Gaming addiction’s status as an internationally-recognised disorder will be judged by the World Health Organisation this week.
Members of the WHO will sit at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, running from today until May 28th, to vote on the eleventh iteration of the International Classification of Diseases. This iteration (the ICD-11) infamously included adding “gaming disorder” to WHO’s Compendium of Diseases.
Should it be listed, gaming disorder would be diagnosed to individuals who exhibit impaired control over the frequency and duration of gaming sessions, at the expense of other interests and activities, and that continues or escalates even as health and relationships deteriorate.
Pushback from the games industry has, naturally, been strong. The ESA’s new president, Stanley Pierre-Louis, gave a little more ground to the WHO while still insisting further conversation is needed on the subjects of health and gaming.
"We believe that continued conversation and education is needed before any classification is finalised. In fact, leading mental health experts have cautioned repeatedly that classifying 'Gaming Disorder' creates a risk of misdiagnosis for patients who most need help," said Pierre-Louis.
"It's our hope that through continued dialogue we can help the WHO avoid rushed action and mistakes that could take years to correct.
"As an industry, we are committed to collaborating with stakeholders, researchers, policymakers, and parents to ensure best-in-class ratings, parental controls, and other tools help video game players and parents understand and manage healthy video game play."
The games industry may just be rightly worried about the economic impact of listing the disorder. South Korea, for example, could lose $6 billion in revenue from the stigma of assigning a disease to the medium.