The World Health Organization now officially recognizes ‘Gaming Disorder’ as a condition, though critics say there isn’t enough evidence to substantiate it. The decision to recognize Gaming Disorder was made during the 72nd World Health Assembly this weekend; the disorder is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
According to WHO, gaming disorder is ‘a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior, which may be online or offline,’ that includes the following issues:
– Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
– Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
– 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.
In a page on its website, WHO explains that gaming disorder as defined in the ICD-11 must be diagnosed based on a behavior pattern that is ‘of sufficient severity’ that it causes ‘significant’ issues in areas of the gamer’s life, including socially, with family, to the detriment of one’s education and/or career, and other similar issues.
Someone with gaming disorder, WHO says, prioritizes playing games over other activities to a severe extent — one that, if left unchecked, would ultimately result in ‘negative consequences.’ As well, this behavior pattern needs to persist for at least 12 months to be considered a gaming disorder.
WHO says it made its decision about the inclusion of gaming disorder based on the currently available evidence related to negative gaming behavior. Experts from different areas who specialized in various disciplines were consulted as part of the decision process. By defining the disorder, WHO anticipates health providers around the world will be more likely to recognize and treat people who suffer from the issue.