Gaming addiction to be classified as mental health condition by the WHO

03 January 2018


Video game addiction will soon be listed as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation (“WHO”) for the first time.

Image courtesy of Texas State Historical Association

The BBC reports that the 11th International Classification of Diseases (“ICD”) will include a condition dubbed “gaming disorder”. The aforementioned disorder has been included in the most recent ICD draft which is set to be published in 2018, with ICD 10 being released back in 1992. 

The size of the document is monumental as would be expected, with the instruction manual for use spanning well over 200 pages. The document contains codes for diseases as well as signs and symptoms which are used by both doctors and top level researchers to identify, track and diagnose disease. 

According to the BBC, “gaming disorder” is described as a “pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes precedence over other life interests”. Additionally, a diagnosis is suggested through evidence in a period of at least 12 months but that period may be smaller should “symptoms be severe”. 

The list of symptoms include: 

  • impaired control over gaming (frequency, intensity, duration);
  • increased priority given to gaming;
  • continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences. 

Dr Richard Graham reflected on the decision with the BBC, stating: “It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously”. He continued: “It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers”.

There’s examples worldwide of countries introducing measures to cap children’s time spent playing games. In South Korea there’s no access for younger children to online games between midnight and the early hours of the morning, whilst Tencent have introduced time limits on some of their most popular mobile titles. It’s unclear how successful the measures are, nor the size of the problem but there’s definitely been action taken across the globe. 

Although the classification will be official from the World Health Organisation, the UK has not been unaware of problems surrounding gaming and addiction. There’s organisations who are regulated and offering treatment for those with addiction already and thus the classification is unlikely to offer drastic change to the everyday person. 

Esports Insider says: It’s always important to enjoy anything in life in moderation, and to offer support for those who need it. Whilst we’re not going to pretend that the new classification will have any visible ramifications, it’s good to know that organisations are keeping up with the times.