Is compulsive video game playing an addiction? The World Health Organization says it is, and they’re adding it to the newest edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems or “ICD-11.”

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the WHO has added “Gaming disorder” to the 2022 version of the book, which is used as a guideline for psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals to help diagnose and treat their patients.

The ICD-11 describes ”Gaming disorder” as compulsive behavior that leads to “impaired control over gaming” and an “increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities,” despite “the occurrence of negative consequences.” Similar to gambling, sex, and drug disorder, the WHO believes that video game addiction causes changes to the brain.

“The global video game industry–including representatives from across Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, and Brazil–today called on World Health Organization (WHO) Member States to re-examine at an early date its decision to include ‘Gaming Disorder’ in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11),” the organizations stated in a press release.

So, Is It An Addiction?

Not everyone believes that compulsive video game playing should be classified as an addiction. Health officials and video game representatives say there is a lack of research into video game playing as an addiction. Game industry insiders are lobbying the WHO to remove the entry. It’s understandable, of course. Billions of dollars rely on people who play games regularly, especially first-person shooter games that have an online component.

The American Psychiatric Association has also said there was not “sufficient evidence” to consider gaming addiction as a “unique mental disorder.” They may be referring to the fact that as an addiction, it mimics both addictions that involve substances and addictive behavior like sex, eating,

Some people have described video game playing as an addictive behavior that caused them to lose sleep, spend hours playing without a break, skipping meals, or waiting to use the restroom because they can’t put down the game controller.

The ICD guidelines will go into print in January 2022.

If you or somebody you love has a problem with an addiction to anything – sex, drugs, food or gaming, there is help available. Call our hotline to learn about your options.