‘Gaming disorder’ has been officially added to the World Health Organization’s ICD-11


The World Health Organization has officially adopted a revision to its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) to include “Gaming disorder,” leading to yet another round of protest and criticism from gaming industry representatives.

As we’ve been covering since 2017, the WHO classifies the disorder as a “mental, behavioral, or neurodevelopmental disorder” and describes it as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline.” It adds that people afflicted by the disorder “may show ‘impaired control over gaming,’ ‘increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities,’ and ‘continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.'”

The WHO’s consideration of the classification has been met with alarm and pushback throughout the last two years from multiple groups across the industry. Some of them, like the ESA, UKIE, and HEVGA, are deeply involved in and propped up by the video game industry, so their criticism came as no surprise. But there was also considerable skepticism from academics and journalists, who have noted incomplete research in the field, suggesting that scholars still do not agree on what exactly constitutes gaming disorder, never mind the clinicians who will be expected to diagnose and treat such a condition. GIbiz even ran a piece pointing out the weak evidence offered by WHO for the classification and exposing the group’s admission that it’s under “enormous pressure” from Asian countries to legitimize the disorder, suggesting the adoption has more to do with politics than science or health.

In response to the WHO’s adoption of this new revisions this week, several gaming-industry representatives “in Europe and seven other nations” released a joint statement in which they beckoned the WHO to reconsider its decision to include gaming disorder in the ICD-11: “The WHO is an esteemed organization and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts,” the statement reads, adding that “‘Gaming disorder’ is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools.” As Polygon notes, the WHO’s ICD “is not law, nor does it have the force of it,” but it is nevertheless “greatly influential in how professionals and policy makers study and propose treatment or intervention in public health matters.”

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Source: WHO, Polygon. Cheers, Schmidt!

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Frank White

Lost in a Good Game: Why we play video games and what they can do for us


Are we not entertained? We’ve rationalized that we’re all just latent victims of predatory psychological and biochemical subterfuge by lootbox-mongering game developers. Now, a United Nations agency has carried the notion to its logical conclusion: Games can possess characteristics that induce you to make bad choices through no fault of your own. We are all just helpless bags of chemicals, and the experts are soon here to help.

By classifying gaming disorder, it opens gaming activities to more opportunities for legal action and legislative control. If excessive gaming may be a disease, then some plaintiff, sooner or later, may gamble on imparting liability to someone. If gaming can cause people to take from tax coffers more than they surrender, why, that puts the social order in jeopardy — time to write more laws.

Risk-adverse game developers will, obviously, compensate (hmm, maybe the insipid loot-shooter genre will become extinct). By quality, cost (in pricing or industry wages/salaries), or supply.

“There ought to be a law…” – well, we’re get it. Consider this the groundwork.


What this is missing is a justification as to why gaming needs its own diagnosis. What makes gaming inherently different from knitting for example. You could write this same diagnosis for knitting disorder and it is not obvious why it wouldn’t be just as reasonable.

For example with gambling you can say that it typically leads to financial ruin very quickly. What is the equivalent of that for gaming that makes it special?

Roger Melly


I think they do make the same diagnosis for knitting disorders too according to that article . But let’s face it a lot less people are into knitting that gaming world wide so addiction via gaming would affect a greater part of the world’s population .

I know of a couple of people who have had relationships break up partly because of excessive gaming . World of Warcraft even got mentioned as in a friend of mines divorce case as a mitigating factor in the breakdown of the relationship . To be fair he was gaming way too much for about 6-8 hours per evening but whether he was doing to escape a bad relationship or whether it was what caused the bad relationship is anyone’s guess .

I think the minute you start putting a raid before your wife , children or real life social activities then you are heading for a problem with addiction . But then again if you are lonely and it gives you some social interaction I see it as better than sitting in front of your television .


You are of course right that these days obsessive gaming is probably far more common than obsessive knitting is. That however is not a medical argument to justify a diagnosis. It needs to be special on an individual level to justify giving it a label above other similar but less common activities.

Think about it; Would you wish your treatment to be based on what your individual problem is or what is a common problem all around the world?

Roger Melly

First world problems eh !

I predict Boot camps for teens diagnosed with such a disorder similar to the ones in China for internet addiction .

:) Not a bad thing lol

DargorV .

Studies made by 50something years old “doctors”

I still remember 2 decades back when playing any mmo automatically labeled you as an authistic outcast to anyone older than 30 at the time… (probably those same people that are now in their 50s leading “studies” and still not understanding the first thing about gaming in general)

Painters and musician sometimes lock themselves up for months “exploring their art” or some people work 80hour weeks because they have no hobby whatsoever yet both are socially acceptable while neither are healthy lifstyles…

So yeah, the easy answer to those people is, who are you to judge anyone on anything really

Roger Melly

I think the difference between musicians and painters compared to gamers is that they are pursuing a creative talent .

Even so if they were putting in 80 hour weeks to pursue that creative talent then I would say they have a problem .

One further point you can’t know many musicians , the reason we become musicians is that we want to avoid even doing an average 40 hour working week lol . Some of us even succeed in doing that . ;)


/Refer madness…

…also, playing synths can get you high:


…cool story bro.


Just the excuse the Govt’s need to bring about full-on regulation so that they can take Bribes from the Lobbyists.

Fervor Bliss

Sad day for science and humanity.

Randy Savage

Modernity as a whole is a disorder

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Now there should be Smartphone disorder, this is just the logical next step, there is no gaming disorder without a smartphone disorder.