The World Health Organization unanimously voted to recognize compulsive gaming, or ‘gaming disorder,’ as an official disease at its 25th annual general meeting, taking place this weekend in Geneva, Switzerland.
Video Games Chronicle reports that gaming disorder will now be included in the International Classification of Diseases, which is used internationally by healthcare professionals and insurers.
The definition of gaming disorder has remained more or less the same since the WHO introduced it as a mental health disorder last year. The disease is characterized as “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 that those afflicted with the condition will continue to play games despite experiencing negative life consequences as a result.
In other words, if you miss work and get fired because you stayed up all night playing a game that just launched, you may have an addiction problem, according to the WHO. To qualify as a gaming disorder under the new guidelines, this kind of behaviour must persist for at least 12 months.
The new guidelines go into effect January 1, 2022, and by then member nations will need to have come up with ways to treat and prevent the phenomenon in their countries.
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The move has met with opposition from the Entertainment Software Association, which has contended since last year that classifying gaming disorder as a disease risks misdiagnosing people suffering from other conditions.
“The WHO is an esteemed organization and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews back by independent experts,” the group said in a press release today. “‘Gaming disorder’ is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools.”