WHO attempts to defend its proposed ‘gaming disorder’ classification

At the tail end of last year, we caught wind that the World Health Organization is planning on classifying gaming addiction as a “gaming disorder” its update of the International Classification of Diseases, which caused multiple academics, self-regulatory bodies, and education advocates to preemptively reject the plan, pointing out both the lack of research to justify the classification as well as the potential for harm.

“We do not support WHO in this classification scheme in the strongest possible terms,” the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) wrote earlier this week, arguing the WHO is “jumping to premature conclusions” that will scapegoat and stigmatize gaming. The ESA flat-out called it reckless. An academic in games research whom we’ve consulted with in the past suggested to us that the news came off as “moral panic-y.”

But WHO appears to be sticking to its guns. GamesIndustry.biz spoke to a representative for WHO, who reportedly claimed to the publication that “there is increasing and well-documented evidence of clinical relevance of these conditions and increasing demand for treatment in different parts of the world.”

“Use of the internet, computers, smartphones and other electronic devices has dramatically increased over recent decades. While the increase is associated with clear benefit to users – for example, in real-time information exchange – health problems as a result of excessive use have also been documented. In a number of countries, the problem has become a significant public health concern.”

But as GIbiz also points out, GIbiz repeatedly asked for evidence to back up these claims, but WHO either didn’t provide them or provided links that do not sufficiently support the claims. We can surely presume full sources will be provided when the proposal moves from draft to final revision. Right? Right.

Worth pointing out is that the spokesperson’s note that “inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when making decisions on provision of health care and allocation of resources for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation” – which seems to imply that the classification is intended for specific countries that require WHO’s legitimization of an issue before spending money on health services relating to it.

We’ve covered the subject of online games and internet addiction at length over the last few years, including a look at modern research on the topic.

Source: GIbiz
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65 Comments on "WHO attempts to defend its proposed ‘gaming disorder’ classification"

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Grave Knight
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Grave Knight

I’m just wondering if WHO hasn’t mistaken the symptom for the illness. I mean is this “gaming disorder” that much different than people who watch too much tv/movies? Is it probably caused by a psychological disorder like depression (though not necessarily depression)?

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Utakata

That’s what I’ve been saying. I mean it would make more sense if they made the current POTUS a health disorder. Just saying. o.O

Source: https://kotaku.com/donald-trump-announces-successful-delivery-of-fictional-1821993977

Leontes
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Leontes

Oh MOP, why, just why do you keep throwing bait for my smartass instincts to take over? I won’t bite this time. Not this time! Hrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnghmmmpff!

Veldan
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Patreon Donor
Veldan

Since I see this brought up a lot: being addicted to gaming, or to one particular game, does not need other underlying issues like depression or whatever. It’s easy to point at people who are gaming too much and say “oh but they have mental problems”, especially because everyone here games and it creates a convenient seperation between “us” and “them”. But it’s not true. Nothing is needed to get addicted to gaming, except addictive games. I say this as a former addict.

possum440 .
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possum440 .

Gamer’s with gaming addictions will never admit they have a problem. Like any other addict they will come up with a host of solutions or excuses as to why it isn’t so and they do not have an issue.

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Dividion

The problem I see with this is if it’s classified as a medical condition, that could require tax-payer money to help these “gaming addicts”. Assuming a person’s condition is so severe that they don’t even have to go to work, then we may end up paying to support NEETs. I’d rather not. If you’re old enough to contribute to society without a _physical_ condition (or _dangerous_ mental condition) that prevents you from doing so, then you outta be out there doing that. This sounds like it has the potential to fall under a mental condition that would allow people to just be slackers and a drain on society.

Sure, gaming can be an addiction. Nearly anything can be. Overeating, cigarettes, drugs, even sex-addiction. I just don’t think you should be able to get an exemption because your doctor writes a note to your employer: “Please excuse Tim’s absence today. His guild took part in a raid last night, which took longer than expected, and he was unable to excuse himself early due to his gaming disorder. Sincerely, Dr. Pathetic Excuses”

The serious question is: How do you treat a gaming addiction when nearly any piece of technology with a screen can be used for gaming? There’s an anime on Crunchyroll called EVIL or LIVE. I’ve only watched the first couple episodes, and wasn’t a fan, but it had the premise of incarcerating young people with internet addictions (gaming/social media) to prevent their ability to feed their addictions. That would be another terrible taxpayer drain and probably wouldn’t be effective anyway. Gaming sites could put a quota on your gameplay, but those would be easy enough to get around simply by creating a new account. That basically leaves pharmaceuticals, which would probably need to put you in a vegetative state to prevent you from gaming. Once again that would keep you from being a productive member of society.

One solution is just to leave it to the parents and schools raise people to have the right priorities. If they become adults, and can’t pay their electric bills because they’re too busy gaming to get a job, then they won’t be gaming anymore, unless someone else is enabling them.

The best solution, which will probably never happen, would be to create jobs where a gaming addict would thrive. A lot of gaming is about problem-solving, so presenting certain gamers with real-world problems might yield some solutions to those problems, if presented correctly. (Think how they recruited the kid in Stargate Universe by having him play Stargate Worlds – before it was cancelled.)

Zeph
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Zeph

Nevermind. Replied to the wrong person! -_-

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Knox Harrington

WHO ELSE READ THE ARTICLE’S TITLE LIKE IT WAS A QUESTION AT FIRST?

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rafael12104

Disappointed or falling asleep?

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semugh
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semugh

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rafael12104

I love those. LOL!

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Sorenthaz

I think it’s kind of worrying that “gaming addiction”or “gaming disorder” is becoming a thing when it isn’t an addiction/disorder in and of itself, but typically more of a symptom of something else.

For example folks with heavy anxiety/depression might plug a ton of hours into video games because that’s their escape from feeling like utter shit. It’s something to take their mind off of their problems and it’s a hell of a lot less self-destructive then falling into drug addiction/alcoholism or other coping attempts. Others simply enjoy video games as their hobby and dump their free time into it because why shouldn’t they?

I think it’s disingenuous and simply the result of an older generation refusing to understand younger ones and they’re basically trying to justify regulating/taxing digital games for no reason. To that same effect we might as well get all up in arms about TV addiction/disorders, smartphone usage, and probably find another reason to slap more taxes on cigarettes.

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Melissa McDonald

It’s disingenuous to claim that the addiction itself isn’t real – it’s just a symptom of an underlying problem.

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Sorenthaz

But the problem is that it’s putting the blame on video games for issues that are deeper than just “oh I like to play video games for several hours a day”.

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theblackmage75

Gaming addiction might be a thing. But I find it very interesting that it has taken precedence over the far more pervasive and well-documented addictions to cellphones & social media. I couldn’t find any articles or statements from the WHO making provisions for treating that (but maybe I just missed them).

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Leiloni

I agree and I think both are more common and have more widespread consequences.

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bobfish

There are numerous clinics and centers in Europe and Asia that tread gaming addiction, its a real problem that has been identified, though many people remain dismissive of it.

Given the difficulty that depression for example has had in gaining traction around the world, I can only imagine that it will be decades before gaming addiction is accepted as a real thing everywhere.