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WHO decision to list gaming addiction as a mental disorder

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In a surprising move, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced ‘gaming addiction’ as a new mental health disorder and included in the International Classification of Diseases ( 11th revision). But some psychologists believe that there is little clarity about Gaming addiction diagnostic criteria throughout the scientific community and the WHO decision was too early.

What is gaming disorder?

According to the WHO classification, gaming disorder is a pattern of gaming behavior (digital-gaming or video-gaming) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to playing the game over other activities to the extent that it takes precedence daily routines. For the gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be in the extent such a severity that there is significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational and occupational. The observation period should be at least 12 months.

What is the International Classification of Diseases?

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the foundation for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. ICD conditions are used by medical practitioners to diagnose conditions. It is also used by researchers to categorize conditions. The inclusion of a disease or disorder in the ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders.

Why gaming disorder is included in ICD-11?

A sudden decision to include gaming disorder in ICD-11 has several reason. It was based on reviews of scientific evidence. It establishes and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of consultations.

The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 follows after a series of new development of treatment programmes for people with health conditions and these were found to be very identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder. These treatment programmes were derived from many parts of the world, and has attracted the attention of health professionals.

Should normal people playing games concerned about gaming disorder?

Scientific studies suggest that gaming disorder has affected only a fraction of people who engage in digital or video-gaming activities. However, people who play several hours together should be alert to the amount of time they spend. They should be particular, if gamers spend more time on gaming activities, than normal daily routine.

How Gaming disorder is similar to other disorder ?

Game disorder has three vital characteristics that will help doctors make a diagnosis and offer treatment. Firstly, a gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are avoided. The second characteristic is when a person suffers from impaired control of normal behaviors. Even when negative consequences occur, this abnormal behavior continues or escalates. Finally, the third characteristic is when a person’s personal relationship, career goals, higher education or work environment is negatively affected by the addiction. Apart from this, consequences of gaming disorder include sleeplessness, bad food habits, unwillingness to engage in outdoor physical activities. These three characteristics are very similar to the behavior of a person suffering from a substance or gambling abuse.

Why sudden declaration of gaming addiction?

Many moderate political thinkers say that the WHO has taken the decision after the pressure from East Asia. As those countries are suffering with gaming problems as millions of youth are addicted to video games. But the officials from WHO have refuted the allegations and have maintained that the decision to define the gaming disorder in ICD-11 was “based entirely on technical considerations and not political ones.

Why some psychologists and entertainment industry disagreement with WHO?

Many behavioral experts say that they have little clarity about diagnostics and appropriate symptoms of video game addiction. They believe the current inclusion is premature. As anything which is considered addiction can be bracketed inside a disorder, watching too much cricket, television serials, even working too much or, doing too much research. Besides, such a warning would put unnecessary concern among parents. Parents must be educated about the fact this doesn’t mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for psychologist help.

They also point out that WHO didn’t pay efforts to listen to a wider array of researchers and scholars. Any scientific definition or conclusion should be based on evidence, but said that it would take many more studies and research to confirm that gaming disorder should be a distinct clinical diagnosis.

Apart from them, The Entertainment Software Association, the trade body representing the U.S. gaming industry, issued a statement stating studies by 30 plus mental behaviour experts who have opposed the inclusion. Many game lovers also disagree with the WHO inclusion. For them, gaming is a daily routine and helps them de-stress, solve mental problems, and resolve complicated mental tension. Finally, there are some young gamers who even look at video games as a career option feel upset and dissatisfied with these results.


The primary objective behind the WHO with the inclusion of gaming disorder is point out the mental condition which harms younger generation. Such a classification has sparked out a conversation and has encouraged debates. Despite disagreements, WHO decision has encouraged debate on the behavioural changes which lead new light to conduct more research and discuss on how the recognition of this condition will affect people in the long run. And parents, teachers and friends of video game lovers should still be mindful of a potentially harmful problem effects. If they find video games are interfering with the normal behaviour or routine life of the person — whether it is education, whether it’s socialization, whether it’s career — then they need to be cautious.But generally, people need not worry about the inclusion as percentage of video game players in a country with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small — much less than 0.5 per cent of the population.

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