“Esports” May Be Banned in France, But It’s Not What You Think

Posted on: June 2, 2022, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2022, 11:07h.

Esports is no longer valid in France. The country isn’t banning the competitive video game competitions themselves, just the use of the word and other colloquialisms adopted from English.

The Académie Française
The Académie Française, the language police in France, in a photo from 2019. The group decided that certain English words, like esports, are no longer legitimate. (Image: Getty Images)

Every now and then, France decides to try to place an emphasis on French as an avant-garde language. This can only be possible, it feels, if it doesn’t commit the faux pas of allowing foreign words to sabotage its core vocabulary.

The Académie Française (the French Academy, the country’s primary council on language) considers that some technological words from the US can be dispensed with. It’s almost cliché, but France believes it’s the cat’s meow (or “Le miaulement du chat”) when it comes to languages.

Taking a Detour from the Norm

The Anglicisms are “degrading” the French language, according to the organization. It envisages a world where French speakers use only French terms. Absent this, it believes, anything less will cause France to lose its heritage.

As a result, the prohibition of these words in the country should be contemplated. Based on this, the Académie Française in the company of the French Ministry of Culture made the decision to ban terms such as “eSports,” “streaming,” and “cloud games.”

In exchange for these words used mainly by gamers, amateurs and professionals from the technological world in France, it’s necessary to introduce French terms that translate to the same thing. The terms will be “joueur-animateur en direct” (live player host) and “jeu video en nuage” (cloud video game).

These new terms should now be used in any government communication. Esports is now “jeu video de competition.”

For its part, the Ministry of Culture told AFP that the video game sector is composed of quite a few Anglicisms. These, it asserts, could act as a “barrier to understanding” for those outside the gaming realm. This undoubtedly contradicts the sentiment of regular gamers, who may feel they’re drowning in an alphabet soup.

Par for the Course

The French Academy previously expressed concern about English jargon in video games. In 2017, it published a lexicon with different French terms to replace Anglicisms.

Decades ago, it also attempted to stop the use of the word “computer” and others resulting from the rise of the home PC. However, this is the first time the country has launched a nationwide written ban.

The French Academy made its decision following an investigation, according to the Ministry of Culture. A group of experts reviewed the existence of terms in French on websites and magazines dedicated to video games. The search yielded no results for “joueur-animateur en direct” outside of news where the new term was mentioned.

The question now is whether this measure will be of any use. Changing the way millions of people speak is not a simple task.

The creation of a language comes from those who speak it, from the acceptance and dissemination of certain words. We will see what this experiment looks like and, also, if more countries begin to take similar measures, or if it’s just a silhouette of a dream.