Industry trade bodies from around the globe unite to condemn 'gaming disorder' decision

WHO classification will create moral panic, says international trade body coalition

An international coalition of trade bodies has warned that the World Health Organisation's decision to include 'gaming disorder' in the 11th International Compendium of Diseases will have serious implications for the games industry.

Arguing that the inclusion "will create moral panic and may lead to abuse of diagnosis", the coalition urged the WHO to reconsider "mounting evidence" against its decision.

The statement, issued from the European Games Developer Federation, has been backed by Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the Brazilian Union of Video and Games, Interactive Entertainment South Africa, Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, Interactive Software Federation of Europe, Korea Association of Game Industry, and the Entertainment Software Association.

Urging the WHO to "avoid taking steps that would have unjustified implications for national health systems across the world," the coalition highlighted significant opposition to the move from both academic and industry circles.

The proposal to include 'gaming disorder' in ICD-11 was first made in January of this year, but has now been included in the latest draft which is currently in open consultation before the WHO General Assembly formally approves the list in May 2019.

"Video games across all kinds of genres, devices and platforms are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than two billion people worldwide, with the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games being well-founded and widely recognised," said the statement.

"We are therefore concerned to see 'gaming disorder' still contained in the latest version of the WHO's ICD-11 despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community.

"The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive. We hope that the WHO will reconsider the mounting evidence put before them before proposing inclusion of 'gaming disorder' in the final version of ICD-11 to be endorsed next year.

"We understand that our industry and supporters around the world will continue raising their voices in opposition to this move and urge the WHO to avoid taking steps that would have unjustified implications for national health systems across the world."

Evidence cited against the WHO decision includes a paper in the Journal of Behavioural Addictions titled 'A Weak Scientific Basis for Gaming Disorder: Let us err on the side of caution' which found that the "burden of evidence and the clinical utility should be extremely high, because there is a genuine risk of abuse of diagnoses".

Furthermore, the statement argued, the American Psychiatric Association rejected a similar proposal in May 2013 to include video game addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, concluding that there was insufficient evidence.

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Latest comments (1)

Nathan Richardsson Executive Producer 3 years ago
11th International Compendium of Diseases
I do believe you mean International (Statistical) Classification of Diseases, as seen here:

Also, ICD-11 was published, on June 18th, to member states and stakeholders, for implementation and further review. Is the group of our industry organizations stating in the release that they are not a stakeholder with proposal rights?

Personal opinion, implying it doesn't exist is a bit naive, so I don't see the problem of starting defining it. In fact, one could argue that the existence of the classification would help world health professionals assign research and statistics to the appropriate code. As stated in the press release, this isn't new at all. Suddenly realizing it's in and knee-jerking in a narrative that it doesn't really exist isn't helping either.

I base this opinion on the classification itself, emphasis mine. The criteria is describing a very severe condition, impairing normal human function.

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) 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. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.
Then again, I'm not a medical professional, just wanted to highlight some of the narratives I find strange, such as our industry organizations not being there, and the severity of the condition as described almost being ignored. I simply believe helping frame this properly instead of fighting against to the point that it doesn't exist, won't help us move forward.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nathan Richardsson on 20th June 2018 10:37am

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