News media reported this week that the World Health Organization (WHO) is moving ahead with the inclusion of “gaming disorder” (essentially video game addiction) in the next version of their International Classification of Diseases (ICD.) This is good news for clinicians hoping to get reimbursed for treating the disorder and politicians looking for cover to regulate or censor speech and technology.
Arguably, it is worse news for good science and for public perceptions of legitimate mental illnesses. Curiously, this also places the WHO in opposition with another United Nations arm, UNICEF, which, in a 2017 report, appears to caution against using the “addiction” concept to apply to technology.
The WHO’s proposal has been in the works for a couple of years and has already generated controversy among scholars in the field.
by Joe Price
The World Health Organization, also known as WHO, will start recognizing “gaming disorder” as an official mental health condition next year.
The International Compendium of Diseases (ICD), which is how WHO categorize their diagnostics for various diseases, is aiming to place video game addiction in the same category as disorders related to gambling and drugs in its next version.
The new draft was published earlier this week, and it marks the first time the ICD has featured an entry dedicated to gaming.
“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 explained in their latest draft.