World Health Organization’s gaming disorder classification causes discord within South Korean government

    
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The core here is so hard.

The World Health Organization’s recent decision to recognize gaming disorder as a mental health issue in the most recent revision of its International Classification of Diseases manual (ICD-11) appears to have caused something of a schism within the South Korean government. According to a recent report from the Korea Herald, the country’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Welfare disagree over the validity of the WHO’s ruling, with the former arguing that the classification lacks adequate scientific backing while the latter stands by the decision.

In an emergency panel called by the Ministry of Culture in response to the WHO’s decision and the Ministry of Welfare’s support thereof, General Director of the Gaming Division of the Korea Creative Content Agency Kang Kyong-seog said, “We regret that our Ministry of Welfare joined the WHO meeting as our country representative and agreed with making gaming addiction a disease.” The Ministry of Culture highlights concerns that the WHO classification “may have a labeling effect on the gaming industry that may cripple innovation in virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and big data analysis” as well as having a negative impact on the South Korean economy. One recent academic study concluded that the WHO’s classification of gaming disorder could cause the country economic damage to the tune of over $9 billion.

Although the Ministry of Welfare and many South Korean parents’ groups support the WHO’s decision, the debate has nevertheless prompted the nation’s Office for Government Policy Coordination to form a consultative group that aims to “minimize the concerns from [the] game industry and seek reasonable ways to settle a healthy gaming culture,” according to the South Korean prime minister’s secretariat. The dissent from the Ministry of Culture and South Korean game industry professionals joins that of numerous other industry groups such as the ESA, UKIE, and HEVGA, among others.

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angrakhan

Fact of the matter is people can become addicted to almost anything. On one side I don’t know that you need to call out specifically “gaming addiction”. However, on the other side I think it’s dangerous to dismiss addiction to gaming as simply much ado about nothing. There are several studies out that show negative effects on children’s brain development due to screen time use with measurable negative effects with as little as 2 hours of screen time per day. How wise it is to dismiss such studies and declare gaming addiction as ‘not a thing’? If it affects the child’s brain it’s unlikely the adult brain is completely immune.

Are you a gaming addict? I dunno. Answer these questions:

1) Do you skip out on time with family and friends to play more games?
2) If asked to get off the computer and go do something else do you get angry? Or if you had an evening planned to play games, and it gets interrupted by some other commitment do you get angry?
3) Do you find yourself unable to concentrate at work or school because your thoughts are consumed with gaming?

If you’re answering yes to these things, then you’re probably addicted at some level to gaming. You don’t need the WHO to tell you this. You can take the above questions and replace ‘games’ or ‘gaming’ with ‘cocaine’ or ‘alcohol’ and people who are addicted to those things will answer yes to them. Yet we have no issues labeling people as alcoholics or drug addicts and calling it a disease. “Gaming addiction” gets this huge push back, though.

Why?

It’s pretty simple in my opinion. Gaming is fun and we don’t want people taking our fun away. We look at our gaming and say “I’m not breaking any laws… no one is getting hurt here… leave me alone.” Also we don’t want to admit we have a problem and probably need to re-evaluate our priorities and goals in life to do things that are healthier. It’s as simple as that.

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Akagi

1. Yes, definitely.
2. I won’t get angry, but I will still play and not allow anyone to tell me what to do.
3. Yes.

And my personal additional answer:

I don’t play as much as I used to – most of the time when I have free time and can play games, I spend it watching videos and reading articles, because I’m too tired and lazy to play games.

micedicetwice
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micedicetwice

Your questionnaire sucks and might mean lots of things, for example, family issues and high stress levels that led to a desire to chill and play alone.

“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”

^This is what gaming disorder is and not “wanting to play after work and getting angry if asked to do something you don’t wanna”, which basically what you said. And this is the problem those official diagnose leads to: people will be confused constantly about what should and should not be called a mental issue. And players will get in trouble.

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rosieposie

It has come to my attention that WHO is also an organization that rubber-stamped the approval of traditional Chinese ‘medicine’, thus heralding the doom of many a endangered species. These clowns should have no say in anything, but of course they do, because their ‘opinion’ can apparently be bought and influenced.

https://www.ecowatch.com/who-traditional-chinese-medicine-2638511636.html

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Arktouros

A lot of the same psychological tactics that people adore railing on companies for doing with their cash shops have been a part of game design for a very long time. This is especially true in the MMO space when the majority of games shifted towards items as progression (IE: hit level cap, run dungeons for items, to run better dungeons for better items, etc). Virtually all MMOs do this from daily repeatable tasks with rewards you keep you coming back (IE: Daily quests) to even something as simple as Login Rewards for just logging into the game each day. Every time you run those dungeons it’s a huge roll of the dice whether or not you’ll get the drops you want. Each of these mechanics are designed to keep you engaged, keep you playing, and keep you doing that “one last run” to see if you get what you want. The longer you keep playing, the more likely you will be paying.

Makes a lot of sense when you get down to it. The only real difference is that we forgive the games because all of us play the games but we don’t forgive the cash shops because we all don’t/can’t get all the things we want. In this, most people are hypocrites.

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Schmidt.Capela

You just described why I actively dislike login rewards, why I hate random rewards for in-game tasks, and in general why I hate when devs use addictive tricks in place of making their games actually fun. So, no, I at least don’t forgive games for that. I just go after the monetized versions because it’s easier to push forward the idea the monetized versions are bad.

On the other hand, I do recognize that part of my behavior is because I’m unable to find pleasure in those mechanics. Take random rewards, for example; the average person remembers most vividly the rare instances where something awesome dropped, while what I remember most vividly is the number of times I was disappointed with the result, how crushing it feels when what I want refuses to drop long after the average person would have already gotten it. I’m the kind of person who only plays games of chance if I have no alternative, and hates every second of it.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

You do realize that random rewards have been the fabric of the RPG for decades, right? For 30 years I have been chasing the Dagger of Thieves in Wizardry, and haven’t found one yet.

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Schmidt.Capela

Not quite. Apart from rogue-likes and loot grinders (and, in MMOs, the end-game), most video game RPGs use random rewards just for the unimportant filler drops, if at all, and have all the actually important rewards fixed. There are exceptions, like the one you pointed (which, mind, is part of what made me dislike Wizardry from the start), but in most RPG games I’m guaranteed to find what I want if I know where to search.

BTW, it’s not that I don’t play things with random rewards. Instead, when deciding what to play, I consider any random rewards as if they didn’t exist at all, and choose what to play accordingly. Thus, I will gladly play a piece of content whose main attraction is the random rewards as long as the content itself is fun; on the other hand, I will never grind content I don’t feel like playing just for a random reward, even if this means I can’t progress and thus need to abandon the game.

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Arktouros

Even Pen and Paper ones. Most cases things like what monsters you encounter and what loot is there was randomized in games like D&D outside of preset modules. All a roll of the dice.

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Arktouros

Between this and your stance on cash shops I honestly have no idea what games you actually play.

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3dom

Apparently if gaming addiction is a decease then Korea has an epidemic and have to heal all those potential Starcraft 2 / DOTA champions…

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Ashley Bau

I kindof feel like the outrage over this is overblown.

I actually work in psychology so I have a familiarity with how diagnosis of mental health disorders works.

I have seen many people lately complaining that you can’t consider it a disorder just because people play a lot. Well, they don’t.

The American Psychiatric Association DSM (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual) has for some time now made it a significant point that a disorder cannot be diagnosed without significant impairment and negative effects. From a brief glance the WHO classification is the same or similar in this case.

“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”

Now, I don’t know that I agree with making a gaming specific disorder classification. Instead I would think it probably should fall under a more general psychological addictions category. Just the same people are acting like this threatens the average gamer when in reality, gamers who are functional shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

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Sorenthaz

Gaming “Addiction” is a symptom, not a disease. But let’s just pretend it’s a disease so we can keep ignoring the deeper problems leading to increased suicide rates and so on.

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aYates

Just reminds me of that time an old friend showed up at my house right when my Naxx raid time was beginning(Naxx 2.0, that is..)
AND I made him sit down in my living room and watch TV(entertain himself..) while I ran said RAID…I’d occasionally yell at him'”HOW ARE THINGS WITH YOU, OLE FRIEND??” inbetween Boss fights…I think he thought I was nuts.

Naw…I don’t have a problem…..and you’re totally fine, too! ;-)

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John Kiser

That’s not really an addiction thing though. If you made a commitment to run with a group you raid with you made a commitment. Your friend just showing up at your house randomly doesn’t circumvent that. It’d be like them showing up when you had a prior engagement like a date or what have you with someone. They don’t just get to take up your time because they decide to pop in suddenly.

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aYates

I agree with all of that, but my attitude has changed a little.
If the same situation came up, today, I would just say,”sorry guys, but someone else will need to run the raid. Sorry for the inconvenience”
I think sometimes we should put RL friends/family over our MMO friends/family; unless of course they’re one in the same. :-)

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John Kiser

Not really saying you shouldn’t. It is more if you made a commitment and someone just randomly pops up it isn’t your fault if you have them wait etc.. You could of had other plans that had nothing to do with gaming and they could of popped up too like I said. I don’t think you making them wait is a problem or showing addiction as it was already a planned thing and if it was an out of the blue situation they can’t expect you to drop plans you had (even if they are related to gaming) just because they popped up, though I’d of offered to let them chill in the room I was in and watch for better interaction with them, but still.

You didn’t really describe a situation where you are seemingly addicted or the like, but rather a situation where you partook in previous commitments to other people other than a friend who popped over suddenly. What if you had had say a first date with someone that night? Would you blow them off? I mean sometimes those online friends are who you socially interact with because the people in your life are just not great too.and it becomes increasingly difficult to make random ass friends in real life.

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Does not check email

I am shocked. Shocked.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

It’s an escape. Wait, an addiction. NO! A DECEASE!

In a world where corruption (considered a decease) for power and wealth influence people who make these decisions, I can safely say my gaming lifestyle is much less of a health risk.

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Venomlicious

I’m shocked that South Korea who makes bundles off their predatory gaming practices and funneled to their government would say this is horseshit. BTW Astellia and AiR are both releasing soon on unreal3 from 13 years ago both with massive cash shops and P2W. I’m surprised Moon Jae-in and Trump don’t have a meeting planned to laugh at all the money being made with lies…