NIMF’s David Walsh Talks Game Addiction, Game Violence with GameCyte

GameCyte has a posted an in-depth interview with Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family.

On game addiction, Walsh told GameCyte’s Sean Hollister:

[At a recent conference] therapists and counselors from all over the country were saying, “We’re seeing this in our offices every week, more and more frequently,” and so I think the frequency is definitely something that’s getting people’s attention…

Where we will go with video games, compulsive video game playing, whatever the term is, where we will end up with that ten years from now, I’m not quite sure. But I think it is something we’ll have to take seriously, and the people who just pooh-pooh it and say there’s nothing to it — they haven’t talked to the parents or the spouses that I’ve been talking to in the last couple of years…


I would hope that we wouldn’t go after companies that produce video games because for some people it becomes a problem… With video games, there are all sorts of positive uses and applications of the product… and I think that it would be wise for the industry to acknowledge that for some people, there could be a problem, and for them to actually become part of the solution…


Will we have [Congressional] hearings on this in five years? I wouldn’t be surprised.

The full interview is definitely worth a look.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. limp says:

    Interesting thoughts. Game addiction? I suppose all things can be addictive. Games are no different. Humans are flawed. There aren’t any 12 step programs for gaming addicts so I think we are still safe. If there become 12 step game programs, then we are doomed. Lets all by a Wii, then the politicians will lay off this rubbish. See, I’m playing my wii and I’m in such good shape! yay!! cheesy nintendo.

    Register Tel Domain Names
    Vancouver Traffic
    Dora Coloring

  2. Zerodash says:

    The thing I hate about this Walsh guy and his NIMF group is how they claim to be against censorship, and yet gleefully stand aside as certain snakes use them as sources to push anti-free-speech agendas on us.  Until the NIMF actively makes it clear they truly are against censorship and support adults rights to play adult games (and they do not- read between the lines), I consider them to be just another group of snakes.

  3. Faceless Clock says:

    He has a point. It is absolutely true that ten years from now, gaming "addiction" will become a serious enough problem to warrant a long, hard look from psychologists and probably from the government. I’m not talking about banning games, but we will undoubtedly end up seeing gaming Rehab clinics, kind of like what is already seen in some Asian countries.

    The Honest Game –

  4. halfcuban says:

    Actually yes, some therapists DO work only on the symptoms. It’s called cognitive behavioral therapy, a line of therapy that yields fairly good results. It generally considers irrelevant WHY you do something (which is the domain of traditional psychoanalysis), and prefers to simply teach methods in which one either avoids problem situations or learns how to deal appropiately with them.

    The fact that you suggest therapists are merely trying to extend their therapy sessions while only looking for the "symptom" only indicates how little you know about psychology; focusing on the symptom, in the here and now, is often the only short term, realistic response to a problem. Psychoanalysis, and figuring out the subconcious and concious motivations of actions, can take years to unravel, years a client might not have to spend  when their life is hitting the skids. While it would be nice to do the heavy lifting required with every individual to get to the core of their deep-seated issues, realistically its damn near impossible, and in the long-run, might not be more useful than simply trying to re-engineer someones response in the present.

    Addictions universally aren’t dealt with one on one therapy, but through support groups which are often free, or only require a minimal fee. They may, or may not, be lead or facilitated by a mental health professional. Inpatient, intensive facilities are offered less because you get one-on-one therapy sessions, but because you get taken out of the problematic environment you have found yourself in.


  5. E. Zachary Knight says:

    This is the biggest thing that bugs me about this whole "game addiction" problem. Everyone focuses on the game addiction as if it is the only problem. The game is not the problem. The compulsive gaming is a symptom of the real problem.

    Just like all medical professions, these psychologists would rather treat symptoms than find and fix the actual problem. Why do they do this? It is easier to do and makes them more money in the long run.

    They would rather treat your gaming addiction by having you pay for therepy sessions 2 times a week and talk about what you are doing to curb your addiction, than helping you confront whatever ghost they are hiding from.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  6. halfcuban says:

    Nonsense. And I say that as someone who works in the mental health profession (SW in an inpatient psychiatric facility) and who is a gamer. It’s absurd, as some assert, that the media has no influence on culture or individuals, or that any criticism is an attempt at censorship. Does that mean I believe my patients are in the predicament they are because of GTA IV? No. Much larger societal (and health issues) are to blame for that; but certainly the depiction of minorities (or lack thereof), the depiction of women, and the preponderance of violence in games does have some impact on a fair number of individuals, and, more than likely, not to their benefit.

    It is not merely enough, as the NIMF guy points out, to suggest that because the majority of game players don’t internalize what they see, that the causal link is bunk. In the same way he points out that a minority of drinkers are alcoholics and a minority of gamblers are compulsive, gaming too will have a portion of its population effected in an unhealthy way by their habit. Recognizing this isn’t suggesting that videogames are the cause for everything; but it is a realistic admission that something has to be done to deal with those individuals who ARE negatively effected.

    And your mentioning of bullying is poignant considering how quickly its translated into the online realm, and espeically in any game featuring voice communication which turns into middle-school hallways of "fag" and "loser". Smack talk has been a hallmark, unfortunatly, of school sports for years, something that has contributed to the almost universal negative experience of students, parents, and coaches in sports. The fact that this has shown up in online games, is not a good thing.

  7. TBoneTony says:

    and I think that it would be wise for the NIMF and other Psychologists to acknowledge that they just need to focus on the socisty issues instead of labeling Videogames as the problem of society, and for them to actually become part of the solution by trying to solve real life issues like School Bullying and Violence in the Homes…

    But they won’t because they only focus on trying to blame videogames and that is what they always will be.



  8. DarkSaber says:

    Any proof? Or did you, like David Walsh, just make a completely unsubstantiated, unverifiable, unsupported claim from your ass? Again.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  9. ChrowX says:

    The thing about all of this that strikes me as weird is that a vast majority of parents aren’t Psychologists or Counselors. So, when they think their kid has a game addiction because they played for a few hours instead of picking up dog poop (or some other stupid non-issue) and they don’t know what the issues actually are and they rush them off to some psychologist. I’m with DeepThorn on this because he’s right. The NIMF will tell people all they want that Psychologists have taken in subjects because of game addiction, compulsive gaming, or some other replacement term, but they’ll never mention what they ended up being diagnosed or treated for.

    I’m not a Psychologist or a Counselor, personally, but even my experience with High-school and collge level psychology classes tells me that game addiction is a symptom of another problem, rather than being the core problem itself. When you see someone doing something obsessively you need to notice that they’re also avoiding the rest of the world, they are foregoing face-to-face interactions, they are avoiding doing other things which means the Games aren’t the problem, it’s likely something that’s NOT a videogame that makes the videogames such an attractive alternative to their problems.

  10. nightwng2000 says:

    My bigger concern is that, in such cases, this might turn into something similar to the old "We’ll hypnotize you and you’ll remember being abused, even when you really weren’t" kind of thing.  "Regressive therapy" I think? 


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  11. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Heres a thought…. let the aprents teach as they see fit, it beats making us all into childern….

    Shearing/Downloading will never be a mainstream market.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes
    of transportation of story and thought, to take them from
    society and you create a society of children and nannys

  12. Bennett Beeny says:

    I was the same way.  I used to watch as much TV as possible whenever I could and my parents were happy that I was quiet and not causing any trouble.  Then I got into boardgames and I’d do that 8 hours per day and 12-16 hours per day on weekends.  I still got marks that put me near the top of my class at school, because although my parents took a pretty ‘laissez faire’ attitude to what I did in my free time, they did instill in me a desire to do well in school and at work.  After school I started work and I still engaged in gaming for as many hours as I could per day.  Then computer games came along and I switched to that until I started dating seriously.

    My point, I guess, is that that’s what hobbies are – they take up a considerable amount of our free time.  It’s not ‘addiction’ – it’s a hobby.  Some people let it adversely affect their daily lives, but that doesn’t mean that the hobby is to blame.

  13. vellocet says:

    I’m curious why there’s never been an uproar about TV addiction?

    I grew up watching 8-10 hours a night.  On SCHOOL nights!  I’d watch a lot more on weekends or holidays.  I game a lot, but no where near that much (not even in WoW).

    I have a lot of friends who watch just about as much tv as I do… some even more.  And yet… there’s no AMA conferences, covers of magazines, etc about that.


  14. Bigman-K says:

    Yep, most of these "for the children", "please think of the children" and "pro-family" groups are just looking for a scapegoat for negligent and/or lazy parenting, because parents can never be the problem in their book.

    I’m not saying all bad kids are the result of bad parents, some parents are great and raised their kids right yet they still are bad kids BUT roughly 75% of the time, bad kids are the result of parental laziness or negligence.

     "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  15. axiomatic says:

    Everyone missed the target. Games are the "crutch" to a bigger problem. Any time I see any organization with "family" in it. I see that organization looking for a scapegoat for their poor parenting. Games bring my family together. I see it used as a crutch when my kids are morose, and also as a boon when we all get together and play something together. I’m not saying that you can not be obsessive with games. You can, but as everyone else above me said, when you become obsessed with games, your are probably upset about something totally unrelated.

    Why are books never listed as an obsession? I see people take refuge in reading more then games or anything else.

  16. Michael Chandra says:

    I’m glad he doesn’t call it an addiction himself but uses the term compulsive, and doesn’t directly point fingers.

  17. nightwng2000 says:

    Again, the singling out of a media format, or a genre of media, or anything else shows the actual misrepresentation in the very singling out for the purpose of a personal agenda.

    The argument isn’t that exposure to the video/computer game medium doesn’t affect anyone, it’s that exposure to ANYTHING can affect ANY individual in ANY number of ways, positively or negatively.  It isn’t, in fact, the PRODUCT that the individual is exposed to that is the problem.  It’s the complexity of the individual and how they RESPOND to ANY stimuli.  But instead of focusing on the individual, instead of finding out PRECISELY why an individual reacts to certain stimuli, they seek to alter the STIMULI overall, simply because a few individuals react badly to it.


    A few years ago, a woman enrolled in a military academy that had been male dominated for decades.  "My God!  The first woman!  She’ll prove women can do it!"  She washed out.  What did, in fact, she prove or fail to prove?  Did she prove women in general can not keep up with the existing design of the academy?  Or did she prove that ONLY SHE could not keep up with the existing design of the academy?  Note that, little reported, there was at least one man who also washed out and that it isn’t uncommon for men to wash out as well.  Additionally, the "solution" was that the high requirements needed to be lowered so that "women" (as many felt that her failure was evidence that the bar was set too high for ALL women) could pass the requirements, instead of accepting only the highest quality individuals, male or female, who were able to succeed.

    In another example, we know that there are a number of religious sects that promote bigotry, hate, and abuse, as well as a number of other acts some may consider "immoral".  Not all sects of the major religion act the same way.  Yet, because a few DO act this way, perhaps limitations on religion as a whole should be enforced so as to protect society in general.

    Both of these examples can be compared to the argument made that the industry, ANY industry in fact, must take note of the negative reactions of SOME individuals to being exposed to certain products.  That those industries MUST place limitations and deny ALL consumers (whether those consumers are obtaining a product or receiving a service) the fullest extent and range of products and services.

    In so arguing, we also see the contrast in NIMF’s and Dr. Walsh’s arguments, because religion, as a genre in writing and other media formats, as well as live exposure, DOES potentially present a negative reaction in some individuals, yet there is no call for legislative hearings on the potential harm to SOME individuals to said exposure, but he feels there SHOULD be legislative hearings on OTHER genres, content, and media formats.  Why would there be a call for such research and hearings on SOME products/services but not others?  Again, INDIVIDUAL could be positively or negatively affected by ANY particular exposure, so why limit the research or legislative hearings?

    BTW, I’d like to reiterate the comment I made long ago that, for the most part, I do like Dr. Walsh better than ANY other opposing individual.  Even some other individuals within NIMF have been less rational and unworthy of respect.  But Dr. Walsh is definitely worthy of some, if not great, resepect. 


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

Comments are closed.