The games industry hasn’t shown it’s doing enough to ensure the online safety of players, according to British MP Damian Collins.
Collins is the chair of an ongoing Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee inquiry into ‘immersive and addictive technologies’.
In May 2019, the World Health Organisation officially recognised ‘gaming disorder’ as an international disease, a decision which was opposed by global games industry bodies, who argued that further research must be conducted before coming to any conclusion on the matter.
But having spoken to representatives from Epic Games, Electronic Arts, King, Ukie and TIGA this month as part of the DCMS inquiry, Collins said the games industry has shown a clear unwillingness to take ownership of the issues at hand.
It’s “waiting to be told what to do by others rather than having a standard of its own in regards to loot boxes and excessive playtime”, he told GamesIndustry.biz.
“I don’t think the industry is engaging with these topics directly, and that’s what’s been certain to us throughout the inquiry.”
Collins said he thinks concerns around gaming addiction are real but “the consistent message we’ve had from the big game companies is this is not something they proactively monitor themselves”.
The MP said it’s impossible to carry out a proper study of the issue if the industry either doesn’t have the relevant player behaviour data or chooses to withhold it, meaning regulators may need to step in to take control of the situation.
“So it ultimately falls back to the government to look at things like the Online Harms White Paper, to look at the role of regulators with legal powers to run these sorts of investigations themselves, if industries or big companies don’t want to facilitate them,” Collins said.
Following the conclusion of its inquiry, the DCMS committee will report its findings to the Commons and await a reply from the government to its recommendations, which is usually received within 60 days.