Committee launched in South Korea to fight 'gaming disorder'

The launch ceremony for committee against the adoption of gaming disease takes place Wednesday at the National Assembly. From left are Korea Internet PC Culture Association Chairman Kim Byung-soo, Korea Mobile Game Association Hwang Seong-ik, Korea Academic Society of Games President Wi Jong-hyun, Korea Game Developers Association Chairman Jeong Serky and Next Generation convergence Contents Inudstry Association Chairman Choi Yo-chul.
PHOTO: The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Wearing all black with condolence pins affixed to their chests to signify the gaming industry's distress over the adoption of gaming disorder, a committee was launched Wednesday to oppose the move.

The committee comprising 90 organisations, announced in a press conference at the National Assembly that it would serve as a watchdog for a healthy gaming environment and review the validity of the World Health Organisation's gaming disorder.

The controversy has escalated since Saturday, when the WHO member states made a unanimous decision to adopt the 11th revision to the International Classification of Disease (ICD-11), which identifies excessive game indulgence as a mental disorder.

"We regret that we were unable to sufficiently persuade the world of the positive aspects of gaming," the committee Chairman Wi Jong-hyun read out the statement proclaiming the initiation of the committee.

"We gladly accept the prime minister's proposal to run a discussion body, but believe there must be a wider pool of stakeholders invited to join in the discussion," Wi said. "Our committee was joined by not only those in the game industry but also by various content-producing bodies -- we thank the 90 participating organisations."

Labor unions of major game companies are part of the committee, as are universities with game-related departments and movie and animated content creators.

Photo: The Korea Herald/Asia News NetworkStudent Kim Joo-myung from ChungAng University read the "Declaration of game freedom".Photo: The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

A student from ChungAng University was invited to read an ode to the current situation of game industry in Korea.

"Game is the living, breathing culture of our youth," said Kim Joo-myung, "It is also a learning arena, where we acquire problem-solving skills, gain knowledge of myth, history, science and communicate with other gamers in the world."

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The student cited how sources of entertainment have been subject to witch hunts throughout human history, including fictional novels in the 19th century, television in the 20th century and now games.

"Please remember that the father of artificial intelligence AlphaGo, Demis Hassabis, was first a game developer," Kim said, referring to the British developer who co-founded Google's laboratory Deepmind.

The committee said it will henceforth monitor the process of Korea Classification of Disease revision, voice opposition to the Welfare Ministry's unilateral representation of the country at the WHO, host academic debates and organise candlelight vigils with 300 social media influencers and gamers.

The ICD-11 will take effect from 2022. However, for it to go in to effect in Korea, the KCD must be revised. As the KCD is revised every five years with next revision slated for 2025, the gaming disorder will be acknowledged in Korea from 2026.