By Jun Ji-hye Heads of the nation's three leading game companies ― Netmarble, Nexon and NCSOFT ― have been keeping silent since the World Health Organization (WHO) designated video game addiction as a mental disorder The silence of , Netmarble Chairman Bang Joon-hyuk and NCSOFT founder Kim Taek-jin is stimulating curiosity, as the WHO stance, once adopted by the Korea government, is highly likely lead to stringent regulations and kill the industry. The silence of the three high-profile figures in the game industry is in stark contrast to reactions of game-related organizations including the Korea Association of Game Industry (K-GAMES) and the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), which participated in a joint committee aimed at working out countermeasures in reaction to the WHO decision.
About 90 organizations participated in the committee, which was launched Wednesday. According to officials, KOCCA asked Netmarble, Nexon and NCSOFT to join forces in the committee, based on the belief that participation of the heads of the three firms would help strengthen the influence of the committee.
But there has been no response from the three. Netmarble Chairman Bang Joon-hyuk The Korea Academic Society of Games also asked the three figures and NHN Entertainment Chairman Lee Joon-ho to hold a roundtable conference last year when the WHO was moving to codify game addiction as an illness.
But the organization received no responses from them, either Regarding the issue, a Netmarble official said, 'We have decided to respond to the matter through one channel, K-GAMES.' He said his firm will keenly cooperate with K-GAMES as well as other game firms to cope with the WHO decision.
An official from one of the three companies who asked not to be named made similar comments, saying: 'We are handling the issue with K-GAMES.' Industry sources sited characteristics of the three figures who have rarely made official comments or public appearances.
NCSOFT CEO Kim Taek-jin 'Though they are not openly saying things, they are apparently scratching their heads over the issue as it is set to bring about enormous changes in the industry,' a source said. On May 25, the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, unanimously approved the revised 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which classifies game addiction as a disease in the same category as substance abuse and gambling.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it rejects the WHO conclusion, noting that it will file an additional objection with the WHO as the decision was made without acceptable scientific evidence. According to Seoul National University, the Korean game industry will likely suffer a loss of 11 trillion won ($9.
3 billion) over three years from 2023 if the WHO stance is reflected into the nation's policy making. .
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