After a long period of deliberation and “will they, won’t they” talk throughout the video game industry, the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to go for it. It has announced “gaming disorder” is included in the new 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases as a mental health condition.
The new diagnosis was proposed by WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, to the World Health Assembly. According to member Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, WHO followed “trends, developments, which have taken place in population and in the professional field” in making the decision.
The ICD is used to define a wide variety of health conditions, and often informs language in research, insurance, medical treatment, and more. Dr. Pozyak said that with the new classification, doctors and systems will be more aware of the condition, and people who do need help will now be much more able to get it.
There are three major characteristics that are used to diagnose gaming disorder. One, the “gaming behavior” takes over other activities, to the point of other activities existing in the background. Two, “impaired control,” or behavior continuing or escalating despite negative consequences. Three, “distress and impairment” in areas such as personal, family, social, educational, or occupational functions. These are similar factors to those informing diagnoses in substance abuse and gambling addiction.