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World Health Organization Officially Lists Gaming Addiction as Disorder

Yesterday, the World Health Organization announced that it had finalized its 11th International Classification of Diseases, and much like the draft did in December of last year, it includes the addition of gaming to its section of addictive disorders.

Despite some pushback from various places, including the Entertainment Software Association, the WHO Has nonetheless decided to go ahead and keep the disorder in its finalized classifications. Housing nearly 55,000 medical issues, the ICD-11 is used for clinical care, research, and is rarely given major revisions, so it is a legitimately big deal that gaming addiction has been added to its pages.

According to the ICD-11, a gaming disorder is characterized by the following behaviors:

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

The ICD-11 won’t be formally adopted by the WHO’s member nations until next year and won’t be fully adopted until January 2022, but even so, the final revision has laid the groundwork for gaming addiction to officially be treated and categorized as a disorder.