The WHO Recognizes Video Game Addiction as a Real Disease

The WHO Recognizes Video Game Addiction as a Real Disease

During the 72nd World Health Assembly, the 194 members of the World Health Organization recognized the dependence of video games as a real disease.

The “gaming disorder” was already included in the eleventh revision of the ICD-11 ( International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems ) last June. On that occasion, it was described as a spectrum of behaviors characterized by an altered control of the game, in which gaming is given higher priority than other daily interests and activities, despite the manifestation of negative consequences. In order to be able to diagnose video game addiction, this behavior must be severe enough to alter the personal, family, social, educational and working life of the person concerned, and be obvious for at least 12 months.

Some important videogame bodies, such as ESA, ISFE, and UKIE, have openly opposed the decision of the WHO, concerned about the negative impact it could have on the perception of the entire medium, as well as on the economic and creative sides. Despite the opposition, during the last assembly the WHO decided to approve the ICD-11, which will officially enter into force next January 1, 2022, and to effectively recognize the dependence of video games as a real disease, diagnosable according to the above criteria.

The organization’s representatives stated that the decision was taken based on the many available evidence, and received the consent of experts in different fields of medicine from multiple regions of the world. The objective of the WHO is to increase the attention of doctors towards this condition and to push towards the development of adequate preventive and therapeutic measures.