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World Health Organization Defends Choice to List Gaming Addiction as Disorder

When the World Health Organization announced it would be officially listing gaming addiction as a disorder in its latest International Classification of Diseases, the backlash was swift. Gamers and companies around the world joined together to question the decision from an academic, industry, and consumer standpoint.

While the decision isn’t 100% official just yet (the review process for all decisions will take place next year), that hasn’t stopped the WHO from going forward with it, and just recently, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, coordinator for the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, spoke with about the ongoing controversy. In the talk, he explains the decision of the WHO, citing that the decision not to consult with the video game industry was done in accordance with WHO rules and protocol.

“Developing classification of disorder is a core normative function of WHO, and it does everything possible to avoid interference from commercial and other entities which may have vested interest in the outcome of the process,” he said. “So for that reason, and this is exactly in accordance with WHO rules and procedures, we did not consult with the industry.”

Despite the general scare that some media outlets try to display when it comes to gaming, Poznyak was very clear in stating that the WHO didn’t take any of that into consideration. “If you look at mass media, there are sometimes very scandalous stories,” he said explained. “But at the same time, in the process which led to the conclusions for ICD-11, we based our deliberations on scientific evidence, on clinical records, on what we are seeing in trends of treatment demand in different countries… These media reports were not a part of our consideration.”

The entire interview is certainly worth checking out, but as it stands, it seems like the WHO has decided to go forward with their decision and will be bringing their entire International Classification of Diseases – with gaming addiction included – to review next year.