Video game addiction recently again came into the spotlight, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared in 2018 that it officially recognises it as a mental health condition. The issue is also being investigated by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the country in which Nintendo is based. With that background, President of Nintendo, Shuntaro Furukawa weighed in on the issue of video game addiction and outlined steps, which, in his opinion, could combat the issue.
During a recent Nintendo corporate management QandA, Shuntaro Furukawa was asked what his knowledge was on the issue of video game addiction and what the company plans to do to combat the issue. He responded by explaining that he views addiction to video games as a dependency issue, rather than an issue which was created by the games themselves. He went on to explain that Nintendo creates games with parental control features and that the company plans to raise more awareness around these available features in its games, as one of the ways to combat the issue.
I think the problem of game addiction is more about becoming overly dependent on video games than is about any issues with the games themselves. One thing we have done as a company that creates games is to implement features that allow parents to limit the time that their children can play games. I think that further implementing features like this, and raising awareness among more people that these features exist is one way we can face the issues.
Although parental control features are important to prevent addiction to video games in children, they do not really limit the risks of dependency for adults. The current features in place by Nintendo might be an effective way to combat, or at least limit video game addiction in children, but they might not be so helpful to adult gamers. However, it does make sense that Japan-based Nintendo would make children its main focus when it comes to the issue of combating video game addiction. A recent report revealed that around 1 500 people visit an addiction centre in Japan on a yearly basis, of which 90% are addicted to video games and are mostly children aged between 10 to 19.