The organization says gaming addiction can be a serious thing.
Controversy has surrounded in-game monetization over the last few years, especially as free to play models (loot boxes, especially) once exclusive to mobile games have been adapted to mainstream gaming. The discussion has gone well beyond journalists and fans, however, as governing bodies of various governments have looked at the whole thing with a more critical eye as well. Now, the World Health Organisation have declared that Gaming Disorder is a disease.
As reported by Nikkei, while Gaming Disorder has been something W.H.O. has been looking at since 2017, they’ve now made it an official disease. It’s easy to roll your eyes and hand wave the decision, but it’s worth noting that the definition goes way beyond simply playing games a few hours a day. It’s more about people who have become addicted to gaming reward systems and have lost control of their daily lives because of it over the course of at least a year. It’s less about games themselves and more about how those prone to addiction react to how certain games are designed.
Reads a description of the disorder:
“Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) 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.
“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”
Of course, it’s up for debate still, and it’s not unheard of for W.H.O. to go back relatively quickly on a decision as more discussion enters into the ongoing talks. However, it’s worth noting, because many countries use W.H.O. as their guidelines when it comes to healthcare related regulations. With so many countries looking at the issue now, it’s definitely a relevant development, even if it lacks any meaningful impact right now.