The World Health Organization (WHO) released the latest draft of its International Compendium of Diseases, adding “gaming disorder” and “hazardous gaming” to the updated version.
According to the new WHO definition, the gaming disorder is characterized by a
“pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘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.”
WHO also defines hazardous gaming as „a pattern of gaming, either online or offline that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual.“
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a representative of the US video game industry, issued a demand to WHO to reverse the direction of the proposed action, claiming that “ common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community.“
UK-based social media expert Sylvia Korsak noted that adding these disorders to WHO list will benefit both medical profesionals engaged in prevention and curring addiction, and also incite wider public debate about these issues.
„Gaming is not exactly a tabu topic but the opinions about it are divided and not always informed, which does not help the actual individuals who enjoy gaming and feel a positive impact of it, nor the gamers who struggle with addictive behaviours but simply cannot seek professional help. There are increasingly more and more reahbs, camps and other ideas to help, but an average parent or spouse might suffer and struggle because the web and the mainstream media scare us, terrify us even and simply don’t offer any practical solutions,” Korsak wrote on her blog.
The newly classified disorders are not the focus of WHO work. On their website they point out that the biggest global health challenges in 2017 included lack of vaccinations to prevent epidemics such as meningitis, and reducing mortality from cholera and famine.