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Gaming Disorder Now A Recognized Disease By WHO


WHO has added gaming disorder to the list of recognized illnesses. On May 25, all 194 member states of the United Nations agency agreed to adapt the eleventh revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, also known as ICD-11.

Addictive Behavior

The latest revision officially placed gaming disorder in the list of disorders. It will start to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Gaming disorder is in a subcategory in the ICD-11 called “Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors.” It is listed along with alcoholism, gambling addiction and a section devoted to harmful cannabis use dependence.

The WHO described the gaming disorder as a pattern of online or offline persistent or recurrent gaming behavior characterized by impaired gaming control, increased priority given to gaming to the extent that the person prioritizes it over daily activities and other interests in life; and continuation or even escalation of gaming regardless of the fact that it significantly impairs important functioning areas such as hose that involve the family, occupation, and education.

The patients often exhibit these behaviors for at least 12 months to be diagnosed with the disorder, although if the symptoms are severe, the period considered may be shortened.

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior(‘ digital gaming’ or’ video gaming’) that may be online (i.e., online) or offline,” described the condition by the WHO. “Gaming behavior patterns can be continuous or episodic and recurrent.”

Risks of Gaming disorder

Hardcore gamers may face severe and fatal implications. For example, a 32-year-old man in Taiwan died during a three-day online gaming binge in an Internet Cafe in 2015.

In China, after playing the game for seven days straight, a 26-year-old addicted to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft MMORPG died of heart failure.

WHO hopes that adopting gaming disorder as an official disease can help attract health professionals to identify disorder risks. The move may also lead to appropriate measures for prevention and treatment.