World Health Organisation to vote this week on whether it will officially recognise ‘gaming disorder’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will decide this week if “gaming disorder” will be added to the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and become officially recognised as an illness.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) – which opposes the proposal – and the WHO met in December to discuss the WHO’s decision last year to declare “gaming disorder” as an official addictive disorder in the ICD-11.

“It’s our hope that through continued dialogue we can help the WHO avoid rushed action and mistakes that could take years to correct,” ESA head Stanley Pierre-Louis said at the time, while British trade body UKIE – which also attended the World Health Organisation talks back in December – said in a statement that it hopes “continued dialogue” will enable WHO to “reconsider the mounting evidence put before them before the final version of ICD-11 is endorsed next year”.

The World Health Organisation guidance defines the disorder as characterised by a pattern of “persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”.

It also adds that if the symptoms last for at least 12 months and a player’s behaviour “is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning”, people could be diagnosed with the disorder.

Health experts will be able to vote on the changes at the World Health Assembly in Geneva later this week (thanks, iNews, via Eurogamer). The World Health Organisation defended its decision to include gaming disorder in the ICD-11, stating the decision was “based on reviews of available evidence, and reflects a consensus of experts [after] technical consultations”.

The 72nd session of the World Health Assembly – which is the decision-making body of WHO – will commence on May 20th and run until May 28th, 2019.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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