ESA Strikes Back at Video Game Disorder Classification.

Nathan ShubertMar 1, 2018
The ESA Reacts to Video Game Disorder Classification.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) released a press release today to counter the World Health Organization’s (WHO) video game addiction classification.

The ESA said, that the quality of the WHO’s “existing evidence base is low.” The association continued by saying that even though there are people who may support the classification, there is still a lot of confusion about what gaming disorder actually is. “Formalizing a disorder with the intention to improve research quality neglects the wider non-clinical societal context,” the ESA said. “Robust scientific standards are not (yet) employed. Moral panic might be influencing formalization and might increase due to it.”

The WHO announced in December that they plan to include gaming disorder in a beta draft of its upcoming 11th International Classification of Diseases. Since then, 36 mental health professionals and academics have announced their opposition to the classification.  

“Worldwide opposition to the WHO’s controversial and unproven classification of ‘Gaming Disorder’ continues to grow,” Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA said. “The WHO’s process lacks transparency, is deeply flawed and lacks objective scientific support. We urge this process to be halted.”

This is not the first time that the ESA has opposed the idea of a video game addiction. Back in 2016, ESA Vice President Dan Hewitt told Polygon that, “Video game ‘addiction’ is a colloquial, loaded term with no real scientific or medical definition or broad support … And it is important to remember that video game enthusiasm is often misinterpreted as ‘addiction.’ As such, ESA rejects any attempt by medical societies other than the APA, groups or for-profit entities to term this and we support the APA’s call for more research into computer and video games.”

The ESA has now partnered with the 36 health professionals and academics to produce a paper that disproves the WHO’s gaming disorder classification. The paper is available for viewing here, and it is titled, A weak Scientific Basis for Gaming Disorder: Let us err on the side of caution.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out  Nathan Shubert’s ESA Issues Response To Gaming Disorder Draft Proposal and The ESA Announces Industry Pannel E3 Coliseum.

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