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ESA Says Video Games Are Not Addictive, Refuting the World Health Organization

The ESA refutes the WHO's assertion on video game addiction.

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The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) issued a response to the recent news that the World Health Organization (WHO) has added video game addiction in its upcoming revision of the International Compendium of Diseases.

"The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research proves video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community," said the ESA in its statement. "We strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action."

The statement is in response to the WHO's decision to add video game addition into its 11th revision of the ICD under 'disorders due to addictive behaviors or substance use,' which include addiction to gambling and substances like drugs and alcohol.

"The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent," explains the ICD entry.

Addictive gaming also joins "hazardous gaming," a separate gaming related subject that classifies dangerous gaming behavior that increases health risk from the amount of time spent on gaming while neglecting other activities or priorities.

In 2017, the ESA issued a statement pushing back against legislator's trying to classify loot boxes, a feature in video games where players purchase randomized, in-game content packs in the hopes of winning a wanted feature or cosmetic, as "not gambling." The latest classification from the WHO is yet another governing body linking video games to addiction.

The ICD-11 is expected to release sometime in 2018. First begun in 2015, the ICD-11 is a revision for the ICD-10 which was adopted in 1994.

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