WHO Confirms Gaming Addiction Among New Disorders; Games Industry Responds

Gaming Addiction NHS

You might recall our previous report in late 2017 about the World Health Organization adding gaming addiction in the draft for the revised International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Yesterday, an updated version of the draft has been released to member states of the World Health Organization so that they might prepare to implement the changes. As you can see here, gaming addiction is still there in the ICD-11.

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The final version is scheduled to be submitted to the 144th Executive Board Meeting in January 2019 and the Seventy-second World Health Assembly in May 2019. Before that happens, though, the games industry is determined to make its voice heard so that the World Health Organization may reconsider.

In fact, several organizations have joined forces to release the following statement.

Video games 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 recognised. We are therefore concerned to see ‘gaming disorder’ still contained in the latest version of the WHO’s ICD-11 despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community. The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive. We hope that the WHO will reconsider the mounting evidence put before them before proposing inclusion of ‘gaming disorder’ in the final version of ICD-11 to be endorsed next year. We understand that our industry and supporters around the world will continue raising their voices in opposition to this move and urge the WHO to avoid taking steps that would have unjustified implications for national health systems across the world.

For its part, the Entertainment Software Association also published a press release adding that a paper contesting this decision by the World Health Organization will soon be released.

36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centers and universities – including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Stockholm University and The University of Sydney – will oppose, in an upcoming journal paper, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) plan to create a new gaming disorder classification.

The experts’ paper (‘A Weak Scientific Basis for Gaming Disorder: Let us err on the side of caution’) will appear in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The researchers argue:

  • “Much confusion remains – even among authors supporting the diagnosis – regarding what, exactly, gaming disorder is.”
  • “We maintain that the quality of the existing evidence base is low.”
  • “Formalizing a disorder with the intention to improve research quality neglects the wider non-clinical societal context”
  • “Robust scientific standards are not (yet) employed.”
  • “Moral panic might be influencing formalization and might increase due to it.”
  • An addiction “should be clearly and unambiguously established before formalizing new disorders in disease classification system.”

What's your stance in gaming addiction? Did you experience it yourself or in others and if so, what do you think the World Health Organization should do?

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