement.

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