After years of intense debate, the World Health Organization has officially classified video game addiction as a disorder, much to the disappointment of various industry bodies.
The WHO classifies “gaming disorder” as a recurring or persistent pattern of behavior marked by the following:
- Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
- Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
- 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.
Sony’s Chief Executive Officer, Kenichiro Yoshida, has said that gaming disorder needs to be taken seriously and companies need to adopt countermeasures to tackle the issue.
“We’ve already implemented a ratings system (to restrict players by age) and have been taking measures based on our own standards,” he told Japanese media outlets without going into further details.
Earlier this year, the Entertainment Software Association, Interactive Software Federation of Europe, and the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment urged the WHO to reconsider the move. The trade bodies held meetings with WHO to address the issue, hoping that continued dialogue would encourage the WHO to “avoid rushed action and mistakes that could take years to correct.”
“The billions of video game players around the world who will be affected by an ICD-11 classification error deserve action based on meticulous research,” ESA said back in January. “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.”
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