Gamers beware: WHO classifies 'gaming addiction' as a real affliction that can hamper personal and social well-being

It’s almost official, excessive gaming is on the verge of being classified under “disorders due to addictive behaviours” as an ailment worthy of treatment. This classification might come into effect in 2018, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) updates its International Classification of Diseases for the 11th time (ICD-11).

Representational image

Representational image

The classification might be a bitter pill to swallow for some, but many will admit that it’s been a long time coming. As Digital Trends notes, the classification is not without teeth. The WHO document is an “international standard” for disease classification and doctors and insurance companies around the world will adopt the definitions in time. ICD-11 is still a draft, but the final version is due in 2018.

According to the document, when gaming starts affecting a person’s judgement and has significant personal and social impact, it needs treatment. As per WHO’s description, the disorder can normally be diagnosed as such after at least 12 months of observation.

The description is as follows:

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘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 behaviour 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 behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour 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."

Interestingly, WHO also has a classification for “Hazardous gaming”, which it says refers to a “pattern of gaming” that “appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual” or to others around them.


Published Date: Dec 26, 2017 13:56 PM | Updated Date: Dec 26, 2017 13:56 PM