Video Games

The World Health Organization Classified Video Game Addiction as a Disorder. Now It's Telling People to Play Video Games.

Global health group supports industry-supported initiative to promote gaming, educate players about COVID-19.


Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified video game addiction as a mental disorder. The classification is for people who demonstrate impaired ability to control their game playing and an "increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities," despite "the occurrence of negative consequences."

But now, with much of the global economy shuttered due to a pandemic, and health experts issuing increasingly strenuous recommendations for people to avoid leaving the house whenever possible, the WHO is encouraging people to stay home—and play video games. 

The WHO is supporting a game industry initiative dubbed #PlayApartTogether, which is designed both to encourage people to play video games and to educate them about social distancing practices designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The initiative, according to USA Today, is backed by a roll call of major industry players, including Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, Unity Technologies, Amazon, Twitch, and YouTube Gaming. 

There's nothing inherently contradictory about the WHO's messaging, but it does serve as a reminder that gaming has social and health benefits. Although video games have become far more popular in recent years, they are still sometimes subject to a cultural stigma, a perception that they are time-wasters at best, socially corrosive at worst. That stigma has been around for as long as I can remember, from the early 1990s congressional hearings on violence in games like Mortal Kombat to the continuing efforts by politicians and pundits to tie acts of real-world violence to playing video games—despite the persistent lack of evidence

On the contrary, there is some evidence that video games can have health benefits, particularly when it comes to managing chronic pain. Multiple studies over the years have found that video games can help reduce physical pain and mental distress, control anxiety, and assist with trauma recovery. The reason why is simple: Games keep you engaged and focused on virtual tasks—and in the process, they distract you from what hurts, or from what nags at your mind. Today, with millions of Americans newly out of work, and many more stuck in an indefinite state of quasi-lockdown, it's unfortunately probable that there are a lot of anxious, distressed people out there. Video games won't solve their underlying problems. But they can distract them from those problems for a little while. 

As I have written previously, many of today's games also serve another purpose as well, one that's increasingly valuable at a time when we've all been unexpectedly forced to become shut-ins: They connect you with other people. Multiplayer online games are joint activities for competitive and cooperative play, and some seem to act as much like social networks as anything else. 

As for me, I've spent several recent evenings playing Doom Eternal, a high-energy, tactically complex, grindhouse throwback to the pulpy shooters of the 1990s. (If nothing else, its existence today, more than 25 years after Congress first took an interest in game violence, nearly all of which have seen declines in youth violence, suggests how misplaced the worries of the political class were.) And I've continued to plug away at Borderlands 3, which is currently serving up a smorgasbord of typically rare legendary weapons. Someday soon, I'll probably play Control. At least once a day, I've thought it's a real shame that Cyberpunk 2077, which is exactly the sort of gigantic, immersive game seemingly built for a nation of unexpected shut-ins, was pushed back from its original April release date

What I've gained from these games hasn't changed, but now, perhaps, it's more valuable than ever: a break from the world, and a break from myself. Gamers have always understood the value of a little social distance.

NEXT: Not Even COVID-19 Can Shake New Jersey's Fear of Letting Drivers Pump Their Own Gas

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  1. Who’s playing what right now?

    I got Borderlands 3 the moment it was available on Steam. Been playing it during the quarantine.

    1. Doom Eternal is hard as fuck. Worth it though.

    2. Apex with the kids… borderlands. Waiting for cyberpunk 2077.

    3. I have gone back to playing some of my favorites:
      Skyrim (finally doing a pure mage build);
      Witcher 3;
      Beat God of War 2018 a few weeks back.
      Looking at jumping into Horizon Zero Dawn again.
      AC Odyssey – pretty fun, but it’s AC so it gets repetitive. God of War is just better; HZD is as well.

      Newer releases:
      Fell Seal Arbiter’s Mark – kind of an homage to FF Tactics.
      Animal Crossing – yeah, I play a half hour a day to chill the fuck out, or if my gf is watching some shit on TV and I want to sit handheld mode.
      Hades – awesome action/bullet hell from Super Giant.
      Exanima – really waiting for their on-the-near-horizon update. Great little physics based low fantasy RPG with an Arena mode. Fun as hell.

      Just downloaded Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, released yesterday. The first one was so fucking awesome, especially with the right mods. Really excited to see what they’ve incorporated into the base game this time after the first one’s success.

      Dying to play Cyberpunk of course.

    4. I got my Oculus Quest last week, and I’ve been playing Beat Saber. Super fun. Great fitness game! I’ll be trying the boxing game Creed as well.

      And yeah, I really wish I could play Cyberpunk 2077. I’ve been dying for some cyberpunk these last few weeks, so I’m going to get back into Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

    5. have a stand-up w/a bunch of games from the 80s i still love Time Pilot and Xevious … and Ms. Pac-Man of course

    6. Rocket League, like always. New season & Rocket Pass just started!

    7. Czech Legion: Escape from Soviet Russia.

    8. My main game right now is a mobile one called SoulSeeker. It’s Korean.

      Seems like the PVP has gotten a lot easier the past few weeks. They had a lot of users in China.

    9. Rimworld, at this point my compound is a complicated process to turn raiders into drugs.

      Ice sheet – Harvest raider’s corpses, turn their meat into fuel, which powers my generators, which power my heat/lamps which I use to grow drugs, which I sell for money and goods, which increase my wealth, which attract more raiders.

    10. I’am made $84, 8254 so far this year working online I never imagined that it was honest to goodness yet my closest companion is acquiring $20 thousand a month by working on the web, that was truly shocking for me, she prescribed me to attempt it. simply give it a shot on the accompanying site.. go to home media tech tab for more detail reinforce your heart……….<OPEN THIS WEBSITE

    11. World War Z. They recently added cross-platform play so I can play with all the xbros while I’m on PC. PS4 support is being added next.

      I really wish more games had this functionality, it really improves the community and helps the game last longer.

  2. Raspberry pi 4. Making a fmcw radar

    1. I was without work for 6 months when my former Co-worker finally recommended me to start freelancing from home… It was only after I earned $5000 in my first month when I actually believed I could do this for a living! Now I am happier than ever… Details Here

  3. It’s getting harder to play the old porn flash games because none of the browsers support flash any more.

    1. Opera (browser) still has all of their older versions avalible to download. I have been using version 8 for flash games

  4. Only the UN can take contrary positions and be wrong both times – – – – – – – – –

    1. golf clap

    2. yeah clever

  5. people who demonstrate impaired ability to control their game playing and an “increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities,” despite “the occurrence of negative consequences.”

    But enough about pandemic-grandstanding politicians.

    1. Can’t the same thing be said about television, music, devotion to specific movie stars or rock bands, books, or just about every form of human endeavor, including work?

  6. Come on, you know the difference. Many of us lost friends to Evercrack back in the day, or know a friend who has gone into debt for microtransactions in Clash of Clans.

    Video game addiction is real. It is dangerous. It’s quite similar to gambling addiction, which has been recognized for centuries. Any person who works in a casino or in a store that sells lottery tickets can tell you of those people. In the end, there isn’t much difference between wasting the rent money on the roulette wheel versus Candy Crush, or skipping work to play WOW compared to skipping work for a few more rounds of blackjack.

    1. I played EQ for years and I almost turned out normal.

      1. And the majority of people go to Vegas, have fun, and walk away with mild losses instead of betting away the house. That doesn’t negate or even address the problem of addicts destroying their lives and harming their families.

  7. The WHO is a bureaucratic, globalist cuck that is worthless as it pertains to world heath.

    1. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  8. Reason continues its descent into the unintellectual

    1. First is video games. Next stage is sex change.

      1. no its actually stupid comic book stuff like faux edgy pictures of the Joker..have to keep the peasant entertained

  9. I don’t play video games. Sill working and going to watch Heavy Metal tonight. Been years since I’ve seen it.

    1. And I’m not on Twitter or Facebook.

      1. Cool.

  10. WHO has yielded any authority it might have had years ago, about the same time as the SPLC. As did the Nobel Committee when it gave a “Peace Prize” to a lying piece of shit who promptly started several new wars.
    To be clear, I do not have a fuck to give regarding games on a computer; there are things known as “books” which might offer some knowledge of the world and the history we share; even if you get them on a ‘device’, please do so.
    We have, over the past month, delivered the US economy into the hands of the government; people who have read some history might have been a bit resistant to that.

  11. Just ordered a PS4 to play NHL 20. Had to resort to ordering from Best Buy online. Cannot find an actual console anywhere and Amazon, of all places, does not sell direct. Can’t get NHL 20 direct from Amazon which is also odd.

    WHO report is hilarious. Just another buerocratic committee that checks which way the wind is blowing.

  12. I am making a good salary from home $1200-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with Everyone, Here is what I do. Follow details……. Read More  

  13. Well, I am a gamer and the only good side of quarantine is nobody tells to stop playing now and go to Walmart buying things! I just hope WHO now declares that using auto clickers is not cheating! (gamers would understand this) 😛 Jokes apart, Playing video games is not a disorder clearly. My cognitive abilities are much better than an average American and I am proud of that.

  14. Well, I am a gamer and the only good side of quarantine is nobody tells to stop playing now and go to Walmart buying things! I just hope WHO now declares that using auto clickers is not cheating! (gamers would understand this) ???? Jokes apart, Playing video games is not a disorder clearly. My cognitive abilities are much better than an average American and I am proud of that.

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