The UK's National Health Service, or NHS, has announced plans to open its first centre for gaming addiction. The announcement comes several months after the World Health Organization, WHO, voted to classify gaming addiction by 2022.
Called the Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorder, it will treat young people between the ages of 13 to 25. The centre is part of the National Centre for Behavioural Addictions in London and those who are referred to it by their doctor will work with clinical psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, therapists, and psychiatrists who specialize in treating young people. The treatment will either take place in person or they can have an online consultation over Skype.
Simon Stevens, the NHS' chief executive said that "this new service is a response to an emerging problem, part of the increasing pressures that children and young people are exposed to these days." However, Stevens also said that "gambling and internet firms have a responsibility to their users" and that they shouldn't "cash in" on obsessive behavior while letting the NHS "pick up the pieces."
This isn't the first time that someone has called for game developers to be held accountable for gambling and addictive style gameplay in their games. Last week, a class action lawsuit against Fortnite developer Epic Games asked the company to pay up for making an incredibly addictive game that has gambling mechanics. That lawsuit was filed on the behalf of two young people who had become addicted to the game, perhaps revealing one reason why the UK's NHS feels that treatments for gaming addiction are necessary.
In September, the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) also called for loot boxes to banned in video games. Young people may become addicted to games and spend thousands on microtransactions and loot boxes, suggested the DCMS' report, which also said that game developers should do more to "proactively identify vulnerable gamers."
It does not seem as though any game developers have responded to the NHS' decision to open a video game addiction centre. However, the opening of such a centre confirms that the British government is taking video game addiction more seriously. It could also make UK authorities more likely to legislate and create measures against loot boxes and those that could negatively affect game developer profits, so this will be one case that the entire industry will be watching.
Source: The Guardian