Gaming Disorder Classification by WHO has ESA Biting Back
In the recently posted news, the WHO (World Health Organization) has included a potential new diagnosis with the updated ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases ). A gaming disorder classification proposal for the ICD-11 (most updated version) has created quite a stir online today.
Many parents are likely to rush to panic reading this, questioning if their gamer child has this disorder. Others still will pre-emptively rush to the doctor’s office before the diagnosis has even been formalized. What does this diagnosis actually mean for the gaming industry then?
Members of the gaming industry are already attempting to head off the potential profit loss and defend their product, starting with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) who has recently issued this release via twitter:
While I do understand the need to protect one’s profit margin, I do not believe the inclusion of this will lead to misdiagnosis of “real mental health conditions” if it is included. ICD-11 simply looks to expand the definition of addiction, now that they have more research. The fact is there have been several inclusions of behavior related addiction in the ICD-11 including compulsive behaviors that may have been included in another diagnostic manual had the research been available at that time. The more specific diagnosis would allow for more customized treatment, which is important.
Internet, compulsive shopping and sexual addiction are just a few things that have been discussed in the past moving towards this new identification method. Gaming is not alone here. The current estimates on gamers suffering from the proposed disorder are only 2-3% as per Dr. Shekhar Saxena, (Director of WHO’s Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse) however the fact remains people panic, parents worry, and the media speculates.
I will speculate here and give my own opinion based on today’s events and my own interest in this topic over the years. In the coming months, I believe there will be a lot of back and forth between the ESA and WHO and if the proposed addition of gaming disorder is added, there will be a dip in profits in the gaming industry. We may even see one without it. As soon as this news dropped, there was always going to be a reaction of some kind. I personally don’t believe gaming itself needs to be labeled as a disorder per se and more research could be done with the spectrum broadened to include other media. The fact is waiting, thoroughly compiling all forms of multimedia and placing them under an umbrella would be far less problematic for companies.
Instead of gaming itself, perhaps a media immersion disorder should be looked at. After all, I see more people on their cell phones than anything else these days. Investigating on this scale would allow for the gaming industry to not suffer a hit as a result of something that truly is a bit too specific. Society is tethered to media and entertainment, we thrive on it and immerse ourselves in it. I would say that is the compulsion we need to look at on a broader scale, not gaming specifically. Treatment under that umbrella could be directed to the appropriate place without further adding to the stigma associated with gaming.