Is Gaming Addiction Real?

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided that ‘gaming disorder’ and ‘hazardous gaming’ should be included in upcoming revision of the International Compendium of Diseases. This verdict has sparked plenty of backlash from gamers and designers, and it is important to explore both sides of the issue.

What Is Classified as Gaming Addiction?

Two different types of video game-related disordered were outlined by the WHO. The first is “gaming d isorder”, which is categorized with disorders that are due to addictive behavior and substance abuse. It is related to gambling addiction, as well as various types of drug and alcohol addiction. Gaming disorder is defined as a pattern of persistent playing that is prioritized over other aspects of the player’s life. “Hazardous gaming” refers to playing video games in such a way that the player risks harmful physical and mental health repercussions.


What the ESA Has to Say

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has rebuked the WHO’s decision to recognise video game addiction as a mental health disorder. In a recent statement, the association has argued that this trivialises actual mental health issues as video games “are not addictive”.

"Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time,” reads the ESA’s statement. “Putting that official label [addiction] on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community.”

Plenty of players have also expressed their outrage. According to The Independent, gamers have taken to social media to make their thoughts known. For example eSports player C9Ally says:

Can't believe they're trying to make "gaming disorder" a mental condition LOL. They gonna send all us gamers to rehab