Excessive Gaming Can Officially Be Labeled a Disorder by 2022

In a highly controversial move, the World Health Organization (WHO) has included a “gaming disorder” in the publication of its most recent disease classification manual. You’re wondering why that is important? Well, their “International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD)” is a reference classification for disease of all sorts. Many countries base what can be treated, and what insurances pay for, on the research and evaluation of the WHO. As such the manual is expected to be accepted by multiple countries and the effects should take place in 2022.


First of all, this is not a bad move per se. People that actually suffer from what could maybe be called a “gaming disorder” can now finally get proper treatment. It might sound weird, but in some countries the official recognition of a disease is what’s required to get any help at all. The classification however is met with all sorts of doubts and criticism. Apparently there’s not enough research and statistical evidence to support the claims of the WHO, and many feel the organization rushed the disorder into its publication due to certain pressure of Asian countries.

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It’s an interesting discussion because it stigmatizes gaming and obviously in some way attacks a billion dollar and still growing market (Amazon, Twitch, etc.). So it’s not surprising that the industry strongly opposes the move of the WHO. The inclusion of excessive gaming certainly feels premature, and a lot more research has to be done on the topic. It’s however kind of funny that many publishers and organizations push back against the idea of a gaming disorder while they do shit about getting rid of lockboxes, which evidently cause addictive behavior. Now isn’t that ironic?

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9 thoughts on “Excessive Gaming Can Officially Be Labeled a Disorder by 2022

  • June 20, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Gambling is not a problem if you don’t bet more than you can easily afford to lose by dropping it in the street.

    And if you are retired, medically retired or disabled with a decent pension and have nothing else to do but play 18 hours a day, also not a problem unless you neglect everything else.

    If you stop going to work because you have to invoke, never get dressed, never bath and stop eating properly because you are always grinding, I daresay there’s some problem there.

    • June 21, 2018 at 1:14 am

      Absolutely. In any psychological evaluation the context definitely matters. If gaming does not negatively impact any other (important) aspects of your life, you obviously don’t have an issue.

      • June 21, 2018 at 3:13 pm

        j0Shi, yes, it’s definitely a First World problem, but the WHO would not recognise it as a specific disorder unless the network of doctors and health organisations, including CDC, CDSC and so in in Western countries, had not provided data showing an increase in people being treated for completely off-the-scale gaming binge marathons that they just cannot control, to the detriment of their lives and their family’s lives. Much like alcoholism, tobacco or other drug-addiction and gambling addiction. It’s not always as easy as making a choice and deciding to stop or control and limit your participation. Some people just have no ability to do that, as they have a “disease”.

        Alcoholism, tobacco and drug-addiction can be treated by medication to a large extent. Compulsions need some sort of cognitive behavioural therapy and a strong desire to stop. And not all OCDs are the same. Many involve bizarre things like having to turn a light on and off 3 times and spin round 7 times before leaving the house. Alcoholics, ex-smokers and gamblers become completely “tee-total”, because if they have one drink, one cigarette or bet on one horse, that’s the end if it.

        Maybe some people are like that with gaming, but a strict regime can change that. I know it sounds crazy to us, but some people may have a genuine problem. Maybe spending the mortgage repayments on lockbox keys and so on.

  • June 21, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Obviously excessive gaming can be a disorder as can any behavior. Not sure that it needs to be called out separately at least not in terms of playing to much videos games to he point it disrupts your life. Is hoarding resources in a video game any different than hoarding resources in RL? Don’t they all fall under the umbrella of Obsessive Compulsive disorders?

    My guess is that gaming is treated under Obsessive Compulsive already and this is just a way to highlight it specifically because it has to do with computers and makes them look like they are keeping up to date and cool. It’s all a shell game to add relevance and collect $. The funding potential on studying the effects of video games on young minds, etc. Guess what, the results will show the same as other areas of obsessive compulsive behaviors…

    unless they dig deeper. I’m not an expert in the field but i think more research needs to be done on the effects of people using the easy gaming world to hide from real world problems. I’ve meet many in my adventures in Neverwinter who use games as an escape and an easy method to give them the feelings of strength and control that may be missing in real life. The time spent on games takes away from the time that can be spent correcting those things they are reaching to Neverwinter to escape. There has to be a balance and real life must always come first. Come to Neverwinter to fan, not as an escape from real life.


  • June 21, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

    To my knowledge, the same issue was already been dealt as an addiction problem, expect now it has a name specific to the cause of the problem. I think this can be good to those affect by it as it will make doctors look more specifically to the particularities of gaming and be more knowledgeable about the subject (or so we hope), and administer a treatment more adequate and accurate to what needs to be done to solve the problem, if it differs from other addictions at all. Probably does, I’d think each addiction has its own particularities.

    I don’t see a problem with having “gaming addiction” officialized, as long as it is recognized correctly as such and such nomenclature makes sense.

  • June 21, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    should’ve said terminology instead of nomenclature.

    • June 21, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Nah, “Nomenclature” is fine, as it’s the name of a specific addiction disorder within a set of similar disorders.

      • June 22, 2018 at 2:38 am

        should’ve said except instead of expect. oops typo

  • June 23, 2018 at 4:16 am

    While you are correct saying that excessive gaming CAN be officially labeled a disorder you leave out an important part. Excessive isn’t the only requirement to get the ‘addicted’-tag.
    Excessive sporting = Messi/Ronaldo and co are doing an excessive amount of football. While I do think the whole footballscene is addicted to obscene amounts of money, I wouldn’t say they are addicted to sporting.

    No worries as long as you keep taking care of yourself and your existing bonds with people that are close to you. Also a good sign is during holidays. How do you feel when you can’t (or won’t) game for a few weeks?

    So yeah …… a bit click baity but nevertheless good article 🙂 Personally I think its a good addition as there are people struggling with it.

    And now if you don’t mind I’m going to do my laundry 😛 You know. To prove something to myself.

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