Recently, the World Health Organization made the decision to classify excessive and uncontrollable gaming as a mental health disorder. This decision sparked some outrage in the gaming community, as some felt as though it painted gaming in a negative light. Along with many gamers, the Entertainment Software Association has spoken out against the World Health Organization's decision, insisting that video games are not addictive.
The ESA, which is the entity that created the ESRB, released a statement on the matter:
"The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove 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. We strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action."
The ESA is comprised of the world's largest video game publishers, and it is ultimately most concerned with making sure those companies earn as much money as possible. Considering this, it's not all that surprising that the ESA has spoken out against the World Health Organization's decision to classify excessive and uncontrollable gaming as a mental health disorder. However, the ESA's statement is misleading.
The ESA states that "common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive." On the contrary, there is no shortage of evidence that shows video games can be addictive. In fact, virtually anything that brings someone pleasure can be addictive, so saying "video games are not addictive" is just a blatant lie. Furthermore, there are plenty of stories of people choosing video games over more important things in their lives, or even playing video games until they died, which is clearly indicative of a serious mental health issue.
The ESA may not agree with the World Health Organization's decision, but saying video games are not addictive is sure to raise some eyebrows. Even the most passionate gamers can surely recognize that video games can be addicting, and it's why some people dedicate so many hours to the medium.
Between this stance and its insistence that loot boxes aren't gambling, the ESA has made some questionable decisions lately. It will be interesting to see how the gaming public responds to the ESA's statement.