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Joint ITU/WHO Workshop on safe listening in e-sports and video gaming: identifying use cases and requirements

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 2 December 2021

14:00 -16:30 CET

Electronic sports or e-sports and video gaming are rapidly becoming one of the largest entertainment industries worldwide with a global net worth of over 1 billion US dollars in 2021. From a public health perspective, several studies have associated gaming and esports to consequential risky health behaviours such as sedentary lifestyle, resulting in some extreme cases in an addiction that significantly impairs personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. On the other hand, studies also reveal possible health benefits of gaming in a moderate manner, such as enhanced cognitive abilities. However, it is also known that e-sports and gaming expose adolescents and young adults to loud sounds over prolonged durations and this excessive exposure to loud sounds can lead to hearing loss that is permanent and irreversible.

E-sports, defined as highly organized competitive gaming, attracts millions of young players and viewers across the world. A review by Chung et al. estimated a global e-sport audience of over 380 million in 2017. While e-sports and gaming are seen predominantly as recreational activities, more recently e-sports have been recognized as a professional competitive sports activity in many parts of the world. In the 2022 Asia games in Hangzhou, e-sports will be an official competitive item. Despite their popularity and risks of hearing loss, there are currently no globally recognized standards to provide guidance on safe listening in e-sports and gaming.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that over 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe exposure in recreational settings. As a result, WHO launched the Make Listening Safe (MLS) initiative with the aim to promote safe listening and reduce the risks of hearing loss. Among the outputs of the MLS initiative was the Standard for Safe Listening devices and systems, H.870​, which was developed in 2018 as a collaboration of the WHO with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in consultation with various stakeholders. The aim of the standard is to minimize the risk of hearing loss and to promote lasting enjoyment to users of these products while listening to music or other audio content. However, apart from smartphones, other e-sport and gaming devices were not part of this standard. It is on this aspect of recreational sound exposure that we seek wider consultations with key stakeholders in the e-sport and gaming industry including academicians and private sector entities that are engaged in this field, to identify use cases and requirements for the application of safe listening principles in the context of e-sports and video gaming.

WHO and ITU held its first consultative workshop on identifying use cases and requirements for safe listening in e-sports and gaming. The objectives were: Participation in the workshop was free of charge and open to WHO and ITU members, private sector entities engaged in development of hardware and software for esports, professional associations of game developers, associations of gamers, experts in sound and acoustics of e-sports, hearing care professionals,, member State representatives, civil society representatives, members of the World Hearing Forum working group on safe listening, as well as any individual from a country that is a member of ITU & WHO and who wished to contribute to the work.

Watch recording here​​


​14:00 - 14:15
​​Welcome Remarks
14:15 - 14:25
​Opening Remarks
14:25 - 14:40
Overview of WHO work on safe listening (WHO)
​14:40 - 14:50
​Questions & Clarifications
​14:50 - 15:25
​15:25 - 16:20​​
​16:20 - 16:25
​Summary of guides discussion 
​16:25 - 16:30
 Closing remarks



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