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Video Games Are Causing a National Crisis in South Korea


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video gamer wearing headphones in front of computer display

Gaming addiction is at the top of the political agenda of Shin Eui-jin, a former child psychiatrist and now a lawmaker in South Korea. In 2012, she prepared a so-called "addiction bill" that aimed to regulate what fellow lawmakers called the four evils of South Korean society: gambling, alcohol, drugs, and video games. Gaming addiction, Shin claimed, was responsible for schoolyard bullying and violent crime. At a 2014 parliamentary hearing, psychiatrist Lee Hae-kook told lawmakers that gaming might be "an even stronger addiction than drugs."

Shin's bill has been bogged down in controversy. Then in May 2019, the World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" to the WHO's official catalog of illnesses. Lee says the decision is a vindication, though others claim there is no conclusive evidence that video games are inherently addictive.

 "We've had 30-plus years of research on gaming addiction and we're not really anywhere closer to understanding what it is that we're actually talking about," says behavioral researcher Pete Etchells.

From Technology Review
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