Gaming disorder is now officially recognized by the World Health Organization


Posts: 627   +122
Staff member
Why it matters: The World Health Organization has officially, 100%, no-takebacks added gaming disorder to the world’s most prevalent disease dictionary. Beyond the memes, the ramifications are significant, as WHO member nations are expected to have treatment plans and preventative measures ready for when the classification comes into effect in January 2022.

This has been a long time coming. In late 2017, gaming disorder became part of the 2018 draft of the International Classification of Diseases (the disease dictionary) and then in mid-2018, it was included in the beta version of the 11th edition ICD. Yesterday, WHO conducted the final vote on the 11th edition in Geneva, Switzerland and gaming disorder made the final cut.

Gaming disorder is defined by any uncontrolled gaming, where a player can’t stop even if it is negatively impacting their life and health. In real terms, though, when WHO refers to gaming disorders they refer to the two suicides that occurred when India banned PUBG, a nine-year-old girl that had to be sent to rehab after sleeping through school and spending over 10 hours each night playing Fortnite, and the over 200 divorces that couples blamed on gaming in the UK.

Laugh all you like but it’s undeniable that gaming has caused real problems for some people. But just how many people out there suffer from gaming disorder?

Nikkei reports that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare estimates the number of Japanese school students affected has doubled in the last five years to an estimated 930,000 people. WHO believes that other countries suffer from similarly large numbers, and hope the classification of the issue as an official disorder will encourage governments to fund research into the prevalence and treatment. Presently, it’s challenging to find treatments, though WHO expects that to change quickly. Some governments, they hope, will integrate treatments for gaming disorder into state-sponsored healthcare plans.

Still, gaming disorder is unlikely to be universally recognized for some time, as both the medical field and the gaming industry strongly disagree with WHO’s decision. Mental health experts warn that the official classification of gaming disorder risks misdiagnosis and is more of a symptom of other issues. The gaming industry has profits at stake agrees, and believes that since healthy gaming is so widespread, it’s a poor decision to group it with gambling addiction and substance abuse. Either way, it’s too late for their arguments now.

Image Credit: Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

Permalink to story.



Posts: 6,308   +7,248
While America drowns in episodes of school shootings and bullying that leads to homicide and an increasing number of pre-teen suicide, many other countries are quick to take steps to mitigate the damage.
I appreciate their vigilance.

The bottom line is access.

American parents are the ones spending all this money to put guns and video games and drugs in their children's hands while most other countries aren't doing it. Limiting access to these things is the reason why their kids are achieving far beyond American kids and their rates of violence - especially suicde are far lower.

Though their are scientific studies, peer-reviewed, showing that it's so: it doesn't take a genius to realize the connection between smartphones, violent gaming/film/media, unsupervised access to the internet and the rise in childhood violence.

As a product of the 80's, I never imagined parents would literally go deep into debt putting expensive smartphones and gaming systems (with monthly fees might I add) into the hands of their children while simultaneously watching them literally underachieve in studies and physically destroying themselves.

These devices are not for the undisciplined.

These devices, games, and violent films are for more mentally developed adolescents who have reached a level of maturity that allows them to handle the emotional and physical impacts of these devices.

Staying up late at night playing games or being on Facebook has an emotional and physical impact. So much so that companies had to adopt systems like red-shift and screen-time because children and adults weren't getting enough sleep.

I needn't mention the impact regarding the obesity epidemic.

There are plenty of people who will disagree with me, but I applaud the WHO for recognizing the gaming addiction and I hope they'll further that to recognize the smartphone addiction.

How much damage has to be done before these people wake up?
Last edited:


Posts: 270   +478
Gaming too much would be a symptom of a disorder, not a disorder itself. If you simply stop at labeling gaming a disorder, the true cause will never be revealed. Besides simply having a passion for something, doesn't automatically make it a disorder.

Like any addiction, gaming to that extent is likely being used to cope with something unbearable in their life. Before gaming existed, there were alcohol and drugs. Same need to cope, just a different means to cope.
Last edited:


Posts: 712   +633
Look, if gaming is not a disorder for you, then congratulations and fantastic! But you can't say they're wrong simply because it doesn't apply to you or your anecdotal experiences. There are people out there that do indeed lose all control once they start gaming...and if ure saying its just a symptom of something else well isn't that the same with all other addictions?


Posts: 13,141   +6,439
and if ure saying its just a symptom of something else well isn't that the same with all other addictions?
People take on addictions for different reasons. Those reasons are the disorder. The addiction is as @elementalSG put it a symptom of trying to cope. The disorder is the condition in which they felt need in pursuing the addiction.


Posts: 3,064   +784
Yeah kids should watch tv, play simple smart phone games or pour of over FB like their parents. You could lump all entertainment together and say it negatively impacts your life, since you're not doing something productive.

However unlike previous decades. You can no longer play split screen on most console games. The social isolation does have an impact. Smart phone consumers are getting that good ol 1on1 PC experience. Usually society pretty much doesn't care what you're doing as long as it doesn't interfere with school or work.



Posts: 1,381   +1,172
The more the powers that be realize how much gaming as a construct can empower people, the more they will view it as a very real threat. That must either be subverted to be controlled and manipulated as a tool or eradicated and expunged completely. #slipperyslope

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,355   +8,555
You can blame many things but you have to start with yourself. Parents that find it easier to plop their kids in front of the TV, the computer, or any other "pleasant distraction", letting themselves off the hook with claims that it's educational, bla, bla, bla ....
And now we have generations of children that believe this to be "normal" not to develop social interaction skills. It didn't happen over night, it developed over many decades and it certainly didn't start with computer games, they are just the latest vehicle of distraction.
Unfortunately there is no perfect "Big Book Of Parenting" and with the passing generations we have lost the practice of good parenting skills, but it's not just the fault of parents. Our society has changed significantly over the years and we haven't developed or learned the best tools for coping. Sorry to say there are no answers here but unless we try it will never get better and most certainly get worse. Maybe a good start is to get rid of as many game machines, smart phones and "stuff" the kids don't actually need. Spend more time with the family and less on your own phone, and find some kind of quality time every day and night with your children. You won't solve it in one generation, but over time we could turn the tide back in favor of the family ....

Knot Schure

Posts: 409   +195
Add me to the gaming disorder list. Admission is which step?

However, being not totally stupid, I have developed some 'coping mechanisms'.

When my professional recertification etc looms, I have a friend change my Steam password, and keep it until I'm done. Which hurts double if I have to re-take, as that is weeks without a Team Deathmatch (imagine it!).

Also, for my laptop, I've even considered removing my dedicated GPU, as I know I can still reset the Steam password with my cellophone by sms, but I've not got quite that bad -yet-.

Secondly, my Desktop PC has an unusual mains lead for the PSU. There is no second lead in the house. I drop that lead at my parents house, so I can't fire that machine up on a whim.

I've never missed a flight, or failed to be somewhere important, but its been close.

And on that note...... "TEAM DEATHMATCH - DELTA TEAM YOU ARE CLEAR TO ENGAGE!"... lol.


Posts: 277   +85
I used to scoff at this sort of thing, but honestly after reading about so many relationships ending over games like Fortnite and WoW, in addition to witnessing my own 7 year old nephew become a "Fornite Zombie," I honestly believe there is a problem that needs to be addressed. As much gaming as I did when younger, which was A LOT, I never got to the point where it affected my social life or anything. I still had friends that weren't just "digital internet friends" that I played football with outside and went camping with.

I realize the online aspect of MP gaming has changed the landscape quite a bit, but when COD4:MW launched and I was LOVING the MP modes so damn much and actually doing quite well against the best of the best, I still wasn't letting it get in the way of ACTUAL LIFE. Perhaps this has to do with how I was raised, or perhaps it was that I am a product of my environment. Either way we need doctors to get to the bottom of this because these Fortnite addictions are some of the worst I've ever seen. I don't even like the game at all so it makes it hard for me to understand, yet at the same time there have been MP games that drew me in so part of me does get it.

What worries me is that these addictions can actually change the development of a child's brain, in a very negative way. It's obviously up to the parents to step in. I'm sure some of them LOVE the fact that they can just let their child play Fortnite for hours and not worry about them being loud or getting in trouble outside, but they are not seeing what it's doing to their child (at least a lot of them are not). I don't mean to single out Fortnite either, because there are many games that cause the same sort of strange addiction. I just happen to have my own experiences mostly with that game.

Now some people would say I have a problem since I commonly spend thousands of dollars on my builds. When some of my friends found out I paid $850 for the EVGA SC2 1080Ti in my current system alone, they were like "Jesus, do you know what you could have done with all that money instead?" Yet, I honestly don't game a whole lot these days. It's just that when I do, I want a great experience. I have the ability to build and OC a very nice system and I love doing it. I love gaming on a platform that I can get the most out of my games with. BUT I never let it get in the way of my relationship or other important factors of my life.

So these people that can't understand why I would spend so much money on one GPU can just look at themselves, because a lot of them have their own hobbies and such that they love. They'll spend THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS on supped up vehicles and turbochargers... Or maybe they will buy Gucci purses for $1200 and justify it in some manner, while to me that's crazy even though I do like to dress nice.

So what everyone needs to ask themselves is: does this hobby of mine negatively affect my life more than it brings me happiness? If the answer is no, then you don't have to care what anyone else thinks, unless of course you're lying to yourself and everyone around you disagrees (denial can be a *****).

But for children, WE as adults are the ones that have to answer this question, as they are ill-equipped to.

Food for thought....

Daniele 00

Posts: 159   +121
I'm 37 and I take care of my little cousin: I help him with his homeworks during the weekend. He's 11.

He's a fanatic of Fortnite since one Year. You can often ear him speaking about it all day long. Watching Videos. Even dancing like them. He also like to watch other videos on Youtube on his tablet, like minecraft.

I told to his mum (my auntie) that he was getting distracted all the day long when studing. With poor concentration. Sometimes he goes mad and start to upset and cry for trivial reasons. Finally I agreed with my auntie to do not let he bring his tablet when we study. He could use it after we finish homeworks.

For one month it worked. But last weekend he come at my home with his tablet. After one hour of study he started to wine that he do not wanna study. Just after few minutes he wanted to play with Tablet and listen no reasons. I had to bring him back his house to uncle.

Morale? WHO should have added PARENTAL DISORDER to the roster, not gaming disorder. Very often the problem are parents who cannot teach their kids. Let them play videogames for a setted amount of time, not all the day long. Reward them if they behave good. Punish them if necessary. Give them attentions, dont let Youtube Videos educate your own kids instead of you.


Posts: 712   +633
Like any addiction, gaming to that extent is likely being used to cope with something unbearable in their life. Before gaming existed, there were alcohol and drugs. Same need to cope, just a different means to cope.

Exactly. I remember when I was in a tough relationship I used to game to escape it. After we broke up...I hardly ever gamed. Now that's my personal experience, but it's incredible the contrast. I have no desire to even game anymore, it was an escape for me from my harsh reality at the time.


Posts: 13,141   +6,439
Your life drastically changing will not break addictions. That is evidence enough to discredit this claim. Bad habits are not always addictions.