Yesterday, the World Health Organization announced that it had finalized its 11th International Classification of Diseases, and much like the draft did in December of past year, it includes the addition of gaming to its section of addictive disorders.
The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11, adds WHO, follows the development of treatment programmes for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world.
"A key principle in this revision was to simplify the coding structure and electronic tooling - this will allow health care professionals to more easily and completely record conditions", said Dr. Robert Jakob, leader of the WHO's Classifications Terminologies and Standards team.
"The WHO does mention, though, that the prevalence of gaming disorder is very low", and that while millions of people across the globe love intense gaming sessions, it would be hard to qualify them as people suffering from gaming disorder just on the basis of that. From there gaming addicts will supposedly exhibit "impaired control of these behaviors even when the negative consequences occur, this behavior continues or escalates".
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Gaming disorder rubs shoulders with conditions such as gambling disorder, substance abuse, and addictive hoarding in the ICD.
He stressed that only a small minority of people who play digital and video games would develop a problem, but said recognition of early warning signs may help prevent it.
Cam Adair said before he went to counseling, he was unable to stop playing video games.
"Video gaming is being done by children".
The video gaming industry is fighting back against WHO's decision, calling their ruling flawed and likely to cause confusion and undue concern. And why isn't more attention given to stuff like smartphone, TV and web addiction, if games are ruled to be potentially harmful?
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"All our systems need good information about the reasons people get sick and die - from the common cold to the deadliest diseases like Ebola", he said.
"People that tend to have a problem with scratching their video game habits are going to suffer in life areas like work or relationships, or friendships or school", he said.
So the World Health Organization puts "gaming disorder" on a list.
"So in order to reduce the stigma, while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions, this was place to a different chapter-the sexual health chapter-in the new ICD", she added.
Crucially, in a world of 7.4 billion people speaking almost 7,000 languages, ICD provides a common vocabulary for recording, reporting and monitoring health problems, says WHO.
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