Maharashtra Health Department partners with E-Gaming Federation to tackle online gaming health risks

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The Maharashtra Public Health Department is planning to address the health challenges associated with online gaming by drafting a standard operating protocol (SOP). Maharashtra has heightened internet penetration and per capita income, contributing to its gaming presence.

Commissioner of Health Services, Dheeraj Kumar, confirmed the department’s collaboration with the E-Gaming Federation (EGF) to advocate responsible gaming practices and address addiction and health risks linked with online gaming. Emphasizing the need for awareness and support services like counselling, Kumar aims to promote responsible behaviour across all age groups. He said to the Times of India.

Under the mental health program, the department will devise an SOP focusing on diagnosis, symptom recognition, and treatment. While the specifics are being ironed out, the initiative will encompass guidelines for responsible gaming and an extensive information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign.

Additionally, select state centres will specialize in identifying gaming-related health issues and providing assistance. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes addiction to video games as a mental health condition, defining gaming disorder as persistent behaviour impairing personal, social, and educational functioning.

EGF, a skill gaming industry organisation, is collaborating on this effort with the Maharashtra government and the gaming sector to educate youth on responsible gaming decisions. Anuraag Saxena, CEO of EGF, praised the partnership as an initiative aimed at adopting player protection and responsible play.

According to Ernst & Young and Dentsu reports, India now has a gaming community, with growth projected in the coming years. With categories ranging from skill gaming to fantasy sports, the industry is expanding, attracting players of all ages.

While industry giants are implementing measures such as age and KYC checks, the invasion of illegal platforms continue to act as a challenge, particularly for younger players. To counteract this, companies are starting to adapt to AI technologies to detect and address unusual gaming patterns, aiming to create a safe gaming environment for all.