Deja Vu: Gaming Like Cocaine Claims Return

By John Walker on March 10th, 2011 at 3:12 pm.

It's so tempting to title this post: Pope Says Gaming Like Cocaine.

Lancashire therapist Steve Pope is once again making his claim that two hours of gaming is the same as a line of cocaine. A statement he first made in May last year, winning him media attention from the unquestioning writers in his local press, and then the wider press. A statement we investigated, and for which we found he was unable or unwilling to show us any evidence. As MCV reports, on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday afternoon, Pope was once again comparing gaming’s apples to addiction’s oranges, making unevidenced statements about how videogaming produces a cocaine-like “high” in the brain, and without an example – astonishingly – calling gaming “the silent killer of our generation.” So to celebrate his reappearance, after some more on his latest, I’m republishing our previous investigation below.

He’s back because of yesterday’s story about gaming causing sleeplessness in children, that is so utterly banal in its obvious idiocy that even I couldn’t be bothered to write 2000 words complaining about why. But it caused the press to flick through their contacts books and see who delivers decent outrage, and the ever-increasingly Daily Mail-esque Radio 5 went to Pope for the goods.

Pope, obligingly, delivered, performing all the classics: Games cause violence, games are addictive, games prevent learning. Then because he’s one of the best, threw in that it’s the “fastest growing addiction in our country”, and that parents should go into their children’s bedrooms and “try to take the gaming station controller out of their hands” to see the frightening reaction. (His obsession with saying “gaming station” is far more peculiar when you learn, as he told me, his own children have games consoles, and he knows what they’re really called.) Then there was a surprise new line, surely to soon be a classic, “It’s the silent killer of our generation.” And to please the crowds, how could he not perform his biggest hit, “two hours on a gaming station is equivalent to taking a line of cocaine”.

And he has offered no evidence for any of it. When I asked him last year to provide any proof for any of his elaborate claims, he said that it was anecdotal, what he sees in his practise every day. When I pointed out that this was no basis for making claims about national statistics, such as “fastest growing addiction in our country”, and chemical equivalence to other drugs, he told me he had evidence to prove this. But every time I attempted to speak to him on the phone at pre-arranged times, he would delay me until later, then not answer, not call when he said he would, or he would ask me to call back later still. After two days of this, repeatedly asking him by phone or text to send me some evidence, he failed to do so. He accused me of failing to contact him at arranged times, which was bemusing beyond words, called me “unprofessional”, my journalism “cheap”, and erroneously accused me of misquoting him. This reached the point where I really didn’t want to speak to him again, and requested that he not contact me unless it was to provide evidence. I never received anything.

Still – refusing to, failing to, or not being able to evidence your claims is no reason for the press at large to not let you make your statements as unchallenged fact. Which is why we go to the effort to ask those questions. And strangely often don’t receive any answers.

So here is my original investigation of Pope’s claims from last year, as they first appeared. Be warned – last year Mr Pope advised me that articles like the one below could lead to deaths:

Two Hours Of Gaming The Same As Cocaine?

Image by Willtron, published under Creative Commons.

An absolutely remarkable claim has been made by a UK therapist, Steve Pope, that playing videogames for two hours is the equivalent of doing a line of coke. I attempted to speak to him over the last 24 hours with little success, the results below. Edit: Mr. Pope has since texted me a statement, which I will add below.

It’s from an article in the Lancaster Evening Post that really hits every clanging bell. Games are like drugs, games are addictive, games lead to bad behaviour, and of course, games lead to violence. Claims that are made, as is so often the case, without links to any form of evidence. But is this an example of a gaming website getting angry when someone says something bad about games? Nope, the reaction does not come from that place. It comes from one of having done a lot of research into the subject, and a desire for evidence-based science and reporting to be conducted in the realm of gaming. Because, as we’ve said a number of times, if games are bad for us then we would want to know. So let’s look at how this is written, and ask why.

This arises from an article in the Lancaster Evening Post (picked up by Game Politics). It’s written without a byline, but quotes therapist Steve Pope, psychology lecturer Gayle Brewer, and mental health practictioner Peter Wilson. Nowhere in the article (apparently an abbreviated version of a “full special report” in the print version of the local paper) is there a link to any research, a reference to a study, nor any evidence for any claims made. It’s purely anecdotal, stated as epidemic fact.

Perhaps this is why: Of the very many studies looking into gaming, attempting to find causal links to either addiction or violence, none has proven a link. This was the case when the previous UK government commissioned a massive study into the subject, the Byron Review conducted by Tanya Byron, which again found no causal links between gaming and addiction or violence. The UK Interactive Entertainment Association (formerly ELSPA) – the body responsible for alerting parents and adult gamers to the dangers of gaming – states there is no such thing as gaming addiction. Project Massive could find no link, and found the term “addiction” inappropriate. It seems, from current research, there is no such link.

Some cocaine, yesterday.

However, and let’s be absolutely clear about this, people can abuse gaming. There are those who play games at the expense of their own health. There are those who play games so much they lose their jobs, relationships, and families. For a minority of people, gaming can be problematic. Which is why the vast study of hundreds of thousands of gamers and their relationship with gaming, Project Massive, has opted to use the term “problematic use” when describing the negative results of gaming. They found “addiction” to be wholly inappropriate, not only because conflating the effects of gaming and the effects of alcohol/drugs/gambling was completely inappropriate, but because there is no evidence that games can cause addiction. Those who already suffer from addiction, from either genetics or as a result of trauma, can excessively play games. Much as they can excessively ski, garden or go bungee jumping.

That’s what current research points to. Even the largest advocates of gaming addiction are backing down. Keith Bakker, who became internationally famous for his Dutch gaming addiction treatment centre, has now said he was wrong to call it addiction.

This new article begins with the line:

“A schoolboy today told of his torment after becoming dangerously-addicted to computer games.”

Let’s look at the evidence they offer for this opening statement.

“It was like it was a demon that had got inside my brain and I just couldn’t stop. If my parents tried to stop me playing, I would just flip.”

And that, amazingly, is as close as they get to explaining the cause. A demon.

Therapist Steve Pope (a lawyer with an Advanced Certificate in Counselling and a Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy) explains that young people use gaming as an escape (something that would seem to be anecdotally accurate for some) and then “get hooked on the release of adrenaline it gives.” An extraordinary claim, given without any evidence in the piece.

He then goes on to deliver his headline-winning statement:

“Spending two hours on a game station is equivalent to taking a line of cocaine in the high it produces.”

He also claims that gaming addiction is the “fastest growing addiction in the country”, links gaming to obesity, says it leads to crime, and “can spiral into violence”. Only with spurious anecdotes about unnamed children/teenagers he has seen.

We should look at one of those claims in particular:

“I saw one 14-year-old Preston boy who played on games for 24 hours non stop and had not eaten and was showing signs of dehydration. When his parents tried to take his console away, he became aggressive and threatened to jump out of a window.”

There are two possibilities here. Gaming itself caused this to happen. Or this person suffers from one of very many different conditions that can cause children and teenagers to behave in excessive, self-harming ways, and used games as part of this. Since all 14 year olds who play games don’t do it for 24 hours and then jump out a window, it seems reasonable to postulate that this individual has a distinct pathology that isn’t perhaps caused by playing a game. I’m being equally anecdotal, of course, but one situation is certainly more likely than the other.

Despite repeated attempts to speak to Mr. Pope, his promises to return our calls were not met, until we had held this article back for 24 hours waiting for him. He was keen to provide his side of the argument, and expressed passion for helping people to deal with their addictions. However each time I asked him if he had evidence for his claims he said they were based on his own experiences (“It’s about who walks through my door.”), and explained that he would need to call back. Understandably he was busy with patients. However, he was not able to call back at any of the times he suggested, including after work hours. In the few conversations I had yesterday, when I asked if he had evidence to corroborate his claims, Mr. Pope explained, “I don’t rely on reports”, and that he believes statistics are “lies, lies and more lies.” He told me that he definitely does have evidence to support his claim that gaming addiction is the fastest growing addiction in the UK, but has been unable to provide any of it so far. When I suggested that saying two hours of gaming is the equivalent of a line of cocaine was extraordinary, he expressed confusion that I’d think this. He told me I should read about the connection between cocaine and gambling. I replied that any link between gambling and gaming has been rejected, and was told that you get the same high, “when your level of kills goes up in Call Of Duty.”

We would still like Mr. Pope to send us the evidence to back up his claims. As we have always maintained in all our coverage of the supposed addictive properties of gaming, should harmful effects be demonstrated in controlled studies such information is of primary importance to us. It is not in our interest to ignore nor deny such evidence – we wish to protect ourselves and our readers. However, when we see claims made without evidence, we will continue to challenge them.

Edit: Mr. Pope, after failing to keep this morning’s arranged time to speak, attempted to contact me after the piece was published. He has since sent the following text explaining his position, again not including any links to the evidence he mentions. He is very critical of this post having been published without having spoken to him properly, despite his having been unable to keep any of his scheduled times to speak to us before we had to publish. He believes articles such as this could lead to deaths. This is his statement, minus his criticisms of our failing to speak to him:

“The human being can be, in my professional opinion, addicted to anything it finds pleasurable. There are links between the highs of gambling, and game stations which cause a similar pattern of behaviours in the brain as does class A stimulant drugs. There is a weight of evidence to support this. The test for me with any addictive process is are your actions having negative consequences. I see first hand the consequences of overuse of game stations usually with the sufferer using the game to escape the reality of life. And to the addictive personality this is dangerous. Invite your readers to take the test in the paper. I don’t do labels. I want people to recover and have balance in their life. The physical consequences are also horrific for the child of today which can lead to ill health through obesity etc. Please be balanced in your reporting as your views may kill people.”

No evidence has been offered at any point. There’s probably a rather good reason for this.

It’s important to state that Gayle Brewer’s comments are extremely sensible, calling for parents to regulate their children’s use of gaming, which is something that surely everyone would agree with. Peter Wilson’s comment was seemingly unrelated (“Whatever a person is addicted to, they can’t control how they use it, and they may become dependent on it to get through daily life.”). Then rather strangely the paper claims that the UKIEA declined to comment “on the issue of gaming addiction and whether they believed it was an issue they needed to tackle”, despite their making their opinions on the matter absolutely clear.

The reporting in the article is of the most remarkable irresponsibility, attempting to create a scare, rather than actively seeking available evidence. And the claims within it, so far, are completely without evidence, data or indeed reason. We want young people to be safe from any harmful effects that gaming may cause, and for this to be effective, much as with education about drugs, only accurate and demonstrable evidence is of worth. Indeed, anything else is potentially harmful.

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118 Comments »

  1. utharda says:

    Personally I like to grind up my dvd’s and snort them off a prostitute….

    Wait its not like cocaine at all!

    • drewski says:

      Depends how much glass the coke’s cut with.

    • Ghost of Grey Cap says:

      Frightlever, I disagree. Opinions and arguments need to be challenged when they are incoherent and damaging. Admittedly, it would be better if this challenge reached more people, but keeping an intelligent argument alive should never be considered a waste of time.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      DVDs? get with the program, digital download onto a usb syringe and inject it straight into your eyeballs.

      Though the comedown is pretty harsh… sometimes you even end up stimming off some farmville-grade data just to buzz the crash.

      Hell, I’ve seen people blue screening and it ain’t pretty.

    • Deano2099 says:

      @frightlever yeah, just last week there were a load of posts about Old Man Murray being deleted from wikipedia, and yet it made not one jot of a difference.

    • foda500 says:

      I prefer melting my dvds and injecting them like heroin.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      Having ludicrous statements picked apart and shown in their naked stupidity is also entertaining. If the conservative press and it’s readers who spew garbage about things they don’t understand without bothering to do proper research get to have their moral outrage fun, why shouldn’t we?

      I don’t believe this sort of thing will have a great impact on how media portrays games, at least not in isolation, but the gaming press and it’s audience as a whole needs to carry the torch and defend our hobby. Johns articles at least gives us some ammunition for arguments in our real lives. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had to set people straight when they’ve claimed that video games are just murder simulators or children’s toys.

    • Josh04 says:

      Ignoring the problem sure worked out great for comics.

  2. McDan says:

    I quite like stories like these, as it just makes them (to any normal, sane person who sees it) seem crazy/wrong/both. I’m happy to let them make fools out of themselves by claiming scientific fact and then having no evidence.

  3. mod the world says:

    I wish gaming was like cocaine. Unfortunately cocaine is 100 times more powerful and 100 times more expensive.

    • Scatterbrainpaul says:

      I would say the price is about the same as computer games.

    • Unaco says:

      Cocaine is 100* more expensive? With the pre-dominance of DLC available for every title to get the ‘full experience’?

    • Premium User Badge

      Daiv says:

      @Unaco: You think prostitutes to snort it off come free with cocaine? They’re part of the “full experience”.

    • mod the world says:

      Prostitutes are indeed like DLC, deep inside you think that you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

  4. Pijama says:

    JOHN “FULL THROTTLE” WALKER, journalistic hitman

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      NEW GAMES JOHNALISM

      Edit: Oh, it’s mostly OLD JOHN’S GAMELISM. Carry on.

      Edit II: Seriously, this recent run of articles had been great John. Keep it up (though I do worry for your weary word gland).

  5. faelnor says:

    Without proof and with my experience I’d be tempted to give more credit to Pope than to Walker’s dismissing.

    Hopefully, references will be found and debate will be elevated.

    • mrjackspade says:

      Care to share?

    • bleeters says:

      I’ll take careful, reasoned dismissing over hyperbole and not-a-shred-of-evidence arm waving, myself.

    • 3lbFlax says:

      The phrase “without proof” is at the heart of John’s article (Mrs). John hasn’t gone to the press saying ‘games cause absolutely no mental health issues in young players, and I have evidence to prove it’. Steve Pope has said that games cause mental health issues in young players, and that he has evidence, and John has asked for details of that evidence, and so far they haven’t materialised.

      A request for proof isn’t a dismissal, but a claim of proof where no proof exists is a lie. I can’t say that Jones is lying, but equally I can’t be sure he’s telling the truth unless he presents his proof. Given that Jones appears to be inclined to hyperbole (‘silent killer’ etc.) I’m not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt in the same that that I might give Sir Patrick Moore the benefit of the doubt if he told me an asteroid was about to smash into Luton, or that Sub Zero has a secret second babality.

      It certainly ought to be possible to prove that the neurochemical effects of two hours of gaming are equivalent to a (rather vaguely quantified) amount of cocaine. That Jones is able to specify two hours, rather than two and a half hours or six hours, suggests that he’s done some working out. If he shared that working out, then we could check it ourselves and discuss it properly.

  6. Hat Galleon says:

    Personally, I like the line where it says gaming for two hours has the same high as a dose of cocaine. Wouldn’t that mean that it’s a safe, legal, drugless alternative to harmful and illegal drugs? Even though I’d assume that’s obviously untrue (unless you guys enjoy games a LOT more than I do), the statement itself is flawed. They don’t compare how ADDICTIVE both are in that statement, they compare how ENJOYABLE they are. Well, heck, I’m pretty sure all of the happiness I’ve had over my life amounts up to at least TWO doses of cocaine, is life twice as addictive and detrimental to my health as cocaine would be?

    • bwion says:

      It is a statistical FACT that 100% of people who experience life eventually DIE.

      Life: the true silent killer of our generation, and every other.

    • Neut says:

      I guess this means we shouldn’t enjoy life, lest we get addicted to it.

  7. carlosdelondres says:

    Churnalism in action…

    http://churnalism.com/

  8. drewski says:

    If only games really were like cocaine. Would make a night out far, far cheaper – two hours before you go out and bam, sorted.

  9. Deano2099 says:

    Frankly, it’s pretty offensive to people that make cocaine. It’s one of those claims you can just make though, as no-one can do an experiment where you sit someone down to play games for two hours, and then give them some coke and see what happens to the brain.

    Hence the choice of an illegal drug for the comparison, rather than caffeine or alcohol.

    • JFS says:

      Oh you CAN do that. There have been studies conducted which investigated the effects of THC by administering the stuff in a controlled way, and I’m sure there are studies where cocaine is used as an experimental condition. If there aren’t, they are at least not impossible to do. I mean, I don’t know where those researchers get their stuff from, and the guys never exactly tell you where it comes from, but some state offices seem to have… connections.

  10. Headache says:

    Gaming’s only the silent killer if you’re wearing headphones. Otherwise it’s bloody loud!

  11. Eclipse says:

    I’ve started gaming at 6, I’m 25 now, what does it mean? MY GOD, I COULD HAVE JUST ONE OR TWO doses err GAMES to play before an horrible HORRIBLE death!!!

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    TheTourist314 says:

    If 2 hours of gaming is like a line a cocaine, then… then… I’m dead. That’s all I’ve got, sorry.

  13. Teddy Leach says:

    Oh god, not again…

  14. Theoban says:

    The way I play games is more like injecting red hot heroin directly into my fun vein. Or getting fresh with a line of klarky kat.

  15. Anton says:

    Is he working for FOX NEWS? They should hire him, he really fits the bill.

    • Dozer says:

      No, if he were working for FOX he’d have told John to shut up and cut his mic. Even if they’re communicating by email. Also, News International own Fox, and they also own Direct2Drive, so Fox isn’t allowed to manufacture news that directly damages D2D’s business.

  16. dr.castle says:

    In the spirit of the hour, I’ll also repost a comment I made on the original article:

    I’m a Neuroscientist and I can tell you that cocaine and gaming, absolutely, positively, 100% definitely do not have the same effects on the brain. I don’t know that gaming’s effects on neurotransmitters has really been studied, but I’d guess that you might see a small rise in norepinephrine release (depending on how excited your game gets you) and a small rise in dopamine release. Maybe.

    Cocaine, on the other hand, very potently inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin at synapses. In simple terms, blocking reuptake means that these neurotransmitters hang around in the synapses and continue exerting their effects for much longer. While gaming might lead to a little more release of 2 of these 3 neurotransmitters, there is no way it could possibly have any effect on their reuptake, which is what makes cocaine so potent.

    In short: the actual effects of gaming on the brain are nothing at all like cocaine, and there’s no way they ever could be. Period.

    • RQH says:

      As I understand it, this guy’s whole argument boils down to
      1. Gaming gives people pleasure.
      2. People prefer to do pleasurable things rather than not-so-pleasurable things.
      3. Some people take this too far.
      4. The cause of 3 can /only be/ addiction.
      5. Cocaine is addictive too; therefore gaming=cocaine.

    • Binman88 says:

      That’s very interesting dr.castle. It would be great to actually have someone like you do the appropriate research and tests, and have some official concrete evidence to shove in this guy’s face to shut him up. Though it would likely be a waste of time trying to argue with someone like Mr. Pope, and you probably have more important scientific stuff to be doing anyway.

      Out of curiosity, would someone experience similar effects to the ones you described on their brain if they really, really loved listening to Radio 5 and found the discussion exciting?

    • dr.castle says:

      @Binman

      From a scientific perspective, I don’t think any research is necessary. Any neuroscientist (or any med student, pharmacologist, etc. etc.) can tell you that this kind of claim is outright false.

      The reason is that no matter how much you love an experience (yes, even listening to Radio 5), all that will result from this experience is transient release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. I guess if you really, really love gaming, you may get a big release, but it’s still going to be a finite cycle of neurotransmitter release–>stimulation of neurons–>reuptake/clearance of neurotransmitter.

      When you take cocaine, you inhibit that third step, reuptake of neurotransmitter–thus, your neurons will release them as normal, but instead of being immediately cleared away, they will continue to hang around and exert their effects. As neurotransmitters build up in the synapse, the bottom line is a much, much more potent stimulation than anything that can be achieved without the drug.

      What it comes down to is this: your body is not biologically capable of producing the effects of cocaine. There’s simply nothing in your body that can cause this inhibition of neurotransmitter reuptake. So any time someone says that gaming (or anything else) is the equivalent of cocaine use, it’s obviously false–these drugs exert effects that are pharmacologically unique, and can’t be replicated without, well, putting the drug into your body.

    • Binman88 says:

      Thanks for the response dr.castle. Perhaps then all it would take is someone like you (who knows what they’re talking about) to just put the plain facts across to him. I was thinking research would need to be done to create “undeniable evidence” of sorts, but what you’ve explained sounds pretty scientifically undeniable to me. I would have loved to hear his response to those facts live on radio, if only to see what craziness he would come up with to keep his sensational claims alive.

    • Petrushka says:

      I’ve just taken a quick squizz through a range of journals to see what links have been found between gaming and neurotransmitter production, and pretty much the only articles claiming any link at all between gaming and addiction are the ones that don’t report any actual studies; and even they’re focused more on gambling than games per se.

      The only articles I found that report on actual research were unanimously positive in their view of the effect of gaming on young people. A sample —

      Jon-Chao Hong, Ming-Chou Liu 2003. ‘A study on thinking strategy between experts and novices of computer games.’ Computers in Human Behavior.’ 19(2): 245-258.
      - a study showing that expert players of ‘Klotski’ use more analogical thinking, while novices tend to use trial-and-error thinking.

      Kevin Durkin, Bonnie Barber 2002. ‘Not so doomed: computer game play and positive adolescent development.’ Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 23(4): 373-392.
      - a study finding no evidence of negative outcomes among game players, but plenty of evidence of benefits in family life, socialising, mental health, and rate of substance abuse.

      Hakan Tüzün, Meryem Yılmaz-Soylu, Türkan Karakuş, Yavuz İnal, Gonca Kızılkaya 2009. ‘The effects of computer games on primary school students’ achievement and motivation in geography learning.’ Computers & Education 52(1): 68-77.
      - a study where games had a positive quantitative and qualitative effect on Turkish primary school students’ instrinsic motivations, reducing their reliance on extrinsic motivations in a school environment.

      Doesn’t sound so bad to me.

  17. Teddy Leach says:

    Now that’s just childish.

  18. frenz0rz says:

    First the whole Bulletstorm debacle, and now a return of this utter tripe. While I ceaselessly applaud Walker and the rest of RPS for the professional and investigative way their articles on subjects such as this are written, if I read about any more ‘experts’ preaching anything to do with videogames causing addiction, rape, psychotic tendancies in children etc., which are for the most part totally unevidenced, then I am liable to spontaneously combust in a ball of unbridled rage. For which these ‘experts’ would no doubt blame games, instead of their idiotic, preposterous ramblings.

    Its a shame that there is no direct antonym for the word ‘superlative’, and that English lacks a form expressing diminishment of adjectives, because I am quickly running out of words to describe these people.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheTourist314 says:

      Raging is exactly what They want you to do! Avoid it!

    • bob_d says:

      “…because I am quickly running out of words to describe these people.”
      Ridiculous? Risible? Ludicrous? Farcical? Fatuous? Derisible?
      (All of the above?)

  19. TheFatDM says:

    As much as I am happy that John and RPS use their influence to point out the fallacy in cases like this I would hope that people encourage their paper, radio, tv etc to do their research. I dont think there have been a time like now where reporters have to be good at their jobs, and I am not only talking about review sites that cut and paste “latest AAA game 9.99 / 10″ without even playing it.

  20. Mephisto says:

    Ah, games. The feverish anticipation as you hang around nightclub toilets for the next release date.

  21. Tei says:

    Maybe is time to post this:
    http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr11b

    for no reason whatever.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Monchberter says:

    Next week in the ever reliable gutter press / talk radio, GAMING GIVES YOU [body part] CANCER.

  23. kikito says:

    Does the Pope shit in the woods?

    Yeah, and then he publishes the result as an article.

  24. adamhepton says:

    But I like to play games at the same time as taking coke. What does this mean?

    • torchedEARTH says:

      It means you take a laptop with you to the supermarket when you go shoplifting.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      They call it Double Dragon

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Getting really stoned and playing a more scary type game is hilarious. Well, to everyone watching anyway, as you dodge and jump out of the the way of the scary things on screen.
      Remember that video of the guy playing Amnesia and almost weeing himself in terror from a few weeks back? That.

  25. nuronv says:

    I think for the sake of the industry i think we need to stop replying to these arguments with a knee jerk “no it isn’t a problem” responce and actually talk about it.

    Gaming is enjoyable and rewarding. For someone who is having problems or is susceptible to such things it is very easy for someone to get addicted to it. “But I’ve been playing games for years and I’m fine” is the normal response i see and for most people this is true. There are those however that aren’t in control and have addictive personalities who do struggle with it, it isn’t a myth and it does happen, I’ve seen it myself. HOWEVER people who have these problems are could equally get addicted to anything else which offers escapism and rewards you. It could be Gambling, Reading Novels or Painting.

    The one example Pope uses is to take away the games console and see what happens. Well I’m sure you would get exactly the same reaction if you took away a book from someone who was half way through it.

    These kinds of experience also make life worth living, people need to be able to step back from whatever their passion is. If they can see it is causing them problems they should do something about it. If they can’t see the problems or don’t want to do anything about it the problem lies with the person , not the passion.

    • Acorino says:

      I think for the sake of the industry i think we need to stop replying to these arguments with a knee jerk “no it isn’t a problem” responce and actually talk about it.
      So that’s what you think John did?

    • NikRichards says:

      We are talking about it, but it’s just a that there’s not the evidence to support these kinds of dangerous claims. If there was the research, and it proved a link, I’m pretty sure the responce here would be very different

      Also theres a world of difference between some thing that can be abused by someone with an addictive personality, and something that is actually addictive (Physical addiction, i.e withdrawl symptoms).

    • nuronv says:

      Acorino you are right I didn’t make myself very clear. John did talk about it but it is something that gaming community as a whole isn’t very good at.

  26. Scatterbrainpaul says:

    As we’re hiding behind usernames. I can say that i’ve tried gaming and cocaine (not at the same time) in my younger days, and I can’t think of anything they have in common, apart from they’re both quite fun.

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    Colthor says:

    I read this article and I died.
    Which was quite convenient as I’m behind on a deadline – thanks!

  28. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    Ben Goldacre has retweeted you! Your work in this dimension is done.

    P.

  29. Tizoc says:

    With such claims one can be sure that this guy
    a) never played a video game
    b) never snorted coke
    So Mister Pope you know what you have to do.

    (on the other hand he might have played Desert Bus and snorted washing powder, that could have lead him to such conclusions)

  30. Jake says:

    Hmmm, so in theory playing games while snorting coke should be doubly awesome but in reality it just means my Civilisation is named ALL IN CAPS and has a million fucking railroads.

  31. Premium User Badge

    cyberninja says:

    “parents should go into their children’s bedrooms and “try to take the gaming station controller out of their hands” to see the frightening reaction”

    This line proves he does not understand gaming. The reason the children get angry is that now they’ll die in game and lose their progress.

    If a child spilt their drink on an adult’s work that adult will give a more frightening reaction than a child.

    • Thants says:

      Go into your child’s bedroom and yank the book they’re reading out of their hands and they’ll probably get pretty annoyed as well.

      Edit: And I see several people have beaten me to that comment.

  32. Risingson says:

    Gaming is like cocaine. And journalism is like MDMA, too.

    Heh, you wish.

  33. Cirdain says:

    I love Rock, Paper, Shotgun!!!

  34. HeavyStorm says:

    My take on this: if gaming really is like cocaine, I will start to use it (cocaine) regularly. After all, I’ve gamed all my life but have no social problems, I can stop whenever I want, etc. So, if it’s the same with cocaine, come on boys, let’s see what we are missing on…

    Moron.

    • bob_d says:

      Why would you want to switch? Gaming is so much cheaper, if we use the 2hours=a line of coke equivalency.

  35. Coins says:

    I wish there were more sensible people in the world, I really do. Who truly believes this baseless nonsense, and worse, who gives this guy a podium to shout from? If gaming was truly dangerous I’d love to know, presented with irrefutable facts.

  36. scottossington says:

    Well, I am going to say that sometimes I think that I have a gaming addicition. I think about it a lot, I play them a lot, but I can still go to work and I have a relationship, so maybe I am a functioning gameaholic.

  37. V. Profane says:

    Hope Pope doesn’t read Tom Bissell’s musings on GTA IV (ON COKE!) or his head might explode. On the other hand…

  38. Tei says:

    No all games are adictive. Only the good ones :D

  39. Inigo says:

    “try to take the gaming station controller out of their hands”

    Go to someone watching TV and take the remote out of their hands.
    Go to someone reading and take the book out of their hands.
    Go to someone eating and take the knife and fork out of their hands.
    Go to someone painting and take the brush out of their hands.
    Go to someone playing music and take the instrument out of their hands.

  40. Sarlix says:

    Again with the ‘game stations’ What are these cubicles from the future you speak of!? I need to know!

  41. dragonhunter21 says:

    In regards to his point about the violent response to taking the controller out of someone’s hand.

    How about this: If someone were reading a book, and you walked in, tore it out of their hand, and walked out with it, what would they feel? What would they do? If it was a family member, I’d have some choice (read: sweary) words for them- and if it was a friend, it’s likely I’d bop them over the head and take it back. That’s not exclusive to games- If you rip the book out of someone’s hand, or the power cord from the TV, you’ll get the same response as if you took the controller. IE anger at being suddenly and rudely interrupted.

  42. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Walk into your parents living room and take away their television.

    They will violently react due to them clearly being completely under its spell, but as addicts who don’t know better, it’s for the best.

  43. arghstupid says:

    my main issue is that the comparison trivialises drug (and in the original article) alcohol addiction.

  44. Ricotta says:

    Man i love this article, good to read it again.

  45. Staggy says:

    “…your views may kill people”

    The sinister motive of the staring eyes tags is revealed!

  46. Easydog says:

    Bu… but… but it’s demonstrably bollocks. Why is Steve Pope given…

    Ah never mind. Ranting about him again feels kinda wasted. No one importants going to pay him any attention anyway. Haaahhh… deep breath and back to my cocaine.

  47. patricij says:

    I’m going to snort a line of coke = I’m going to play a pc game for two hours…pretty stylish, it should be used…
    I snorted 2 lines of coke so far and I must say it’s a pretty good game!
    How many hours have you played it? 3 lines of coke!
    This game is good for 5 lines of coke!
    Haha, I’m in love with it… It’s just so ridiculous and far-fetched that I can feel only amusement… Guest-pass available for this game! Let your friends have 3 lines of coke each!

    • bob_d says:

      A line of coke is worth what, between £2 and £4? How many hours of play can you get out of a game? Think of the incredible value you’re getting for your money with games! This is the shot in the arm (no pun intended) that gaming needs right now!

  48. Caleb367 says:

    I was thinking: why the sudden resurgence of cheap retarded scandals in Brit press lately? What’s ACTUALLY going on?
    Could it be that paper magazines have had a disappointing sales trend?
    Could it be part of a scaremongering tactic to bring gullible people to vote in a certain way (when someone else does that, it’s called psychological terrorism) ?
    Could it be that in the cutthroat world of private TV and radio networking one has to bring out scandal after scandal to keep its audience’s gerbil-like attention span on the same station?
    Could it be that there’s full of con artists and frauds who’ll lie on anything and everything if it gives them a shot at fame and money?

    Or all of it.

    In any case, three thumbs up, Walker. The irony of a gaming website actually doing more and better journalism than so-called journalists is golden.

  49. Nemon says:

    Now what is an UK the rapist?

  50. Baf says:

    How many lines of cocaine is falling in love equivalent to?