Voices against the classification of game addiction as a disease are spreading throughout the ICT industry from their epicenter in the gaming industry. Games are closely related to the development of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) technology. In particular, it is considered a killer content in the 5G mobile communication services. ICT experts say the classification of game addiction as a disease will have a negative impact on the overall ICT ecosystem.
"The cultural and economic impacts of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s decision to classify game addiction as a disease will go beyond the game industry,” said the Korean Internet Companies Association on May 30. The association has 194 internet business companies including Naver and Kakao as members. "We oppose the decision to classify game addiction as a disorder disease and the application of the decision to Korea."
"Recognizing games as a cause of mental illness without any scientific grounds is creating a disease through the introduction of excessive medical services," the Korea Association of Game Industry said in a statement on the same day. “We are urging the WHO to immediately scratch off its decision to classify game addiction as a disease. We are strongly against all attempts by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to apply the decision to Korea."
The World Health Organization (WHO) unanimously passed the International Classification of Diseases-11 (ICD-11) which classified game addiction as a disease at its general congress in Geneva. Accordingly, the Korea Classification of Diseases (KCD) will be revised based on the amendment.
The internet business industry is concerned that if game addiction is designated as a disease, its impact will spread throughout future digital media content. "The game has led the growth of the domestic internet industry and will play a pivotal role in the digital convergence economy as a driving force for next-generation technologies," said the Korean Internet Companies Association. "If game addiction is designated as a disease, it will cause a drop in investment and jobs, support for technology research, and sales in game-related industries. It will also result in tightened industrial regulations, having a negative impact on the overall digital economy. This will slow down and hamper the growth of Korean IT companies, seriously weakening their global competitiveness."
Telecom companies are also closely watching the situation. The three major mobile carriers in Korea all view games as core content for their 5G services. To this end, some mobile carriers have provided “zero rating” services in which consumers use multimedia games freely without any traffic burden after making deals with specific game companies.