RPS Editorial on Panorama Game Addiction Show

Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s John Walker responds to the Panorama TV episode on game addiction (it aired on BBC 1 in the UK last night) with an editorial of his own. While acknowledging that he does not "possess the evidence that gaming does not cause addiction," Walker lays into the Panorama episode and its host for producing a slapdash expose on gaming addiction, leading viewers to conclusions without providing any real evidence.

For example, the show promised to provide details on the secret mechanics that keep gamers "coming back for more," but that secret gaming sauce was never revealed during the program. Likewise, while the host talked a lot about studies that claimed to make a connection between gaming and addiction, no proof was ever provided.

Here is a sample from Walker’s editorial:

"For the first seven minutes of the programme, reporter Raphael Rowe brings us many references to people being “addicts”, people who suffer from “addiction”. It’s stated as fact, unambiguous. Seven minutes in it’s admitted that there’s no evidence that gaming can cause addiction, but long after they’ve made their position completely clear. In fact, it clearly reminded me of that classic Brass Eye moment where DJ Neil Fox explains to camera that there’s no evidence that paedophiles share most of their DNA with crabs, but it’s still scientific fact. Never mind the facts, the data, the proof; we have an agenda here, and we’re going to demonstrate it through unresearched, unevidenced, anecdotal stories."

And here is another about "experts" the show used to make their point:

"Further proof of addiction in games comes from a scientist who has been studying the subject for many yea… oh wait, no, sorry. An artist who takes pictures of kids playing games, and finds that their faces are different when they watch television. No one ventures the notion that there may be physical differences in how one responds to the passive activity of watching TV and the active participation in gaming. But one kid didn’t blink, so there’s danger.

Read the rest here. Maybe someone will take a serious look at the subject.

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  1. 0
    State says:

    For example, the show promised to provide details on the secret mechanics that keep gamers "coming back for more," but that secret gaming sauce was never revealed during the program

    Sorry but they did. They discussed operant conditioning, but the use of it in games is no secret, they sensationalised this area of the programme in the previews. Essentially they said that in order to get gamers to keep coming back for more you have a system where you get rewarded for the more you play on it (crudely discussed as "earning more lives"), basically an XP system and levelling up (with rewards for levelling up), hardly a secret mechanic, but possibly a revelation for the journalist whose own experience of gaming consisted of Pong.

  2. 0
    vellocet says:

    Not that I agree with the documentary, but here is one of the mechanisms that SOME game designers use to "keep them coming back for more."


    I still have yet to watch the documentary or read the editorial.  I’ll comment more after I do so.


    Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

  3. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:


    Pretty much what I think about this documental. They don´t have any evidence, but still they will prove the dangers of videogames.

    You can´t be fair when you show to your public a dead baby, an idiot mother and a kid without the ability to blink, plus scary music and footage of a shocking long-ass line to get the new Starcraft.

    I recognize they didn´t use too much shocking value to prove their points, but still, it was fear-mongering.

    Also, the birth of a new meme: randomly giving us extra lives…



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