Gaming Disorder is now officially recognized as a disease. In the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) of the World Health Organization (WHO), gaming disorder is defined as ‘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.’ Simply put, Gaming Disorder is what can be constituted as uncontrolled gaming, where a gamer can’t stop playing a video game even if they can see how it is negatively impacting their life and work.
The International Classification of Diseases is the system for listing recognized diseases and disorders, to drive epidemiological research, and for the purpose of health care management and billing, and clinical treatment. In the specific case of gaming disorder, it has been listed in the chapter “mental, behavioral or neurodevelopmental disorders”. This includes gaming on PCs, game consoles and smartphones.
The ICD-11 was first announced in June last year, and has now been presented at the World Health Assembly for adoption by member states. This will come into force from January 2022. ““The ICD is a product that WHO is truly proud of. It enables us to understand so much about what makes people get sick and die, and to take action to prevent suffering and save lives,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, had said at the time of the release of the ICD-11.
Gaming Disorder is serious. Japanese news outlet Nikkei had earlier reported the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare estimates which suggests that an estimated 930,000 people in the country are impacted by Gaming Disorder, a number which has doubled in the past five years. And this is just one example. Popular online battle royale games PUBG and Fortnite have seen popularity skyrocket over the past year, which has forced many governments globally to make attempts to ban PUBG, for instance.