A proposal by US psychiatrists to officially label addiction to video games as a disease has been rejected as "premature" by an industry trade group.
The proposal to classify game addiction as an official diagnostic condition is due to be voted on next week by the American Medical Association (AMA). It comes as the video game industry is already under fire for promoting violent games.
But the president of the video game industry's trade group, Michael Gallagher of the Entertainment Software Association, Friday criticised the AMA for "making premature conclusions without the benefit of complete and thorough data".
Backed by the Maryland State Medical Society, the proposal advocates that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, considered by many psychiatrists to be the final word for assessing mental illness, include video game addiction.
The proposal also would have doctors exhort parents to curb their children's use of the Internet, television and video games to two hours a day. In addition, it would have the AMA, the influential physician group with 250,000 members, lobby the Federal Trade Commission to improve the current system for rating video game content.
Even if the AMA approves the recommendation, it would take years before the psychiatric association finishes the additional investigation that's required to make game addiction a formal mental disorder.
A report containing the proposal concluded that "there is currently insufficient research to definitively conclude that video game overuse is an addiction".
But Martin Wasserman, executive director of the Maryland State Medical Society, argued that the question is not whether the disorder exists but how many people are affected by it.
"The gaming industry will tell you its just entertainment," Wasserman said. "It might start off as entertainment, but if it's overused, like anything else, it's an addiction."