ESA Tells World Health Organization to Reconsider Ridiculous Excessive Gaming Disorder Classification

ESA Suggests Excessive Gaming Disorder is Ridiculous 

A couple weeks ago we told you that the World Health Organization intended to recognize gaming addiction as a proper mental disorder in its upcoming ICD-11 revision of the International Classification of Diseases. You can read more about that story here. Recently, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) issued a statement to the press addressing excessive gaming disorder. In summary, they’re urging the World Health Organization to reconsider. And frankly, we back the ESA on this one.

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To recap, the current ICD-11 revision outlines different criteria used to determine whether a person’s gaming has become a serious health condition. You can find the following description used in the manual below:

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

The ESA reported the following:

“Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time. Having captivated gamers for more than four decades, more than 2 billion people around the world enjoy video games. The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community. We strongly encourage the World Health Organization to reverse direction on its proposed action.”

As much as we think the current designation is ridiculous, it should be noted that the ICD-11 is only at a beta draft stage, so there could be modifications before it’s finally published by the WHO.

What do you think about this issue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


  • jasper mills

    If there is such a thing as gaming addiction then you would have to be very careful in diagnosing it. Often times someone maybe suffering from depression and anxiety, and use gaming as an escape or maybe its just easier to socialize in a gaming environment. Also gaming can often be therapeutic for all sorts of mental health issues. That said from what I have seen in some eastern countries gaming addiction does seem to be a real problem. Although that does at least appear to be a cultural thing as I have not seen anything like that here in the west. I also have a problem with calling things like this an addiction. Things like gambling, shopping or gaming addictions are known psychological addictions. To me though they are quite different from drug and alcohol addiction known as physical addictions. Even though a psychological addiction can have just as negative an impact on someone life than a physical one, they are much easier to treat. Having had a physical drug addiction I see psychological addictions as more of a habit than an addiction. To an outsider looking in they look very similar, but having experienced it for myself I can tell you they really are very different. A psychological addiction is much closer to habit than addiction.