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Video game addiction voted as real by World Health Organization

Steven R. May 25, 2019

Video game addiction isn’t just a joke anymore.

The World Health Organization officially recognized gaming disorder or video game addiction as a disease. The move came at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland and passed in an unanimous vote.

Gaming disorder will be officially added to the next iteration of the International Classification of Diseases. The WHO recognized the condition as a mental health disorder in 2018, which prompted further study. The move to recognize gaming addiction as a disease came after a swell of evidence from experts from around the world.

Video game addiction has popped up in the news many times over the years, with a number of notable titles being called addictive. The label has been attached to games ranging from Grand Theft Auto to Space Invaders. In most cases this can be largely chalked up as hysteria generated from the larger rise of video games, which has been mirrored during the growth of most forms of entertainment.

Things have changed in recent years, however. The rise of online gaming has given players the ability to dedicate large amounts of time to a single game and the increased popularity of battle passes has rewarded more frequent and prolonged sessions. 

Though the WHO now recognizes gaming disorder as a disease, not all scientific organizations agree. The American Psychological Association refused to outright acknowledge video game addiction as a disease, but has previously called for further study on the field. The vote by the WHO will likely encourage further investigation from other scientific organizations over the coming years.

In addition to the vote on video game addiction, the World Health Assembly discussed a number of other topics including China’s Universal Health Coverage, eradicating polio after its return through unvaccinated children, and combating the ebola virus.

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