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BBC Investigates Game Addiction

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.

  • teknomedic
    "Rowe also said that a developer showed him "some of the invisible psychological devices in video games which keep players wanting more.""

    O-RLY?

    LMAO

    Reply
  • kuroneko007
    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...
    Reply
  • laweinhander
    The wording alone makes that quote hilarious. How do you show someone something that is invisible.
    Reply
  • anacandor
    A non addictive game. The perfect formula for selling a game, BBC.
    Reply
  • doorspawn
    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.
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  • dalethepcman
    "Panorama : Addicted to Games" Hosted by Jack Thompson, and paid for by the MPAA
    Reply
  • tleavit
    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).
    Reply
  • husker
    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?
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  • wortwortwort
    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.
    Reply
  • sudeshc
    If by any chance this has any real basis and truth its serious and for children of young age could be very serious.
    Reply