News & Opinion | May 28, 2019 3:35 pm

Video Game Addiction Recognized by World Health Organization as Mental Disorder

But the WHO's move isn't being embraced by all in the global health community

"Gaming disorder"
"Gaming disorder" will soon be an official WHO concern. (Rob Stothard/ Getty)

The World Health Organization has officially recognized “Gaming disorder,” or an addiction to playing video games, as a mental health disorder that will be listed in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems or “ICD-11,” which goes into effect in January 2020.

The addiction will be detailed among other disorders that are caused by substance use or addictive behaviors, like “Gambling disorder,” USA Today reported.

The disorder’s new description will say that it includes recurrent game play that leads to “impaired control over gaming” and an “increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities,” despite “the occurrence of negative consequences.”

The WHO’s move isn’t being embraced by all in the global health community, however, or, less surprisingly, by video game industry representatives. Some experts believe that there have not yet been enough studies into video game addiction to warrant an official classification.

“Risk of abuse of a formalized new disorder that solely involves the behavior of playing video games — a stigmatized entertainment activity — can only expand the false-positive issues in psychiatry,” a group of researchers wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions last year. And the American Psychiatric Association agreed, saying there’s not “sufficient evidence” that backs up gaming addiction as a “unique mental disorder.”

The Entertainment Software Association and UK Interactive Association have asked the WHO to “rethink their decision.”

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