The World Health Organization is pushing to categorize video-game addiction as a mental disorder under the international classification of diseases.
The decision is based on analysis of years of data that point to the highly addictive nature of video games. The ICD is used by countries all over the world as a core reference for diseases and their impact on human health.
There are concerns that classifying video-game addiction as a disease would lead to stringent regulations that could kill the industry. CNN reported Monday that the global health body plans to pass the proposal at a plenary session next year.
The WHO describes game addiction as a condition in where gaming takes over addicts' existence and they continue to play even when it becomes clear that it is having negative effects on their life. It recommended that addicts are monitored and treated for at least one year.
There has been considerable debate in the medical community about how to classify video-game addiction. Kim Young-soo at Yonsei University said, "Considering the influence the WHO has on global health policies, governments will have no choice but to follow suit."
Game developers are up in arms and accuse the WHO of failing to set a clear standard to identify addictions, and fear that new regulations will hurt the booming industry and cost huge numbers of jobs.
"The industry has pushed back against the WHO classification, which is expected to be formally adopted next year, calling it 'deeply flawed' while pointing to the 'educational, therapeutic and recreational value of games,'" the New York Times reported.
The Korea Association of Game Industry issued a statement in March opposing the classification, criticizing its lack of "scientific rationale."
But others say game developers need to come up with measures to prevent addiction. Woo Tak at Kyunghee University said, "Game developers need to cut down on the gambling nature of video games and offer measures for users to cut down on game time."
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