World Health Organization Making Final Decision on Gaming Disorder This Weekend

Stefanie Fogel

The World Health Organization (WHO) is making its final decision on whether or not to classify video game addiction as a disorder on Saturday, May 25, a spokesperson told Variety.

The 72nd World Health Assembly is currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s the decision-making body of the WHO, and it’s attended by delegations from member states.

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The WHO added gaming addiction as a disorder in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) in June 2018. It’s defined as “a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Further, the WHO said the behavior must be sufficiently severe enough to significantly impair a person’s personal, family, social, educational, or occupational functioning and be evident for at least 12 months.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents many top companies in the video game industry, met with the WHO in January for a formal dialogue on gaming addiction. At the time, the organization said it believed more talks were needed before a classification is finalized. “In fact, leading mental health experts have cautioned repeatedly that classifying ‘Gaming Disorder’ creates a risk of misdiagnosis for patients who most need help,” said ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis.

If the World Health Assembly agrees to officially recognize gaming addiction as a disorder, members nations must introduce new treatment and prevention measures starting in 2022.

People can watch as the World Health Assembly makes its decision live on the WHO website.

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