South Korea economy could lose over $9 billion once the WHO names gaming addiction a disease

Stigmatising gaming addicts could cost the industry trillions of KRW

South Korea economy could lose over $9 billion once the WHO names gaming addiction a disease

Naming gaming addiction a disease could cost the South Korean economy dearly as the medium becomes stigmatised.

The South China Morning Post reports that a survey led by Seoul National University found that the World Health Organisation’s decision to classify gaming addiction as a disease could cost the country over $9.45 billion (11 trillion KRW) in lost revenue over three years.

WHO has claimed that obsessive tendencies and poor control mean gaming addiction can be classed as a behavioural disorder, with another category added for the gambling habits and physically-damaging consequences of what it calls “hazardous gaming”.

Part of the problem

South Korea is particularly fond of gaming as a medium. But speaking for the Korea Association of Game Industry, Seo Hyun-Li feels the stigma of calling the medium a disease could be catastrophic.

“It’s like branding games as an evil thing,” said Hyun-il. “This will spread among the public a negative perception about video games.

“If games are considered to be like drugs, who would let their children get jobs at games businesses or become professional players? The future damage to the games industry and games culture is simply incalculable.”

Many of the problems of addiction can come from social factors, particularly in younger children and adolescents. Further stigmatising alienated members of society with a disease has the potential to harm - rather than help.

Staff Writer

Natalie Clayton is an Edinburgh-based freelance writer and game developer. Besides PCGamesInsider and, she's written across the games media landscape and was named in the 2018 100 Rising Star list.