HEVGA argues WHO’s proposed ‘gaming disorder’ classification scapegoats and stigmatizes games

Is gaming addiction a thing worthy of its own classification? The World Health Organization is thinking about saying yes in its update of the International Classification of Diseases. The Electronic Software Association, predictably, says heck no. Now, the Higher Education Video Game Alliance has weighed in with a big no too, expressing “dismay” at the WHO’s stated intentions and suggesting that the classification won’t actually “combat cases of abuse rooted in individual behavior” but will “stigmatize a pastime that billions of players enjoy without issue around the world” and “warp continued research.”

“We do not support WHO in this classification scheme in the strongest possible terms,” the group’s press release says, suggesting classifications amount to “jumping to premature conclusions” and willful “scapegoating.”

“We’ve watched as games are repeatedly blamed in today’s world for violence, childhood obesity, failures in educational policy, and a host of other contemporary issues, despite both a lack of evidence and careful consideration of other, often far more powerful, systemic forces that contribute to societal behavior. Games are commonly referred to as ‘addictive’ despite numerous conflicting studies and a clear lack of consensus from the scientific and medical communities.”

“While we strongly support the notion of responsible design, community engagement, and engaged citizenship on behalf of both the games community, the game development industry, and the scholarly and academic community studying both these media forms and their effects, we find very little scholarly evidence to support the classification as proposed. Instead, this effort seeks to create a distinction between engagement with this form of media and all other consumption where one may not exist (e.g., binge watching and other consumption patterns). Moreover, it confuses the context and terminology between ‘gaming’, which commonly refers to gambling, and the playing of digital video games. Perhaps most importantly, this classification proposes no prevention or treatment options.”

HEVGA’s stated mission is to “create a platform for higher education leaders which will underscore the cultural, scientific, and economic importance of video game programs in colleges and universities.”

As previously covered, multiple experts have already pointed out the flaws in the classification, noting that the American Psychological Association does not recognize gaming disorder as an addiction, that existing research does not support the conclusion, and that more research is badly needed before the WHO’s conclusion should be taken seriously.

We’ve covered the subject of online games and internet addiction at length over the last few years; this piece by MOP’s Andrew Ross is worth a look if you’re interested in an overview of modern research on the topic.

Source: Press release
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14 Comments on "HEVGA argues WHO’s proposed ‘gaming disorder’ classification scapegoats and stigmatizes games"

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Im addicted to MassivelyOP…..

If you are reading this….HELP ME.


possum440 .
possum440 .

The ESA is against the gaming disorder classification.

Well of course they are, ESA are the game developers. Supported by developers, created by game publishers and game developers.

No big surprise here.


There are two separate things at play here.

1) Obsession. Games can bring about obsession. I would be surprised if most people who play games have not experienced a short term obsession with one game or another. Perhaps even a lasting obsession for years in the case of MMO’s especially. Not terribly unhealthy, aside from low physical activity for long periods of time. But probably not as bad as watching TV or reading a book because TV and books are almost entirely mentally passive, and games you are putting something into it. Planning, focus, strategy, effort, reaction, manual dexterity and drive to win. This is a choice though, one people should be free to make if it is something they enjoy. Perhaps there is a point where a healthy obsession turns unhealthy, but that is not addiction.

2) gambling addiction. Many games have RNG mechanics built in. The one thing that probably saved people was that the only thing you were really spending was time and not money. Add in money and even faster paced mechanics and you are now sitting in front of a slot machine instead of playing a real game. Only instead of going out to a casino, you just jump onto your computer. As these greedy corrupt corporations continue to push there gambling into more and more games with lockboxes and such, now you have a real problem. They have backdoored casinos into peoples home through games. Nobody should be alright with this. This is still so new that the damage won’t be seen for a long time probably. But why should anyone take the chance of one day becoming a gambling addict, because some asshole company pushed these slot machines onto people. Who the hell ever asked for that? There should be a line that does not get crossed. Every MTX should be sold at face value, because when they add RNG into a business transaction they are psychologically exploiting their customers by using peoples innate addictive tendencies to enrich themselves. Right now everyone should take note of these corrupt pricks doing this. We need an industry wide blacklist so players themselves can undermine and damage the income these companies making from gambling. Don’t give them a dollar, now or ever again. Thats what I am doing. People who willfully and knowingly attempt to exploit you deserve to be torn down even if they make otherwise great games.

Dread Quixadhal

Skip the middle man and just declare serotonin to be addictive. Anyone who has excessive levels of serotonin must be submitted for treatment to “cure” their condition.


The Higher Who of Video Who?

Who funds these people and where do they get their voice?

In the long run, this is a dilly dally as Melissa points out, but I’d like to know who says they are speaking for me. And then, I might speak to them. Lol

Melissa McDonald

This is really much ado about nothing. Many of us enjoy a beer or cocktail. I don’t think we fear being “stigmatized”.

Dilly Dilly!



There are many things from the past that, before 2017, I would not believe we could see or do again. I’m not so certain any more.

Bruno Brito

Drinking and drug use is already highly ingrained in people. If this happens again, shitstorms will ensue. Relax.


The US has an Attorney General that is currently trying to criminalize marijuana even in states that have made it legal to consume it for medicinal and even recreational purposes, despite fully knowing* the shitstorm that can happen when the federal government attempts to undo state policies that were implemented as a result of state-wide public consultations.

*At least I hope he knows the potential consequences, because otherwise he would be woefully unprepared for his job.

Bruno Brito

Not disagreeing with you, but i would say that the shitstorm would be smaller than drinking, simply for the fact you guys been having a drug war for a while now. A failing drug war, for sure, but a war nonetheless, and that makes a bit easier to sell marijuana like the “enemy”.

I mean, how long it took to make the notion that pot is a “entry drug” ( what the fuck is that even ), disappear?

Drinking tho, nah. It’s been here for ages, it’s well represented, EVERYBODY drinks, it’s like taking guns out of americans. It’ll be HUGE.

I’m highly sure given enough time, pot will get to that point. But not now.


Heh nobody wants the short stick to land in its lap, that’s for sure. If only they could tone down their zeal in arguing and redirect the passion in actually dealing with the actual issue they all appear to be so passionate about…

As a sidenote, love me some wildstar picture ^^


This, I think, is what many who are against the classification (or at least the current implementation of it) have been saying. It is not that people can’t be addicted to video games, it is that by focusing on the games it helps move the topic from the addiction (which, as noted, can be to a variety of things, not just video games) to the games.

I hope people who are addicted can have proper help available. I hope games that do use questionable methods (like some of the lockbox tactics we’ve seen) choose better ways or step aside to make room for other games that do. And I hope players start to understand that sometimes you need to give up something you want in order to make the games we play better for everyone.


I hope games that do use questionable methods (like some of the lockbox tactics we’ve seen) choose better ways or step aside to make room for other games that do.

That is part of the issue; too many game devs/publishers are intentionally using features and mechanisms that induce addiction in order to get players to spend more money, and the industry as a whole is utterly unwilling to reign in that situation. Unless the industry starts to police itself against this kind of abuse, I fully support classifying games as potentially addictive, even though I use games as my main entertainment venue.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Regulating an industry is far different than proclaiming it the cause of a clinical condition. Not that regulation necessarily works.

We’ve been down this road so many times before. Sometimes with good reason, sometimes without. Smoking is known to destroy your health. People still smoke. Drinking is known to destroy your health. People still drink.

Creating a medical condition out of gaming isn’t going to stop either the behavior of the money-addicted developers/investors or the gamers who like their games. All it does is let said devs off the hook. “Look, it’s a game. Players who overspend have a medical condition. WHO says so.” No one’s gambling addiction ever shut down a casino or changed the way crime organizations run them. Expecting the outcome of this to be a move by game investors away from known addictive game designs is just unrealistic.