Government Proposes Self-Regulatory Mechanism for Online Gaming Companies: Rising Concern for Addiction and Financial Loss

Government Proposes Self-Regulatory Mechanism for Online Gaming Companies: Rising Concern for Addiction and Financial Loss

Technological breakthroughs including online gaming have occupied a major part of leisure time. The resulting concerns of over indulgence are gaining attention by psychologists and mental health professionals. Online gaming is directly correlated with addiction and financial loss which tremendously impact mental health. The plethora of issues arising in personal, social, and occupational functioning necessitates an indispensable action for monitoring the use of these platforms particularly by adolescents and young adults. In the revised versions of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria has been proposed for gambling disorders while internet gaming disorder is under research. International Classification of Diseases (ICD 11) has formally included Gaming Disorder characterized by  persistent or recurrent gaming behavior. 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology put forward a draft to bring online gaming under the scope of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules. The online game consists of a game that is available on the internet and can be accessed by the user by making deposits with the expectation of winning. Winning incorporates any prize intended to be given to the user. Under this new structure, gaming platforms need to register with a self-regulatory body (SRO) which will approve the games that can be legally operated in India. SRO will comprise members nominated by the government having a background in public policy, public administration, law enforcement or public finance and a member who belongs to the field of psychology, medicine or consumer education. Minister of Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar also mentioned the percentage of women users to ensure safety in the gaming ecosystem. Further, he stated that the content of the gaming should not have anything that is not aligned with sovereignty and integrity of the nation. 

The draft also included registration mark on all the online games. The users need to be provided with the information about the policies relating to deposits, distribution of winnings, fees and other charges payable and KYC procedure for user account registration. The content with respect to violent, addictive or sexual content will be regulated. These steps are being taken to promote responsible gaming.  In an interaction with the media, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that betting on the outcome of the game is prohibited.
Research conducted to find association between video gaming and psychological functioning found that potentially problematic video gaming was associated with positive affect and social relationships while playing. However, equal attention was grasped by the psychological symptoms, maladaptive coping strategies, negative affectivity, low self-esteem, a preference for solitude, and poor school performance that accompany online gaming.

Addiction is one of the major concerns highlighted in the context of online gaming. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5-TR has included Internet gaming disorders under the conditions for further study. The proposed criteria involve preoccupation with internet games and an experience of withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, or sadness when the gaming is taken away. It also includes loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities developing a tolerance, as well as loss of a relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity. Based on more than 240 articles DSM group discovered the commonalities amongst gaming, gambling, and substance use disorders. 

International Classification of Diseases explain pathological gambling under habit and impulse disorders (included as a part of new age disorders) consisting of persistent repeated gambling which is detrimental to social and occupational functioning. 

Another major issue incurred with online gaming is financial loss which can put the person involved in chronic stress and worry. Financial loss incurred due to gambling can create havoc in relationships, education, job, and other areas of life. Internet gaming and addiction have the capacity to act as precipitating factors in development of psychological disorders and symptoms including but not limited to depression, anxiety, withdrawal, tolerance, and insomnia. Online gaming raises concerns with respect to mental health. This necessitates a conscious and careful approach in regulating the gaming sector which is growing at a tremendous rate. 

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