As first reported last December, the World Health Organization has officially added “Gaming Disorder” to the 11th Revision of the International Classifications of Diseases. Gaming Disorder is defined as the following:
A pattern of gaming behavior characterized 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.
Functionally, the definition is very similar to other addictive disorders such as gambling and substance abuse. For a proper diagnosis, the severe behaviors “result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas,” for a period of at least 12 months.
In the above video, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, member of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse expands on the new classification. “It’s a very small proportion of people who are involved in gaming behavior, and it’s critical to emphasize that gaming disorder is not equivalent to gaming behavior. It’s very different things.”
For families, Dr. Pozynak suggests that parents “be attentive to how much time, in what circumstances, are being spent on gaming.” Parents should note “to what extent this gaming behavior starts to interfere with other activities, with functioning at school, as a family member, as a friend.”
Dr. Pozynak warns against over-diagnosis. Only a small portion would qualify as gaming disorder, and the diagnosis can only be made by a trained health professional.
Some critics believe the defined disorder to be pre-mature, and a slippery slope to classifying anything people can do as a behavioral addiction.
The Entertainment Software Association has released a statement in response to the WHO’s classification. It notes that 11th Revision is is still in draft phase, and gaming disorder’s inclusion has not yet been finalized.
The final version of the ICD-11, which currently includes Gaming Disorder, will not be finalized until next year.