The biggest names in the gaming industry are asking the World Health Organization to reconsider its latest decision to include gaming disorder as an official, globally recognized disease, in a shared statement co-signed by the Entertainment Software Association and other gaming organizations.
The organizations decrying the decision include Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, K-GAMES, and representatives across Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa and Brazil.
“The WHO is an esteemed organization and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts,” their statement reads. ”‘Gaming disorder’ is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools.”
The ESA’s press release claims gaming disorder requires more evidence before it’s included as a classified illness. In a 2018 paper published by the Journal of Behavioral Addictions and titled “A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution,” researchers expressed a similar sentiment, saying more research must be done before classifying it as a disorder.
“Risk of abuse of a formalized new disorder that solely involves the behavior of playing video games—a stigmatized entertainment activity—can only expand the false-positive issues in psychiatry,” the paper explains.
The American Psychiatric Association also says there is not enough evidence to classify gaming addiction as a unique mental disorder.
After a year and a half of debate, the WHO officially recognized gaming disorder over the weekend, adding it to its 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases. The ICD identifies global health statistics and patterns, and builds a common code for more than 55,000 diseases.
The gaming industry has been holding its breath for the possible addition since the WHO announced its intention to add the disorder in a new release last summer. Now, the classification is recognized by all 194 of the WHO’s member states and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
The WHO classifies gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities” that can range from other interests to school and work, and even to basic eating, sleeping and hygiene. A person usually must show a year of symptoms before receiving a diagnosis.
But while you think your Fortnite addiction might be an official disorder, you may have to set your self-diagnosis aside. The WHO asserts that gaming disorder only affects a very small number of players, so that’s some good news at least.
To learn more about gaming disorder, check out Paste’s 2017 breakdown of the gaming disorder drama and what it all means.