A large contingent of internationally renowned mental health experts is pushing back against the World Health Organisation's inclusion of a "gaming disorder" in its next revision of the International Classification of Diseases.
Leading social scientists and academics from research centres and universities including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Stockholm University and The University of Sydney are opposing the WHO's move in an upcoming journal paper.
The experts’ paper (‘A Weak Scientific Basis for Gaming Disorder: Let us err on the side of caution’) will appear in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
The researchers argue:
◆ “Much confusion remains – even among authors supporting the diagnosis – regarding what, exactly, gaming disorder is.”
◆ “We maintain that the quality of the existing evidence base is low.”
◆ “Formalizing a disorder with the intention to improve research quality neglects the wider non-clinical societal context”
◆ “Robust scientific standards are not (yet) employed.”
◆ “Moral panic might be influencing formalization and might increase due to it.”
◆ An addiction “should be clearly and unambiguously established before formalizing new disorders in disease classification system.”
In addition, the Brazilian Union of Video and Games, Interactive Entertainment South Africa and Korea Association of Game Industry (K-GAMES) this week joined international colleagues from 22 other countries in urging the WHO to reverse its plan to create a new gaming disorder classification.
The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), which is the industry association for computer and video games in Australia and New Zealand, is among those condemning the WHO's classification.
“Worldwide opposition to the WHO’s controversial and unproven classification of ‘Gaming Disorder’ continues to grow,” said IGEA CEO Ron Curry.
“The WHO’s process lacks transparency, is deeply flawed, and lacks objective scientific support. We urge this process to be halted.”
According to the IGEA, the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games is well-established and recognised. Games are a useful tool to acquire key competencies, skills, and attitudes required for a successful life in a digital society.