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Game industry holds breath for this week’s WHO decision on gaming disorder

The South Korean gaming industry is waiting on tiptoes for the impending final decision of the World Health Organization on whether to classify video game addiction as a disease.

The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, will convene from Monday through May 28 in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss various policy matters, including the question of game addiction. 

The WHO classified video game addiction as a disorder in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-11, in June 2018. For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the WHO said, a behavior pattern of impaired control over gaming would have to be evident for at least 12 months, hindering a person’s daily activities. 

Stock image (X4)
Stock image (X4)

Should the member nations agree to add game addiction to the ICD-11 at this year’s assembly, starting in 2022 each nation would be responsible for introducing new health care policies to address it.

Experts advocating the benefits of controlled gaming held a Game Science Forum in Seoul at the end of April, arguing that the WHO’s ICD-11 pathologizes gaming without sufficient evidence.

Lee Kyung-min, a neurologist at the Seoul National University College of Medicine, said at the forum, “Overgaming should be dealt with as a self-control development problem rather than a stand-alone disorder.”

By Lim Jeong-yeo (