Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal

Journal article


Aarseth, Espen, Bean, Anthony M., Boonen, Huub, Colder Carras, Michelle, Coulson, Mark, Das, Dimitri, Deleuze, Jory, Dunkels, Elza, Edman, Johan, Ferguson, Christopher J., Haagsma, Maria C., Helmersson Bergmark, Karin, Hussain, Zaheer, Jansz, Jeroen, Kardefelt-Winther, Daniel, Kutner, Lawrence, Markey, Patrick, Nielsen, Rune Kristian Lundedal, Prause, Nicole, Przybylski, Andrew, Quandt, Thorsten, Schimmenti, Adriano, Starcevic, Vladan, Stutman, Gabrielle, Van Looy, Jan and van Rooij, Antonius J. 2016. Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.088
AuthorsAarseth, Espen, Bean, Anthony M., Boonen, Huub, Colder Carras, Michelle, Coulson, Mark, Das, Dimitri, Deleuze, Jory, Dunkels, Elza, Edman, Johan, Ferguson, Christopher J., Haagsma, Maria C., Helmersson Bergmark, Karin, Hussain, Zaheer, Jansz, Jeroen, Kardefelt-Winther, Daniel, Kutner, Lawrence, Markey, Patrick, Nielsen, Rune Kristian Lundedal, Prause, Nicole, Przybylski, Andrew, Quandt, Thorsten, Schimmenti, Adriano, Starcevic, Vladan, Stutman, Gabrielle, Van Looy, Jan and van Rooij, Antonius J.
Abstract

Concerns about problematic gaming behaviors deserve our full attention. However, we claim that it is far from clear that these problems can or should be attributed to a new disorder. The empirical basis for a Gaming Disorder proposal, such as in the new ICD-11, suffers from fundamental issues. Our main concerns are the low quality of the research base, the fact that the current operationalization leans too heavily on substance use and gambling criteria, and the lack of consensus on symptomatology and assessment of problematic gaming. The act of formalizing this disorder, even as a proposal, has negative medical, scientific, public-health, societal, and human rights fallout that should be considered. Of particular concern are moral panics around the harm of video gaming. They might result in premature application of diagnosis in the medical community and the treatment of abundant false-positive cases, especially for children and adolescents. Second, research will be locked into a confirmatory approach, rather than an exploration of the boundaries of normal versus pathological. Third, the healthy majority of gamers will be affected negatively. We expect that the premature inclusion of Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis in ICD-11 will cause significant stigma to the millions of children who play video games as a part of a normal, healthy life. At this point, suggesting formal diagnoses and categories is premature: the ICD-11 proposal for Gaming Disorder should be removed to avoid a waste of public health resources as well as to avoid causing harm to healthy video gamers around the world.

Concerns about problematic gaming behaviors deserve our full attention. However, we claim that it is far from clear that these problems can or should be attributed to a new disorder. The empirical basis for a Gaming Disorder proposal, such as in the new ICD-11, suffers from fundamental issues. Our main concerns are the low quality of the research
base, the fact that the current operationalization leans too heavily on substance use and gambling criteria, and the lack of consensus on symptomatology and assessment of problematic gaming. The act of formalizing this disorder, even as a proposal, has negative medical, scientific, public-health, societal, and human rights fallout that should be considered. Of particular concern are moral panics around the harm of video gaming. They might result in premature application of diagnosis in the medical community and the treatment of abundant false-positive cases, especially for children and adolescents. Second, research will be locked into a confirmatory approach, rather than an exploration of the boundaries of normal versus pathological. Third, the healthy majority of gamers will be affected negatively. We expect that the premature inclusion of Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis in ICD-11 will cause significant stigma to the millions of children who play video games as a part of a normal, healthy life. At this point, suggesting formal diagnoses and categories is premature: the ICD-11 proposal for Gaming Disorder should be removed to avoid a waste of public health resources as well as to avoid causing harm to healthy video gamers around the world.

KeywordsGaming disorder; International classification of diseases; Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental dissorders; Diagnosis; Mental health; Disease
Year2016
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
PublisherAkadémiai Kiadó
ISSN20625871
20635303
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.088
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/621860
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/
hdl:10545/621860
Publication dates30 Dec 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Sep 2017, 10:45
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ContributorsUniversity of Copenhagen, Framingham State University, Centrum voor Alcohol en andere Drugproblemen, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Middlesex University, Université Catholique de Louvain, Umeå University, Stockholm University, Stetson University, GGZ Momentum, University of Derby, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Karolinska Institute, Villanova University, Liberos LLC, University of Oxford, University of Münster, Kore University of Enna, University of Sydney and Ghent University
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