Espen Aarseth 1 , Anthony M. Bean 2 , Huub Boonen 3 , Michelle Colder Carras 4 , * , Mark Coulson 5 , Dimitri Das 6 , Jory Deleuze 7 , Elza Dunkels 8 , Johan Edman 9 , Christopher J. Ferguson 10 , * , Maria C. Haagsma 11 , Karin Helmersson Bergmark 12 , Zaheer Hussain 13 , Jeroen Jansz 14 , Daniel Kardefelt-Winther 15 , * , Lawrence Kutner 16 , Patrick Markey 17 , Rune Kristian Lundedal Nielsen 1 , Nicole Prause 18 , Andrew Przybylski , 19 , * , Thorsten Quandt 20 , Adriano Schimmenti 21 , Vladan Starcevic 22 , Gabrielle Stutman 23 , Jan Van Looy 24 , Antonius J. Van Rooij 24 , *
26 September 2017
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.