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Gambling, Gaming & Technology Use Community of Interest

The Gambling, Gaming & Technology Use Community of Interest brings together addiction and mental health service providers, researchers and subject matter experts in the fields of gambling, technology/Internet use and video gaming to collaborate and share knowledge on emerging trends and clinical best practices.

Hello Everyone,

I recently wrote a blog to in response to some of the controversy about the inclusion of gaming disorder as an official diagnosis in the ICD-11.   


I would be interested to to know your thoughts about some of the criticisms. 



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I like how you addressed a number of commonly held concerns, as well as your summary of key messages.

One of the points that resonated with me most was when you stated "Adolescence is a time when people are most at risk...If problems go undetected and untreated during this time when youth are laying the foundation for their future, the negative effects can be far-reaching." This reminded me of the importance of early intervention. Hopefully the recognition of video gaming as a disorder will not only highlight the need for expanded services, but also for more services targeted towards prevention and early intervention (as adolescence is a time when people are most vulnerable). And, similar to other disorders, early intervention can likely lead to better recovery outcomes in the long-term. Those are just some of my thoughts.

Thanks Sarah, that is a great question!  In my experience working with people who have an addictive disorder, I have yet to meet a client who did not have any underlying issues (regardless of the problematic substance/behaviour).  This includes sub-clinical issues and/or diagnosable conditions.  Even in cases where there were no severe underlying conditions, the addiction and it's subsequent consequences required attention and repair.  Frequently, once someone develops a habitual behaviour, they experience triggers and urges that are aided by learning coping skills and identifying relapse prevention strategies.  This may not be the case in situations when people have more mild or moderate problems but unfortunately, by the time many clients seek out professional services, their symptoms tend to be more severe.  

Great blog Lisa. You ask: What do you think the government and industry responsibility is to regulate video gaming and create less addictive games/apps?

I also wonder what the role of the industry should be.   Can/should they regulate themselves or should the government impose regulations?   The video game industry has  much to gain by encouraging/hooking players into ongoing and continuous play.  The Entertainment Software Association of Canada describes themselves as the voice of the Canadian video game industry and they strongly oppose the classification. 

Good point Colleen!  The ESA has been vocal about their opposition towards the classification of gaming as a disorder.  I think it is important to remember that the classification is not meant to demonize gaming but rather create awareness for the people who are at risk and those that have developed problems.  Gambling, alcohol and eating are all listed as disorders and I don't think those industries are hurting financially.  I think there is room and should be space for both realities, non problematic and problematic use. 

Interesting article and I do agree that caution is always a good thing when it comes to diagnosing people.  I think it is important to continue to do research  to help us better understand this issue.  I am hoping that the inclusion of gaming disorder in the ICD-11 will contribute to further research and clarity around this problem.

In response to Nigel's comment, "My caution is that we shouldn't be too quick to label people who play games a lot as having an addiction problem,"   I would say that I don't think we are labeling people who play games a lot as a having an addiction problem.  I think we are saying that people who play games a lot to the detriment of their health have a problem. 

I completely agree Lisa. My eldest son plays video games a lot and still has a full life outside of gaming. My youngest's son's gaming habits were do severe he stopped thriving. As a result, one son can still enjoy a lifestyle that includes gaming, while the other now chooses to abstain. There is an enormous difference, and we have to be really clear in stating just what those differences are. Although our family has to deal with a son with Gaming Disorder, we have not jumped on the anti-gaming band wagon, nor do we judge harshly those who still enjoy video games. Those who are on the side of the backlash of the WHO's decision require more education. And in providing that awareness, we run the risk of being seen as an opponent of gaming. It will take more research, time, and diligence for others to truly understand what this disorder and its repercussions entail.

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