MTV’s True Life Looks at Videogame Addiction

January 27, 2010 -

A new entry in MTV’s True Life television series takes a cursory look at the impact that playing too many games can have on relationships and life in general.

True Life: I’m Addicted to Video Games shadowed two fixated gamers: a white male college student named Barry and an African-American female college student named Charisse. Jezebel summed up the episode nicely, choosing to focus more on the plight of Charisse mostly because the site is for females, but also because Barry came across as attempting to “live up to every possible stereotype that exists about guys who game.”

Jezebel noted that Charisse “Though an obsessive player in her own right... showed quite a bit of range, devoting time to her five Sorority Life accounts, Farmville accounts, Guitar Hero, and Halo.” Additionally, “Charisse's boyfriend (Corey) is also African-American, a pairing that illuminated three different demographics not normally associated with gaming: a gaming couple, black gamers, and black girl gamers.”

The show caught Charisse and Corey in a rough patch in their relationship, but ended with the two accepting each other for who they are and trying to advance their relationship, with Charisse attempting to include Corey in her passion and play more games with him.

In a comment on the story, Charisse added that the heavily edited show didn’t show every aspect of her addiction. She said that her reliance on games caused her to “lose my job, neglect household chores, and lose financial aid.”

The episode is scheduled to air again tonight on MTV at 7PM ET.

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Social Interaction as a Lynchpin of Gaming

January 27, 2010 -

A love of the social aspects of videogames tends to drive any perceived dependence on games more so than a game’s activity itself.

This is the angle a Kent State University article takes in examining the aspects of what fuels gamers to keep on playing, in addition to the subject of whether or not the term “addiction” is fair to use in relation to videogames. KSU Sophomore Brian Clark weighed in on the latter subject, stating that the use of such a term was misleading:

Rather than craving the game itself, they crave the interaction they get in the game so rather than going out and having a real life social interaction, they’re having social interactions with other people on a game.

The piece notes that a definition of someone addicted to videogames, as put forth by the American Medical Association (AMA), is a person that “has more control and success over his or her social relationships in the virtual world than reality.”

World of Warcraft was mentioned often in the piece, with Clark admitting that a friend of his had a reliance on the online game, which Clark, again, attributed to the social aspect of WOW. The additional factor of playing a game that never really ends only increases the difficulty of putting a game like WOW aside noted student Connor Shivers.

Achievements can also be a powerful lure for gamers to keep playing. Clark’s previously discussed WOW-loving friend also became reliant on them, “He would play some Xbox games just for the fact of getting achievement points (on Xbox LIVE) and feeling like he accomplished something.”

GP: The definition as defined by the AMA probably needs to be updated as more and more relationships that begin in virtual worlds cross over to the real world. I would venture a guess that most hardcore gamers have befriended a fellow gamer via an online guild or clan and then met up with them IRL.

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PBS Prepping All Encompassing Look at Digital Life

January 20, 2010 -

The Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) investigative show Frontline will air a deep look into how digital media and the Internet have transformed human lives and the subject of videogames is featured heavily in the program.

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier will debut on February 2 at 9:00 ET. The 90 minute show was produced by Rachel Dretzin, who also created the recent Frontline special Growing Up Online, and will feature commentary from Douglas Rushkoff. Segments include Living Faster, Relationships, Waging War, Virtual Worlds and Learning.

Many individual videos are already available for viewing on the PBS website and a trailer for the show offers a quick overview of what it’s all about.

The Waging War section features game-related topics such as the military’s use of virtual reality training, as well as looks at both America’s Army and the Army Experience Center.

Virtual Worlds contains a cornucopia of videogame segments, including the use of virtual reality therapy for veterans, gaming addiction, professional gamers, violent games, Second Life and about 20 more pieces.

Another cool aspect to the program is that the Digital Nation website launched about a year ago ago in a bid to let users collaborate with the project by sharing their own experiences.

ReStart Co-Founder on Game Addiction as Vice

January 5, 2010 -

The straight-shooters over at Vice interviewed the co-founder of Washington State’s ReStart facility, which treats people for gaming, Internet and texting addictions.

Dr. Hilarie Cash was asked whether or not she believes games are becoming more addictive:

All games focus on the idea of unpredictable reinforcement – you don’t know what’s going to happen when you reach the next stage, but you get “rewards” or “treats” at random points. And people who develop successful games have figured this out. In fact, many games companies hire professional psychologists these days to help them develop the best unpredictable reward payoff structures.

Dr. Cash on the potentially violent side of the addicts she treats:

There was a young man who ended up having to have an intervention. When the parents tried to take the computer out of his room, he tried to attack them with a knife. They just backed down, gave him his computer, went away. A teenager whose parents just take the computer away cold turkey – it’ll send them into a rage, and that rage can be quite dangerous.

How about Dr. Cash’s thoughts on whether gaming addiction or porn addiction will be more hazardous to society over the next ten years?

I think they’re equally hazardous. Pornography taps into anyone’s sex drive or need for sex. I’m sure the numbers of sex addicts far outnumber game addicts. That will probably continue, but I know that the internet-based games are typically highly addictive.

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Addiction Expert: Australia Needs Game Rehabilitation Center

November 5, 2009 -

Following the news of a treatment center in the UK expanding its offerings to include treating game addiction, an Australian academic has called for a similar program to be launched down under.

Sydney University Psychiatric Professor Vladan Starcevic, also billed as a game addition expert, made the call for action to the Herald Sun citing his own recent research in which he polled 2,000 gamers. The results of the survey led him to believe that up to one in ten subjects showed signs of addictive behavior. Starcevic said that his study was undertaken due to more patients exhibiting signs of being addicted to games.

Of the UK’s Broadway Lodge treatment center, Starcevic noted, “I think it's good that someone has taken this seriously. I think it should be recognised that this is a problem for some people.”

Starcevic’s full study will be released in this month’s Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

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UK Treatment Center Now Caters to Game Addicts

November 3, 2009 -

The latest in a wave of gaming addiction centers has opened its doors in the UK.

Established in 1974, and located in the English town of Weston-super-Mare, Broadway Lodge has expanded its treatment repertoire to include game addiction, employing a 12-step abstinence program to help patients kick the habit. Group therapy and “therapeutic” tasks such as cleaning and vacuuming are also used in treatment, but apparently baking cookies is not part of the mix.

The center’s Chief Executive Brian Dudley tells the Telegraph that he thinks game addiction is a widespread problem, “I would stick my neck out and say between five and ten per cent of parents or partners would say they know of someone addicted to an online game.”

Broadway Lodge Counselor Peter Smith added:

It's not unusual for people to get so obsessed with online gaming that they forget to eat and drift towards an anorexic and undernourished state. You have a relationship with characters in the game that give you an artificial feeling, created by your body's natural endorphins, when you have killed some monster or solved a problem.

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Games + Sex + Drugs = Fail For College Kids

October 26, 2009 -

A post on the ChristWire website argues that videogames, along with “nonstop dorm masturbation” and drugs, are among the reasons why our college kids are failing at life.

Author Stephenson Billings previously explored the topic “Is Video Gaming a Threat to America’s High School Jock Culture?,” but believes that the problem is even more widespread in college. Why? “Dorm rooms are like bacteria dishes where crueler and more virulent microorganisms are constantly introduced to breed in a frothy frenzy of poor judgment.”

He continued, “When video gaming is added to a culture of persistent sexual experimentation in a peer group of sex radicals fueled by vast amounts of mind-altering narcotics, reality is the big loser.”

Even more:

Sharp colors and quick movement like you find in Grand Theft Auto make these couch potatoes feel as if they’re really moving through life at a brisk pace while in reality growing obese. It makes them feel important, as if they’re achieving something, while their textbooks sit unopened on nearby desks. It sucks up hours upon hours when these children could be learning business or engineering. Instead of American history, they memorize the satanic rites of Resident Evil, thrill in emotional suffering with Silent Hill or train to be Columbine-style murderers with Dead Space Extraction.

Billings, who bills himself as “an Investigative Journalist, Motivational Children's Party Entertainer and Antique Soda Bottle Collector all in one special, blessed package!,” also tells parents that if their child really loves them, they will submit to regular drug testing.

He concludes his article with a special note to his “young readers”:

The foundation of modern morality so necessary for the next generation to lead is not something you children will get sucking on the end of a filthy bong while yanking a joystick around the streets of San Andreas, gunning down minorities and looking for “Hot Coffee” as some mysterious classmate from Art History oils your tensed-up pecs.* This might seem fun now, but it’s truly destroying your soul.

The site bills itself as offering “Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.”  Other articles include Parent Alert – World of Warcraft and Cosplay Will Destroy Your Child, Teens Use Facebook To Support World of Warcraft (WoW) and Denounce American Values and The Golden Girls: How One TV Show Turned A Generation Of American Boys Into Homosexuals.

GP: It’s like The Onion, except it’s not. Wow.

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Kotaku Editor Details EverQuest Addiction

October 20, 2009 -

Kotaku editor Mike Fahey has written a wonderfully detailed and candid first-person account of his addiction to EverQuest.

Fahey begins his story in late 2000, noting that he had a job, a car and a girlfriend. Shortly after, following the breakup of his relationship, he was enticed to join the online world of EverQuest at the behest of his roommate. Falling completely for the game he soon found himself unemployed, his car towed and his wallet empty. While he rebounded for a time, he apparently committed the long rumored, rarely admitted geek-sin of turning down relations for a chance to hit level 40 with his character.

Mike again rebounded, turning his addiction into a job, which helped, as he states, “I've managed to turn a habit that once interrupted my work into something I actively have to do for work. It's no longer escapism if I am doing my job.”

Fahey also admitted that the fault was mostly, if not all, his own:

I hid. I ran from my problems, hiding away in a virtual fantasy world instead of confronting the issues that might have been easily resolved if I had addressed them directly. As far as I am concerned, the only thing Sony Online Entertainment is guilty of is creating a damn good hiding place.

Thanks Andrew

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Study: Video Games lead to Gambling?

October 15, 2009 -

Can problems with video game addiction lead to other gaming addictions? According to a recent study looking at Australian youth, it can.

An article on BASIS Online looks at the study, which examined the correlation between video game play over the past year with a screening instrument that looks at pathological gambling markers. Participants in the study, a total of 2,669, were 12-17 years old and pulled from four major metropolitan schools in South Australia.

Video game involvement "measures included frequency of play, number of hours played, and type of game played, including: TV games (e.g., Xbox, Nintendo, Playstation); phone-based games; hand-held games (e.g., Nintendo, Gameboy); PC games; and arcade games." Pathological Gambling (PG) was assessed using 12 yes/no questions that looked at past and present behavior. With the answers to these questions allowed researchers to put the student into three groups: Not At Risk, At-Risk and PG. The results of the PG were then correlated with frequency and type of video game play.

The conclusion:

The results indicated significant associations between various types of video-gaming and gambling-related problems. However, the effect sizes were very small; this suggests that frequent video-game playing accounts for only a small part of the relationship between video game playing and gambling-related problems among adolescents. The inconsistency within the results (e.g., PC games were protective of PG, but hand-held games did not show a difference between no risk and at risk) suggests that other factors might better explain the association between video games and gambling-related problems. Future research should consider exploring additional factors (e.g., social/family influences, personality, beliefs etc.) that extend beyond frequency of playing video games that may explain why some adolescents experience gambling-related problems.

The article mentioned several limitations on the study and provides a chart that breaks down gambling groups in relation to frequency of video game play in the past year.

Legitimate concern or grasping at straws? I'm honestly not sure.

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Gamer Compares WOW to New Girlfriend

October 6, 2009 -

A study conducted by Singapore’s National Institute of Education reveals that its youth rack up an average of 27 hours a week playing videogames.

The group has polled over 3,000 students during the course of the three-year study, which The Straits Times reports is still ongoing. Lui Tuck Yew, acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts was reportedly “quite surprised and a little bit shocked” at the number of hours spent gaming.

Lawrence Lee, a 16-year old World of Warcraft player, called four hours of gaming a day “nothing,” and compared the game to fledgling love:

It is the novelty, like getting a new girlfriend. You want to spend every minute with her.

Singapore has formed an inter-ministry committee to address “cyber-wellness” issues.

Read the entire scanned article at the Education Soon blog.

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Study: Teens Dealing with Internet Addiction

October 6, 2009 -

Another addiction study has been released, with this one focusing on Internet addiction in teens who are facing depression, ADHD or other emotional issues.

According to a story on CNN's Health.com site, researchers from Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan followed 2,293 seventh-grade students for two years and "found that ADHD and hostility were linked to Internet addiction in children in general. In girls, but not boys, depression and social phobia also predicted problems."

Boys were at a higher risk of Internet addiction than girls, and those who used the Internet for more than 20 hours a week, every day, or for online gaming, were at higher risk as well, the study said.

Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, said the study is not surprising. From the article:

"The study's indication that children who are hyperactive or diagnosed ADHD are finding an outlet on the Web makes such perfect sense," he says, because those children crave the constant stimulation of fast-paced video games and interactive social networks. Kids with depression, anger issues, or social problems also turn to the Internet as therapy, adds Gilbert, who was not involved in the study. "They can take on an avatar or a different identity, and can contact other kids with the same problems and social inadequacies; they don't have to function in conventional social ways."

There are some interesting pros and cons in the article, which goes a bit beyond the study itself. An interesting read, but begs the question: Is the Internet an addiction when it is a main source of communication and information delivery in this technological age?

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Ten Game Addiction Fallacies

October 5, 2009 -

At least partly in response to a story on game addiction that ran on GP last week, author Neils Clark has written a piece that looks at fluff addiction stories.

Using his blog to examine the original article GP covered, a Green Pixels story on game addiction by Nicole Tanner, Clark offers up a nifty Top 10 list of gaming addiction issues brought up in Green Pixels’ original article.

The first issue Clark’s article—Big Trouble in Little Articles: Ten Game Addiction Fallacies—takes on is “Games Aren’t Drugs. While noting that drug analogies are inappropriate for videogames, Clark states:

While behavioral triggers don’t magically transfigure a game into an ingested substance, not all cravings, or even addictions, rely on ingested substances. So while straight drug analogies commit a logical fallacy, so also do presumptions that since games aren’t drugs, they cannot be the basis of an addiction.

Clark is the co-author of the book Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects.

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U.S. Gamers Play More Than EU Counterparts

September 30, 2009 -

83% of the U.S. population plays games, enough to eclipse their equals across the pond from a small selection of European countries.

GamesIndustry.com recently disclosed results from its Today’s Gamer series of surveys, which polled populations in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Runner-up to the U.S., in terms of the total percentage of the population playing games, was the U.K., with 73%, followed by the Dutch (70%), Belgium (67%), Germany (65%) and France (63%).

U.S. gamers also led the way in hours spent playing per week, averaging 10.5 hours, almost double that of the second place French, who averaged 5.5 hours a week gaming.

In every country surveyed, at least 60% of the population over the age of eight played games. More graphs are available for viewing here. Specific reports for each European country are also available.

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School Decries Game Addiction, Offers Treatment

September 24, 2009 -

In an apparent bid to drive enrollment, a Huntsville, Alabama school for struggling teens has issued a press release warning of rising teen gaming addiction in the U.S.

Citing data from a study released earlier this year by the National Institute on Media & the Family, The Pinnacle Schools lists a series of warning signs for gaming addiction, which it notes are “the same as those for alcohol and drug addictions.” Signs include lying, eating meals at the computer while gaming and defiance.

Pinnacle has programs for treating obesity, mood difficulties, lack of motivation, depression, drug & alcohol abuse and online gaming addiction. The school’s physician, Dr. Charles Lee, offered that:

Video/online games stimulate the brain’s “reward centers” which gives the same high drug addicts feel.

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Bake Cookies, Beat Internet Addiction

September 23, 2009 -

More details on exactly how a new facility treats Internet addiction have emerged via an article on the ShanghaiDaily website.

The reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program, which opened its doors earlier this year in the state of Washington, takes a cold turkey approach to treating Internet addicts and attempts to fill their days with a mix of counseling and daily chores, such as baking cookies.

The program has its first patient, 19-year old Ben Alexander, who said his World of Warcraft addiction caused him to flunk out of the University of Iowa. The center can handle up to six patients at a time, but draws the line at accepting Internet sex addicts, as the retreat’s owner, Psychotherapist Cosette Dawna Rae, lives in the facility with her family.

This story claims the 45-day program costs $14,000, differing from earlier reports that pegged the figure at $45,000.

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Youth Care Foundation: Game Addiction a “Pandemic“

September 17, 2009 -

A Swedish youth advocate, who earlier this year likened World of Warcraft addictiveness to crack cocaine, is the recipient of a profile piece in an online news site in which he claims game addiction is a problem of “pandemic proportions.”

The article goes on to note that, in light of its WOW/cocaine correlation, the Youth Care Foundation and Sven Rollenhagen have been “flooded with inquires from across the globe looking for more information about how to address the problem.” The requests prompted the group to translate their materials into English and to create the Centre of Computer Game Addiction.

Rollenhagen added:

These are smart guys, highly intelligent, capable of being anything – doctors, engineers, whatever. But they find themselves tempted by computer games and end up just wasting time in front of a screen.

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First U.S. Internet Addiction Center Opens

August 21, 2009 -

Whether your Internet addiction involves online games or plain old web surfing, there's a new treatment option for you.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that the reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program, which opened recently in Fall City, Washington - not too far from Microsoft HQ - is the first facility of its kind in the United States.

How do you know if you have a problem? Take this quiz. reStart's 45-day treatment program will set you - or your healthcare insurer - back about $45,000.

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Vietnamese Legislator: "Moral and Mental Erosion" in Online Games

August 19, 2009 -

Vietnamese legislators openly criticized a government minister for failing to act to regulate online games, reports the Thanh Nien News.

Minister of Information and Communications Le Doan Hop (left) addressed the National Assembly last week to discuss plans to manage online gaming. However, representative Nguyen Ngoc Dao claimed that online games caused "moral and mental erosion" and argued that Hop's strategy was insufficient.

Hop told legislators that online games could not be banned and began to speak of their advantages and disadvantages. Those comments were cut short by another representative, Nguyen Van Thuan, who wanted to hear more about enforcement of regulations directed at online games:

The representatives were not asking about the pros and cons of online games but they wanted to know if the ministry was responsible for the current situation.

Management is supposed to include the issuing of regulations and the enforcement of them but the minister hasn’t talked about enforcement.

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CDC: Adult Game Addicts are Fat and Depressed

August 17, 2009 -

The Center for Disease Control reports that the average adult computer game addict is 35 years old.

According to The Telegraph, the CDC partnered with researchers from Emory and Andrews Universities on the study of more than 500 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The results are not encouraging for gamers, with investigators finding correlations between video game play and health risks:

  • Female gamers reported greater depression and poorer health than non-gamers
  • Male gamers reported higher BMI (body mass index) than non-gamers
  • Gamers of both genders reported a higher than normal reliance on the Internet for social support

The CDC's Dr. James Weaver III commented on the data:

As hypothesized, health-risk factors specifically, a higher BMI and a greater number of poor mental-health days differentiated adult video-game players from non-players.

Video-game players also reported lower extraversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status, and to mental-health concerns.

Internet community support and time spent online distinguished adult video-game players from non-players, a finding consistent with prior research pointing to the willingness of adult video-game enthusiasts to sacrifice real-world social activities to play video games.

The data illustrate the need for further research among adults to clarify how to use digital opportunities more effectively to promote health and prevent disease.

The research will be published in the October, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reports Medical News Today.

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13 Arrested After Chinese Teen Is Killed at Internet Addiction Camp

August 10, 2009 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on the tragic death of 16-year-old Deng Senshan (left). The Chinese teen was beaten to death by employees at a camp for Internet addicts.

IDG is now reporting that 13 people have been rounded up by Chinese investigators. The facility itself, the Qihang Salvation Training Camp, has been shut down after authorities found that it was unlicensed. 122 students receiving "treatment" there were sent home to their families. From the IDG report:

Conservative [Chinese] officials blame hugely popular online games like World of Warcraft for getting teens hooked on the Web, harming their grades in school and dividing them from their parents. Some of the camps have used shock treatment on students, but China banned the practice last month.

UPDATE: More at Slashdot...

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16-Year-Old Beaten To Death in Chinese Camp For Internet Addicts

August 4, 2009 -

It's unclear from reports whether or not Deng Senshan (left) was a gamer. It seems likely, however, given his age and the fact that many of those confined to Chinese Internet addiction camps are there for alleged obsessive play of online games.

Tragically, the Global Times reports that the 16-year-old was beaten to death by three camp teachers on Sunday for failing to run fast enough. His bereaved father, Deng Fei, spoke of his son's death:

My son was very healthy and was not a criminal. He just had an Internet addiction when I left him at the camp. The police informed us that our child had died on Monday morning. We can’t believe our only son was beaten to death.

The teachers promised me that they would not use any physical punishment on my son when I dropped him off... We’re planning to sit before the local government for a protest tomorrow. If they don’t give us justice, we will go to the camp to confront them.

Deng Fei paid 7,000 yuan - US$1,024 - for his son to spend one month at the camp.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese netizens are outraged by Deng Senshan's murder:

Many [Netizens] questioned the fairly new diagnosis of “Internet addiction” as a mental disorder.

“Internet addiction? It’s a term made up by some so-called ‘experts’, how come these parents believe what they’ve said?” said one commente... “[It] should be the parents’ problem. Why do they always exaggerate their kids’ hobbies, turning them into addictions or problems?” said another...

One netizen called for greater tolerance of Web habits: “I am sure only China has such a term: Internet addiction…. Why can’t its people accept new ideas and new things with an open mind?”

GamePolitics readers may recall that China recently outlawed electric shock therapy as a means of treating teenage video game addicts.

Via: Gizmodo

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Treating World of Warcraft Addicts Right Inside the Game

July 28, 2009 -

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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Worried About Game Addiction, Thailand Considers Youth Curfew for Cyber-cafes

July 22, 2009 -

Concerned about game addiction among the young, Culture Ministry officials in Thailand have proposed a revised curfew for online game shops.

The Bangkok Post reports that, under the new guidelines, youth under 15 could only remain in gaming establishments until 8pm. Those from 15-18 could stay until 10pm. Shops which allow minors to remain past the curfew could have their operating license suspended or revoked.

Some, however, believe that even more stringent measures are needed. Anya-orn Panitpuengrat, who heads Thailand's Family Network, called for a three-hour time limit on gaming for children.

The Thai cabinet will consider the proposed curfew change next week.

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Should Ontario-Ubi Deal Include Game Addiction Education Piece?

July 15, 2009 -

Recent news that the government of Ontario plans to grant $263 million to assist video game publishing giant Ubisoft in the creation of a game development studio in Toronto has generated a good bit of controversy.

Supporters maintain that Ontario is investing in job creation while critics see a government handout to a company that is profitable, foreign and in the business of creating violent games.

But Brad D. of ExGamer.net looks at the deal from the game addiction perspective. In last week's podcast, Brad comments on the new marriage between Ubisoft game makers and Ontario bureaucrats:

The government of Ontario has just made a massive investment in the firm Ubisoft... When we see massive infusion of cash, let's say in... casinos, we always see that matched with public education programs around the potential dangers of excessive gambling...

 

When I see a quarter-billion dollars being invested by the government in the video game industry, it raises a couple of eyebrows. While I'm thrilled to see jobs in any industry that will be high-paid and lasting, I am concerned that the government is not matching that with some kind of investment in education on the risks of excessive [video game] usage.

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Chinese Govt. Ends Electric Shock Therapy for Game Addicts

July 14, 2009 -

The Chinese government has ordered a controversial video game addiction clinic to stop subjecting alleged teenage game addicts to electric shock treatments.

China Daily reports that the Ministry of Health issued the directive yesterday to the clinic in Linyi, Shandong province:

More than 3,000 young people were tricked or forced into in to the four-month long course. To enroll their children, parents or guardians had to sign a contract acknowledging that they would be given electric shocks of up to 200 milliamperes. The treatment cost 6,000 yuan ($878) per month...

 

Shocks were given if patients broke any of the center’s 86 rules, which included prohibitions on eating chocolate, locking the bathroom door, taking pills before a meal, and sitting in Dr. Yang's chair without permission.

Details of the treatment first became public when former patients wrote about their experiences online...

Kong Lingzhong, who edits a Chinese Internet addiction-themed portal commented on the clinic's methods:

We have no clue whether this freaky treatment has side-effects.

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Former WoW Player Details His Game Addiction in New Blog

July 7, 2009 -

A recovering WoWaholic recounts his descent into depression and game addiction in a new blog.

C Gibson explains that WoW Survivor is intended to offer a supportive place for those who found the MMO world a bit too compelling.

In an introductory post, Gibson candidly discusses his own experience:

I was going to school full time in NYC and working. Because of an issue with my family, I became depressed. I stopped going to class, quit a good job for a lamer one... and reinstalled WoW. Instead of dealing with my issues, I ignored them by grinding reputation for a mount while my wife was at work...

 

I was on the verge of losing the person I cared about most over something that really didn't matter to me and had ZERO real life benefits. I agreed to and went to a counseler... and that helped eliminate my depression because I was no longer a passive variable in a world I didn't pay attention to.

I uninstalled WoW and haven't played since. I do read up on the blogs on occassion, and I actually find that that solidifies why I don't play. There is no way to keep up and I don't feel like getting wrapped up in a never ending adventure while my real life crumbles...

GP: When I read such stories, it's hard to know whether the writer's game addiction is a symptom of something else - like depression - or the underlying disease itself. In any case, Gibson's story seems to have a happy ending. He reports that he is successfully pursuing a writing career in NYC and that he and his wife are the proud parents of five-month old.

Via: ExGamer

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China Announces New Game Crackdown

June 18, 2009 -

China is mounting a renewed crackdown against "undesirable" online games.

A Reuters reports cites Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency, which attributes the government action to concerns over crime and Internet addiction. More than 40 million Chinese now participate in online games.

Kou Xiaowei of China's General Administration of Press and Publication explained:

Although China's online gaming industry had been hot in recent years, online games are regarded by many as a sort of spiritual opium and the whole industry is marginalised by mainstream society. If we don't make adjustments, the industry will suffer sooner or later.

The lack of a content rating system and widespread availability of bootlegged products have hampered official efforts to regulate games.

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MTV On a Quest to Find Game Addicts

June 18, 2009 -

Are you addicted to video games?

If so, MTV wants to hear from you. The network has put out a casting call for an episode of its documentary series, True Life:

Have video games totally taken over your life? Is your game play increasingly getting out of control? Have your friends or family confronted you about your gaming habit? How about your marriage or personal relationships – are they being affected?

 

Is it difficult to balance work and gaming time? Do you sometimes skip doing homework or household responsibilities to play? Have you played video games as a way of escaping your problems? Has your game playing habit become so encompassing that you may need to go to rehab to kick it?

Does this sound like you?  God, we hope not but if it does, send your info MTV’s way and maybe we’ll see you on the tube. That is, if you can bear to pull yourself away from Ghostbusters: The Video Game for a few minutes.

Via: Siliconera

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...

20 comments

Last Night's Mental Episode & Its Troubled, 8-year-old Gamer

June 17, 2009 -

We've been mentioning (warning?) GamePolitics readers that last night's episode of Mental included a plot element about a violent, 8-year-old gamer.

Fidgit's Tom Chick caught the show and serves up a detailed report [SPOILER ALERT]:

If you're watching [Mental], you probably caught last night's episode in which a kid is deprived of videogames, and therefore invents one in his head.

But the problem is that the videogame he invents in his head sucks... the kid ends up freaking out, hurting his mother with a knife, and then going catatonic. I know how he feels. I've played some bad videogames in my time, too. The kid's hands keep twitching as if he were playing a videogame. With a console controller, of course...

 

The situation is resolved when the sensitive physician with a lot of time on his hands guides his misunderstood patient through how to play the imaginary videogame...

Once he's beat the game in his head, he reconciles with his neglectful father and starts on his medication.

You can catch the full episode yourself at the Mental website. But you'll have to install Fox's video player; I'm not crazy about that...

GP: So, I watched the episode this morning and didn't find that it especially sensationalized games. Don't want to spoil it for anyone who may decide to check it out, so I won't say more about that for now. Overall, the show offers a sensitive treatment of mental health issues.

25 comments

Halo 3 Teen Killer Gets Life in Murder of Mom... Parole in 23 Years

June 16, 2009 -

Daniel Petric, who shot his mother to death and badly wounded his father after they banned him from playing Halo 3 in a 2007 incident, has been sentenced to life in prison by an Ohio judge. Under the terms of the sentence, Petric will be eligible for parole in 23 years.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that an emotional Petric  (left) tried to address the court but was unable to speak.

While delivering his verdict in the case in January, Judge James Burge seemed to blame violent video games:

This Court's opinion is that we don't know enough about these video games...

 

It's my firm belief that after a while the same physiological responses occur that occur in the ingestion of some drugs. And I believe that an addiction to these games can do the same thing...

 

The other dangerous thing about these games, in my opinion, is that when these changes occur, they occur in an environment that is delusional. Because you can shoot these aliens, and they're there again the next day. You have to shoot them again. And I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea, at the time he hatched this plot, that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever.

See our story from earlier today for more background on the case.

58 comments

 
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Matthew WilsonIf you have not read http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/introducing-steam-gauge-ars-reveals-steams-most-popular-games/ you should. It is a bit stats heavy, but worth the read.04/16/2014 - 2:04pm
Matthew Wilsonthe issue is when is doesn't work it can screw over millions in new york city's case. more often than not it is better to let the free market run its course without market distortion.04/16/2014 - 9:36am
NeenekoTrue, and overdone stagnation is a problem. It is a tricky balance. It does not help that when it does work, no one notices. Most people here have benifited from rent controls and not even realized it.04/16/2014 - 9:23am
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2014/04/15/riaa_files_civil_suit_against_megaupload04/16/2014 - 8:48am
ZippyDSMleeEither way you get stagnation as people can not afford the prices they set.04/16/2014 - 8:47am
Neenekowell, specifically it helps people already living there and hurts people who want to live there instead. As for 'way more hurt', majorities generally need less legal protection. yes it hurt more people then it helped, it was written for a minority04/16/2014 - 8:30am
MaskedPixelantehttp://torrentfreak.com/square-enix-drm-boosts-profits-and-its-here-to-stay-140415/ Square proves how incredibly out of touch they are by saying that DRM is the way of the future, and is here to stay.04/16/2014 - 8:29am
james_fudgeUnwinnable Weekly Telethon playing Metal Gear http://www.twitch.tv/rainydayletsplay04/16/2014 - 8:06am
ConsterTo be fair, there's so little left of the middle class that those numbers are skewing.04/16/2014 - 7:42am
Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
NeenekoSo "worked" vs "failed" really comes down to who you think is more important and deserving04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoThough I am also not sure we can say NYC failed. Rent control helped the people it was intended for and is considered a failure by the people it was designed to protect them from.04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoIf they change the rules, demand will plummet. Though yeah, rent control probably would not help much in the SF case. I doubt anything will.04/15/2014 - 1:35pm
TheSmokeyOnline gamer accused of murdering son to keep playing - http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2014/04/15/21604921.html04/15/2014 - 11:50am
Matthew Wilsonyup, but curent city rules do not allow for that.04/15/2014 - 11:00am
ZippyDSMleeIf SF dose not start building upwards then they will price people out of the aera.04/15/2014 - 10:59am
Matthew Wilsonthe issue rent control has it reduces supply, and in SF case they already has a supply problem. rent control ofen puts rent below cost, or below profit of selling it. rent control would not fix this issue.04/15/2014 - 10:56am
NeenekoRent control is useful in moderation, NYC took it way to far and tends to be held up as an example of them not working, but in most cases they are more subtle and positive.04/15/2014 - 10:24am
PHX CorpBeating Cancer with Video Games http://mashable.com/2014/04/14/steven-gonzalez-survivor-games/04/15/2014 - 9:21am
 

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