Cross-Cultural Research on Gaming and “Gaming Disorder”


In 1998 the phrase “internet addiction” was first used to describe problematic prolonged internet use, and encompassed a wide range of online activities including reading news, connecting in chat rooms, viewing pornography, and gambling. Since then, particular focus has been placed on internet gaming, and in 2022 the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (11th edition) classified Gaming Disorder as a "mental disorder due to addictive behaviors." But as Dr. Veli-Matti Karhulahti and Dr. Yaewon Jin explain, there is far from universal consensus on what “gaming disorder” exactly is. They share their insights as researchers of the ORE (Ontological Reconstruction of Gaming Disorder), a five-year interdisciplinary project funded by the European Research Council, and discuss the difficulties not only in identifying “gaming disorder” but in categorizing the various kinds of games that are considered. They share their own experiences with computer gaming, from early 1990s Finnish schools to South Korea’s PC bangs (internet cafés). They leave us to contemplate culturally and historically dependent perspectives not only on what constitutes a so-called disorder, but why individuals play games.

This episode is supported by the Otto A. Malm Foundation.

Dr. Veli-Matti Karhulahti is the ORE project’s principle investigator and is an interdisciplinary senior researcher of play, games, and the philosophy of science at the University of Jyväskylä. Dr. Yaewon Jin is a post-doctoral researcher at Jyvaskyla, and focuses on South Korea as part of the project. She is also currently a visiting professor at Yonsei University and principal researcher at the Game-n-Science institute.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the following academic partners: Asia Centre, University of Tartu (Estonia), Asian studies, University of Helsinki (Finland), Centre for Asian Studies, Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania), Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku (Finland) and Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University (Sweden) and Norwegian Network for Asian Studies.

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Satoko Naito

Satoko Naito is a docent of Japanese studies at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku, Finland. Research interests include Japanese literature, cultural history, and gender studies.

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