Industry Recon: World Health Organization Recognizes Video Game Addiction as Mental Health Condition

Well, well, well, here we are again. Back in December 2017, I mentioned that the WHO would be updating their classifications for disease for the first time in 16 years, causing video game addiction to be considered a legitimate mental health issue.  So here we are, 6 months later, and WHO has officially announced that this will be considered a legitimate, 100% bonafide health condition.  While this sounds ridiculous to some, conservative estimates show that this only affects about 1-3% of gamers in general.   Doesn’t sound like a lot right?  Well, there are more than 2 billion people playing video games across the world, so we’re looking at millions of people dealing with this issue.  The WHO is not without their detractors however, as the Entertainment Software Association claims on their website ” Experts worldwide are urging caution regarding the World Health Organization’s proposed ‘gaming disorder’ as it may lead to misdiagnosis of real mental health conditions.”  The ESA is a lobby group who’s job, in simplest terms, is to deal with public relations, public, and business affairs for companies that publish video games and devices.  It will be interesting to see if they continue to fight this classification. 

While I think on paper, the idea is pretty silly, I think it’s worth noting that there have always been stories over the years of gamers dying due to obscenely long play sessions that cause blood clots, dehydration, or other various sedentary health risks.  I think a lot of us also know people who have put their gaming habits well before their life responsibilities, the best example of this in the U.S. probably being World of Warcraft.  I personally know two people who’s marriages were completely ruined over one spouse spending all of their free time on WOW, putting their family second.   While it’s not a large percent of gamers, some people legitimately can not pull themselves away from their PC’s or consoles to take on their life responsibilities, and it’s good that there may be help for those people in the future.