Posts Tagged ‘gaming addiction’

Editorial: Panorama – Addicted To Games?

By John Walker on December 6th, 2010.

It's strange that they feel it's okay to keep using this name for the programme.

Timed to coincide with tonight’s release of World Of Warcraft’s Cataclysm, BBC 1′s Panorama tonight covered the topic of videogame addiction. I have always approached the subject of gaming addiction with great seriousness, because it’s my belief that if gaming is inherently harmful, I want to know about it, and I want to warn others who game. And I want to approach the subject with appropriate scrutiny, and with evidence-based understanding. It’s something I expect of others when they approach the subject. It was not present tonight. It was astonishing. An openly ignorant series of anecdotes and half-truths, forming a dangerous, lazy treatment of a serious subject.

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What Is The Truth About Gaming Addiction?

By John Walker on December 6th, 2010.

What is the truth about gaming addiction?

In response to tonight’s episode of Panorama, and the accompanying discussion of the subject at the moment, I’m reprinting an article I wrote in 2007 about the subject of gaming addiction. Originally written for PC Gamer, my intention was to explore the subject from an investigative angle, rather than as an attempt to prove an agenda of either side. Sadly, I’ve yet to see another piece approaching the subject in the same way in the years since. In the hope of throwing out a little evidence at this time, I’m re-posting it below. Clearly this is three years out of date now. The most crucial change since it was written is Keith Bakker’s complete reversal of his beliefs given at the time, now no longer recognising compulsive gaming as addiction, and no longer treating it. This change has a significant impact upon how the piece is read.

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Daily Star: Foot-to-ballers Addicted To Games

By John Walker on August 11th, 2010.

Could these men be in TERRIBLE trouble?

Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s favourite rent-a-quote anti-gamer Steve Pope has reappeared in the news, this time to announce that professional football players are dangerously addicted to videogames. The “sports psychotherapist”, so far unwilling to provide any evidence for his previous claims, informs the Daily Star (famously accurate on gaming related matters) that players from Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal are all in trouble.

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Two Hours Of Gaming The Same As Cocaine?

By John Walker on May 27th, 2010.

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.

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Neils Clark On Game Addiction Fallacies

By John Walker on October 5th, 2009.

Ah, this old image.

Having spent many months a couple of years back researching gaming addiction, speaking to all the experts in the field (both self-appointed and those in academia), and finally producing this article, if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make my eyes roll and my head shake it’s those who lazily throw around the term. So often we hear news outlets credulously repeating the unscientific and unevidenced claims of gaming addiction, without scrutiny or analysis. It’s infuriating, and I especially find this to be the case because if there is the potential for harmful use of gaming, whether that’s addiction or excessive use, then this constant trivialising of the subject is going to only make it less likely that it will be identified or treated. However, even more researched and nuanced articles can make the same mistakes. Someone who wants to keep people on their toes is one of the leading researchers into the topic, Neils Clark, who has just written an epic blog post on the subject.

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Keith Bakker: Compulsive Gaming Is Not Addiction

By John Walker on November 26th, 2008.

The debate over whether games are addictive has taken another interesting turn. Yesterday, Keith Bakker, founder of the Smith & Jones Centre in Holland, told the BBC that he had changed his mind regarding the addictive nature of gaming. The S&J Centre has always been at the middle of this discussion, grabbing the headlines by being the first clinic to take in-patients for gaming addiction treatment, and ever-ready with a press-friendly quote. Now, in a dramatic change of mind, Bakker is saying he sees compulsive gaming as a social rather than psychological problem.

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What Is The Truth About Gaming Addiction?

By John Walker on November 12th, 2007.

[This piece originally appeared in PC Gamer six months ago. It's the result of about four months of investigation into the connections between PC gaming and addiction. I interviewed some of those leading the field in treatment for what they believe to be gaming addiction (including Keith Bakker, head of the Smith And Jones Center in Holland, famous for being the first to offer treatment for gaming addicts), and those arguing that there is no such thing, as well as speaking to people who have suffered as a result of gaming, and those looking to offer simply research (including the team behind Project Massive). The aim was to write a non-sensational piece that approached the subject objectively, without an agenda to prove things one way or the other. A big credit and huge thanks must go to PC Gamer's deputy editor, Tim Edwards, and editor, Ross Atherton, both of whom provided huge amounts of help, support and direction for compiling this enormous lump of work into something readable.]

What is the truth about gaming addiction?

“Ready for this?” he asks, his voice speeding up. “I believe gaming is currently the greatest threat to our society.”

Keith Bakker is the man behind the Smith & Jones Centre for addiction, the clinic at the centre of the current controversy over gaming addiction. It all began in July last year when the centre caught the attention of the world’s press, opening the first dedicated gaming addiction clinic, both as an out-patient programme, and then later, a residential treatment programme. Having noticed that an increasing number of their chemically addicted clients seemed to be compulsively playing games, the staff began to recognise many of the traits that indicate addiction: an inability to regulate how much time was spent playing them, continuing to play despite the negative effects on their lives, and a progressive worsening of their relationship with games.

They believed it was something very serious, and soon the clinic was taking in clients purely for their gaming habit. “A typical client would be in his late teens, he’s probably from a broken home,” says Bakker. “He doesn’t socialise, and he’s probably stopped going to school. He plays games for around 15 hours a day, and cannot regulate himself.”

So why does Britain’s industry representative, ELSPA, say there’s no such thing as gaming addiction? And why does Dr Richard Wood of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University describe it as a “myth”? Is gaming an innocent pastime, or about to bring down civilisation as we know it? What are the responsibilities for the gaming industry? How is gaming affecting us? What is the truth about gaming addiction? Read the rest of this entry »

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