Back in June 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) added “gaming disorder” into its list of mental health conditions, and recently Entertainment Software Association (ESA) acting director Stanley Pierre-Louis spoke in an interview about how this decision could potentially damage the currently-thriving games industry. The ESA oversees the ESRB, and also organizes E3. [Thanks, Gamesindustry.biz!]
“We’re doing things in ways on the creative side that are also very exciting. If you look at the visuals of new games, the exciting ways games are created, the storyboarding… consumers, players, gamers and even fans outside coming in are excited about what they see. And more and more, everything we do is becoming gamified, whether it’s education or health, everyone wants to use the technology to enhance engagement because we’re a leader in audience engagement,” he said.
“The concern raised by what the WHO is doing, particularly given the lack of scientific evidence and consensus behind their proposal, puts that at risk.”
Pierre-Louis doesn’t deny that some people play games excessively. However, he states that these are manifestations of symptoms, rather than games being the root cause. From the ESA’s perspective, “addiction” is a medical term that shouldn’t be used lightly, and this is why “gaming disorder” or “video game addiction” are terms that have been rejected by medical associations in the US like the American Medical Association.
“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,” said Pierre-Louis.