Questions and Answers


We have all heard stories of kids spending lots of time playing video games and the difficulties parents have addressing this issue. How can you say this is not a disorder that needs attention?

We understand that caregivers need a partner to help set limits on game play. That’s why we provide tools to help ensure that video games are part of a well-rounded lifestyle.

What is the ICD-11?

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a manual developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) that some practitioners use for insurance reimbursement and automated decision support in health care. The ICD's reputation and relevance have been debated repeatedly over the years, including for the WHO's history of questionable codes.

The current draft, ICD-11, proposes to add video games to a section for ‘Disorders due to addictive behaviors,’ which is associated with gambling. The ICD-11 beta draft can be consulted here

Is there a consensus on the existence of “gaming disorder”amongst the academic community? 

Unfortunately not. Many leading researchers looked at this issue and came to different conclusions. As noted in the discussion paper regarding the gaming disorder proposal from Pryzbylski, et al. “The quality of the research base is low. The field is fraught with multiple controversies and confusion and there is, in fact, no consensus position among scholars. This is indicated by a recent publication on “Internet Gaming Disorder” in the journal Addiction (Griffiths et al., 2016), co-authored by 28 scholars in the field.

Why is there so much debate around the inclusion of video games in this list?

The issue has been debated heavily since 2016 when 36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centers and universities – including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Stockholm University and The University of Sydney – opposed the inclusion in an Open Debate paper.

Two years later, in March 2018, the same academics reiterated their opposition as there was little acknowledgment from the WHO of their views in a second open paper published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The paper cites the lack of research to support the WHO's proposal, stressing that the burden of evidence and the clinical utility should be extremely high, because there is a genuine risk of abuse of diagnoses.”  

In May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) proposed criteria for video game addiction in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but concluded that there was insufficient evidence to include it as an official mental disorder. Subsequently there have been numerous academic papers and research decrying the formalization of problematic game play behaviors.

In March 2018, the Society for Media Psychology & Technology, division 46 of the American Psychological Association called on the WHO not to include video game addiction in the ICD-11 list.  

Isn’t “gaming disorder”just a manifestation of other disorders?

A number of academic papers noted that problematic game play behaviors are more likely the product or manifestation of underlying mental health problems. In the view of those authors, problematic game play may be the manifestation of coping mechanisms associated with other conditions or behaviors.

What proportion of the video game player community does the category of "Gaming Disorder" include? 

While we disagree with the entire concept and urge the WHO to reverse course and believe there is no measurable impact, even the most ardent proponents concede this is an extremely small population. For example, Professor Mark Griffiths, who contributed to the WHO research, suggests that only 0.5% of the population might be affected. In short, the WHO’s action is a solution in search of a problem.

What is the problem with “Gaming Disorder” being included in ICD11?

The act of formalizing this disorder will have a number of negative impacts across the medical and player communities. The medical community believes there is still a lack of objective evidence to define and diagnose gaming addiction, which would indicate inclusion at this point is premature.

Some scientific experts state that this may result in misdiagnoses, putting those in need at risk of further harm, adding further pressure to already stretched public health resources.

There is additional cause for concern from the potential for this to adversely affect the vast majority of the video game community through stigmatizing something they enjoy as part of a healthy range of activities.

Emphasis must also not be taken away from improving media literacy and digital literacy—as well as equipping children and young people with the critical thinking skills—that will enable them to participate in online experiences safely.

Does the video game industry believe that problematic game play exists?

The video game industry has a role to play in providing tools and information to help ensure that its products are used appropriately. Many video game platforms provide players with reminders to take breaks or supply password-protected tools that limit when, and for how long, video games can be played.  

The bigger issue though is that this debate is only largely among academics. Parents already are acting responsibly and understand that video games should be a part of a child’s well-rounded lifestyle—a lifestyle that includes daily exercise, good nutrition, and other pastimes and activities. In fact, research shows that:

  • Seventy percent of parents believe that computer and video games are a positive part of their children’s lives; and,

  • Gamers spend more than triple the amount of time spent playing games each week to exercising, playing sports, volunteering, or engaging in other endeavors like reading, painting, and religious activities. Enjoying video games is an interest, not an addiction.

Do video games have any positive uses?

Video games are enjoyed by people all over the world for recreational, educational, and therapeutic purposes. The therapeutic value of games are increasingly important in today’s society and bring innovation to treatments, such as in the field of dementia, stroke rehabilitation, and ADHD, but there are numerous other areas.

The value of the educational benefits of video games for educational purposes is well-proven. Video games improve strategic thinking and increasingly teachers bring games into the classroom for an enhanced learning experience, ranging from Minecraft’s Education Edition allowing to create workshops and initiate pupils to work on mathematics, languages and science. Other video games, such as Assassins Creed Origin‘s Discovery Tours, help teachers bring the history of Ancient Egypt into the classroom allowing virtual visits to monuments and historical places.