World Health Organization adds video game addiction to diagnostic manual

The first draft of the International Compendium of Diseases lists a description for ‘gaming disorder’ alongside gambling and other addictive disorders.

The first draft of the World Health Organization’s upcoming International Compendium of Diseases revision now lists a description for ‘gaming disorder’ alongside gambling and substance-related addictive disorders.

Due out in 2018, the upcoming 11th revision would mark the first time video game-related addiction has appeared on the diagnostic manual’s pages. Gaming disorder is nested under ‘disorders due to addictive behaviors or substance use’, a category it will share with gambling disorder and varying degrees of alcohol and drug addiction. 

For the purposes of the ICD, gaming disorder is described as a pattern of persistent or recurrent online or offline digital game playing that manifests through impaired control over session frequency and time, over-prioritization of play, and escalation of play despite negative consequences. 

“The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent,” reads the entry. “The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

The ICD-11 revision has been in development since 2015, but it was only recently that the first draft of the diagnostic manual was published. If everything goes to plan, the 11th revision will see a release around mid-2018. That revision would then replace the ICD-10, which WHO says was first adopted for widespread use in 1994.

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