The World Health Organisation has published a draft of the 11th edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (known as the ICD11), which outlines humanity’s mortality.

The tome contains details about the diseases around us, as well as the mental health issues we may encounter, and WHO has a new addition to addictive behaviour disorders section in the 11th edition of the ICD – Gaming Disorder.

The WHO says that gaming disorder manifests as impaired control over gaming (for instance not controlling how long you play for), giving gaming priority over other interests, and continuing to play games despite there being negative consequences.

Gaming becomes problematic when, according to the WHO, “The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

Confusingly, the WHO says that this behaviour could be continous or episodic and recurrent. Does that mean that because I enjoy playing games on Friday that I have a problem? I don’t think so but then I’m not a mental health professional.

Going further into the drafted section the organisation states that “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.”

At the moment this classification is still very much a draft but some of the definitions seem very wide from where we are sitting.

Is a love of gaming really an addiction?

Thankfully we aren’t the only folks who found the organisation’s definition of gaming disorder unclear and potentially problematic.

A statement published by the European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) said it was concerned with the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD11.

“The value of the educational benefits of video games for educational purposes no longer needs to be proved. Games improves strategic thinking and increasingly teachers bring games into the classroom for an enhanced learning experience, ranging from Minecraft’s Education Edition allowing to create workshops and initiate pupils to work on mathematics, languages and science,” reads the statement.

“To classify gaming as a disorder under the mental health and addiction category of the ICD11 list will create moral panic and may lead to abuse of diagnosis as the inclusion is not based on a high level of evidence, as would be required to formalise any other disorder,” the statement concludes.

A number of parties co-signed that statement including the local Interactive Entertainment South Africa and organisers of E3, the Entertainment and Software Association.

While interested parties are invited to submit proposals for revisions to ICD11 before the draft is finalised, it appears as if the signatories to the statement published by EGDF have already tried to get the WHO to remove this classification.

We’re interested to see where this goes but it does have us considering going for a walk before we dive into a night of gaming.


[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]