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.

33 comments

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

35 comments

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.

18 comments

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

Teen Halo 3 Gamer to be Sentenced For Murder of Mom

June 16, 2009 -

Daniel Petric, the Ohio teen convicted of killing his mother and severly wounding his father after his parents banned him from playing Halo 3 in 2007, will be sentenced later today, reports local news station Fox 28.

The case bears watching because Judge James Burge, who presided over Petric's trial and will hand down the sentence, was quite critical of video games in comments delivered from the bench at the time of the verdict. As GamePolitics reported in January, Judge Burge said: 

This Court's opinion is that we don't know enough about these video games. In this particular case, not so much the violence of the game because I believe in the Halo 3, what it amounts to is a contest to see who can shoot the most aliens who attack.

 

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.

During the trial, Petric's attorney argued that the teen should be found not guilty by reason of insanity due to what was termed a claimed obsession with Halo 3.

26 comments

Tivo Alert: Fox's Mental Series Tackles Gaming... Uh-oh.

June 13, 2009 -

When  televised cop and medical dramas tackle video game themes, there's usually a large dollop of sensationalism attached.

That being the case, we'll be cautiously Tivoing Fox's June 16th episode of Mental. A preview describes the episode:

JACK TREATS A YOUNG BOY WHO IS CONSUMED WITH A VIDEO GAME THAT EXISTS ONLY IN HIS HEAD ON AN ALL-NEW “MENTAL” TUESDAY, JUNE 16, ON FOX

An 8-year-old bipolar boy whose life is consumed by a video game he plays in his head is admitted to Wharton Memorial for an accident involving a knife. When it turns out the accident was really a suicide attempt, Jack must try to get inside the little boy’s head to find out what is triggering his life-threatening rages. But when the boy bolts from the psych ward, Jack must try to save him by engaging him in his own mind game.

Here's a preview clip...

36 comments

Evangelical Leader: Some Games Are Okay. Others, Not So Much...

June 13, 2009 -

Rev. James Dobson, the politically influential, conservative evangelical leader of nonprofit group Focus on the Family, has given a green light to some video games while offering warnings about violent an sexual content as well as possible game addiction in regard to others.

Dobson's comments appeared in his newspaper column in response to a question from a parent about their son's video gaming:

Depending on the particular games in question, you may have a valid cause for concern... two University of Michigan researchers concluded in 2007 that violent media, including television, film and video games, pose a significant public health threat...

Furthermore, some video games add unhealthy sexual themes and profanity to the mix, not to mention that the American Medical Association estimates one in 10 video gamers is addicted.

Of course, not all video games are problematic. Certain sports games, for instance, can be loads of fun. Some can even be educational...

I’d advise you to put clear limits on the amount of time your son will be allowed to spend with video games... Insist he avoid the troublesome ones altogether...

GP: Dobson is referring to the 2007 Huesmann-Bushman study.

74 comments

Tivo Alert: Dr. Phil Re-Airs Game Addiction Program

June 3, 2009 -

Today's edition of the Dr. Phil show will re-air an episode on game addiction which features Brad D. (left) of ExGamer.net.

As GamePolitics reported in October, 2008 when the show initially aired, Brad speaks frankly about a suicide attempt.

Also appearing on the program is Wendy Kays, author of Game Widow.

25 comments

Frontline Looks at Video Game Addiction in South Korea

May 27, 2009 -

The National Institute on Media and the Family, which seems to have adopted video game addiction as its primary game-related issue of late, recently used its Twitter account to point to a Frontline video report on gaming in South Koria. 

Part of the report examines the struggle of an adolescent boy to balance his game play with the other facets of his life and looks at the government-run anti-game addiction camp he attends.

Click here for the video.

19 comments

Survey Says: One in Twelve Gamers Addicted

May 26, 2009 -

One in 12 gamers shows signs of addiction, according to a study being presented this week at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress.

Prof. Vladan Starcevic (left) of the University of Sydney told New Zealand's NZTV that his team reached that conclusion after conducting an online survey of nearly 2,000 worldwide respondents:

Their whole lives revolve around this activity and there certainly seems to be a problem there - there is an addiction. And it seems to us that these people seem to... have other mental health issues, and it seems excessive video game playing is a manifestation of these underlying problems.

Problem gamers identified by the researchers were more prone to being socially isolated, at increased risk of depression and more likely to engage in compulsive behavior. Most seemed to play four or more hours per day and preferred MMOs like World of Warcraft. On the other hand, Starcevic noted that 92% of gamers displayed no problems with their gaming:

Most people who play video games are not problem video game players, to put it in simple terms, they're not addicted to video games. It is a minority of people who seem to have a problem.

As GameCulture notes, the 8% figure arrived at by Starcevic is remarkably close to the 8.5% game addiction rate Iowa State Prof. Douglas Gentile reported in a study released jointly with the National Institute on Media and the Family last month. As GamePolitics has reported, Gentile's research was criticized by ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer and Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson, author of Grand Theft Childhood.

42 comments

Thai Govt Closes Dozens of Websites After Boy Commits Suicide Over Game Ban

May 23, 2009 -

Following the suicide of a 12-year-old boy on Thursday, Thailand's Criminal Court has ordered the closure of 72 websites.

The Bangkok Post reports that Pongsathorn Wattanabenjasopha leaped to his death from the sixth floor of his school building, after being banned from playing video games by his father.

Oddly enough, the 72 sites shuttered by the Thai government include both online game and gambling venues. The Post reports comments by a government official who said that game-addicted children were more likely to commit suicide:

Bundit Sornpaisarn, director of the Rajanagarindra Child and Adolescent Mental Health Institute, said the boy's suicide reflected that children who were addicted to games and had an aggressive mentality were more likely to commit suicide than others.

Parents need to instil a sense of discipline in children from a young age if such tragedies are to be prevented, he said.

Dr Bundit said people whose children were in their teens should use positive communications to deal with their child's addiction to online games. They should control their emotions and listen to their children's views, as that would bring positive responses, he said.

GP: It's impossible to know from a distance what was troubling young Pongsathorn Wattanabenjasopha, but it would seem reasonable for the Thai government to at least conduct some sort of investigation before closing down online game websites.

And, while GP neither supports nor covers online gambling sites, their inclusion in the crackdown seems odd, since there is no report to date indicating that the boy was involved in any way with gambling.

But, as GamePolitics documented in 2008, Thailand has something of a repressive history in regard to games and the Internet.

45 comments

Australian Paper: Video Game Biz "In Denial" About Game Addiction

May 20, 2009 -

Australia's largest daily newspaper, the Herald-Sun, charges that the video game industry is "in denial" when it comes to video game addiction:

Game addiction looms as a new national health problem for adults...

 

Games are an easy target, but it is true that the computer and video games industry has, unsurprisingly, backed away from the subject of games addiction. A statement from the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia shows the industry is in denial.

"Certainly many young people go through periods of intense involvement in computer game play, for example with a new game, but this is not a lasting obsession for the majority,'' it said.

Coming in for a mention, unsurprisingly, is World of Warcraft.

While there may be an argument to be made for game addiction, the poorly-researched Herald piece fails to make it.

Via: Joystiq

30 comments

Game Addiction Study Prof Fires Back at ESA Boss

April 30, 2009 -

The recent claim by Iowa State Prof. Douglas Gentile (left) and the National Institute on Media and the Family that "nearly one in ten" 8-18 year-olds shows signs of video game addiction was challenged this week by ESA CEO Michael Gallagher, who questioned Gentile's methodology.

Yesterday, NIMF boss David Walsh defended Gentile's research to GamePolitics. Gentile himself has now waded into the fray, telling incgamers that the ESA's attack on his sampling methodology was a "trick."

And that's not all Gentile had to say:

The ESA are trying to give the perception that there was something wrong with the study... [the ESA's criticism of the sample is a] trick the ESA is trying to get you to pick up on...

 

We're talking about pathological implications [of addictive gaming], we're measuring it on how it damages people to function in a healthy way, and how they start to injure their family and social relationships, their school work or their occupational work, and when we measure it that way (the same we would measure pathological gambling), you can't just have one of the symptoms, but rather more than half of the symptoms. There are 11 symptoms, and you have to report up to six of those symptoms.

Eight and a half percent of the surveyed gamers, across the sample, reported up to six of those symptoms, which, in medical terms means that they are pathological gamers.

incgamer also cites a letter from Iowa State to the ESA which defends Gentile's methodology. The researcher did admit to a mistake in his report which incorrectly tabs the survey's margin of error at 3%.

29 comments

Accused Fraternity Embezzler Blames Video Game Addiction

April 30, 2009 -

A 21-year-old Wisconsin man who stands accused of stealing more than $12,000 from his fraternity has blamed his crime on video game addiction.

As reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, Jose Tavarez confessed to authorities that he used a fraternity debit card to buy games and computer gear. At the time, Tavarez was the treasurer of his frat at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Tavarez... told police he used a fraternity debit card to buy video games because his bank account is linked to his parents’ and he did not want them seeing that he spent his money on the games...

A list of suspicious purchases on the card... included about 70 purchases at game-oriented businesses, along with many others from online stores selling computer goods...

38 comments

NIMF's David Walsh Defends Game Addiction Study

April 29, 2009 -

As GamePolitics readers know, a study released last week by Dr. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University and the National Institute on Media and the family suggested that "nearly one in ten" 8-18 year-olds showed signs of video game addiction.

The research has been under fire, however, from the video game industry as well as from less biased critics such as Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson and ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer.

Yesterday game publishers lobbying group the ESA released a letter in which CEO Michael Gallagher criticized the study for a sampling error that has been acknowledged by Gentile. Gallagher also bemoaned the wide coverage which the flawed study has received from mainstream media outlets.

GamePolitics asked the National Institute on Media and the Family to respond to the ESA's criticism; we've just received this statement from NIMF President Dr. David Walsh:

Everyone knows at least one child who has struggled with balancing healthy game playing with academics and family life. Unfortunately, as Dr. Gentile’s study suggests, some children have more significant problems with gaming.  Regardless of whether you agree with the exact statistics in Dr. Gentile’s study, it provides the gaming industry, medical experts, and public policymakers with a new opportunity to have a thoughtful conversation regarding the effects of video games on kids.

One study will not determine if gaming is addictive for some kids. Again, additional research is required to determine if video games are as ‘addictive’ as gambling and alcohol. With this additional research, the medical community can make an educated decision on video games and addiction.

We look forward to leading the conversation with the industry, policymakers and parents on this important public health issue.

GP: Walsh discusses the research in the video at left. To be clear, the video does not address the sampling issue raised by the ESA.

ESA Targets NIMF Addiction Study

April 28, 2009 -

Last week the National Institute on Media and the Family along with Iowa State University Prof. Douglas Gentile released a study which claimed that 8.5% of 8-18 year-olds displayed signs of video game addiction.

The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, was quickly challenged, most notably by Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson (co-author of Grand Theft Childhood) and ABC News polling director Gary Langer.

Citing Langer's report on the study's flawed research methodology, game publishers' lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association yesterday sent a letter to the editor of Psychological Science, Purdue University Prof. Robert Kail. ESA CEO Mike Gallagher questioned the validity of the NIMF/Gentile findings and complained that their alarming assertions regarding video game addiction received wide coverage in the mainstream media.

It is safe to say that the sole reason the [Gentile] study generated the kind of media attention it did was due to the inclusion of specific numbers that would appear to have been based on scientific research. In fact, the numbers reflected no such thing. Because of the composition of the group studied, neither the overall figure, nor the cited sampling error is supported by the data Dr. Gentile presented. 

 

We accept Dr. Gentile’s [subsequent] admission of [sampling interpretation] error at face value, although it is hard to understand how a researcher would base a scientific study upon an assumption about the nature of the group he was studying. It is not that Dr. Gentile did not have time to make sure that the group was a truly national representative sample: the data was collected in January, 2007...

Gallagher concluded by asking Kail to advise Psychological Science readers of the discrepancy between the sampling reported by Gentile and that upon which the study was actually based. For a detailed explanation of the sampling issue, see Gary Langer's ABC News post.

5 comments

ABC News Polling Guru Slams NIMF Game Addiction Data

April 22, 2009 -

On Monday Prof. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family released the results of a new study which suggested that one in twelve 8-18 year-olds displayed symptoms of video game addiction.

As GamePolitics reported, the methodology behind the ISA/NIMF research was almost immediately called into question by Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood and Oregon psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block, an expert of the topic of video game addiction.

A report today by ABC News polling director Gary Langer (left) goes a step further, questioning Gentile's study for its claim of being "nationally representative within 3% [margin of error]."

Writing for his The Numbers blog, Langer explains:

The problem: This study was conducted among members of an opt-in online panel – individuals who sign up to click through questionnaires on the internet in exchange for points redeemable for cash and gifts. There are multiple methodological challenges with these things... but the most basic – and I think least arguable – is that they’re based on a self-selected “convenience sample,” rather than a probability sample. And you need a probability sample to compute sampling error...

This is far from an inconsequential issue. The public discourse is well-informed by quality data; it can be misinformed or even disinformed by other data. It is challenging – but essential – for us to differentiate.

Langer also heard from the study's author who admitted the mistake in calculating a margin of error:

Prof. Gentile got back to me... He said he was unaware the data in his study came from a convenience sample... and that, relying on his own background in market research, he’d gone ahead and calculated an error margin for it. “I missed that when I was writing this up. That is an error then on my part.”

27 comments

ESA Reacts to NIMF Game Addiction Study

April 21, 2009 -

Yesterday GamePolitics reported on research data released by Iowa State University Prof. Douglas Gentile and the National Institute on Media and the Family which suggests that one in twelve people between 8 and 18 show signs of video game dependency.

We also noted that Grand Theft Childhood author Dr. Cheryl Olson of Harvard questioned the survey methodology used in the study.

Not unexpectedly, game publishers' trade group ESA has now weighed in to dispute the NIMF research. Senior VP Rich Taylor (left) commented:

This is a report more in search of media headlines than scientific truth and facts. In an interview, though not in the report itself, Dr. Gentile said, ‘It’s not that games are bad. It’s not that games are addictive.’ Medical experts, including the American Medical Association, have already rejected the fallacy of video game ‘addiction,’ and we completely agree.

Like all forms of entertainment, computer and video games should be a part of a well-rounded lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercise. It is up to parents to determine when and how often their children should play any game. For our part, the industry already provides a wide range of tools and information, including timers and parental controls, to help caregivers ensure that entertainment software is used appropriately.

Oregon psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block, who has been known to drop by GamePolitics from time to time, offered some additional criticism of Gentile's research, reports USA Today:

Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health Science University, called the study "valuable" to the American Psychiatric Association's [upcoming] decision on whether compulsive computer and Internet use should be considered a mental disorder.

Block, an APA adviser, warns that the [NIMF] study has weaknesses. The research should be replicated because it is supported by the National Institute for Media and the Family, which he likens to a lobbying group. And the survey could have found higher game use because it was collected in January as opposed to summer. It also classifies 8.5% as addicted without a physician interview: "The people they are claiming have a problem, it's not entirely clear that they do have a problem."

UPDATE: GU Comics pokes a bit of fun at the NIMF study.

17 comments

Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game Addiction Data

April 20, 2009 -

Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games, offered GamePolitics some thoughts on research data released today by Iowa State University Prof. Douglas Gentile and Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family.

According to Gentile and Walsh, 8.5% of 8-18 year olds exhibit behaviors similar to those that clinically define compulsive gamblers.

Olson, however, questions their methodology, which involved the collection of data via an online Harris Interactive Poll.

From Dr. Olson:

The concern here is labeling normal childhood behaviors as "pathological" and "addicted." The author [Iowa State University's Prof. Douglas Gentile] is repurposing questions used to assess problem gambling in adults; however, lying to your spouse about blowing the rent money on gambling is a very different matter from fibbing to your mom about whether you played video games instead of starting your homework.

 

It's also very questionable whether kids as young as 8 can accurately fill out a self-administered online questionnaire, especially one that uses questions designed for adults.

That said, the study is well intended, and a good reminder to discuss rules and set limits with your kids re: electronic game use.

New Study: One in Twelve Young Gamers Shows Signs of Addiction

April 20, 2009 -

A new study claims that one in twelve (8.5%) of gamers age 8-18 shows signs of being addicted to their hobby.

The research, conducted by Iowa State University and the National Institute on Media and the Family, compared the young gamers' playing habits to the American Psychiatric Association’s list of symptoms of gambling addiction.

The 8.5% of study subjects who showed addictive traits indicated behaviors such as:

•    Lying to family and friends about video game usage
•    Using video games to escape from problems or bad feelings
•    Becoming restless or irritable when attempting to stop playing video games
•    Skipping homework in order to play video games
•    Doing poorly on a school assignment or test because they spent too much time on games.

ISU Prof Douglas Gentile (left) commented on his findings:

Many parents have been worried about their children being ‘addicted’ to video games. While the medical community currently does not recognize video game addiction as a mental disorder, hopefully this study will be one of many that allow us to have an educated conversation on the positive and negative effects of video games.

NIMF president David Walsh added:

This study is a wake-up call for families. While video games can be fun and entertaining, some kids are getting into trouble. I continue to hear from families who are concerned about their child’s gaming habits. Not only do we need to focus on identifying the problem, but we need to find ways to help families prevent and treat it.

The ISU/NIMF study used data collected in a Harris Interactive Poll that surveyed 1,178 American youth, aged 8 to 18.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the study here.

GP: Perhaps a small point, but the press release for this research continually refers to "nearly one out of ten" respondents being addicted to video games. However, the 8.5% addiction result determined by the research is actually much nearer to one in twelve (8.33%); we've represented it as such in this article.

UPDATE: Grand Theft Childhood co-author Dr. Cheryl Olson offers some criticism of the study methodology employed by Prof. Gentile.

34 comments

Chinese Govt. Says Anti-Game Addiction Policy is Effective

March 20, 2009 -

Chinese government officials claim success in reducing the number citizens addicted to online games, according to a report on Xinhua.

Citing figures from the China Youth Social Service Center, Xinhua says that the number on MMO gamers under 18 dropped from 7% from 2007's tally of 183 million. That year, China implemented an anti-addiction system highlighted by in-game timers which limit minors from playing more than three hours per day. Online gamers are also required by law to register using their real names and national I.D. card numbers.

Chinese officials add that - according to their numbers - 60% of under-18 gamers are satisfied with the anti-addiction measures.

33 comments

In Wake of Rampage, German Pol Calls for WoW to be 18+ Rated

March 18, 2009 -

First-person shooters Counter-strike and Far Cry 2 have already come in for mention in relation to last week's horrific rampage shooting in Germany.

But World of Warcraft, not one of the usual suspects in the video game violence debate, has now been thrown into the mix by a German politician.

Welt Online reports that Germany's Minister for Social Affairs Mechthild Ross-Luttmann (left) has turned her attention to WoW:

Ross-Luttmann... aims to achieve a general age restriction for addictive computer games. World of Warcraft, for example – available to minors at the age of 12 – might in the near future only be sold to adults. In addition to this, parents need to be further sensibilized [sic]. “Parents must know what danger potential exists in their children’s bedrooms,” Ross-Luttmann said.

Computer game expert and author of "Digital Paradise" Andreas Rosenfelder is rather skeptical about demands like this. “I don’t see a connection between digital role playing games like World of Warcraft and shooting sprees,” he said. World of Warcraft is a game set in medieval times in which the protagonists can take on the roles of dwarfs, elves and wizards. There is no shooting in this game.

"In heated debates there can easily be some confusion,“ Rosenfelder said.

Ross-Luttmann also hopes to begin a secret shopper program in order to evaluate video game rating enforcement by German retailers.

Via: GameCulture

CBC To Air Investigative Report into Brandon Crisp Case Tonight

March 6, 2009 -

If preliminary reports are any indication, video games are in for a media beatdown on Canadian TV network CBC tonight.

News program the fifth estate will air an investigative piece on the tragic Brandon Crisp case at 9 P.M. Eastern. GamePolitics readers may recall that 15-year-old Brandon ran away from home following an October, 2008 dispute in which his parents confiscated his Xbox 360.

Brandon was an avid - his parents say addicted - Call of Duty 4 player and the early days of the investigation focused on the theories that he had either run away to join a professional gaming league or been abducted by someone he met on Xbox Live. In the end it turned out that Brandon had fallen from a tree not long after leaving home and died from injuries received in the fall.

The Globe and Mail previews the program:

Some kids get hooked on Guitar Hero, but the vast majority of gamers today spend more money — and time — on shockingly graphic search-and-destroy video games. Turning every violent teen male fantasy into reality, these games have a simple primal theme: kill, and kill again. And then keep killing...

"As a parent, I was shocked by how little I knew about this world," says [reporter Gillian Findlay]. "The violence of these games is so real and beauty of the graphics is almost overwhelming. You can see how seductive these games can be to teenage players..."

In an exclusive interview with Brandon's parents, taped between the time of his disappearance and the discovery of his body, the extent of their son's video-game obsession is revealed.

We're dismayed at what sounds like a cheap media manipulation:

MLG also operates big-ticket tournaments... Findlay sits down with the members of a Canadian team of professional gamers...

 

"When we talked to them, we had large monitors playing video-game footage as background, and you could see it: They couldn't take their eyes off the screens," says Findlay.

Did the reporter really conduct this interview in front of large monitors and then blame some kind of video game effect for the subjects' eyes wandering? Would it have been any different if a hockey game or House was running on those monitors? Maybe that's why most reporters don't conduct interviews with their subjects facing TV screens. They're, you know, distracting...

For those who don't get CBC, the episode will be available on the web at 10 p.m.

Looking for background on the case? GamePolitics covered Brandon's disappearance in great detail. Click here for all of our reports on the case.

GP: Thanks to numerous readers who alerted us to this story...

UPDATE: Steve Tilley, who covers video games for the Toronto Sun, has previewed the show and weighs in with his take:

There's a journalistic responsibility to become as informed as possible on a subject before speaking on it with authority, and [reporter Gillian] Findlay clearly has not.

I'm not talking about forgivable oversimplifications, but rather a glib, faux-concerned approach that treats teenaged gamers like slack-jawed addicts obsessed with virtual mass murder. It's demeaning not only to the majority of gamers for whom this is harmless recreation, but to the non-gaming viewing audience who might not know better...

It's lazy, cheap and disappointingly one-sided.

 

102 comments

Swedish Youth Advocate: WoW is Crack Cocaine of Game World

February 28, 2009 -

A youth advocate in Sweden has likened World of Warcraft to crack cocaine in terms of its supposed addictiveness and the Swedish National Institute of Public Health has endorsed that view.

As reported by the UK's Daily Mail, Sven Rollenhagen of Sweden's Youth Care Foundation has authored a report describing WoW in ominous terms:

The most dangerous game on the market... There is not a single case of game addiction that we have worked with in which World of Warcraft has not played a part...

It is the crack cocaine of the computer game world. Some will play it till they drop.

35 comments

Pachter: MMO Gamers Are Addicts

February 2, 2009 -

In an interview with Reuters, Wedbush-Morgan financial analyst Michael Pachter has characterized MMO players as "addicts."

In the article, Reuters examines the effect of the current economic climate on the online game business. Pachter suggested that MMOs would see little impact due to the nature of their players' relationship with the games:

I don't think (online multiplayer games) get impacted at all, because people who play them are addicts, Losing their jobs makes them more likely to play because they have more time to play.

57 comments

Chinese Government Forcing Online Gamers to Use Real Names

January 16, 2009 -

There will be no hiding behind a screen name for Chinese gamers, apparently.

According to brief report in People's Daily Online, China's notoriously Internet-repressive government will begin requiring online gamers to register using their real names.

A government official, Zhang Yijun, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication's Technology and Digital Publication Department, is cited as PDO's source.

Zhang also indicated that the operations of four online game companies have been suspended after Chinese government inspectors discovered that their software did not contain the required anti-addiction system.

UPDATE: IncGamers has more info:

...the real name registration system does not mean that gamers cannot use screen-names, but rather that their online gaming accounts must be linked to their real world identification number, which is issued by the government.

[A Chinese gamer] went on to explain that linking a gamer's online account to their ID number means the government can keep track of how long underage gamers are playing. Minors are limited to playing for three hours per day...

48 comments

Online Game Addict Swallows Steel Blades, Mutters Game Phrases

January 9, 2009 -

A report in the Beijing Morning Post describes the plight of Xiao Cai, a 23-year-old man whose alleged addiction to online games caused him to attempt suicide four times.

At least one of those tries involved swallowing steel blades (in-game sword imagery?)

Chinese media site Danwei translates:

Xiao Cai was so addicted to the Internet that his mental well-being was affected. He wanted to kill himself, so he ingested saw blades... Currently his condition is stable...

 

After his mother finished feeding him, Xiao Cai became a little restless and started to fidget... He was mouthing phrases from online games, and would occasionally laugh...

Xiao Cai began playing online games in junior high school. A while after this a female netizen betrayed him, and he was so hurt that he put the majority of his time into playing online games. Xiao Cai became more and more addicted to the Internet, even to the point of being affected mentally... Before he ingested saw blades, he had also ingested sleeping pills and pesticides...

40 comments

The Cooper Lawrence Video That is Circulating Today...

January 8, 2009 -

...is actually from June 23rd, 2007.

Or, about six months before she so smugly slandered Mass Effect and then felt the combined wrath of millions of gamers.

How do we know? 

Well, the GameTrailers page where the video is hosted says that it is from 2007. But we went a little further and checked the baseball scores which were scrolling onscreen against the 2007 MLB schedule and found the exact date.

That being the case, coverage on some sites to the effect of "didn't she learn her lesson?" would seem inoperable in this case.

51 comments

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Will the New Nintendo 3DS be region free?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Andrew EisenI love Terry Crews but I'm not sure he fits Luke Cage's personality (maybe Crews' acting range is broader than I realize?). How about Michael Jai White?09/02/2014 - 11:25pm
Papa MidnightTerry Crews for Luke Cage. Make it happen, Marvel and Netflix :)09/02/2014 - 9:58pm
prh99I would be shocked if Nintendo said it was region free, or even made it optional like XBox 360 for that matter.09/02/2014 - 7:22pm
Matthew WilsonI should say the recent past.09/02/2014 - 6:58pm
Matthew Wilsongiven their past, I do not blame people for thinking they will not change. I think they will keep region locking too.09/02/2014 - 6:48pm
E. Zachary KnightMan. People have no confidence in Nintendo regarding region locking the New 3DS.09/02/2014 - 6:20pm
Andrew EisenThat doesn't mean there has to be a movie though. Having said that, I've no doubt that we will eventually get a Black Panther movie. But Stan Lee will probably learn about it around the same time you and I do.09/02/2014 - 2:34pm
MaskedPixelanteWell they have to get to him eventually. Captain America's shield didn't grow on a tree, the minerals to make it had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is Wakanda.09/02/2014 - 2:31pm
E. Zachary KnightYes, but it has never been confirmed as in development, or even pre-production.09/02/2014 - 2:21pm
MaskedPixelanteBlack Panther's been on the short list for a while.09/02/2014 - 2:18pm
E. Zachary KnightIt is possible that Stan Lee mispoke. I don't think he knows everything Marvel movies. But it is a sweet idea if true.09/02/2014 - 2:04pm
Andrew EisenSo says Stan Lee who almost certainly wouldn't know.09/02/2014 - 2:04pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.cinemablend.com/new/Marvel-Black-Panther-Movie-Confirmed-By-Stan-Lee-66993.html Black Panther is apparently getting a movie. And maybe one for Black Widow, even though I think it's too late for her.09/02/2014 - 1:53pm
Cheater87Look what FINALLY came to Australia uncut! http://www.gamespot.com/articles/left-4-dead-2-gets-reclassified-in-australia/1100-6422038/09/02/2014 - 6:49am
Andrew EisenHence the "Uh, yeah. Obviously."09/02/2014 - 12:53am
SleakerI think Nintendo has proven over the last 2 years that it doesn't.09/02/2014 - 12:31am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Uh, yeah. Obviously.09/01/2014 - 8:20pm
Sleaker@AE - exclusives do not a console business make.09/01/2014 - 8:03pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that, despite the presence of a snopes article and multiple articles countering it, people are still spreading a fake news story about a "SWATter" being sentenced to X (because the number seems to keep changing) years in prison.09/01/2014 - 5:08pm
Papa MidnightAnd resulting in PC gaming continuing to be held back by developer habits09/01/2014 - 5:07pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician