In Seoul, they have discussed the inclusion of video game addiction in ICD-11 as a mental disorder.
According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, video game addiction will be included in the new version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which will enter into force on 1 January 2022.
Since 25 May 2019, in accordance with the decision of the WHO, computer and mobile game addiction has been officially recognized as a mental disorder, despite ambiguous opinions from the scientific community.
Although the issue has already been resolved, in Asia there is still a debate about whether gaming disorder can be equated with drug addiction, substance abuse and gambling. What if professional gamers are recognized as mentally ill? This will be a devastating blow to the gaming industry and eSports which are firmly established in the Asia-Pacific region.
At the end of May, the Game Science forum in Seoul brought together many experts: neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, marketers, media representatives and tycoons from the gaming industry.
Many of the experts argued that the WHO had no compelling scientific basis for including gaming in ICD-11 and expressed concern about the interference into people’s habits.
“There is no conclusive evidence that the fascination with games is turning into an epidemic,” said Christopher Ferguson, a professor of psychology at Stetson University, USA. “It’s not the games that make people violent. Violence is fostered by stress due to learning difficulties rather than a passion for playing games.”
Representatives of the gaming and entertainment industry have complained that as a result of the WHO decision, the gaming market expects a decrease in production volumes, which will entail a massive reduction in jobs and a decrease in economic indicators. They see this as a step backwards and an obstacle to technological progress.
Some experts hold opposing views. They have noted that games are addictive, and excessive gaming can cause irreversible changes to the brain.
“When people play computer games, changes similar to those caused by substances like heroin occur in their brains,” says Kim Dai-jin, a professor of psychiatry at the Catholic University in South Korea. She also argues that games with scenes of violence provoke aggressive behavior and dangerous thoughts.
It is not yet known how the WHO decision and the release of ICD-11 will affect the Asian gaming industry, but there is every reason to assume that serious changes will be coming to the industry.