Game makers ask WHO not to recognize excessive gaming as a disorder

The Entertainment Software Association asks the World Health Organization (WHO) not to recognize excessive gaming as a disorder. Gaming Disorder is in a preliminary revision of the WHO classification of disorders.

According to the ESA, to which virtually all major game publishers are affiliated, recognizing excessive gaming as an official disorder trivializes mental health issues such as depression. That is why the industry association is asking WHO to reconsider the proposed measures, the ESA said in a statement to Gamasutra.

The industry association believes gamers are “passionate and committed to their time,” as are sports and other entertainment enthusiasts, for example. According to the ESA, the World Health Organization knows that “common sense and objective research show that games are not addictive.”

In December it was announced that the WHO wants to recognize excessive gaming as a disorder from this year. Gaming Disorder gets a place in ICD-11, the eleventh version of the International Classification of Diseases. People who suffer from the disorder compulsively play a lot of games and cannot stop. Gamers also have to lose interest in other elements of life in order to be classified as patients.

Not only the trade association is against the new classification. A group of scientists argued last year that Gaming Disorder should not end up in ICD-11, because too little good research has been done on the phenomenon. In addition, it would create a stigma for gamers, while that may not be justified.

Proponents believe that the inclusion of Gaming Disorder in ICD-11 could help identify problems in people who play excessive amounts of gaming and help address those issues more quickly. Gaming Disorder was already mentioned in DSM-5, the standard work of the American Psychiatric Association that many psychologists use, but there it is not regarded as a recognized disorder, but as an object for further study.