Video games: the WHO recognizes the addiction as a disease


Published on May 26, 2019


Many who are not experts of the video game world may find the idea hard to believe, but the truth is that players have infinite options now to enjoy their passion, from games for console and computer games for mobile devices, that connect people all over the world like never before.

The World Health Organization had announced last year that they had planned to classify the addiction to gaming as a disease. The WHO had published the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in 2018, which is accepted internationally as the standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. The ICD is used by physicians and researchers to diagnose and classify the conditions.

According to Game Rant, the WHO has voted positive to include officially the disorders in the ICD, with further revisions. The new addition will enter into force on 1 January 2022. According to the current definition of this addiction or disorder can be defined by:

“A model of behavior in the play, persistent or recurrent (‘digital game’ or ‘game’), which can be online (e.g. on the Internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impairment in the control on the games (e.g. frequency, intensity, duration, end, context) 2) increasing priority given to the games to the extent that the game takes precedence over the other interests of life, and daily activities, and 3) continuation of the game, despite the onset of negative consequences. The model is of sufficient gravity to determine significant impairment of the areas of interaction the personal, family, social, educational, professional, or other type. The pattern of behavior of the game can be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The game behavior, and other characteristics should be normally evident in a period of at least 12 months to be able to make a diagnosis, although the duration may be shortened if all the requirements of the diagnostic are met and the symptoms are severe”.

The definition implies that the game becomes a disease – that is to say, a dependence – when an individual begins to put into play the interactions and the responsibilities of real life. In most cases, this is the priority of the game has a negative impact on their lives. The goal is to make easier the identification of the disorder and for the patient to receive appropriate treatment. Currently, the numbers reported for the dependence from the game are relatively low, but because the classification has just been made the official number may increase.

Not all, however, agree with the new classification. The Entertainment Software Association, creator of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, said last year not to agree with this definition, claiming that video games do not create dependency, and has rejected the proposal of the world Organization. On the other hand, Fortnite and similar games have been cited as the main cause of divorce for some couples in the United Kingdom and numerous gaming companies have been sued in recent years by people who claim to have developed an addiction to the game because of their products.

We can only wait for the reactions of the players.

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