W.H.O: Gaming Addiction To Be Officially Classified As A Disease In 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) has voted to officially classify gaming addiction as a disease in the International Classification of Diseases in 2022. Many who are not well versed in the gaming world might find the idea difficult to believe, but the truth of the matter is, gaming has come a long way in recent years. Players have endless options, from console and computer games to mobile games, and many multiplayer games are played while communicating with an online streaming community, connecting people across the world like never before. People have less reason everyday to leave their couch and put the controllers down, when at the click of a button, the touch of a screen, or the tap of the mouse, they can be transported into the universe of the game.

The World Health Organization announced last year that they had plans to classify gaming addiction as a disease. WHO released the 11th edition of The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in 2018, and is accepted internationally as the standard for reporting disease and health conditions. The ICD is used by medical practitioners and researchers alike, to diagnose and categorize conditions. Last year, WHO made a draft of the new proposal for the addition to the ICD, but the vote to make gaming addiction officially classified and recognized as a disease did not come until a year later.

According to Game Rant, a new vote was taken by WHO to officially include gaming disorders in the ICD, with added revisions, and was accepted. The new addition will go into effect on January 1, 2022. The current definition from the 2018 revision of the ICD, gaming addiction, or disorder, can be defined 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.”

The definition implies that gaming becomes a disease – namely an addiction – when an individual begins to place gaming over real life interactions and responsibilities. In most cases, this prioritizing of gaming activities negatively impacts their lives. The aim is to make it easier to identify the disorder, and for the patient to receive appropriate treatment. Currently, reported numbers for gaming addiction is relatively low, but since the classification has only just been made official, that number may increase.

Not all, however, have been on board with the new classification. The Entertainment Software Association, creators of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, said last year that they did not agree with this definition, stating that video games are not addictive, and pushed back on WHO’s proposal. On the other hand, Fortnite and similar games have been cited as a top cause of divorce. According to a sample taken in January 2018 by the top divorce website in the UK, over 200 people reported ending their relationships because of their partner’s gaming addiction. Numerous gaming companies have been sued in recent years by individuals who claim to have developed gaming addiction as a result of playing their games.

Clearly, gaming has had an incredible impact on society, and anything that is abused or wrongfully prioritized can have incredible impact on an individual’s mental health. Today, mental health is talked about more openly, and not nearly as stigmatized as it once was, so perhaps this new classification by the World Health Organization will help direct those who need professional help to the right resources. As with all changes, there will be those who are unwilling to accept the classification of gaming addiction as a disease, but nonetheless, the vote has been made and will be upheld internationally.

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