Unsurprisingly, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) issued a statement today in response to the World Health Organization’s proposed inclusion of “gaming disorder” and “hazardous gaming” in its updated International Compendium of Diseases, in which they “strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action.”
As reported by Gamasutra, the ESA states that they disagree with the WHO’s move, saying, “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 trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community.”
The updated ICD outlines “gaming disorder” as having a lack of control over how much and how often someone plays game to the extent that such behavior “takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities,” and is “of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”
In what reads as a direct response to that claim, the ESA stated, “Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time.”
The most concerning information related to the WHO’s inclusion of videogame-related health disorders is the classification of “gaming disorder” as an addiction, listed alongside gambling addiction and various substance addictions. The classification marks the latest assertion in the debate around blind or loot boxes as being a form of gambling that has permeated videogame communities in last year. The ESA holds the position that loot boxes are not gambling, per a statement released in November 2017.
Even though the conditions the WHO addressed go beyond just addictive tendencies relating to videogames, it is assured that the ESA will have plenty to say until the IDC is finalized later this year.