World Health Organization Officially Recognizes ‘Gaming Disorder’ as Disease

Many in the Gaming Industry are Challenging the Validity of the Decision

The World Health Organization (WHO) is officially recognizing gaming disorder as a disease. Member states of the WHO met in Geneva, Switzerland for the 72nd World Health Assembly. During the meeting, members came to an agreement that gaming disorder is qualified by the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). It characterizes the disease as “persistent or recurring gaming behavior” that causes “significant impairment in personal, family, social, education, occupational or other important areas of functioning”.

The WHO defines the disorder as manifesting in three possible ways. The first possibility is “when an individual has an “impaired control” over gaming. The second is when an individual prioritizes gaming over “other life interests and daily activities”. The final manifestation is when an individual continues to game “despite the occurrence of negative consequences”.

Classifying gaming disorder as a disease has been discussed for a while. It was first proposed in December 2017 and the full definition was finalized in June 2018.

This decision by the World Health Organization is spurring a new wave of criticisms from many in the gaming industry. A joint statement made from representatives of the industry in Europe and seven other nations have formally asked the WHO to re-examine the decision to include gaming disorder in ICD-11. This is hardly a shock. Just look at how coal companies claim climate change is a myth, or how cigarette companies for decades claimed their products healthy. The gaming industry has been fighting this classification for a while and will likely keep going indefinitely.


In an interview with Polygon, medical professionals criticized the listing of gaming disorder as a disease. One allegedly argued that the WHO faces pressure from Asian member states such as China and North Korea to include the condition. These countries have already been battling gaming addiction on a policy level. This is important because the WHO holds a lot of influence with legislators.

What do you think about gaming disorder? Let us know!

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