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Researchers push back against WHO's planned 'gaming disorder'

Researchers push back against WHO's planned 'gaming disorder'

March 1, 2018 | By Alex Wawro

March 1, 2018 | By Alex Wawro
More: Serious

A group of researchers plan to publish an article in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Behavioral Addiction which argues against the World Health Organization's plan to add "gaming disorder" to the list of addiction diagnoses in its International Compendium of Diseases. 

What's interesting about this is the breadth of the pushback against the WHO's decision -- the article in question is co-authored by over 30 social scientists and mental health researchers from institutions around the world.

It's also being publicized by trade bodies representing publishers and the game industry at large in over 20 countries, including the ESA in the U.S., the ISF in Europe, and the Korea Association of Game Industry

The article itself is the latest in a series of scholarly articles debating the WHO's decision to formalize a "gaming disorder", and it argues that while the negative impact playing games can have on the lifestyle of some players merits further study, "the burden of evidence and the clinical utility should be extremely high because there is a genuine risk of abuse of diagnoses."

The article goes on to suggest that the WHO postpone the formalization of a "gaming disorder" in favor of further research, most notably by reaching out to the people who might benefit (by gaining access to insurance coverage, or formal treatment access) from there being a formal "gaming disorder" diagnosis in the ICD.

"We suggest that the WHO solicit input and feedback from a wider variety of stakeholders, including individuals who currently seek help or who have sought help for gaming-related problems and their family members/carers, as recommended for the development of mental disorder classifications in general (Pingani et al.,2014; Stein & Phillips, 2013)," reads an excerpt of the paper.

"Children in particular should be included in this process as one of the primary stakeholder groups playing games regularly. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have a fundamental right to have their voices heard in matters that concern them: formalizing a disorder classification that involves one of children’s most popular everyday behaviors certainly concerns them. Involving the aforementioned groups in the decision-making process will lead to a more holistic and accurate view of the diversity of video gaming."

The WHO plans to add the formal "gaming disorder" in the 11th edition of the ICD, which is expected to debut later this year.

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