World Health Organisation on ‘gaming disorder’

By February 1, 2019 March 20th, 2019 Press Releases

TIGA is the network for games developers and digital publishers, and the trade association representing the video games industry. This publication provides TIGA members with an update on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of ‘gaming disorder’.

The World Health Organisation

On 18 June 2018, the WHO published a classification of a new ‘gaming disorder’ in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). For ‘gaming disorder’ to be diagnosed, the WHO stated:

‘The behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.’[1]

The disorder has been characterised by the WHO as an ‘impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities’.[2] For more details, please visit:

It is important to note that the WHO believes that only a minority of gamers suffer from ‘gaming disorder’:

‘Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities. However, people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour.’[3]

A number of academics and healthcare professionals publicly disagreed with the WHO’s classification, saying it lacked consensus and could lead to misdiagnosis or stigmatisation of gamers. For example:

The WHO will be having a lengthy period of discussion on ‘gaming disorder’ before it is formally adopted. According to the WHO, the ICD-11 will be submitted to the seventy-second World Health Assembly in May 2019 and, if endorsed, Member States would start reporting using ICD-11 on 1 January 2022. WHO member states are expected to use the most current version of the ICD when reporting health data to the WHO which from 2022 could include information on the new ‘gaming disorder’ classification if formally adopted.

In the UK, NHS trusts have already begun treating ‘gaming disorder’ following the WHO’s new definition. The Government stated on 19 July 2018 that when the ICD-11 is formally adopted, they will use ‘this updated classification standard for collecting and reporting information related to health conditions’.[4]


[1] World Health Organisation, gaming disorder, September 2018 (Link.)

[2] World Health Organisation, gaming disorder, September 2018 (Link.)

[3] World Health Organisation, gaming disorder, September 2018 (Link.)

[4] Steve Brine, Hansard, 19 July 2018, 164305 WA, link.


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