ESA Says WHO’s Classification of Gaming Addiction “Recklessly Trivializes” Mental Health Issues

Chandler Wood

Last week, the World Health Organization released a draft of its eleventh revision on the International Compendium of Diseases. In it, the WHO classifies gaming addiction as a disorder. The Entertainment Software Association released a response to the WHO draft that condemns adding gaming addiction to the list of mental health disorders.

Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time. Having captivated gamers for more than four decades, more than 2 billion people around the world enjoy video games.

The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community. We strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action.

While gaming addiction can be a problem, it’s more likely that it’s merely a symptom of a deeper mental health issue that should be properly diagnosed and treated. The ESA’s statement underscores this point by saying that there are many people who enjoy games, along with many other forms of engaging entertainment, without ever letting it get out of hand. With that said, gaming addiction can definitely be a big problem for some people, and the WHO adding it to the ICD doesn’t condemn all gamers, just those that allow gaming to impair their life. It’s recognition could potentially allow some people to get the treatment that they need. The draft won’t be finalized until later this year, so we’ll have to wait to see if the push back from the gaming community has any impact on gaming addiction remaining a classifiable mental health disorder.

What do you think of this feud between the gaming industry and the WHO? Do you think gaming addiction should be classified as a mental health disorder?

[Via: Game Informer]

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Tags: ESAThe Entertainment Software AssociationThe ESAWorld Health Organization