The ESA met with the World Health Organization about the ‘gaming disorder’ classification

    
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One of last year’s big stories for the gaming industry was the decision by the World Health Organization to include the brand-new “gaming disorder” classification in the publication of its most recent edition of its disease classification manual.

Here’s how WHO defines this disorder: “Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming; 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

If that sounds vague – like the sort of thing where you could swap the word “gaming” for just about anything – then welcome to the conversation. The move was met with alarm and pushback in 2018 from multiple groups across the industry. Some of them, like the ESA, UKIE, and HEVGA, are deeply involved in and propped up by the video game industry, so their criticism came as no surprise. But there was also considerable skepticism from academics and journalists, who have noted incomplete research in the field, suggesting that academics still do not agree on what exactly constitutes gaming disorder, never mind the clinicians who will be expected to diagnose and treat such a condition. GIbiz even ran a piece pointing out the weak evidence offered by WHO for the classification and exposing the group’s admission that it’s under “enormous pressure” from Asian countries to legitimize the disorder.

Though WHO voted to include the disorder last year, it won’t actually take effect for another few years, so industry groups are still in discussions with WHO over its inclusion. According to a new piece on Reuters – capped off with a photo of a man dressed as a blood-soaked zombie intently playing Xbox One at a midnight event – the Entertainment Software Association met with the global group in December to air its complaints.

“It’s our hope that through continued dialogue we can help the WHO avoid rushed action and mistakes that could take years to correct,” ESA boss Stanley Pierre-Louis reportedly said. The WHO noted another meeting is planned for 2019 but suggested that – Reuters’ quote here – “the dialogue did not imply collaboration with the games makers.”

Further reading:

Source: Reuters via Gamasutra
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failed_apathy
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failed_apathy

If you don’t fit into society, there is something wrong with you, and you must be classified accordingly.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, social dysfunctions, drug hyper-prescription, gambling problems, “gaming disorder” —

symptoms of a sick society.

If you happen to fit into the mold, and love going to school, showing up to your 9-5 corporate job for 40 years, and having faith that somehow your life will turn out to be alright by the time you retire, then that’s great.

But for whatever reason, a significant portion of the population gets left behind. Maybe they fell on hard times, or became disillusioned with all the “promises of life,” or were simply that nail that stuck out and got hammered too much.

Maybe they could’ve been visionaries, philosophers, social leaders, or ground-breaking inventors or scientists — and maybe they still can. But after spending decades being the odd ones out, or simply daring to be discontent with what society has to offer… people get tired.

At worst, they end up committing crimes or in jail, and perhaps not much better, sometimes they end up as “addicts” to a substance or activity… one that’s more exciting than what life has to offer them.

And of course, there’s something wrong with them. Dis-order. Classified, and diagnosed. Told they “need help,” further hammering in that societal role of a dysfunctional.

Ever have trouble closing that game? Logging off that MMO? Eager to get off work so you can get back to your virtual life? Maybe there’s more high-functioning addicts out there than we’d like to admit.

People tend to be keen to show off how well we fit in — we’re social creatures, after all, and we really, really badly want to fit into the group. And so we create narratives for ourselves to justify our lives, even if we don’t fully believe it’s that great. “I’m a good person.” “I’m responsible.” “I’m hard-working.” “It’s what everyone else does.” “I want to be successful.” “Survival of the fittest.”

“You’re just lazy.” “You’re weak.” “Some people just can’t cut it.” “You need help.” “Those people deserve exactly what they get.” “I’m not like them.”

Humanity hasn’t changed much over the last thousands of years, but society certainly has. We’re still bound by our biological evolutionary limits, but technology and society change at a pace akin to a virus.

Sometimes I wonder if all those cyberpunk novels are more prophetic than we realize. Can slow and clumsy human adaptation possibly keep up with the pace of technology?

Earth may only be a tiny corner of the galaxy, but it sure is quiet as fuck around here.

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Bannex

The sad thing is that there really are issues with gaming but this will be so mismanaged and erroneous that the real issues will either be shouted down or blown up beyond any reasonable proportion.

I’ve seen games destroy a few of my friend’s lives. Unfortunately, as with any discussion on addiction it will run into the old “addicts gonna addict…” defense.

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Arktouros

This is always an amusing topic.

The same RNG fueled mechanics that are behind lockboxes form up the very backbone of a huge number of games that are created. The difference is instead of gambling my money directly I’m instead gambling my time that when I defeat the boss I might get the loot I want. So while people take a stance against lockboxes as predatory and designed to prey on addictive behaviors it’s only one step to the side to make that exact same argument about the game itself.

Yet oddly enough you’ll typically see the same people who cheer on anything lockbox regulation related be adamantly opposed to gaming disorder. So the person who gambles away their rent for the month the poor addict but someone who plays games all the time at the sake of everything else who cares?

As someone consistent in their views, I say let everyone do what the hell they want. You wanna gamble away, go for it. You want to do video games all the time, go for it. Leave the draconian regulation and restrictions to China.

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rosieposie

Right, now apply your no regulations approach to all other industries, because why would gaming industry would be the one unregulated exception? Let’s sell everything to everyone, no restrictions on booze, drugs, guns, you name it. But yeah, nice try, Mr. Consistent.

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Arktouros

If you’re an alcoholic you can buy as much as much booze as you want. There’s no restrictions on it what so ever. If you’re a gambling addict, there’s literally nothing stopping you from hopping on a plane and going to Vegas.

Where most regulation comes in is in trying to mitigate the impact of your own self destruction (because you’re 100% free and allowed to do that) on other people in the society you’re part of. So drinking yourself to death is 100% A-OK great. Drinking yourself to death while operating a car and potentially harming other people is not.

In the case of video games, there’s little to no potential to harm other people. If you want to mortgage your house so you can buy spaceships in StarCitizen or you want to drive yourself in debt to gamble on lockboxes that’s your own business. No one is holding up a liquor store for a few extra bucks to gamble on Overwatch crates.

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rosieposie

The obvious aspect of regulation which you didn’t even address, of course, is limiting access to certain goods and services for minors. That’s also a part of industry regulation. Do you want to get rid of that as well?

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46286945

Relevant quote: The commission also raised concerns that close to a million young people had been exposed to gambling through “loot boxes” in video games or on smartphone apps.

It’s fine, we don’t need any regulation. Let’s allow natural selection to run it’s course.

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Arktouros

No, I addressed that when I stated that most regulation is made to prevent people from harming others. As minors are less likely to make sound decisions and are even more likely to cause damage to others it makes sense that these things are regulated in that scenario. However, again, no one is harming each other when playing too much video games or spending too much on lockboxes. It’s an entirely self contained problem.

What you linked is not a study. It’s a survey. That’s going around a lot. People send out surveys and questionnaires and then file reports based on them. However that isn’t an actual scientific study of behavior. Even then that own link states that majority of betting behavior is happening in unlicensed scenarios where regulation is meaningless because it’s bypassed entirely.

failed_apathy
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failed_apathy

People do have the possibility of being socially dependent on one another, as is the case in any society.

If someone has a “gaming addiction” problem, maybe they have kids or a spouse that’ll suffer for it. A lot of times this kind of stuff stays hidden, and nobody finds out until it’s too late.

Even if they don’t suffer financially, social withdrawal might mean that people close to them can suffer emotionally.

And there’s the aspect of attention too. What if someone working a safety or hazard job has their attention diverted to a game? Maybe someone standing a safety watch doesn’t notice a critical alarm going off, or someone like a trucker playing on his phone to escape his boring life?

And then there’s stuff like this: Baby drowns while dad plays games

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I think we’d have a nation full of crack, coke and heroin addicts if anybody could do what they wanted without regulation. You could argue that we already do, but obviously it would be so very much worse if there were no regulation on anything.

Comparing gaming addiction to lockbox addiction is like comparing crack addiction to marijuana addiction. Both are real problems, but one is much worse than the other.

There are levels of gaming addiction that are much worse than others, yes, like when a baby is left somewhere to die when the parent won’t stop playing games. But lockbox addiction *is* much worse. They’re not just taking their time, they are taking their time and their money, getting rich off it while leaving people in the gutter who can’t control themselves. They set these games up purposely to snag people who can’t control spending, preying on the same triggers that gambling addicts have.

The fact is it is different when they drain someone of all their money rather than just their time. They’re taking direct advantage of the people while getting rich off it.

While gaming disorder is also real, it’s not the same problem. A severed finger is not the same as a severed hand, even though we both may have issues that need dealing with. Especially if someone is collecting the hands and getting rich off them.

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Arktouros

Portugal would like to have a word with your predictions.

They are functionally identical. The primary difference is in cost to which you’re arguing that spending money on lockboxes is somehow inherently worse than wasting away 16 hours of your day farming a boss for loot drops. That seems like a hard thing to so clearly quantify.

The same kind of predatory mechanisms in lockboxes are equally there in gaming. How many times over the last few decades have you heard someone say something along the lines, “One more dungeon…” or “Just one more level.” Games are purposely designed this way because the longer you keep playing the more chances you will spend additional money which ties back into the lockbox thing. However the game itself that serves said lockboxes is little better but often times goes entirely ignored.

Your analogies are off because you have no way to properly quantify the problems but continue to present scenarios that show less harm in one over the other despite both being based on the exact same principle.

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Schmidt.Capela

So by your account I’m at the very least consistent, since I adamantly oppose lootboxes while supporting the inclusion of gaming disorder by the WHO.

Caveat, I truly hate random loot, to the point I pretend any reward that isn’t guaranteed doesn’t even exist when deciding which content to run. If by the time I’m done running the content for fun there is still something I need out of it in order to progress, and that something is a random drop, then I will leave the game instead.

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Arktouros

You’re the entire reason why I say “you’ll typically see the same people” instead of just “the same people” :)

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rafael12104

ESA is managing this? D.E.B.A.C.L.E

Seriously, it’s not a trust thing even though I don’t trust ESA when it comes to consumer welfare.

Frankly, they are incompetent. Just look at their recent dialogue regarding loot boxes and age-appropriate content.

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Chris Ochs

The WHO is a standing joke. They have been called to task to so many times for bad science. They should simply be ignored instead of getting all this press.

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Loyal Patron
Cosmic Cleric

The WHO is a standing joke. They have been called to task to so many times for bad science.

Citation?

They should simply be ignored instead of getting all this press.

What they are saying should be examined for facts and truth, then decisions made.

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Chris Ochs

Google WHO cancer and safe alternatives to smoking for starters. Not to mention the very public issues they have had with fraud and corruption. Plus their reputation for doing all they can to avoid external oversight, blocking press access, etc..

Time they spend on silly issues like this is literally taking away time and money better spent on helping the worlds poor, which is supposed to be a primary focus of the WHO.

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Loyal Patron
Cosmic Cleric

First off, thank you for replying, especially since its probably just you and I in this chat area by this date.

Google WHO cancer and safe alternatives to smoking for starters. Not to mention the very public issues they have had with fraud and corruption. Plus their reputation for doing all they can to avoid external oversight, blocking press access, etc..

As far as your first points, I could only really find these, which seem to take a different side than what you were opining on…

WHO’s statement on cancer prevention

Harvard interview with WHO on processed carcinogenic issues

As far as the ‘fraud’ and ‘corruption’ opinions goes, I could not find any balanced articles about the those subjects to read, only articles that emanate from one particular “side of the isle” type of perspective.

Time they spend on silly issues like this is literally taking away time and money better spent on helping the worlds poor, which is supposed to be a primary focus of the WHO.

It would seem to me that these issues would affect the World’s poor, and hence, within their mandate to cover/act on.

I don’t mean to insult, but it seems like you are seeing the issue from a very specific side of the isle, and not balanced. Usually need all sides’ opinions to determine the facts/truth. If I’m wrong in my opinion on this, then you have my apologies, as I’m making a judgement just based on your post and the facts I saw when researching what you’ve opinionated on previously.

I do appreciate your replying, made me look stuff up and confirm for myself what is the truth and what is not. Thank you for that.

Take care.

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Greaterdivinity

Man, that’s an old image, too. Looks like he’s rocking CoD: Ghosts headphones on a 360. Come, Reuters, why aren’t you hip and with the times and know what games da keeds are playing these days!?

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starbuck1771

Because after advanced warfare CoD took a downturn.