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WHO recognises video game addiction as a mental disorder

Update: May, 30/2019 - 00:01
A student playing a video game at a game centre in Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Bảo Hoa

HÀ NỘI — The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially designated 'gaming disorder' as a mental illness. 

Members of the WHO voted over the weekend to approve the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Related Health Problems, which defines gaming disorder as a disease. The updated ICD will not be adopted until 2022. 

The ICD-11 report said the disorder: "characterised by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences."

The organisation did add that it considers gaming disorder as "relatively rare" writing: “Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities.”

The new classification is likely to receive a backlash from the multi-billion dollar industry.

Speaking to NBC after the vote, Video Games Coalition said their products had "educational, therapeutic, and recreational value" and were "enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide."

But ahead of the decision, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said: "We need to take it seriously and adopt countermeasures."

The Global Video Game Industry, which represents game and software manufacturers around the globe, called on the WHO to rethink its decision.

In a statement, it said: “The global video game industry—including representatives from across Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, and Brazil—today called on World Health Organisation (WHO) Member States to re-examine at an early date its decision to include 'Gaming Disorder' in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).  

“The WHO is an esteemed organisation and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts. ‘Gaming disorder’ is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools.” — VNS

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