In its revised International Classification of Diseases released Monday, the WHO removed transgender identity as a mental health disorder and added gaming disorder to the list. "We welcome the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11, which will over time help to understand the true prevalence of harmful gaming".
The symptoms of gaming disorder are quite similar to those seen in substance use and gambling disorders. Some 2.5 billion people, or one in three worldwide, play some form of free-to-play screen game.
Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work. Most of the roughly 160 million American adults who play games online will not experience the addiction.
The bulk of the changes discussed at a press conference today centered around the change that "gender incongruence" has moved from a classification of mental health to one of sexual health, and that a new gaming disorder has been added to the mental health part of the codes. In its latest revision to a disease classification manual called the International Classification of Diseases, or I.C.D., the United Nations health agency explains the change and why it has (finally) removed the transgender mental disorder classification.
Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director at the non-profit health clinic The Telos Project, told CNN that labeling gaming disorder as a diagnosable condition was "premature".
Diagnosis, however, has to be done by health professionals, and requires negative gaming behavior to last for at least 12 months.
Addiction gaming is a real condition, the World Health Organization has decided, though not everybody agrees with the conclusion.
"ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease", said Lubna Alansari, WHO's Assistant Director-General (Health Metrics and Measurement). The statement is highly critical, citing contested and inconclusive data and concerns of misdiagnosis.
The report said that 44 percent of gamers say that emotional wellbeing is the main benefit of gaming to society while only 3 percent think gaming has no benefit to wider society.
The UN health agency said classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will 'serve a public health goal for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue'.