The World Health Organisation (WHO) has voted to recognize video game addiction as an official illness despite opposition from academics and industry bodies.
At the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), WHO includes ‘gaming disorder’ as a recognized disease.
The ICD-11 says that gaming disorder is “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
WHO says the behavior pattern must be “of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”
The WHO says that including gaming disorder as an official illness will “result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures.”
However, the WHO’s decision to adopt gaming disorder as an official disease has been met with strong opposition by the global games industry called on the WHO to ‘rethink’ the decision.
The WHO said that the decision on the inclusion of gaming disorder is “based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions.”
Gaming companies such as Microsoft say that while they believe more research is needed, the industry has a ‘great responsibility’ to address concerns over gaming addiction, pointing to available tools such as parents being able to set screen time limits.