World Health Organization Officially Recognizes Gaming Addiction as a Disease

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The World Health Organization has been contemplating a new classification, “Gaming Disorder,” and they’ve finally made a final decision on the classification.

The WHO has officially acknowledged the disorder this weekend, at the 72nd World Health Assembly. This means the organization will officially recognize gaming as a potentially addictive behavior.

The group defines gaming addiction for both offline and online gaming in a similar way. Both are “characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurring gaming behavior,” while online gaming is “primarily conducted over the internet” and offline gaming is clearly not.

The supposed disorder arises in three ways:

  • 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 behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

“The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent,” the WHO state. “The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

Gaming regulatory bodies like the ESA and IGDA, as well as a multitude of professional psychologists, have all decried the WHO classifying gaming addiction as a clinical disorder.

Now that the WHO has recognized gaming addiction as a disorder, they have until 2022 to introduce new preventative measures and treatments, which I’m sure will be hilarious.

Is gaming addiction a disorder? Sound off in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: Featured image is concept art from Grand Theft Auto V

Brandon Orselli

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Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.