Will esports result in a higher prevalence of problematic gaming? A review of the global situation (2019)

J Behav Addict. 2019 Sep 25:1-11. doi: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.46.

Chung T1, Sum S1, Chan M1, Lai E1, Cheng N1.



Video gaming is highly prevalent in modern culture, particularly among young people, and a healthy hobby for the majority of users. However, in recent years, there has been increasing global recognition that excessive video gaming may lead to marked functional impairment and psychological distress for a significant minority of players. Esports is a variant of video gaming. It is a relatively new phenomenon but has attracted a considerable number of followers across the world and is a multimillion dollar industry. The aim of this briefing paper is to review the global situation on esports and related public health implications.


A non-systematic review was conducted. Information obtained from the Internet and PubMed was collated and presented as genres of games, varieties and magnitudes of impacts, popularity, fiscal impact in monetary terms, government involvement, and public health implications.


There are several different kinds of esports but there was no clear categorization on the genre of games. Many tournaments have been organized by gaming companies across the world with huge prize pools, and some of these events have government support. Little information on the health effects associated with esports was identified.


A majority of the sources of information were from commercial settings, and failed to declare conflicts of interest, which may result in a biased picture of the current situation. When gaming activity is being further promoted under the umbrella of esports, it seems reasonable to expect an increase in problematic gaming and thus increased prevalence of gaming disorder and hazardous gaming. With increasing demand for treatment services for gaming addition/disorder in different countries across the world, it is a significant public health concern. More empirically based research on this topic is needed.

KEYWORDS: esport; excessive gaming; gaming addiction; gaming disorder; problematic gaming; video games

PMID: 31553236