Video game addiction could be recognised as an official disease

World Health Organisation to reveal findings

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will vote this week on whether to classify video game addiction as an official disease.

The organisation has been looking into the public health implications of excessive internet, computer and electronic device use since 2014, and last year it included gaming as a medical disorder in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases.

It defined gaming disorder “as a clinically recognizable and clinically significant syndrome, when the pattern of gaming behaviour is of such a nature and intensity that it results in marked distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning”.

Following further investigation and dialogue with the video games and related industries, it’s now set to vote on whether to recognise gaming disorder as an official disease, The Telegraph reports.

For its part, the video games industry has argued that further research must be conducted before coming to any conclusion on the matter.

Stanley Pierre-Louis, head of the Entertainment Software Association, the industry trade body which counts PlayStation, Microsoft, Nintendo, Activision Blizzard and Epic Games among its members, said in January after meeting with WHO officials: “We believe that continued conversation and education is needed before any classification is finalized.

“In fact, leading mental health experts have cautioned repeatedly that classifying ‘Gaming Disorder’ creates a risk of misdiagnosis for patients who most need help.

“It’s our hope that through continued dialogue we can help the WHO avoid rushed action and mistakes that could take years to correct,” Pierre-Louis added.

“The billions of video game players around the world who will be affected by an ICD-11 classification error deserve action based on meticulous research.”