ESA discontent with World Health Organisation’s classification of “Gaming Disorder”

In its latest list of classified diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO), the public health division of the United Nations, has included “gaming disorder” as well. It has been listed alongside gambling disorder in the beta draft of International Classification of Diseases for 2018. Gaming disorder has been listed under “Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviours”. The draft further explains it as “Disorders due to addictive behaviours are recognisable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviours other than the use of dependence-producing substances. Disorders due to addictive behaviours include gambling disorder and gaming disorder, which may involve both online and offline behaviour.” The list also has the entry of “hazardous gaming” which is described as “Hazardous gaming refers to a pattern of gaming, either online or offline that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual.” While it is to be noted that the draft is not a finalised one, but the issue has already raised questions, dividing people on the stand. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), has recently released a statement showing discontent with the decision. It says that the move “trivialises real mental health issues  like depression and social anxiety disorder.” The full statement from ESA reads, “Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time. Having captivated gamers for more than four decades, more than two billion people around the world enjoy video games.  “The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivialises real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community. We strongly encourage the World Health Organization to reverse direction on its proposed action.” While the final draft is yet to be released by WHO, which is expected at sometime during mid 2018, the questions and debates are still ripe, with no conclusion in sight.