'Gaming Disorder' Now an Official Illness

Industry groups want UN agency to reconsider
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2019 5:32 AM CDT
'Gaming Disorder' Now an Official Illness
A college student plays the online game World of Warcraft in his dormitory room in southwest China's Chongqing city.   (AP Photo)

Video game addiction is now officially a disease. The World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" as a modern disease in its International Classification of Diseases at the 72nd World Health Assembly on Saturday, CNET reports. The UN health agency's fact page on the disorder describes it as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior," which can be online or offline, "manifested by 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 says a diagnosis of gaming disorder can be made after "significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning." The agency first proposed the move last June, arguing that classifying gaming disorder as a mental health condition would help families and health workers deal with it effectively. A group of worldwide games industry executives immediately urged the agency to rethink the decision, PC Gamer reports. They argued that the WHO's "guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts," and the decision was not "based on sufficiently robust evidence." (The Seattle area has become a hub for treatment of "tech addicts.")

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