Treating World of Warcraft Addicts Right Inside the Game

Let’s say you’re hopelessly addicted to World of Warcraft.

You play for 16 hours a day. You’ve lost your job, your friends, and you hardly eat or bathe anymore. Obviously, you need help but you’re unwilling to tear yourself away from your PC and see a counselor.

Well, if you’re not going to them, maybe they can come to you – in Azeroth.

Dr. Richard Graham, a consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock Centre in London, would like therapists to join the game in order to treat addicted gamers right where they’re spending all their time.

[Addicted gamers] don’t exhibit the same outward warning signs as most teenage anti-social behaviour issues do because they’re in their bedrooms most of the time, seemingly out of trouble. Because of this we can’t get through to them in the traditional educational environment or intrude on their actual bedrooms, we need to turn to the internet itself to tackle these problems.

Graham admits that many psychiatrists may not be very good at playing video games and suggests existing players can be recruited to act as “peer mentors” for users identified as problematic.

The project is scheduled to be launched by year’s end by which time Graham hopes to convince Blizzard to waive or at least discount the game’s subscription fee for psychiatrists.

AE:  An interesting idea but, as a practical matter, one wonders how an addicted gamer would react to another player "counseling" him or her to take a break.

Via: Telegraph

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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  1. ded2me says:

    WoW had that affect on me.  You know what made me stop playing altogether?  Responsibility.  Eventually I had to crawl out from under this thing and do something with myself, and for others.  Otherwise I would have sunk to nothing.  Oh and not to mention the fact that their PvP system pissed me off.  But hey!  Im not playing WoW anymore and I have been so much better since I stopped.  I really hope I don’t find something else that sucks me in like that game did.

  2. Erik says:

    So will Blizzard ban these free accounts if they get enough reports on these doctors following people about and stalking/griefing people?

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  3. BaronScot says:

    The project is scheduled to be launched by year’s end by which time Graham hopes to convince Blizzard to waive or at least discount the game’s subscription fee for psychiatrists.

    you would think that they would be able to write it off on their tax returns as business expences, if this is even legitimate.

  4. hellfire7885 says:

    TO me, it’s like going to a casino to help a gambling addict, while treating them in the casino.

  5. Wolfemann says:

    I just don’t think it’ll work in the end… my response would probably be along the lines of this:

    "Dude.  You’re getting paid to log in here and tell me to stop playing.  I don’t have a problem, I just didn’t get lucky enough to convince some moron to pay me to do this!"

    Politics, Religion, and Particle Physics

  6. nefermore says:

    Oh this should be good.   The councelors are in for a rude awakening when they find out how much deviancy lives in online gaming.  Or even better that many people who are pretty normal and play for a while adapt to the deviant mentality rather than continue to object to it.

    A player to councelor: My name is Pwnzor and I’m 38 going on 10.


    As for addiction were all addicted to something its just natural.  The social addiction that keeps many in online venues is just instinct.

  7. NotSoHardcoreGamer says:


    Seriously, I suppose there are shrinks out there who do play WoW or are gamers.  I doubt they lack internet-savviness the way the news item suggests.  Certainly those gaming shrinks will be the best authorities and counselors on the matter, personally knowing how fun and addicting Internet gaming is yet with the psychological training on how to deal with it.

  8. NotSoHardcoreGamer says:

    It’s not just WoW.  Social networking, internet shopping, surfing…  It’s an escape, an activity that costs little (just mouse clicks) for instant gratification.

  9. GoodRobotUs says:

    I can see a big problem with phsyschologists unable to stop playing WoW in the next few years 😉

  10. Afirejar says:

    The ideal customer isn’t an addict. It’s a casual gamer that pays his subscription and then never logs in.

  11. Shahab says:

    Video game addiction is not really addiction, not in the sense of chemical addiction. There are definitely people who play the game to the detriment of their own lives, but these are really more compulsive disorderes, it just sounds sexier for the media to call it "addiction"

  12. Icehawk says:

    Thats not really true Zip.  The only thing that FF11 cured me of is FF11 and most other Squaresoft titles.  WoW is a different poison. 

    On the other hand if FF11 was the only game I had to play… well I would either have to nip off and shoot myself, do violence to a random strangers or quit gaming.  Would be close though. 

  13. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Force them to play FF11 if that dose not break them its time to toss them into a padded cell for some serious intervension!! 😛


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..

  14. Icehawk says:

    The beauty of this is that since this is happening in game there is a good chance that said shrink(s) will become addicted to WoW in turn.  Turn them to the darkside. 

    Oh I see the guys in the white coats have come to take me away. Oh my.

    Curious though why Blizzard is allowing this.  I mean it is a possible risk to their paying player base.  Yeah yeah 11 million players is claimed but how padded is that number?

  15. squigs says:

    The problem – at least with some people – is realising you have a problem. 

    I remember way back, there was a MUD I was semi addicted to (nothing terrible but probably 3-5 hours per day).  I felt guilty when I wasn’t online.  I think I felt I was letting my friends down or something. 

  16. Attack_Gypsy says:

    Blizzard, waive a monthly fee? You have GOT to be kidding me.


    Wait, these guys make 300 bucks an hour. Blizz should charge more.



    Yes, I am a liberal. I also believe in a strong military, less government, and the right to bear arms. ~ Me Calling an illegal alien an undocumented worker is like calling a crack dealer an unlicensed pharmacist. ~ Me

  17. zellie says:

    [Psychiatrist] whispers: You should take a break


    /ignore psychiatrist




    /r okay

    Main has logged off.

    Alt has logged on.

  18. hellfire7885 says:

    Sad part is, some who think they can define it would think over 15 minutes is a little much.

  19. Arell says:

    I’d put the line someone around "negatively impacting other parts of your life."  You know, when a person is missing work or school, quitting something important (job, volounteer work, etc) in the real world to have more raiding time, no longer spending any time with family or friends, or chronically exhausted from the lack of sleep over long periods of time.

    "Addiction" isn’t a set number of hours a day.

  20. hellfire7885 says:

    "where’s the point where things switch from ‘really likes videogames’ to ‘addict’?"


    Only thing we can be certain is we need ot be mindful of who tries to define it. For some 16 hours is too much, for some 30 minutes is too much.

  21. Biffbiffley says:

    I don’t think that time is a good measure of addiction to the itnernet.  I think other signs of addiciton should be used.  I used to spend 18 hours a day online, but at the expense of pretty much everythign else in my life.  


    I still spend at least 10 hours a day online, however I bathe and take care of the dishes now.  I also pay bills and the like.


    Am I still addicted?  Who knows.. but at least if I am I am functionally addictive.

  22. Kharne says:

    I think 16 makes sense. You might be getting 7 hours of sleep, but you’re still putting all you’re waking hours towards Wow. Granted, things can get worse from there (sleep? Who needs sleep?) But at that point that’s pretty much all it is: the addiction getting worse.

    Actually, I’m starting to wonder where the starting point for addiction would be. If we were to strip this down to it’s bare minimum, where’s the point where things switch from ‘really likes videogames’ to ‘addict’?

  23. Yellowchposticks says:

    Why do psychiatrists need a discount? Aren’t mmo subscription fees chump change for these guys?  And if they wanted to get people to stop playing, they just need some high level uber griefers.

    Is it just me or does 16hrs a day seem kind of weak for an addiction?  You can eat at the computer, and restroom activities add up to half an hour, hour at most.  That means they’d get 7 hours of sleep a day. That’s too much sleep for a gaming addict.

  24. Biffbiffley says:

    speaking as a former internet addict who was playing 16 hours plus a day online and someone who has consoled others who were the same soemtimes what you need is that kick in the ass to stop destructive and bad behaviors.

    Because, let’s face it, when you get to that point there IS a problem.  And you can NOT honestly say that there are not people there.  Sure 99% of those players are ok, but what’s wrong with reaching out to help that 1%?

    I got my act together after realizing that it was destroying my life.  I still game, but I stop to bathe and wash my clothing now.  I, in short, am cured fo the addiction.

    And it took shame to do it.


    You should not be afraid to tell your firends who spend far too much time on WoW "dude, you might need some help."   What are freinds for after all?



  25. Zerodash says:

    I’d rather have things like this done for the people who believe they are addicted to the game.  Also, doesn’t WOW have a built-in timer to remind you to stop playing? 

    Unfortunately, the "games are addictive" crowd is more interested in equating games with drugs and having them regulated as such. Many of them are on-board with the current trend of absolving individuals from any responsibility in their lives.

  26. Karsten Aaen says:

    Remember Bioware’s Baldur’s Gate? In the load screens or even before loading the game the advice given in there was this: "…You should remember to sleep, eat and drink, we don’t want to loose any dedicated fans…." I always thought this was a good way to get exactly this message around; that players of videogames need to sleep, eat and drink.

    In fact, in Southeast Asia we did have some reports telling us how playes tragicly have lost their lives after having spent like 36-72 hours straight in the game. Not good 🙁

    As for the idea, it seems OK.


  27. Vake Xeacons says:

    So…what is this? Fighting fire with fire? How well do you think this is going to work?

    Yeah, I think you’re right. Only those who are willing to admit they’re "addicted" are going to look for help.

    I’m not addicted to WoW. Oh wait, DENIAL!

  28. Neo_DrKefka says:

    Priests do it all the time and you know people show them great respect. But the idea of a therapist your paying for visiting you in World of Warcraft is an interesting idea. 

  29. Entegy says:

    I don’t think the idea was to approach random players and ask whether or not they’re addicted to WoW. The most they’d do in this regard is simply announce their presence.

    The peer monitor idea would probably be best, but how many would "rat" their friends out? Even though I think that you’d be a true friend by referring your addicted friend to one of these docs.

  30. hellfire7885 says:

    This sounds like going to a bar to treat alcoholics or going to a smoker’s lounge to help people kick smoking, or to a casino to help with a gambling addiction.

    Not tyhat I’m agaisnt the idea, I think it can help those who really are addicted, so long as they don’t approach random players. It’d be awkward for that and the palyer goes "Excuse me, gotta get to work"

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