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BBC Investigates Game Addiction

By - Source: CVG | B 31 comments

A BBC investigation into game addiction has sparked a retaliation by Blizzard and the UK's TIGA.

Tonight BBC's "investigative" Panorama TV show is scheduled to reveal the hidden psychological devices in games "that are designed to keep us coming back for more." Annoyed already? Join the club. The "Panorama: Addicted to Games?" episode has already sparked controversy and it hasn't even aired, provoking retaliations by Blizzard Entertainment and the trade association representing the UK's games industry, TIGA.

"What we can say is that there is absolutely no proven link between video games and addiction," said Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, in a statement. "The World Health Organization has no official medical diagnosis of video games addiction. Playing games is a hobby and people can certainly become passionate about them. This is no different from a passion for a particular book, TV program or sport."

He goes on to talk about how the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft's Kinect can improve fitness, and that a fifth of UK's developers create educational titles. "There is a world of difference between people who claim, in the colloquial non medical sense, that they are addicted to games, music, football or a TV program and people who are clinically addicted, in scientific parlance, to drugs or alcohol. People may claim to be addicted to something like games or football, but in most cases they are not," he added.

Blizzard also issued a statement ahead of tonight's airing, saying that its games are designed to be fun, however like all forms of entertainment, day-to-day life should always take precedence. "World of Warcraft contains practical tools that assist players and parents in monitoring playing time," the company said.

So what's ruffled everyone's feathers? The reporter behind the investigation, Raphael Rowe, told CVG that he spoke to numerous young gamers about their "addiction." One Call of Duty player revealed that he engages in 12-hour sessions or overnighters; another gamer admits to skipping school for weeks at a time just to play Blizzard's MMORPG, world of Warcraft.

But in addition to the gamer testimonies, Rowe also said that a developer showed him "some of the invisible psychological devices in video games which keep players wanting more."

Panorama: Addicted to Games? is on BBC One and BBC One HD tonight at 8:30pm. So far it's not appearing on BBC America's schedule, so we may need to wait for the rerun to discover what new villains in the gaming industry are eating our brain cells and draining our souls.

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  • 2 Hide
    teknomedic , December 6, 2010 11:07 PM
    "Rowe also said that a developer showed him "some of the invisible psychological devices in video games which keep players wanting more.""



  • 6 Hide
    kuroneko007 , December 6, 2010 11:33 PM
    Right, because it would be much more in both developers' and gamers' interests if games DIDN't have elements in them that made gamers want more. Duh...
  • 7 Hide
    laweinhander , December 6, 2010 11:33 PM
    The wording alone makes that quote hilarious. How do you show someone something that is invisible.
  • Display all 31 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    anacandor , December 6, 2010 11:45 PM
    A non addictive game. The perfect formula for selling a game, BBC.
  • 2 Hide
    doorspawn , December 7, 2010 12:11 AM
    I think this would be about persistence. Persistence is stuff that carries over between different play sessions (like loot, achievements, level).

    The real world and most (old) multi-player games don't have persistence, but it's becoming a big thing in games due to the fact that it makes players feel like they need to spend a lot of time playing to obtain the goal.

    Note: Persistence refers specifically to things stored by the game, not within the player (like improving soccer or RTS skills).

    I want to see persistence classified as addictive NOT because I don't like games, but because I DO like games and I think all the persistence they add makes (non RPG) games worse. (eg: SC2 achievements, TF2 persistent loot).

    IMO non-RTS multiplayer games (especially RTS's and FPS's) should be solely about skill, not about playtime and accumulating things/stats over multiple games.
  • 3 Hide
    dalethepcman , December 7, 2010 12:12 AM
    "Panorama : Addicted to Games" Hosted by Jack Thompson, and paid for by the MPAA
  • 2 Hide
    tleavit , December 7, 2010 12:20 AM
    The addiction of games is completely related to achievement (which is heavy in persistent worlds). I used to stock pile massive things in my old UO house. People get achievement out of games that they completely miss in the real world (which most of the time sucks for most people whom use games to exit this reality).
  • 3 Hide
    husker , December 7, 2010 12:29 AM
    What about people who watch the BBC for hours at a time? Are they suggesting that no one has skipped school or missed sleep in order to watch the telly?
  • 3 Hide
    wortwortwort , December 7, 2010 2:23 AM
    doorspawnIMO non-RPG multiplayer games (especially RTS's and FPS's) should be solely about skill, not about playtime and accumulating things/stats over multiple games.

    Fixed for you.
  • -3 Hide
    sudeshc , December 7, 2010 4:50 AM
    If by any chance this has any real basis and truth its serious and for children of young age could be very serious.
  • 3 Hide
    Rusty_M , December 7, 2010 5:06 AM
    It was actually a fairly balanced programme. Well as much as it can be in such a short space of time. In it's conclusion, it clearly stated that games are completely harmless to most people who play, but that certain people who have personality traits which lend themselves to addiction are at risk.

    I don't think there's any point ignoring this, and I wouldn't say the programme tried to demonise games at all. There are people who have died of exhaustion whilst playing. Another couple neglected their baby to the point of death. Others have damaged their lives to lesser degrees. These people need support. It was stated that these cases were a very small minority.
  • 2 Hide
    TheRockMonsi , December 7, 2010 5:08 AM
    I think I'm more addicted to my PC hardware than anything else. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    dEAne , December 7, 2010 5:26 AM
    "There is a world of difference between people who claim, that they are addicted to games, in scientific parlance, to drugs or alcohol. People may claim to be addicted to something like games or football, but in most cases they are not," - I believe to this.
  • 1 Hide
    blasterth , December 7, 2010 6:59 AM
    Seems he did a good job. Instead of talking about the problem of people passing all their free time (and even more) in front of a game, the discussion is about the games being an addiction or not!
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , December 7, 2010 8:58 AM
    Better getting a hit of WoW than Crack if you ask me!
  • 3 Hide
    punnar , December 7, 2010 9:55 AM
    Some people were also saying that they were addicted to pong. If games didn't have anything in them that make us wanting more then we would not have this conversation/blog today.

    Games are supposed to be fun and like anything else it should be taken/done moderately and those who would rather play games before their obligations just have their priorities all wrong.

    Don't blame the game, blame the person.
  • 0 Hide
    atdhe , December 7, 2010 11:37 AM
    Sex is addictive... oh wait!

    You know, we live and work for the things that make us addictive, it's how things work, it's how mother nature keeps us go on and produce babies.
  • 1 Hide
    beardface2 , December 7, 2010 12:02 PM
    For anyone who watched the show, it did show balance. The point being, some people have addictive personalities. You can be more prone to becoming addicted to something. And when this compulsion, replaces all other "hygiene" factors in your life (eating, washing, socialising etc), it is dangerous.
    To use some of the extreme examples above (though I've not heard of anyone reading books at the expense of all other things), it would be of a similar concern.
    Being an ex WoW player, the pressure is also not solely produced by the developer, there is also the peer pressure aspect of the Guild. In order to get the best items (and let's face it, who wouldn't want the best things), you have to be in a guild, raiding 5 times a week of which YOU WILL BE ONLINE AT X GAMETIME OTHERWISE WE'LL BOOT YOU OUT....
  • 1 Hide
    Flynn_Serlant , December 7, 2010 1:47 PM
    This has been done before:
  • 0 Hide
    guruofchem , December 7, 2010 2:37 PM
    I'm getting really tired of this ongoing attack on games - for something to be addicting in any clinical sense, there has to be a persistent change in the person's nervous system, and no one I'm aware of has ever been able to demonstrate such in a gamer. Quit using the pejorative term "addicting" when it isn't! Gaming may be a habit, and perhaps can become a compulsion to a small number of highly susceptible people, but it's not addiction...
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