ESA once again disputes that video games are addictive

ESA once again disputes that video games are addictive

American trade body The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has once again claimed that video games are not addictive.

Speaking to, acting president Stanley Pierre-Louis said that he admits some people play too much but says that the problems they face aren't video game addiction.

"We want to make sure that anyone who needs help, gets help," he said.

"But to get the help they need for the issues they face, not for a manifestation of an underlying symptom. And that's what we've been urging in our discourse of the topic."

This echoes a report that a variety of trade bodies - including the ESA - released in March 2018 which called for more research and examination into underlying conditions that can lead people to play too much.

Pressed about his limited use of the word 'addiction', Pierre-Louis said that it has a very specific medical usage.

"From our perspective, addiction is a medical term that has a very prescribed use," he explained.

"And that's why the major medical associations have not accepted it for video game play. For example, the American Medical Association has rejected coining a term 'video game addiction' or 'gaming disorder.' So have the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.

"So they've each looked at this and said, 'Let's ensure we're using these terms properly because they mean something very specifically in medical science, and let's not extrapolate that for uses that are not accurate.' We certainly follow that guidance, and I think the market is responding to the fact that they want compelling engagement by their audiences, but they want it in a healthy way."

The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the notion that video games addiction should be added to the American Psychiatric Association's American Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders back in 2007, saying that more research was needed.

In fact, far from rejecting the addition of this condition, AMA president Dr Ronald Davis expressed concern over the effects of games

“While more study is needed on the addictive potential of video games, the AMA remains concerned about the behavioural, health and societal effects of video game and Internet overuse."

Unsurprisingly, The ESA was insisting more research needs to be done before video game addiction is classified as a mental disorder back then, too.

In 2013, The American Psychiatric Association earmarked video game addiction as a condition for further examination in its the fifth edition of its Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) handbook. Addiction to caffeine is also listed in the same section.

Right now, gambling disorder is the only behavioural addiction noted in the DSM-5.

'Gaming disorder' aka video game addiction was added into the 11th edition of the World Health Organisation's International Compendium of Diseases last year, essentially a manual detailing a variety of disorders to help people get the treatment they need.

There has been further research since the DSM-5 was rolled out, with a study of adults in the US, UK, Canada and Germany published in March 2017's American Journal of Psychiatry concluding that roughly 0.3 and one per cent of the population might suffer from internet gaming disorder.

The authors of the study concluding that: "Video game addiction might be a real thing, but it is not the epidemic that some have made it out to be."

Video game addiction is already recognised as a disorder in South Korea and China with health services there providing treatment for those affected.ESA once again disputes that video games are addictive

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.