World Health Organization declares compulsive video gaming a mental disorder

Gaming controllers hang over a gaming station room during the grand opening of Esports Arena Las Vegas the first dedicated esports arena on the Las Vegas Strip at Luxor Hotel and Casino

In its revised International Classification of Diseases released Monday, the WHO removed transgender identity as a mental health disorder and added gaming disorder to the list.

It doesn't exactly come as a surprise to find it there.

Others include a man in South Korea who died after playing video games for 86 hours, and a series of similar deaths in China, Taiwan, Russia and the United Kingdom. "Increased frequency and intensity" of gaming has been cited as a predominant attribute of the disorder.

World Health Organization notes that for diagnosis, the behavior pattern has to be of sufficient severity and present negative effects on the individual's life. That, though, may be adjusted depending on the severity of the observed addiction. It should be a matter for concern if one excludes other daily activities to be able to keep playing, or ignores any changes in physical or psychological health and social functioning.

Back when ICD-11's draft version was released in December, the trade group Entertainment Software Association criticized the inclusion of 'gaming disorder, ' stating that it "recklessly trivializes real mental health issues".

"The people with gender identity disorder should be not categorized as a mental disorder because in many cases, in many countries it can be stigmatizing, and it can actually decrease their chances of seeking help because of legal provisions in many countries", said Saxena. However, the DSM falls short of declaring gaming addiction a legitimate disorder. Are you concerned they have compulsive habits?

"What we're talking about - and what the World Health Organisation is talking about - is the people who can no longer stop, no longer control their use".

The WHO writes: "Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities". The research supporting inclusion is highly contested and inconclusive. There is no objective evidence to define and diagnose overuse and that may result in misdiagnosis.

The ICD 11 also introduced the related condition of Hazardous gaming. It urges the World Health Organization to reconsider before officially placing it in the final version of the medical classification document. "We understand that our industry and supporters around the world will continue raising their voices in opposition to this move and urge the WHO to avoid taking steps that would have unjustified implications for national health systems across the world".

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