“Gaming disorder” to be classified as a disease by WHO

Virginia Glaze

The World Health Organization caused a stir across the gaming community in summer 2018, after introducing a clause in their diagnostic handbook that would classify “gaming disorder” as a legitimate mental health affliction – a clause that has since passed in the 11th edition of the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases.

To be officially diagnosed with “gaming disorder,” a patient must exhibit three symptoms: 

  • an inability to control gaming behavior (whether it be the duration, intensity, or frequency of play time, etc.)
  • placing an “increased priority” on gaming that takes precedence over other activities in life
  • an increased escalation of gaming despite negative consequences

The WHO state that, to be diagnosed with the disorder, “The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent,” and requires a 12 month period to assign an official diagnosis – that is, unless symptoms are “severe” enough to warrant a more prompt classification.

Despite the WHO’s controversial new addition, many gaming organizations and even psychologists are wary of the “disorder,” with mental health experts sounding off their concerns as early as last year, when the concept was initially introduced.

FreepikThe WHO has officially declared “gaming disorder” a disease, which is now included in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases.

“You could easily take out the word ‘gaming’ and put in ‘sex’ or ‘food’ or ‘watching the World Cup,’” Oxford psychologist Andrew Przybylski said of the matter, arguing that the WHO’s “new” classification isn’t even about games, in particular – a fact that he feared could “lead to a kind of pathologization of every aspect of life.”

FreepikSince the WHO’s 2019 ruling, gaming enthusiasts and personalities have been decrying the decision across social media, with many finding the decision unfathomable.

Following the WHO’s latest ruling, gaming enthusiasts have been sounding off across the internet, with such personalities like esports analyst Rod Breslau, caster and content creator Jack ‘CouRage’ Dunlop, and more decrying the decision via social media.

“I’m collecting disability,” Breslau jokingly Tweeted of the matter.

“Does that mean I can get a placard to park in the handicapped spots?” content creator ‘Anne Munition’ wrote. “Or start collecting disability checks? (I would never actually do this but honestly, ‘video game disorder?’)”

While the WHO has made a new place for “gaming disorder” in its ranks, the condition doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2022 – leaving gamers with a little under three years before parents can take their “gaming addicted” children to psychologists for an official diagnosis of the disorder.

About The Author

Virginia is Dexerto's Entertainment Editor and an expert in all things TikTok, YouTube, and influencer-related. Boasting a background in esports, she's been tackling the social media space for over five years. You can reach Virginia at: virginia.glaze@dexerto.com.

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