Video Game Addiction Officially Named A Disorder By World Health Organization

Henrietta Strickland
June 19, 2018

With gaming disorder in the ICD, it will help alert medical professionals so that people who suffer from the described condition can get appropriate help.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) published its latest revision of the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) yesterday, containing its first definition of gaming disorder.

Someone who plays video games for a few hours each day could be known simply as a devoted gamer, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has a new classification for those who take it much further than that, to a point where it becomes a serious impairment. People with gaming disorder increasingly prioritize gaming over other activities, even when that could yield negative consequences.

In recent times, a number of games are free to download, which undoubtedly contributes to the gaming culture.

"Videogames across all kinds of genres, devices and platforms are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide, with the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games being well-founded and widely recognized".

"After consulting with experts across the world, and reviewing evidence in an exhaustive manner, we decided that this condition should be added", Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO's department of mental health and substance abuse, told AFP.

For video game addicts, it might soon be "game over".

People who compulsively play video games could soon be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

Several new chapters appear in the first update of WHO's International Classification of Diseases catalogue since the 1990s, including the one on sexual health.

It also includes a section on video gaming, recognising gaming disorder as a pathological condition that can be addictive in the same way as cocaine.

The games industry raked in US$108 billion (RM432 billion) worldwide past year, more than double movie box-office receipts, said Superdata, which tracks the games and interactive media sector.

"Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders", the World Health Organization said in a statement. A group of over 30 social scientists and mental health researchers plan to co-sign an article in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Behavior Addiction arguing against the inclusion, too, Gamasutra pointed out.

"For mental health conditions, ICD codes are especially important since the ICD is a diagnostic tool, and thus, these are the conditions that often garner much of the interest in the ICD", the WHO said today.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health - such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced, the statement said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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