Press Releases

Preeminent Researchers and Scientists Oppose WHO’s Proposed Video Game Action

Brazilian Union of Video and Games, Interactive Entertainment South Africa and Korea Association of Game Industry (K-GAMES) Join WHO Opposition

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 1, 2018 – 36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centers and universities – including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Stockholm University and The University of Sydney – will oppose, in an upcoming journal paper, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) plan to create a new gaming disorder classification.

The experts’ paper (‘A Weak Scientific Basis for Gaming Disorder: Let us err on the side of caution’) will appear in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The researchers argue:

  • “Much confusion remains – even among authors supporting the diagnosis – regarding what, exactly, gaming disorder is.”
  • “We maintain that the quality of the existing evidence base is low.”
  • “Formalizing a disorder with the intention to improve research quality neglects the wider non-clinical societal context”
  • “Robust scientific standards are not (yet) employed.”
  • “Moral panic might be influencing formalization and might increase due to it.”
  • An addiction “should be clearly and unambiguously established before formalizing new disorders in disease classification system.”

In addition, the Brazilian Union of Video and Games, Interactive Entertainment South Africa, and Korea Association of Game Industry (K-GAMES) today joined international colleagues from 22 other countries in urging the WHO to reverse its plan to create a new gaming disorder classification.

“Worldwide opposition to the WHO’s controversial and unproven classification of ‘Gaming Disorder’ continues to grow,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the US video game industry. “The WHO’s process lacks transparency, is deeply flawed, and lacks objective scientific support. We urge this process to be halted.”

The educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games is well-established and recognized. Games are a useful tool to acquire key competencies, skills, and attitudes required for a successful life in a digital society.

The Brazilian Union of Video and Games represents leading companies in Brazil’s audiovisual and interactive entertainment industries. The Entertainment Software Association represents the major publishers in the United States and also owns and operates E3, the premier global trade show for video games and related products. Entertainment Software Association of Canada represents the major publishers of interactive software throughout Canada. Interactive Entertainment South Africa is mandated to lobbying, develop policy and help grow the local game, serious games, simulation, board-game, augmented reality and VR industries. The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association represents the major publishers of interactive software throughout Australia and New Zealand. The Interactive Software Federation of Europe represents major publishers of interactive software and trade associations in 18 countries throughout Europe. The Korea Association of Game Industry is composed of 66 member companies including the major publishers in Korea that account for more than 90% sales of game industry, and has cooperative ties through an official partnership of the Korean government to promote and develop the Korean game industry.

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