Emmanuel Macron – who earlier this year blamed video games for fuelling street violence – has backtracked on his negative stance about gamers.
The French president in June denounced video games as a cause for youths rioting after the police shooting of a teenage boy in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre.
The death of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk triggered nationwide protests and riots, which were shared and celebrated on social media networks, leading Mr Macron to accuse youths of playing “a considerable role” in the unrest.
“We sometimes have the feeling that some of them [rioters] are living in the streets of the video games that have intoxicated them,” Mr Macron said at the time.
But at the weekend, he described gamers as “storytellers” and claimed video games were a form of art, sport and entertainment – and inspire young people to use their imagination and be creative.
“Video games are an integral part of France,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Video games offer opportunities for employment and the future, creating champions, but also engineers, developers, designers and creators. The sector inspires, makes people dream, makes them grow!”
Mr Macron said he had voiced his concerns in June “because video game codes had been used by offenders to trivialise violence on social networks”.
“It is this violence that I condemn, not video games,” he said, pledging to “accelerate” the sector.
“I have always considered that video games are an opportunity for France, for our youth and its future, for our jobs and our economy,” he said.
“There is still a lot to do. You can count on me,” he added.
Mr Macron’s June remarks dismayed some in the gaming community at the time.
Japanese game director Kastuhiro Harada was among Mr Macron’s critics, and shared a video of the French leader lambasting gamers with the comment: “Blaming something is a great way to escape the burden of responsibility.”
The French leader also faced a backlash over attending an Elton John gig as the disorder took hold.
His popularity has also been tumbling over his deeply unpopular pension reforms.
Most recently, he was booed during the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup.