UPDATE : 2019.11.19 Tue 23:52
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Game Addiction, the New Official Disease
WHO classify game addiction as an official disease.

Health authorities are working quickly as the World Health Organization has decided to classify game addiction as an official disease. This is because, as a WHO member, the disease classification system in Korea should reflect the decision of WHO. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare on May 26th, they will start the process of managing game addiction as a disease in Korea, following the decision of WHO to adapt it as a new disease. With the emergence of the new disease, “we plan to take measures step by step so that we can identify, prevent and treat game addiction through epidemiological investigations”, said Hong Jeong-ik, the head of the ministry’s mental health policy division.

The WHO has set the criteria for judging game addiction, focusing on sustainability, frequency and control. It will be judged as game addiction if self-control is impaired and games are more important than everyday life despite the negative consequences. The WHO has classified game addiction as a disease, but it won’t be implemented immediately. It will take effect from 2022 with a grace period to allow each member state to prepare.

In Korea, it is expected to take a little longer before game addiction is classified as an official disease. In order to be included in the disease code in Korea, it needs to go through scientific research, expert advice and research services. Researchers also need to look at the correlation between Internet addiction and smartphone addiction, which may have similar symptoms. Above all, if game addiction is to be included in the Korea Standard Disease and Signature Classification System (KCD), it will not be possible until 2025 due to the five-year revision cycle. Therefore, game addiction is expected to be officially managed as a disease in Korea as early as 2026.

Society is sharply divided over game addiction. Most parents, civic groups, and educational circles said that game addiction is something that should be treated as bad, but the game industry is protesting against excessive measures that regard games as sinful. The Joint Preparatory Committee for Game Disease Code issued a statement and strongly condemned the designation of game-disabled disease code and voiced opposition to the introduction in Korea. The committee claimed that the designation of the disease code is an act to deprive children of their rights to fully participate in cultural and artistic life as specified in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children. They also said that it is too hasty to make a judgment in a situation where scientific basis has yet to be secured with research and data. However, the health authorities argued that even if game addiction is classified as a disease, the criteria for diagnosis can be clearly defined. It can help develop the game industry by relieving the concerns of people worried they play games too much by defining the criteria.

Already, some advanced countries are blocking the import of highly addictive games. The fact that the domestic game industry has developed into an addictive MMORPG (Multi Access Role Playing Game) regardless of the pros and cons seems to have to reflect on this decision. Since the government and related industries still have a lot of time left until the introduction of the system in Korea, they should fully listen to opinions from various sectors and come up with reasonable measures to introduce the system. It is hoped that various social and cultural controversies will be reconciled and a consensus will be reached.

By Park-Junho, reporter

박준호  micheen12@naver.com

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