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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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Ivy Taylor

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Ivy joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.

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