ESA Says Video Games Are Not Addictive, Refuting the World Health Organization

The ESA refutes the WHO's assertion on video game addiction.

News by Matt Kim, .

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) issued a response to the recent news that the World Health Organization (WHO) has added video game addiction in its upcoming revision of the International Compendium of Diseases.

"The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research proves video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community," said the ESA in its statement. "We strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action."

The statement is in response to the WHO's decision to add video game addition into its 11th revision of the ICD under 'disorders due to addictive behaviors or substance use,' which include addiction to gambling and substances like drugs and alcohol.

"The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent," explains the ICD entry.

Addictive gaming also joins "hazardous gaming," a separate gaming related subject that classifies dangerous gaming behavior that increases health risk from the amount of time spent on gaming while neglecting other activities or priorities.

In 2017, the ESA issued a statement pushing back against legislator's trying to classify loot boxes, a feature in video games where players purchase randomized, in-game content packs in the hopes of winning a wanted feature or cosmetic, as "not gambling." The latest classification from the WHO is yet another governing body linking video games to addiction.

The ICD-11 is expected to release sometime in 2018. First begun in 2015, the ICD-11 is a revision for the ICD-10 which was adopted in 1994.

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 10

  • Avatar for nimzy #1 nimzy 3 months ago
    "Cigarettes are not harmful to your health." -- Cigarette Makers

    Seriously though, we've moved far beyond games being made for audience enjoyment. Games are being made to earn money, and they use psychological manipulation to get it. The ESA is living up to its reputation.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for SargeSmash #2 SargeSmash 3 months ago
    I'm a huge gamer, but I recognize that, like many forms of entertainment, video games can be addictive. I think we perhaps do ourselves a disservice to think that video gaming is somehow uniquely immune to compulsive behaviors...

    ...says the guy that averaged 2-3 hours per day gaming last year. :P

    (I can't even claim online gaming as my issue, as I don't do any of that, or participate in the ongoing loot box fiesta.)

    Now, is the problem overblown? Probably. I just find it a little disconcerting that one side lines up to call gaming horrible and addictive, and the other side swears up and down there are no possible deleterious effects at all that can come from gaming.Edited January 2018 by SargeSmash
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for marathedemon #3 marathedemon 3 months ago
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for riderkicker #4 riderkicker 3 months ago
  • Avatar for riderkicker #5 riderkicker 3 months ago
    @nimzy Considering that video games are a multi-billion dollar business, it is inconceivable that the features of a video game would be there by "happenstance". Vegas Gambling Machines are highly designed in not just security, but in how to get customers to keep playing. Junk Food companies already found that can't stop addictive flavor. Video game companies, big ones, know exactly which buttons to press on the consumer to keep spending money on microtransactions and buy the title year after year. The ESRB saying video games are not addictive shouldn't be a surprise.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for MetManMas #6 MetManMas 3 months ago
    The ESA is so full of shit...Of course video games are addictive! Saying they're not is like saying that fire isn't hot. The only reason they would deny it is because they really want to keep that microtransaction cash stream flowing.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Roto13 #7 Roto13 3 months ago
    The ESA is the NRA of video games.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #8 chaoticBeat 3 months ago
    I am super surprised and impressed by the responses in the comments so far. :)
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for VotesForCows #9 VotesForCows 3 months ago
    The fun thing is that ESA have misunderstood the ICD anyway. The usefulness of the ICD to practitioners is that it provides an overview of real world cases. The reason this new diagnosis is in there is because real people are presenting with these problems. And I don't think anybody is saying that video games are uniquely addictive - just that we're observing that people are becoming addicted to them. The reason for that is another matter.

    ESA are making themselves look very bad with this - it could have been a really good opportunity to work with mental health professionals to improve the industry.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for MarySt #10 MarySt 3 months ago
    Video games are are real addiction for somebody like gambling and substances like drugs and alcohol. Maybe it's not a serious mental health issue, but it should be observed and sometimes controlled. We can't judge such people, but it can turn into a problem. To overcome such condition they might need extra help, here more info about that.
    I'm really curious what research proved WHO that video games are not addictive?
    Sign in to Reply