Monday, August 26, 2019
Categorizing Game Addiction as Behavioral Disease will Subject All Content to Modern-era Witch Hunt, Experts Assert
Social and Cultural Solutions to Gaming Addiction Needed
Categorizing Game Addiction as Behavioral Disease will Subject All Content to Modern-era Witch Hunt, Experts Assert
  • By Choi Moon-hee
  • June 4, 2019, 12:34
Share articles

Panelists discuss problems in classifying game addiction as a disease at a debate held at Hyundai Tower in Seoul on June 3.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) classified “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition, concerns about the consequences of the decision are growing among political, academic, and industrial experts.

Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Byung-gwan said in a debate held by the Korea Internet Corporations Association on June 3 that the new decision by WHO is similar to the game shut-down policy that Korean government has adopted in the past. He said that originally, the issue was about Internet addiction and not about game addiction, but in the course of establishing and executing a policy on Internet addiction, the shutdown system was introduced because the game industry was the "weakest part" of the internet industry.

He noted that the WHO also initially started out with discussion on the over-use of digital devices in 2014, but ended up in categorizing game addiction as a behavioral disease after three to four years. Kim said, “This is not only related to games. Similar moves will be made for digital content, such as video watching.”

Park Sung-ho, secretary general of the Korea Internet Corporations Association, pointed out that WHO’s decision on game addiction was unscientific, failing to provide a clear definition of WHO's disease code. He added that considering that such decision subjects gaming to a witch hunt without considering its use in learning and corporate tasks, all contents that we share in the future can be the subject of a modern-era witch hunt.

Professor Chung also pointed out that while addiction to work, shopping, and dancing is not treated as an illness, the medical field has specifically attached the concept of illness to game addiction. As the most important factors in the problem of behavioral addiction are social and environmental factors, it is important to find a social and cultural solution instead of merely eliminating gaming, he said.