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Rory Cellan-Jones

'Addicted' to Warcraft?

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 13 Nov 08, 08:50 GMT

Since our story on World of Warcraft "addiction" was broadcast, I've been contacted by a number of angry gamers - including a BBC colleague - who charge me with painting a tired, cliched picture of their pastime and say "addiction" isn't a word that can be applied to obsessive gamers. So here's how the story came about.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich KingWhen we started planning our treatment of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion a few days ago, it was going to cover fairly obvious angles - a global gaming phenomenon, with 11 million players from a wide age range, sets out on a new quest, which could reap its owners even greater heaps of gold than they've already accumulated.

Then my colleague Chris Vallance from iPM forwarded me two e-mails his programme had received. They were both from teachers who were deeply worried about the impact that online games were having on some of their teenage students. Each said that they'd seen students become addicted - and that had led to some dropping out of their studies. And once those messages became a topic on the iPM blog, it was World of Warcraft that was being fingered as the main source of concern.

I began to research the topic of Warcraft "addiction" further - and soon messages were flooding in. But the one that convinced me that this was a real story - not just a "games are evil" scare - came from the Tavistock Centre in London.

Dr Richard Graham is a very experienced psychiatrist who has been treating troubled adolescents for many years - the very opposite of a tabloid bandwagon-jumper. But, in very measured terms, he explained that he had been seeing an increasing number of clients for whom addiction to online games - and that meant almost exclusively World of Warcraft - was a real problem.

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He described how the teenagers lived their lives almost exclusively in this virtual world, falling behind with their studies, damaging their health, and failing to engage with their peers in the real world. "One young man described vividly to me a sense that having achieved very high success in the game, when he switched off he felt downgraded." The real world, it seems, does not retain any appeal for some who feel they can achieve more in World of Warcraft.

The young people he meets are putting in quite extraordinary hours "in-game": "Some of my clients will discuss playing for 14 or 16 hours a day without breaks and for those the consequences are very severe." And he pointed out that these were only the people who made it to his consultations - some others never turn up because they don't want to lose time that could be spent online playing the game.

After meeting Dr Graham, I headed down to the store where hundreds were queuing for the midnight launch of "Wrath of the Lich King." There were plenty of people in their 20s and 30s - and even older - who insisted, with some justification, that this was a hobby like any other. A couple who had travelled down from Gateshead to be at the launch laughed at the idea that they were "addicted". If they chose to spend their evenings on a World of Warcraft raid - quite a social experience - rather than down the pub, how did that harm anyone? Good point.

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But there was also a clutch of teenagers, expecting to get the expansion and then stay up half the night playing it. They told me that it wouldn't affect their studies - and their parents were mostly cool about it. For the majority that's probably true, but according to one study 10-15% of players do end up getting addicted.

Dr Graham says part of the problem is that young people now face so many demands at school that games can be an escape: "They experience a heightened sense of reality that is more stimulating than the drudgery of homework." But he stresses that it's no use being a Luddite about online games. "We need to engage with young people to think about these worlds they inhabit as that might help us create more of a dialogue with them when they are running into difficulties."

Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft, say the game has been given a "rest" system, which rewards players for taking a break. Paul Sams of Blizzard says parents have also been empowered: "We've put in a robust parental control system so that parents can control how much time their kids play, and when they play and it's all managed."

Millions of people are going to derive hours, days, even months of fun from Wrath of the Lich King. But for a few it will become a dangerously addictive world where they spend far too much of their time. And I don't think it is irresponsible to report that story.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for the blog Rory. I "slipped" into the habit at one point last year and what saved me i guess was that i decided to pay per month and not six months at a time. Therefore at the end of my second month when reaching for my credit car i just felt - hold on - this is a waste of money - time - effort - STOP! And so i did.

    People say it doesn't effect their studies and directly maybe it doesn't. But with hindsight all those hours i spent playing could have been taken up reading. But it's a fair point to note that it isn't any different to any other hobby. My sister for example would be spending the same amount of time watching T.V. and DVD's as i would have been spending on WoW. And if something WoW is more communal and interactive than just crashing in front of the T.V. every night.

    The problem with WoW is that the whole game is engineered to be addictive and to get you in to a headlock. First of all you've got the point and the level system you have to work through - because we're all fallen sinners we are never content so you start the night saying right I'm gonna get to lvl. 52 tonight, then you get there and it's approaching mid-night and your thinking, well i might as well keep going for a bit to see what the lvl. 52 quests are like and hey presto before you know it your deep into lvl. 52 and you just know you've blown your chances of making it to the library by 9am the next morning! The other thing that makes it addictive and gets you in a headlock the the whole Guild thing. If your in a Guild with say a gang of player around lvl. 50 then you can't take a week or two away from the game because when you get back the rest of your Guild will be deep into the lvl. 60s. You just have to keep playing daily to keep up with everyone else. Vicious circle.

    A year on and i have been "clean" for 12 months (haha, never thought i'd talk about it in this light). I probably still spend as much time in front of my Mac BUT i now do useful thing like develop websites for voluntary charities and organizations and most importantly writing my PhD!

  • Comment number 2.

    Don't get me wrong, the article was very good and to be fair this is more aimed at other such articles, is the point that anything that brings fun to the person, community, and fills some need the person has, can become dangerously addictive.
    More time should be looked at the person who is addicted rather than at the source of addiction because unlike substance such as nicotine the addictions source is the person not the product.
    I have seen people react the same way to football teams, cards, tv shows, games, video games, books, websites you name it there probably is someone out there or many who are heavily addicted to it.
    The reason why games like WoW is targeted by such articles is a lot of people don't understand the appeal, WoW specifically being the most successful of its genre and getting many new players (which tend to get more addicted to their first game, than ones which will follow) , so is an easy scapegoat to blame rather than the person him/herself
    But also arguably WoW and other online communities fill a void of friendship and community that can be lacking in many of the addicted lives, and for many even non addicted the community you meet in online games and the like can fill a niche, the fact I have met many a good friend including my current boss though online communities I can honestly say it can be a strong draw, even if the game is only temporary distraction.
    I remember seeing the same thing about AD&D when I was younger, and before that I’m pretty sure there was some other fringe pastime that was vilified while ignoring equally addictive mainstream pastimes.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't think I fit the profile of the usual World of Warcraft (WoW) player, but I thought my own experiences might be helpful - I have seen both the bad and good sides of WoW.

    I am a married dad of two teenagers, with a full-time high pressure job as a lawyer. In early 2005, I had to have a serious operation which meant I had a month at home laid-up in recovering. I was so bored I asked my wife to get me a PC game so I would have something to do - she chose WoW (the original) much to her lasting regret! I was hooked by the end of the month. Before I go any further, I do not and never have watched TV in the evenings - that is another timesink in itself.

    I think I have experienced four stages to the game, only one of which was really dangerous in my view. They are as follows:

    1. Levelling the first character to level 60/70(the previous maximum levels). This was huge fun - I made loads of mistakes, but it was fun exploring the game world, dabbling with guilds etc. I faced no time pressure to do things and could play the game at my own pace.

    2. Getting to maximum level and joining a "raiding guild". These are large groups of players who team up as raid groups of up to 40 (now reduced to 25) to tackle the tougher dungeons in WoW. This is the dangerous part of WoW so far as addiction is concerned. Flushed with success at reaching maximum level, I was flattered to be invited into a top guild, aiming at raiding on a regular basis. As a dad and husband with a full-time job, I fooled myself into thinking I could do this. The guild initially asked for four nights raiding per week (I negotiated a limit of two), but that was then increased. I neglected my family and was bad-tempered, rushing home from work to be on-line prompt for the raid and snapping at the children. I ended up at the same time slipping behind in the guild and really ticking my family off - and the pressure became too much, so I quit the guild. I did not want the game to impinge on my family life (it never affected work strangely - I never missed work or left work early for WoW - it was family time that I sacrificed rather than work time).

    3. I considered deleting the game. What stopped me was hooking up again with a group of "casuals" I had met earlier in the game - dads/mums (yes I have encountered many women who play WoW) in exactly my position - we all faced the same pressures and had decided to opt out of the endgame raiding culture. We would still play at set times - Sunday mornings and maybe one night a week - but there was no "penalty etc" for not turning up "on-line" as there had been in the raiding guilds. We use Skype when we play and we have a laugh. This is the social side of WoW, which can be great fun.

    4. As time went on, I levelled up more characters - basically, repeating stage 1 with different classes of characters. Again, there was no time pressure - I could play at my own pace. The difference this time was that all the other dads etc in my casual guild levelled up other characters at the same time, at the same leisurely pace, so we could do quests etc together if we wanted to.

    So in summary, stages 1, 3 and 4 have been great fun. Yes, at times my wife does moan, but my son and daughter both now play in the same casual guild and we have a better life balance.

    Beware though if you or your loved ones get sucked too far into endgame raiding (stage 2 in my own example). I found that many of the raiders in my guild were complete addicts, either long-term unemployed or students and even those who had given up their jobs and whose marriages had broken up due to the game. A huge number were kids - teenagers who were obviously neglecting their studies. They were "hardcore" - always on-line and always raiding. I found first that I could not compete with them due to lack of time, and then that I did not wish to. My wife gets most of the credit for knocking sense into me.

    So if your wife/husband/partner gets hooked on the game, you must not pander to their addiction. Any evening they spend on WoW should be balanced by an evening spent with you/family doing other things. In other words, suggest that they "earn" their WoW time rather than have it as of right. And never allow your kids to have a PC in their bedroom is my advice - many of those kids who were playing all night were doing so in their bedrooms without their parents' knowledge.

    I hope the above experience is of interest. In short I have had the game for nearly 3 and a half years. I play less often than I used to but with increased enjoyment when I do. I am really looking forward to exploring the expansion. People just need to enjoy the game, like all good things, in moderation.

  • Comment number 4.

    I played a variety of games throughout my teenage years and at university. During my final year I bought World of Warcraft on the day it came out.

    The issue of games addiction is one I have real uncertainties about. I play computer games on and off, usually for a couple of hours two or three times a week. On occasion, having just bought a new game or rediscovering an old one, I have played for whole days, sometimes til four or five in the morning, sometimes for a week or so. Many people I know who play games casually show similar behavioural patterns.

    Those who play these games are generally intelligent enough to make the obvious comparisions with TV or drinking in the pub - surely no less futile - yet the doubt I have about this argument is that, presuming you recognise both to be fairly futile, why not do something more productive? I certainly feel every so often that if I had made better use of the time I spent gaming I could have learned a new skill or maybe not had so many mornings half asleep at school.

    World of Warcraft is unique in its popularity, reasonably so in its online social capacity, but not unique for it's addictiveness. The real challenge is that it is so colossal in size that the addictiveness - usually resolved by completing the game - is long term. As it is a subscription rather than flat fee game it is in the manufacturer's interest to draw out the experience for as long as possible.

    There are countless arguments against treating moderate to heavy gaming as an addiction - the relief of drudgery, online friends, harmlessness etc. I just can't help but feel there is a bit more to life than this.

  • Comment number 5.

    Yet again the media paints a picture of sad individuals locked into their PC for 12-15 hours every day.

    I have a full time job and when I get home I want to relax and chill out. I used to do this by watching TV programmes I didn't really take much interest in, or watching DVDs I'd already seen dozens of time.

    How then is World of Warcraft different to watching TV for 2-3 hours (which is the most I can ever manage before going to bed!)?

    Well for a start the social aspect. I have met a lot of friends on this game and a lot of colleagues from work play the game together.

    Like anything, whether it be films, consoles, tv it is about restraint and responsibility. Set yourself a couple of hours to play and then that's it. Like anything there are always extreme cases, and people who take it far too seriously, but isn't that the same as TV?

    Please don't tarnish the gaming community when the reporter probably hasn't even played it

  • Comment number 6.

    I think that this is a good article because it is true. But I would like to see more than just computer games being questioned in terms of their potentially detrimental impact upon human health/wellbeing. We need to question much more widely the impact that computers and the internet (so called "networking") are having upon our lives. Most of us probably spend more time talking to a computer (at work alone!) than to other human beings. I would like to see a similar article to this covering the potentially detrimental affects of over-using a "social-networking" site such as Facebook in particular though...

  • Comment number 7.

    i am a current world of warcraft subscriber and i just thought id make a comment as to offer the vue of a player

    i have been playing W.o.W for just under 2 years now and i agree it can become addictive i am 22 atm and i have played this game for the majority of my time in the past year

    but as of teenage kids playing i for one feel its better to have your children playing a computer game rather than going out and joining gangs

    or maybe getting hooked on drugs i mean sure it can have bad effects due to lack of sleep but theres a hell of a lot less risks of your children dieng of a warcraft overdose

    in a way its better that your children are playing a game where they are meeting people and bieng social on a game i mean it offers a lot in the way of people to talk to in all age ranges

    but i dont want to sound pushy for the pro wow scene as a player i will tell the parents this if you feel uncomftable you can go into the account management part of the site and restrict the hours your child plays

    i only offer this information as i dont want to say a game that offers a release from the stresses of everyday life if u still feel after limiting your childs play through the site then set them goals outside wow give them incentives to be playing i mean your probably the one paying for this in any case

    so just make sure theyre doing things to earn theyre play because when it comes to the payment date your child will be nice to you just make sure that u dont feel as if u have to pay for them to play it is a priveledge not a right

    any way il stop going on now thats just my opinion

    thanks for reading

    dave

  • Comment number 8.

    Addiction should be defined here.

    If you are putting aside other activities for a game, no matter the cost i.e. Not going out with friends, spending time with the wife etc etc, then you have an addiction.

    If however you are playing a game for 4 hours a night instead of watching TV, then I view this as not an addiction but a past time, hobby etc.

    Arguabley TV is an addiction as millions of people sit in front of the telly every night watching the BBC. Is that harmful? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 9.

    As an emerging - some would say emergent - medium the impact of gaming is still being explored.

    Unsurprisingly incumbent media and the pre-gaming generation question the impact gaming is having, while at the same time not question how long people watch TV, read books, go to football matches, sit in the pub, gamble, etc

    Gaming needs to be put into contex of the wider social activity spectrum.

    Then we can get a sense of its impact.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is nothing new - people have been obsessing over games for years http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/11/dayintech_1113 but also films, tv, musicals, etc. You only have to look at the conventions and fan communities online and offline. If anything World of Warcraft looks far more social and interactive than the above example (asteroids) so it is a vast improvement. If kids are spending this much time online then it needs to be regulated by their parents.

  • Comment number 11.

    Interesting article and I agree with many of the comments other people have posted but thought I would add my own slant. You see I run one of the "guilds" mentioned in these comments and have created and led high end raiding parties to instances in the past.

    The Raid culture in wow was what caused me issues, not the guild system. It's important to make it clear that not all guilds are raiding guilds. My guild for example is a group of mature adult gamers from all over Europe who want to play with a group of mature players and ultimately make friends.

    We would have regular events from instances to fun challenges, social meetings and more. In fact our guild has worked so well that I've made many friends outside of the game and have visited fellow "guildies" thoughout the UK, Holland, Germany and Belgium. The social side of WoW is fantastic both in and outside of Azeroth.

    Sadly though the end-game activities at the time in WoW all required 40 players, these raids could take anything from 6 - 8 hours depending and although immenseley fun they do take their toll. As an IT freelancer working all over the world there was very little to do in the evenings, it was either sit in the hotel bar or find some other sort of entertainment. So raiding was a great option and cheap to boot.

    The issues arose however when I would return to the UK and neglect my partner who suffered immense frustration because I'd still want to play at the weekend.

    Eventually like anything though I tired of the politics involved in raiding and to be honest like any game after a while you can lose interest. This is what has happened to WoW over the last 12 -18 months and what ultimately saved my relationship.

    Blizzard to their credit is trying to change some of the end game to allow the "casual" gamer to also be able to obtain some of the rewards of the "hard core" raider but there is still some work to be done here at present. But, by reducing the numbers required for instances it allows the casual players who can't commit to spending all evening in a 40 man raid to at least see some of the end game content with their friends which, is really all that most casual gamers want.

    I still play and I still run the guild and my partner now understands that whereas some people enjoy television, dvd's or even console gaming, I enjoy on line games. It's just a case of finding the right balance, which I think is harder for younger players than older. The game is growing and Blizzards quest for mmporg domination means they must appeal to players of all sorts in order to grow their subscription base that bit further and with competitors constantly emerging (WAR especially) the future should be really interesting.

    Now excuse me while I go level my deathknight :)

    Jak'arth Zha Xundus
    Guild Leader COTM

  • Comment number 12.

    Why does the BBC always like taking a swipe at Warcraft? The BBC is showing its disdain and lack of respect for young people. The only way a young person can become addicted to something such as Warcraft is by parental ignorance. The game supplies all the tools to restrict usage that a parent could wish for. You will probably find parents who are involved in gaming to any degree have children who have a lot more self discipline when it comes to gaming, Comment#3 is a shining example that when a parent educates themselves using interactive entertainment they can educate their children better. Again lets stop blaming anyone else other than the parents.

    The Buck Stops with them. PERIOD.

    I'm a 24 year old Dad and played Warcraft for 2 years when it was released. I was able to realise the pointless waste of energy the game in itself is. My gaming is now limited to my Xbox which I use as a tool to keep myself close with my younger brothers. I feel that thanks to the way society is moving forward with this particular medium it is my responsibility to continue educating myself with where gaming is and where its going as it is inevitable that my son will discover it eventually.

    Oh and on a side note its funny how the BBC can't say enough good things about EVE: Online in contrast. Is this because as this page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7256069.stm states that it is used by people involved in economics which is particularly centred around London. As we all know the BBC is also situated there and I imagine most of the staff are too. They wouldn't take potshots at those who are referred to as "educated" just the rest of the "uneducated" masses that live elsewhere in our nation.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is simply an issue of bad parenting.

    World of Warcraft is very immersive and incredibly fun to play, which can lead to people wanting to spend a lot of time in it. The emphasis here is on "want" not "need", the difference between a passtime and an addiction. It does not punish people for not playing it, it does not compel people to play it, in fact it does give rewards, as already stated, for taking a break then returning (by logging off, you gain points later, twice as fast).

    Certainly, there are some people who may form an addiction around it, but they are no more likely to have such a problem around World of Warcraft than they are any other passtime, be it football, poker, drinking, other video games, whatever. For adults, we expect them to be able to handle themselves, and for children, we expect their parents to handle them.

    World of Warcraft includes several features of parental control. It allows a maximum amount of time per day of play. It also constrains play to particular hours, so for instance a child could not play after 10pm.

    If these features are not used, it's the parents who are to blame. If they do not know what their children are doing, and their kids' studies and social lives are suffering because they have a hobby that is taking over their life unchecked, it's the parents' negligence that is causing it. They should be able to handle what their children are doing to ensure it doesn't get out of hand. The fact the company provides tools to automate this makes it even easier.

  • Comment number 14.

    Through college, I heavily played an MMORPG myself, and I know that in theory, if I had not played so much, I could have had better A-level results.

    In practice, however, is an entirely different story. Dr Graham talks about the demands of schoolwork, however the culture within schools has always been a far greater issue.

    Bullying and peer pressure is rife, and as another news story today shows, what most kids aspire to is celebrity, an impossible goal. In many areas, there is no real escape from the atmosphere of school, as the sole young people around are either from your school, or have so many ties to others from your school that any problems still carry on through.

    MMORPGs offer an escape, a means (along with other internet social activities) to make new friends, away from the problems of the schoolyard. They offer a sense of achievement, and can open up new possibilities to people (consider what you learn in organising and running a guild, for example).

    I would argue that, for many teenagers, the problems of MMORPG addiction have as much to do with poor conditions in "the real world" as they do with the games themselves.

  • Comment number 15.

    The comments from WoW players attacking this article on here are astonishing!
    Would those contributors moaning that WoW is no less productive than going to the pub be equally as offended by an article about alcoholism?

    I doubt it, and I can only conclude that those taking offence are either in denial or have an enormous chip on their shoulder.

    Why should this kind of obssessive behaviour be immune from journalistic examination?

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm not sure if addiction is the right term but spending long hours playing computer games is not new.

    I remember spending long nights and weekends playing "Elite" in the late 80's. Again, the idea was to gain status and money and the only way to do that, is to put the time in.

    I do remember that leaving my computer was difficult at times because I wanted to achieve a particular goal before ending the session. I just had to put my trust in the "Save" function.

  • Comment number 17.

    I've played WoW since the live date, im in my mid 40's and play with a group of friends from real life (yes I do have one).

    I probably do exhibit some addictive tendencies towards WoW, in that most evenings I get bored watching TV by 9 and find myself itching to play. This is probably more of a statement on the quality of TV these days than anything.

    The parental controls thing is good as far as it goes, but i do wonder how many parents know about it and have the confidence to set it up. Both my sons play and when they were still at school I set these controls up accordingly. These days if they don't do their chores I disconnect the internet :) However as they have developed socially in real life with girlfriends and such like, WoW is becoming a very poor second best.

    WoW is definately designed to make you keep playing, take a look at the Achievements system recently introduced, how many players have been trying to get those 100 recipes, or 50 mounts, 25 pets anyone? and so it goes on.

    Anyhow, off to work out the talent spec for my Death Knight :)

  • Comment number 18.

    Many people are scared of these games because they themselves do not play them so cannot relate to why other people would want to spend time doing it. But we've been here before. Remember when everyone was talking about the "idiot box" or "that damn racket" (aka music the older generation didn't like/understand)?

    It's easy to be on one side of the extreme with computer games - either that they're just fun, or that they're evil. In reality it's in the middle. These games can be enormous fun, and they can become an addiction. It's like anything else - drinking, watching TV, listening to certain types of music, etc. In modest amounts there's nothing wrong with it, but an excess is a bad idea.

    The answer is simple. For adults, put aside specific amounts of time to play and don't go over it. For people with children, don't allow the computer or games console to be a right - make it a privilege. If your kids do their homework, eat properly, get a good night's sleep, etc then there shouldn't be a problem.

    I agree with earlier comments that children get addicted through bad/indifferent parenting. Mums and dads have to step up to the plate rather than avoid becoming unpopular with their kids.

  • Comment number 19.

    First up, I'm not a WoW player. I have, however, played a number of similar online games (Everquest, EQ2, EVE Online, etc.) over the course of the last 5 years, and whole-heartedly agree that there is a point at which computer gaming of this sort develops into an "addiction", having experienced it myself. I use this term because it behaved in a very similar way to a drug addiction; I was routinely and regularly spending time on the game, when I knew that I had more important (university/work) things to be doing, but this didn't matter to me. It nearly cost me my degree, but I stopped myself just in time - for reference, it was far harder than quitting smoking.

    Part of the problem that this caused for me was that very few people are prepared to accept or understand this, from doctors to lecturers to colleagues, despite people from each of these groups being understanding towards my peers who were suffering from substance addictions. This creates a kind of stigma around speaking out about the problem of gaming addictions that is harmful to people undergoing them.

    That said, I think some people are too quick to categorise individuals as gaming addicts; I would not describe my current playing habits of around 8-9 hours a week to be evidence of such an addiction, and yet some would given that I play on a daily basis.

  • Comment number 20.

    Rory, you've made one simple mistake here. If the concern is about young people spending a ridiculous amount of time playing the game, and given that any parent can set the controls of the game to limit and regulate the time spent on it, then this should be an article about poor parenting, not an article about a dangerous computer game. Please stop demonising a genre of entertainment that gives so much harmless pleasure to so many, and address the real causes of any problems that might occur. Your article bordered on sensationalism.

  • Comment number 21.

    Computer games are the new rock'n'roll.

    By which I mean it's something that the chattering classes are up in arms about because it's a new phenomenom that they don't understand. Of course we all know that what we don't understand must be addictive, detrimental to health and possibly incite people to either sex or murder.

    On the other hand, by all accounts, WoW can be stunningly addicitve, though it's never appealed to me.

    What we need is to be very, very careful about with this entire situation is tarring all games and all game players with the same brush. Most games do not inspire this level of devotion, and most people realise that gaming is a hobby, a really great hobby, even a lifestyle, but not a replacement for real life.

    As with most things in life, there are and will be people that can't handle it and go too far - cf. drugs, sex, alcohol, skydiving, knitting - but these things vary in their consequences. We have to be very sure of what sort of a society we create when we choose to regulate any of these things for the sake of the very few.

  • Comment number 22.

    When you talk about addictions i know i could be doing a lot worse things in life than playing warcraft in the evenings. At least when i'm raiding i have to use my brain and think about what i'm doing, rather than just mindlessly watching the TV.

    There are a lot of studies about warcraft and other mmorpg's as well that list good things that have come from the game. Like learning abilities such as leadership, teamwork and man management which are very important in the real world.

    I do know any addiction is a bad thing but at the same time there are a lot worse things in the world that myself or others could be addicted to. I have met many good people through warcraft and have visited some as far away as australia where they looked after me as well as a family member might.

    And its more the people and the socialising i get addicted to rather than the gaming side. But at the same time i do get out regularly to go to sports events and nights out. Its all about balance, and taking everything in moderation.

  • Comment number 23.

    At #15 as the article primarily focuses on young peoples addiction then yes we would be offended at a similar article about alcohol.

    This article is removing parental responsibility from the factors of game addiction and focusing on the game.

    If a similar article did the same thing blaming TV Adverts for alcohol you would probably get a similar response.

    Most people again would defend drinking for everyone, even for younger people so long as the parents educated their kids and brought them up to have self discipline with drink.

    Again the parents are the only people to blame for their kids behaviour.

  • Comment number 24.

    From Jazz to Horror Comics through Rock and Roll to Dungeons and Dragons then Computer Games and now Online Gaming the press has found an ideal target for writing stories like this one. They appeal to a wide readership either horrified by the harm to kid or kids who are offended by the inaccuracies and broad brush descriptions.

    Yes I'm one of the people who's enjoyed some (not all) of these and for 20 years found the claims made about them to have little in common with my experience of any of the activities.

    Over the years professionals in various fields and concerned pressure groups (some eventually shown to have hidden agendas to push, political campaigns to start rolling or books to promote) have provided studies of the damage figures are quoted levels of addiction, cost or suicide. I wouldn't mind so much but usually the figures start to fall apart when a back of the envelope calculation is carried out.

    Take this story as an example: 11 million registered players for World of Warcraft. 10-15% become addicted. That equates to 1.1-1.65million addicts worldwide. I'll leave it to others to draw their own conclusions from those figures but I don't see a horde of Warcraft destroyed souls wandering the streets begging for the £8.99 a month subscription any more than I see a large number of older people whose lives have been ruined by their rock and roll habit from their youth.

    Maybe an interesting article would consider the widespread use by journalists of the word addiction. Then place this addiction in the context of a spectrum of addictions from illegal drug use through alcohol and tobacco on to football and people who regularly buy books, magazines and go to their local library. Finally you could look at how journalists are addicts to writing articles about addictions.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm not surprised that this argument has resurfaced again, but the story makes me as weary as the 'are A-levels too easy?' debate that happens every year. I can't blame a reporter for reporting, but equally you can't blame the majority of us (who manage to play WoW and enjoy a balanced life) for getting cheesed when the addictive types give us a bad name.

    WoW is fairly accessible, so lots of people will play it and enjoy it. Therefore, numerically, you're bound to find more people for whom playing has become disproportionately important.

    I bought WoW a couple of years ago and have bought a copy of the new expansion. However, with this, as with all my hobbies, I will continue to ask myself one simple quesion: Is this activity serving me (i.e. providing a few hours of fun/escapism/social interaction) or am I serving it? As an adult, no one can absolve me of the responsibility to monitor my own behaviour. If I can't maintain a balance then it is not the fault of the people who make the game. Where youngsters are involved then parents need to ask this question on their behalf until they kids are old enough to judge when they are becoming over-absorbed.

    Isn't the real problem that too many of us want someone else to take responsibility when we don't/can't control ourselves?

  • Comment number 26.

    I like the way all the WoWers are on here claiming they don't have a problem and the game is good and a social experience. Like smoking or drinking, i suppose. Or even talking to people "IRL".

    I know someone who plays this for several hours a night every week. He's mentioned that he can't do anything on a couple weekdays in the evenings as he is "raiding". He gets home from work and sits there until midnight (or later) without a break. He playes weekends too. His hours will probably go up considerably for the next couple of weeks until he's got all the new shinies. I imagine this is familiar to lots of people. I find it mind-boggling that someone would do this, but he's a big boy and it's ultimately his choice.

    I'm pretty sure that, regardless of the opinions of hardcore WoWers, this sort of behaviour could be classified as a sort of addiction. And before you start on me, I don't own a tv and I play games myself.

    Just don't stab me with your pointy hat of solitude +3.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have absolutely nothing against gamers; I'm not a gamer myself.

    I feel (and I wonder if others agree) that there's a fundamental, if intangible, difference between, for example, playing football and gaming; practicing the piano and gaming; reading and gaming; even going to the pub and gaming.

    When you're gaming, to a fairly large extent, the game happens to YOU (though I appreciate the problem-solving involved.) If you're practicing the piano, YOU happen to the piano. If you're playing football, YOU run after the ball. I suppose I'm saying playing football is active, gaming is passive. I think this is significant when considering the question of gaming addiction.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'd like to see a more balanced study on the affects of online gaming. Given that we have a youth crime problem, youth alcoholism problem and youth drug problem I find it hard to believe that games don't balance out their influence on the world. Also, there are many different online games, more people don't play warcraft than play warcraft (in this genre) so limiting opinion and study to warcraft is going to give a very small subset of the real picture.

    You also omitted the fact that Blizzard added alarms, warnings & frequent messages about excessive online play.

    5 years ago it was 'chat rooms are addictive and dangerous'. 12-16 year olds are a vulnerable demographic that seek escapism, maybe we should be studying whats so wrong with the real world that these kids desperately seek to leave it regularly.

  • Comment number 29.

    I decided to delete WoW some months back when I realised I was prioritising it over outside social commitments. I haven't looked back since.

    I'm a bit embarrassed about the time I spent in the game now, which was fun, agreed, but ultimately nothing more than a huge waste of time.


  • Comment number 30.

    All I know is that it has almost wrecked my son's A level chances. My son was addicted to wow. By the time I discovered what he was doing it was almost too late. It is an extremely addictive game and unfortunately some people are far more easily addicted than others. As with addiction to other vices it can depend on your personality and even on your genetic make-up.

    Personally I think these games are a 'thief of time' and will have a considerable detremental effect on future society unless the problem is flushed out and discussed in the open. Too many people (often with low self esteem) are finding comfort from living in a virtual world. With these games becoming more and more sophisticated the situation will probably only get worse.

  • Comment number 31.

    The idea of addiction to Warcraft is nothing new and has been widely reported. It seems most articles about the game are about a problem that only affects a small number of players written by people who have probably never even played it.

    I wrote my honours dissertation about MMORPGs and there are certainly addictive features - the sense of achievement, the social networks formed and the short and long term goals in the game and I don't deny that some people will succum to some form of addiction but the way these articles report about the game they make it sound like everyone that plays it is a teenage junkie. This is a misrepresentation as players of all ages can experience this dependency on the game and its certainly not as serious an addiction as something like drugs or alcohol.

    It seems the emerging media is always villianised until it is accepted into the wider mainstream. Similar witchhunts have occured for most forms of the media. Films and television have been the blame for corrupting our society in the past, even books were feared in the past. Now these people are looking at World of Warcraft and other computer games and blaming all of societies problems on them. Its seems WoW is blamed more than other games for these problems as well which I find odd as I think playing a social game which encourages you to think and develop such as Warcraft is far more healthy than sitting staring at the TV.

    It would be refreshing to see a writer take a different slant on the game. Like the help WoW has provided for some disabled players who are able to experience free movement in the game, or the fact that it has been used by cancer patients during chemotherapy as its immersive nature helps patients distract themselves from the side-effects better than things like tv and music.

    The way all players of Warcraft are tarred with the same brush bothers me. If the writers actually bothered to play the game for a while and talk to some of the players they would see how diverse the player base is. I'm a player and I certainly don't have the time to play for 12 hours in a row and I certainly won't be skipping out on a night out with friends in order to 'get my fix'.

  • Comment number 32.

    As a WoW player, I know it's definitely possible for some people to become addicted to the game. Addicted is the right word, despite what some people before me have said, because they re-arrange their whole life around playing the game. For most people, however, this isn't the case - they may have the occasional very long session or regular 2-3 hour sessions but for the most part, that's just as healthy as sitting in front of the television or doing the crosswords.

    The thing that springs to my mind, however, is that the same people that are addicted to Warcraft would be addicted to something else if they had to give the game up. At a base price of 9 pounds a month (less if you pay in longer installments) I doubt a WoW addiction is as bad as other things. It's certainly cheaper than gambling, less physically harmful than cocaine or nicotine and less anti-social than alcoholism.

  • Comment number 33.

    I had to add my comments as I feel that the article does touch on some important aspects of online gaming.

    There is a conflict of responsibilities involved with the gaming companies. As has been pointed out in earlier comments, Blizzard, in this case, has a vested interest in getting gamers addicted to WoW but, to be honest, constant playing doesn't make any difference to them because you are still paying the same subscription whether you play 12 hours a day, 7 days a week as you are if you play 4 hours spread over 3 days.

    Parents are much maligned in this case but it is not necessarily their fault either - I am not a parent. I have been playing WoW for years and I don't know how to use the parental controls so how are those parents who have never played the game in their lives supposed to know? It is not xactly marketed as the main selling point...

    I don't believe that playing WoW instead of sitting gawping at the TV is harmful. The social aspect of MMOs is, for me anyway, the best part. I hate soloing my characters and if no members of my guild are online, I will log off and do something else.

    If a player has more than one account and spends the majority of their waking hours in front of the computer screen then I believe they have a problem. The problem comes when players in the game world are praised to the hilt about their achievements, when in the real world their self esteem might not be the best. They then feel more valued in the game world than the real world and therefore spend more time there.

    My final thought is that MMOs are a good way of meeting (online) friends and experienceing teamwork, thinking tactically, problem solving, developing an idea of economics. However, players should also be encouraged to take up physical activity and limit their gameplay (though as soon as the nanny state suddenly interjects with a piece of legislation restricting avalability I am leaving the country)

  • Comment number 34.

    It's all about whether you're sensible and in the right mind to know whether you're excessing or not.

    I recently started WoW myself just before Halloween. Before I started, I did feel a bit wary of the whole thing - the horror stories, addiction clubs, a video I saw on YouTube showing the life of an Australian boy who spent countess hours raiding whilst his mother was sobbing in the next room about how she'd 'lost her son' etc etc...

    But for goddness sake's it's just a game when you get down to it and see the 'world of Azeroth' yourself, and a fun one at that if you play it in moderation.

    I started myself because having finished High School, College, a 2 year University course for my HND and securing a steady job in the Computing industry, I now have the time to pick up little hobbies like this to pass the time in the evenings.

    Personally, I don't play for more than a few hours a night, I break up my sessions and log straight off for bed at 11 so I'm not so cranky at work the next day!


    I think there's been a huge amount of hype over the dangers of this game but in the end it's the player behind the game that makes it this way - it's as addictive as you make it.

  • Comment number 35.

    #30 "All I know is that it has almost wrecked my son's A level chances."

    No, your son has almost wrecked his A-level chances by playing the game too much.

    I made a mess of my first a year at university largely through playing too much online "Quake". But it was my fault for choosing the easy, pleasurable passtime rather than working. Not the game's fault for existing.

  • Comment number 36.

    Well either Dr Richard Graham has a very poor understanding of the principles of cause and effect, or more likely the BBC misrepresented his opinions.

    You should take a look at some Year 11 kids - it happens in other years too, but it is more noticable in their final year. You can spot the kids that know they're not getting anything out of their exams and don't see the point in being there anymore. They spend their time griefing their teachers and other students because...well, what else is there to do?

    If they manage to find something (whether it be WoW or football) that makes them feel like they actually achieved something do you think they'll put more energy into the thing that makes them feel good or the thing that makes them feel like a failure? So why do you expect kids that believe themselves to be failures at school to walk away from their successes in WoW/whatever and spend more time on being a "failure"? Would you?

    It's not a case of WoW pulling kids away from their studies, it's a case of schools pushing kids to WoW. If you want to stop the effect then the kids need to feel like they achieve great things at school. Hardly simple, but then again neither is creating something as successful as WoW.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think the issue is systematic with everything else in today's society of too much TV, too much lethargy and people to scared to go out into the world due to a perceived idea that they will get hurt. Kids/ teenagers just don't go out and have fun in the great outdoors or kick a ball round the garden as much - their general health suffers.

  • Comment number 38.

    It's a shame when people, mostly the target readership of this blog and/or the original report, fail to understand something and are out to demonize it at the first opportunity.

    I am a World of Warcraft player for over three years now but I am also currently working a placement in between my second and third years of a Computer Science degree. I have always had steady relationships and a reasonable level of academic performance. I also have a large circle of "real life" friends and healthy relationships with my coworkers.

    The flaw with every "non-biased" news source that chooses to comment on the "problem" (I feel like I'm using inverted commas too much but then the article warrants it) is that you enter with the idea that you either play the game or you're an impartial observer.

    You talk about your time interacting with those waiting to pick up Wrath of the Lich king as if they were wasting their time. You obviously believe that this isn't just any other hobby which is an opinion which totally poisons everything you write on the topic.

    I find it rather peculiar that you have a psychotherapist as a reputable source in spite of the fact that he earns his money from convincing people (call me a pessimist) that there are problems with their lives. This man's livelihood is directly connected to the subject in a way that will blur his viewpoint.

    Like many of the commentators above me I agree that the media is just demonizing video games in the exact same way it has done with every major media to date. Have you ever considered that the kids playing these games excessively and tanking their grades simply need better parents to say no?

    Quite frankly I would rather my children (when I have them) spent their time on a MMO video game than in front of the television because at least it engages their brain and gives them social exposure.

    Then again, I suppose you wouldn't know anything about MMOs. From your writings it's obvious you think they do nothing but turn people into mindless drones.

    You're mistaken, that's what happens when you watch too much BBC news.

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm an established member of the European Gaming Community and I will say this.

    World of Warcraft IS an addiction - and it IS dangerous.

    For anyone out there playing more than 2 hours a night (14 hours a week) - i'm sorry, but you ARE addicted.

    Shortly after starting World of Warcraft, you realise that the entire point in the game, is to play it NON-STOP.

    Yes that's right - the entire point in the game (if you want to progress to the top) - is to have no life.

    There is no way to actually progress in any real way, without sacrificing your social life, study, or job.

    Anyone who says WoW isn't a problem to teenagers, is wrong.

    First hand, I can tell you it is a distraction from study. For people with very little willpower, it is precisely what takes the mind off the problems of essays, University, and study, and precisely the thing that ruins your degree, or A-Levels.

    If a person has willpower, and is able to play a few hours per week, and limit it to that - then GOOD.

    But sadly most people do not, they have purchased a game, and want to experience it to the full - so they spend ENTIRE WEEKS infront of a PC playing WoW.

    I suggest parents take much stricter measures to limit internet access and access to the family PC in future... otherwise we might have a generation of fat useless role-players.

    Anyone who says WoW isn't a problem, is WRONG.

    Thankyou.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think some people need to re-read the article, as the attacks on it are some what misguided.

    I definitely agree with the points made about addiction to the game and addiction in general needs highlighting a lot more, as it can come in many guises. The addiction mentioned in the article I think is the tip of the iceberg especially when you take in to account the darker aspects that come with the addiction's extreme side. We've already had stories this year where people have actually killed others for an in-game 'items' (other games if I remember rightly).

    I applaud Blizzard for attempting to reassert responsible gaming and in general they do have a win formula, unfortunately for them it does mean more responsibility. With a nigh on 60% market share of online gaming/MMORPG they are the Microsoft of this strand of the industry so naturally they will attract more of the media attention (especially if there is a negative aspect to their product).

    The only comfort we can take from those that are addicted is at least they are addicted to a computer game, in terms of health worries it's not as severe as a drug or alcohol addiction, which is what they would be on if they didn't have WoW. Someone with an addiction has it in them to be so, what they are addicted to just depends on what was on offer at any particular time.

    As for me, I play WoW, have done for over 3 years now. I'm lucky in that I could never succumb to addition thanks to my job, there are times when I get home and just can't stomach looking at a computer again. My wife plays as well, although slightly less than me so neither of us can afford the time to be hardcore raiders. It is very much a hobby, one that has creative input and a lot of money invested in over the years, occasionally, like tomorrow, I have the day booked off work (holiday needs using up before I loose it) and intend to play all day on the new expansion pack, well not all day as I have a friend's party to go to in the evening. But as I said I'm lucky some aspects of my life get in the way of me becoming addicted, but I could also see I someone could become so and there isn't anyone to really directly blame.

  • Comment number 41.

    My ex partner was an avid WOW player and I think his obsession with the game was in part responsible for our break up. I would never have a relationship with a gamer again.

    Once gaming interfers with your everyday life, then I think it is a problem - even if you are not techincally addicted. My ex would try to avoid social events, or attend them and sulk because he was missing a raid. He would be unavailable for whole days and evenings while he raided. He would lie about why he hadn't answered phone calls. It affected his work (days off due to 'illness' - i.e. tired after late-night playing).

    I tried to understand and take an interest but I could not see the attraction - for anyone, let alone a fully grown man. I did find myself judging him and had little respect left for him when we broke up.

    Perhaps he's now with a fellow gamer and it will work out for them. Good luck to them. I'm looking for a man interested in real life...

  • Comment number 42.

    @#39

    In my opinion, this is the kind of approach that creates some of the biggest problems in addressing real cases of "addiction".

    "For anyone out there playing more than 2 hours a night (14 hours a week) - i'm sorry, but you ARE addicted."

    Sorry, but you're either incorrect, or your logic is incomplete. I spend more than 14 hours some weeks on the BBC News website, more than that playing various games, and more than that watching television. Yet, I'm sorry, but I don't consider myself addicted to any of them.

    The reason why: I'm no more irritable, cranky, or desperate to do any of these things if I haven't had a chance recently. Addiction requires a negative effect from withdrawal, which is not present in everyone meeting your arbitrary 14-hour criteria.

  • Comment number 43.

    Anything with the potential to fill a void, provide respite from a life lacking or a life someone's not that happy with can become addictive. Gaming is no different, especially on-line gaming where the emphasis is on multiplayer, with other real people. It's very easy to connect with the other players, working towards common goals with them (questing, item collecting, completing difficult objectives together, levelling up characters) and having fun in the process. With so many people playing there are a lot of potential friendships to be made. It's understandable to see how this safe inconsequential on-line life can appeal and easy to see how someone with an addictive personality could get hooked.

    I've been a WoW player since its launch and have had time to open and grow a business which now employs 10 people but then again I, thankfully, don't have an addictive personality so I'm able to balance my pleasurable pastimes (WoW included) with my other commitments.

  • Comment number 44.

    MMO games allow for a more varied interaction compared to the linear arcade games you see on the consoles, you are able to run at your own pace & stop when you feel like it unlike arcade games that have fixed dynamics.

    I do not think they are addictive though.

  • Comment number 45.

    James(number 38)
    A couple of points. First of all Dr Graham is a psychiatrist not a psychotherapist. He does not seek out adolescents to treat, they are referred to him by a GP.

    Secondly, you are right that I have no direct experience of playing MMOs but I do have a son who plays Warcraft, and manages to keep it within sensible limits so that it does not prevent him from studying or having a social life. And I think I've made it clear in the post that for millions of people it's just as valid as any other hobby.

    Finally, I completely agree that it's up to parents to learn more about games so that they can have an informed discussion with their children about them.

    By the way, the volume and quality of responses to this post have been fantastic. Thanks to all for engaging in the debate.

  • Comment number 46.

    I feel that an element of balance need be brought to the argument here. Addiction is the wrong word to use. It would be more correct to say that certain gamer demographs "Prefer" WoW to the real world.

    Allow me to elaborate. I once ran a computer store in Glasgow. As well as laptops and desktops, the store also sold games, including predecessors of the current WoW. There was a specific group within the gaming comunity who took a particular interest in WoW. Everyone not part of this group knows someone who is. At primary school, he was the one who was ostracized from all of the social groups. At high school he had no friends and was often called a creep. Were he at school today, he would have a new and less provocative lable. He (or indeed, She) would be reffered to as having "Special Needs."

    More often than not, this person has an Autism-related condition, ranging from the very mild to severe and complex. Socially awkward and often uncomprehending of suble communication such as eye contact, these "Wierdos" are banashed from social circles and treaded with scorn and derision by there peers.

    In WoW however, they find release. In a world where they can indulge their fantasy and become what they cannot in the real world, is it any surprise that they choose to reside in the comparative safety of cyberspace safe from those that would inflict pain upon them.

    I do not condone spending days at a time locked in a world that is essentially pretend. It is an external stimulus that allows them to feel in control, not really that different from an alcoholic finding solace. It is not healthy to waste vast tracts of time a la Matrix, but untill we as a culture learn to offer our weak a little more tolerance and teach our children to celebrate our differences rather than deride them, then people will continue to hide from the real world.

    If you disagree with anything I have said, please post in reply, but before you do so, think back to your childhood and adolecence. Were you welcomed by your peers or shunned. More importantly, how did you treat those around you?

  • Comment number 47.

    Every big online game gets this: Everquest was called Evercrack. Its a joke - i've played WOW since the start and i've seen friends play way too much wow for months, but then just stop. I've stopped for 3 months and only went back to it when i've been bored. More people are addicted to TV (i watch about 4 hours a week). It's the personality of the person that is addicted to anything more then anything else, so if people are addicted to "A" game, then its better then them turning to drugs or drink. When i hear about people mugging old ladies to pay for their account, then i will put it under the title "Addiction"...

  • Comment number 48.

    Interesting points being made in the comments and from the article.

    I am 43, Ive been playing online games since about 2002, some heavily like WoW, prior to that I played sport for 15 years with the same level of "enthuasiasm" (addiction).

    This game has all the elements that will attract addicts - immersive, self rewarding, self esteem generation and escapism.

    Yes there are parental controls but frankly with the poor parenting about these days I doubt these are effectively policed, and yes I can see teenagers that I play with obviously becoming addicted.

    But.....the brutal facts are that if it wasnt this online game, it would be something else as I believe that this issue really stems from personality make up and peer and parental control.

    I personally play too much, why? Because I enjoy it and frankly the output of television these days has sunk to lows that make very little of it attractive to watch.

    Facts are this is a brilliant product - I think many companies would dance in the streets at the prospect of having 11m customers worldwide, and we can knock it in impact terms but the issue of reducing addiction to it lies 110% with the player/their parents, not the game.

    I will be skipping the exciting east enders tonight - and will be embarking on the ship to Northrend to battle against the scourge of undead there - because lets face it ......the story line is FAR more credible !!!

  • Comment number 49.

    i think that it is important not to have a knee jerk reaction on either side to articles like this.
    The cases of addiction are extreme but unfortunately they do occur.

    I have been playing different games including WoW for the last few years and have come across people who have allowed the game to take an unhealthy hold of their life. I spoke to one guy recently who had been stealing from their parents to pay for a "gold seller" to send them gold in game.

    At the moment I play Lord of the Rings Online, which as it suggests is set in Tolkien's middle earth. I play a couple of nights a week and limit myself to that. At the end of the day it should be a hobby and nothing else.

    I feel I should mention that I am 27, am happily married, have a good social life and a good job. To me the game is a type of relaxation and my wife has no issue with this.

    I guess perhaps if you are coming to these games when you are past school age then perhaps its easier to get things in perspective. But hey, there will always be an obsessive aspect to teenage life. I am a youthworker in my spare time and some of our teens seem to have an unhealthy appetite for celeb gossip, big brother etc.

  • Comment number 50.

    Basically, it's very simple: If you find yourself neglecting your family and ignoring your friends to sit in front to a computer every night of the week, then you need to ask yourself some serious questions.

    It doesn't matter how awesome Quake is....

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm also a World of Warcraft play, and i do think it's right to acknowledge that addiction can be an issue.

    I would take point though with the posters which say '2 hours or more a night and your addicted'. It should be judged against other pastimes and use of time. There are millions which spend evenings doing nothing but watching television, for many hours a night. Or reading, or down the pub. Addiction? Or simply lesiure time?

    I personally set strict rules for myself. No playing beyond 10pm at night, and at least a few nights off a week and try not to play too much at weekends.

    I make time for wife as much as possible, and always put her first over the game. As it should be.

    I'm a responsible adult. I enjoy the game, just as in the past it might have been model railways or collecting stamps.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think the coverage of this angle is very pertinent and relevant. There are many who like to get on their high horse about bad-mouthing a hobby. In the majority of cases, any hobby/pastime or passion has no impact on the individiual. However simply looking at gambling, smoking, drinking, shopping and sex addictions shows that a simple pleasure/vice (depends on your view) can often become a real problem for a minority. When individuals start to become consumed by their passion & interest to the detriment of other things (health, family, education, finance) to a point that it changes behaviours and personality then that is a sign of an addiction.

    I think the World of Warcraft following is fascinating and it's great to see something which has created such a worldwide community. Some of the World of Warcraft afficionados just need to be aware that some of their community may be more obsessed and addicted than others creating problems away from game.

    It's only going to be a minority of people, but it's a very real problem. Just putting a £1 bet on the Grand National is fine for 99% of the country, but for 1% it's part of, or can stimulate a lot of other problems.

  • Comment number 53.

    MMOs most certainly can be addictive and anyone saying otherwise is in a rather cliched fashion truly in denial.

    I've myself been addicted to MMOs, originally Ultima Online and then Dark Age of Camelot for a total of around 9 years.

    But it's irrelevant, because unlike drugs, it's a controllable, primarily non-harmful addiction and the real story here should be the amount of people who are susceptible to addiction of some kind in the first place, for if it were not World of Warcraft you can guarantee many of these people would be addicted to watching TV, addicted to going down the pub, addicted to reading and this is where MMOs deserve the least scorn for being such a pasttime someone can get addicted to - it at least encourages social interation, it includes physical interaction with the computer and it involves putting your mind to work.

    MMOs most certainly do offer rich social interactions, more so than say, talking on the phone or texting because multiple people are involved and they have goal based tasks. Furthermore they can teach leadership, they can teach problem solving, they can even teach patience. I'd argue that they can sometimes even help people finanacially, £8.99 a month is a hell of a lot cheaper entertainment than even two cinema trips, one pub trip or 2 movie rentals for example.

    So do I regret my time as an MMO addict? No, not at all, I learnt so much talking to peers with similar interests, who perhaps worked in fields that interested me. I learnt so much about leadership, endurance and time management that frankly due to my online gaming addiction I came out a far better person than if say, just sat watching the television or spending my life drinking my money away at the pub.

    Do I miss it? Kind of but I've also learnt balance, I now play Warhammer online but with a maximum of a few hours a week because I haveother interests. I now study at postgraduate level and for professional qualifications as a hobby and I do believe if I hadn't learnt patience to perform tough goal based tasks from MMOs I'd never have otherwise had the mindset to do this and be so succesful.

    We must accept that MMOs are addictive, accept that some people are always going to be addicted to something or other to the point they take it too far (i.e. refuse to get a job) but simultaneously realise that this is not a problem with games, but a problem with some small minority of people as is the with many things. We must also accept that for those who aren't in this absolute tiny minority where they crave something to the point it's detrimental to them that we'll see the reverse effect- people who are much more well rounded individuals, with perhaps a better footing in life than those who do "normal" things such as spending their free time getting drunk or consuming non-interactive often simply mind rotting entertainment such as TV and books.

  • Comment number 54.

    Someone once said "that 1 in every 10,000 people are Psychopaths". Imagine how many play WOW - that's more worrying.

  • Comment number 55.

    I've never been a WoW fan... I have, however, been into EVE online, Final Fantasy online etc. Do I think they're addictive? Perhaps not. I don't think how much people use them is particularly healthy though...

    The thing is, you play your MMORPG and your character learns skills, finds equipment, completes quests, but what do YOU do? We can talk about the social benefits (as many people have) but you can't tell me it's as social as actually finding a passtime where you go meet people face to face and make new friends.

    Like I said, I've spent my time on MMORPG's, but they offered me nothing more than lost evenings and weekends... MMORPG's are not exclusive in this though, all computer games are! I can remember first playing Final Fantasy 7 when it was released so many years ago and losing days to it! In hindsight I don't think I'd take that approach again. Yes, I enjoyed them, much like I enjoy a good book or a film, but I don't feel they have the SUBSTANCE that a well written book has...

    Of course I'm not saying teenagers should shun games for the more traditional adolescent pursuits of drinking and sexual discovery, but maybe they should temper their virtual discoveries with real ones... learn real skills, even if they're things that maybe have no real application career wise... take up Karate, flower arranging, ballroom dancing, Salsa, the piano, boxing, gymnastics. Self esteem can be built in a million ways, but confidence you build in a computer game can never be taken elsewhere other than the game.

    And before people start saying I don't know what I'm talking about I've been that low self esteem computer game addict. I've searched for new beginnings in worlds that don't exist. I decided to throw my comfort zone in the bin though and now I'm a 28 year old drummer with a high pressure but highly rewarding job. I guarantee that no matter how much people love their virtual lives, they'll love their real lives even more once they start living them...

  • Comment number 56.

    Very fair article, I played WoW on the free 14 day trial and I can see the very more-ish aspect of the game "just one more quest", and while I wasn't overly immersed, my studies would have curtailed any addiction, without a doubt.

    You don't claim anything contentious, the personal observations of an expert in the field are hard to ignore but are also based on his personal findings. Swings and roundabouts.

    What I must criticise, however (and this is my only gripe), the "study" you referenced, quoting WoW addiction at "between 10 - 15%" has been widely discredited. The female psychologist (her name escapes me) admitted that she carried out very little research and only observed a forum of players, thus her figures are very raw 'guestimates' and she also admitted that the figure is probably more likely 1-3%, defending herself by claiming that it highlights the scale of the issue as 0.1% of the current WoW community being addicted would still be massive amount of people.

  • Comment number 57.

    This has been going on for a long time, I play games too and I hate how fanboys start screaming anti-game bias at the first sign of criticism. It's nice to see someone in the media brave enough to go against the violent defensive tirades from these people. It's sad how it's become their life so much that criticism against it is viewed as an attack on them personally.

    One thing it certainly ties in with is the growing obesity epidemic in the UK, this short video slideshow is very true to life from what I have seen of internet addicts: www.tinyurl.com/warcrap

  • Comment number 58.

    Just bought the game, can anyone tell me how to beat the dwarf viking on the forest level?

  • Comment number 59.

    Mastering the endgame in Warcraft takes significant amounts of time from every week.

    Being in a guild that is achieving server first, second or third kills of raid bossess will require at least three nights a week attendance of 4 hours a piece. These will be planned in advance and repeated failure to attend will result in removal from the guild.

    Gathreing the in game money \ materials to be prepared enough to attempt a successful nights raiding will take at least another 4 hours out of the week.. most likely more. Repeated failure to prepare for raids will result in removal from the guild.

    Reading the tactics and mechanics for new raids and character progression will eat in to 2 hours or more a week. Repeatedly not knowing the tactics or your class mechanics will result in removal from the guild.

    End Game raiding is more like a job than a hobby.

    For many many people this isn't representative of the game they play.. it's a bit of light relief with social networking thrown in for good mix. To these people talk of addiction is met with derision.. and rightly so. However for many more this is representative of what they do every week. To thise people it is an addiction they dont notice and they need to realise that the only way to win warcraft is to quit warcraft.

    Google "wow detox"

  • Comment number 60.

    Dear Lord, why does every journalist that covers online gaming go for the same "you didn't realise how addictive and terrible an mmo is" angle. What about the people who manage to connect with people through the games. If these kids that do get addicted didn't latch on to Warcraft then they'd be addicted to something else that causes their grades to slip and worries their parents. That's another thing, WHAT ARE THESE CHILDREN'S PARENTS DOING?!?!?! They just sit by and say "oh no my child is addicted" and send them to a "professional" to deal with their child so they don't have to. Imagine that, a parent having to stop their child from doing something fun. Imagine if they threw a tantrum, oh no, i'll just sent them to a doctor and have them take care of it all for me so I can get back to watching 4 hours of soaps every night and whatever else the TV guide tells me to watch.

    I really wish some journalist out there would do an article about online games that doesn't spit out the same buzz phrases every time: addictive, evil, social lepers.
    Didn't they used to say the exact same thing about Dungeons and Dragons a few decades ago? and did it cause the apocalypse, no because every generation will have something that most of society considers "it's downfall" so learn from the past and get over it.

  • Comment number 61.

    Firstly, I find that the game itself to be a boring grind. Click this character, press a few buttons, watch it die, skin it and loot it... Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    There are many things to get addicted to, and for me WoW isn't one of them. But I can tell you now, if I was walking through Birmingham on a Saturday evening, and bumped into 20 people addicted to WoW, or 20 people addicted to alcohol, I know which group I'd feel safer and more content in the company of.

    I don't think dedicating huge amounts of time to a subscription game where you cannot get any fiscal or physical reward of any kind is particularly beneficial or healthy, and I'd much prefer to buy a game of 15 - 20 hours length with a complete story mode than WoW's more fluid, subscription based system with a story that never really ends. However, out of everything you could possibly get addicted to, WoW really is low in the scheme of things when it comes to being dangerous or unhealthy.

    Lets be fair Rory. Would you prefer your teenage son in the house for 3 hours a night playing WoW and chatting with his friends who play on it, or sat in a park leaning promiscuity too young with a bottle of cheap cider?

  • Comment number 62.

    A balanced report on World of warcraft but what needs looking at is what is so addictive about world of warcraft? There are other on line communities playing games but no other one seems to have the problems that this one does.
    In my experience it is the college and uni aged young people that get in the worst trouble with W o W.
    My son and his friend both became addicted to WoW and I do not use the term loosley, I believe that addicted is a very over used term but they both withdrew totally from society, gave up studies and refused to get jobs. My son would only go out of the house to go to his friends house to sit in his room playing often through the night, as he had no income he started stealing to cover both the costs of playing and his day to day expenses. At home I tried to disconnect his internet when we went to bed so he could not access the computer during the night but he would come into our bedroom when we were asleep to reconnect to the entry point in our bedroom, we cut the wire to his room in the end and he stole a new lead from a local shop and broke into our bedroom when we were out to reconnect, I removed internet access from the house for some time so that none of us could access the internet so we saw very little of him he came home only rarely and spent all his time at "friends" who were also playing. He stopped washing and started smoking canabis and dabbling in other drugs. If the subject of the game was mentioned he became violent towards me and my husband. The levels of aggression he showed if he was interupted whilst playing were seriously scary he is over 6ft and he would behave like he was possessed. He would play until he fell asleep still clutching his keyboard and wake up roll over and start playing again.
    His friend spent as long as he could stay awake on line playing sometimes playing for 40 hours before falling asleep with the keyboard on his lap. He wouldn't leave the room to eat and became medically underweight, he urinated into bottles as he wouldn't leave the room to go to the bathroom and eventually became ill from undereating, lack of daylight and developed agoraphobia.
    My son was "saved" from WoW by the friends sister, she was an attractive girl and for some reason wanted to go out with him and after a few months of trying she persuaded him to go out with her and he became more interested in her than the game but he has had a few relapses when things are not going well in life for him. He uses it in the way an alchoholic might use drink, when he can't cope he goes back to WoW.
    This experience has damaged both boys and although they have both started to recover they are not truly recovered yet and many relationships within both families have been badly damaged probably permanently.
    I know some people can play these games safely and have the sense to see when they have a problem but a high percentage of young people who start playing World of Warcraft seem to develop problems, and these are not at all like someone who spends too much time infront of the tv or who has a hobby.

  • Comment number 63.

    Interesting article, but i dont think you have really covered the benefits of playing WoW.

    I read an article in a IT Industry journal talking about how virtual worlds are being used to train a future leaders.

    For example in WoW there is the organisational skill of grouping with other player to achieve and complete objectives which cannot otherwise be complete on your own. The social skills and communication skills, the learning and problem solving and perserverance to achieve success can be likened to any other role in business and life. Infact businesses are hiring people WoW players as managers as they have demonstrated the skills of managing large groups of individuals.

    Is a student addicted to learning / reading information? Is an athlete addicted to physical training? Is a business person addicted to working long hours? No because society has a positive view on this. Do these activities cause harm to people? Yes is some way, athelete over train, burn out. Business stress of over working causes harm to families and some people commit suicide.

    For me WoW is escapeism, i play it to take a break from normal life. I play it with my real life friends and family and randon people. Does it do me any harm? could i use my time more constructively? maybe, maybe not. Could i stop playing WoW easily yes. I stopped for about 6 months, but i kept playing other computer games. Wow isnt addictive, computer gaming is addictive.

  • Comment number 64.

    The argument i don't get is the one about "restructuring our life arround WoW" means your addicted. Surely thats what i and others do when they play sport, we train in the evenings and thus have to rearrange our social lives around it. We have matches on saturdays, thus we can't go out on friday night. We can't eat certain foods because it would hamper our ability on the pitch.

    And there are endless examples of rearranging ones life around a certain activity, it doesn't mean its an addictive activity, it just means that you have to do things at an organised time so it suits others and you do certain things so that you don't let the side down.

    #58 i think you have to shield slam then execute, not sure though :)

  • Comment number 65.

    I've been playing WoW since it's European release and I have to say my experience in the game has been very similar to those of Commenter number 3- I ended up neglecting my partner due to the large amount of time I spent raiding. Our relationship at the time wasn't perfect, and I think with hindsight I used the game as a way to avoid dealing with our problems, but in the end our relationship suffered even more, to the point where it was a case of either sacrificing my relationship or stop raiding. I am extremely glad I chose the latter.

    WoW is a great game and I still thoroughly enjoy it, and I've met some brilliant friends through playing it, but it can be very dangerous in that it can swallow up huge amount of time you should be spending doing something else (studying for example) whilst simultaneously giving you a false sense that you've 'achieved' something (levelled up, beat a raid boss, etc).

    So, yeah. WoW can be very addictive, but not all players are addicted to WoW. I am looking forward to playing WOTLK, but I definitely won't be devoting as much time to it as I did previously.

  • Comment number 66.

    #63 http://gigaom.com/2008/05/27/analyzing-mmo-battles-to-build-a-better-workforce/ citing a harvard paper.

    And there is one by IBM on a similair topic as well.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ comment 46, I'm quite concerned by your posting, to relate 11million people who Play WoW and the countless other millions who play video games (MMO or Footie Manager) to social rejects and to suggest that they suffer with an Autism-related condition, seems very ignorant. Evidently I can't speak for the other 10,999,999 but I know that whilst at school and now I wasn't the socially awkward type you have described. I'm also a winter sports enthuiast and a rugby player through school, university and currently. WoW is a hobby, escapism if you will, but little more than one of many past times with which I spend my oftern limited free time.

    If people were a little more self disciplined or practised a little more self control they could curb their excessive habbits, like discuss how United are doing all day every day >:))

    I would like to see your evidence for the link with Autism, what with your medical degree and all...
    I'm slightly offended that you dont condone what 11million people chose to do with their spare time, personally I don't care less how you chose to spend yours.

  • Comment number 68.

    Well I'm another one into "WoW", 31 years old and in a decent job - It can be addictive at times and you do have to balance it with "Real" life. I do find it a good way to socialise with friends who I can't always see though, so there are benefits - it is a community after all rather than a mindless single-player game.

    The thing that strikes me most of all though is that I'd rather have teenagers playing WoW, generally being pleasant people in most cases than being drunken yobs on the street stabbing people.

    The reason many kids get into gaming is because parents would rather them do this than be outside in the ever-degrading society we have in this country. If it means a few chubby teenagers rather than skinny, white-tracksuit, cap wearing yobs hanging around outside the local shops with a can of special brew (no doubt intimidating old ladies) then I'm all for it.

  • Comment number 69.

    "As an emerging - some would say emergent - medium the impact of gaming is still being explored. "

    Darren, video games have been with us for 30 years now. My first ever machine was an Atari 2600, which I had in 1989, aged 7. It was released originally in 1977. We have literally, entire generations of people now brought up playing and enjoying video games. Everyone under 30 will have owned at least one machine, be it a Game Boy, NES, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Playstation.

    140,000,000 PS2's have been sold since it was released in 2001, and before than 102,000,000 original Playstation machines.

    There have been movies based on video games now for 15 years, as well as video game themed films for 25 years (WarGames) and films made to promote video games (The Wizard) for 18 years.

    This year more is going to be spent on video games than on films and music combined.

    Just how long does gaming have to be around, and how successful does it have to be before you'll no longer consider gaming as "emergent"

    If gaming is emergent, the BBC is a low budget plucky little broadcasting upstart...

  • Comment number 70.

    RE my comment #57, I didn't realise links could be clickable tile someone else did it above... weird how it apparently doesn't recognise "www" like most online email...
    anyway, the correct link then (fingers crossed) is:
    http://www.tinyurl.com/warcrap/

  • Comment number 71.

    "Leeeeerroyyyyyyy"

  • Comment number 72.

    I was hoping someone would highlight the dangers of WoW sooner rather than later.

    I have to agree with Dunhoping's comments as I fit into that category (have an active social life, young family and work in a demanding IT job during the day).

    I was introduced to WoW through work incidently, overhearing some colleagues talking about an aspect of WoW, I was mesmerized and wanted to know what it was that had them so excited (like kids in a toy store).

    Like Dunhoping I got hooked, went through the cycle of being a "n00b" and then eventually becoming an active member in a number ranked raiding guild on my server.

    The guild was great, we were hardcore about raiding but had a good internal structure and social order, being mostly adult players there were many moments of comedy and Monty Python esque verbal kung-fu going on (I just made that up).

    But it all got too much, started affecting my personal life and I actually found myself addicted at the end of 2 years of playing WoW.

    I had to make the decision and I did, deleting my characters and closing my subscription - this worked, for over a year I was very content and found other things to do (taking up trackday racing etc) however WoW has a way of getting you back.

    Some of my real life friends had returned to WoW and formed a social guild, a no pressure environment where the emphasis was on fooling about as much as possible but without the drama of being in a rigid military like guild.

    And I am still here, I enjoy WoW but not for the game (evident in the fact that I have only one level 70 character), I enjoy the social aspect. It's nice to come home from work, make some time after seeing to the kids and logging onto Ventrilo (voice communication) to join into some random Monty Python style conversation about monkeys invading our guild leaders bedroom followed by an hour in the game to try out some player-vs-player fun or do the odd heroic dungeon quest while we talk about the days affairs on the voice chat system.

    But I will not be getting the expansion, at least not yet.

    One thing I found is taking a break from WoW has greatly changed my perspective and I think part of the problem is that the players simply do not detach from WoW.

    Were they to do that, even if it was for a few months, they would loose that sense of urgency and desire to carry on playing.

    WoW is very cleverly engineered, as a product its executed very well and I seriously doubt even the likes of Warhammer will put a dent in the game sales and popularity.

    But on the flip side you can see the machinations at play in WoW - designed to hook the player in very deeply, especially so in the materialistic greed system that is present in the game.

    It's all about the gear in WoW, this is highlighted visually by Blizzard (the authors of WoW), each item looks unique and is colourful in a way that it helps difrentiate one player from another but it also creates a system where your forever playing to upgrade your items for the "next best ones".

    Now WoW truely is for all types of gamers, there was a time in WoW where if you were not in a guild, you only saw 50% of the game however with the new content, may game improvements and so forth, WoW really does appeal to any type of person.

    You have two sides to it now:

    One half of the community is made up of an adult audiance, usually professional people who play for the social aspect (the ability to form friendships with people all over the globe is enticing).

    On the other half you have the hardcore Xbox/PS3 generation - purely about materialistic rewards who want to be "no 1" even if it means the fame only lasts 1 day at the cost of 2 weeks of hardcore gaming with no sleep.

    WoW will most likely still be around long after the human race has ceased to exist hehe

    Adios,

    Finkletitbot - yes my gnome has pink hair

  • Comment number 73.

    For the people wondering why it's World Of Warcraft that keeps coming up in BBC addiction pieces, it's worth pointing out that WoW is a PC-only game, and therefore does't require you to pay a TV licence to play. Just saying.

    Less sarcastically, I think a major issue in the perception of games addiction is how games as a whole are covered by mainstream outlets such as the BBC- it's very rare you see games seeing any sort of coverage- even positive coverage- that doesn't start "Gamer geeks are delighted that..." or "Thousands of gaming addicts decended upon...".

    This not only diminishes the artform itself (you don't hear Gary Lineker opening MOTD with "Evening, hooligans!", do you? BBC Four announcers referring to their viewers as snobs?) but also, if it actually exists and isn't just a lack of dicipline, the notion of games addiction, which leads to sensationalist, kneejerk journalism like the vast majority of these kind of pieces, ludicrously low amounts of time compared to other hobbies spent gaming being considered an "addiction" (for instance, two hours- the length of most films, or the time it takes to watch most sporting events on Satellite) and most importantly, a lack of help and attention to real problems.

    What doesn't help is that the BBC isn't doing proper games coverage- and what little there is, even now, is still hidden in Technology and not where it should be, in Entertainment. The last time the BBC made a games show, it was only ever shown on the website and not publicised.

  • Comment number 74.

    @70


    1. This isn't online e-mail
    2. In response to your original e-mail, you'll find those images are from the South Park episode "Make Love Not Warcraft" which actually goes into the levels of obsession some people have with the game, which in SOME cases start to become unhealthy... But I'll think you'll find that happens to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, about all kinds of things.

    Oh, and to further add to the discussion of the South Park episode. It was actually made in collaboration with the makers of World of Warcraft, who are fully aware of their passionate fans sometimes over zealous love of their games.

  • Comment number 75.

    A lot of people arguing against this article seem to be doing so from a very personal viewpoint - "I don't consider myself to be addicted, therefore I'm not and you're making this addiction story up to be sensationalist". One question is, if a game isn't such an important part of someone's life, why do people need to defend their playing it, or it against other games, so vehemently?

    Unfortunately, there's nothing at all made up about addiction to computer gaming. People have died because the computer game has been more important than eating, drinking, sleeping and going to the toilet. The last widely reported occasion I know of was a Korean male playing a sci-fi RTS game, but I remember similar occurences with Everquest as well. I played EVE for a long time and there were a number of people who always seemed to be there, regardless of what time of day it was.

    Just because something is not "the norm", does not make it an ignorable problem. I remember from my days seriously playing MMOGs (mainly EVE) that it can very easily take up far more of your time than you intended it to, or, indeed, realise it does.

    I never got deep enough into any MMO for long enough to get absorbed in the way that I know a lot of people have, but it can still control your life, which isn't really a healthy thing whether you want to call it an "addiction" or not.

  • Comment number 76.

    I belive that your report is extremely inaccurate and wish for you to remove it.
    I am personally a 15 year old whos plays this game and am not addicted and i am predicted an A* in many of my subjects including maths,english and science.

  • Comment number 77.

    My gnome has pink hair and pigtails as well.

    It's the only way to go when you're killing a big nasty orc or rotting undead!

  • Comment number 78.

    Actually, thats something I'm truely curious about...

    Video gaming is massive in this country, £4.64bn spent on it this year. Why does the BBC not seem to deem this huge audience deserving of some of the licence fee?

    Well, if you're in Scotland and were able to watch videogaiden, but what about the rest of the country? Wheres the Gaming section in Entertainment (not technology!) on the BBC News site? Music and films have plenty of coverage... Wheres the gaming equivalent of click?

  • Comment number 79.

    I read your article and the associated comments with interest. I am a 40 something working Mother, who also has an interest in gaming (I got pretty involved with Morrowind). As a Mother of 2 boys, I understand only too well the lure of the technologically enhanced virtual world.

    I accept, to a point, the arguments about this being a 'parenting' problem - wresting a 12 year old off the Wii to go to bed on a school-night is testament to the abandoning of an 'easy life' choice.

    However, as a wife of a husband who became 'addicted' to a game a few years ago, gaming can have very real and very damaging effects. As some of the other commentators here have stated, it is often the families of gamers who are most affected. I agree that as a hobby, playing video games (on or off-line) is harmless and safe - but it is when that game becomes the main focus of your life, or at least interferes with natural communication and interaction between others in your family or friendship group that problems occur.

    People are wrong to generalise that all gaming is 'bad', or that all gamers are 'addicted' - but responsible game developers should be aware that these gaming environments CAN have an extremely detrimental affect on the mental health and well-being of certain individuals.

    Quite what is done about this I don't know - but I do know the monumental effort it took to break my husband of this damaging addiction - and bring him back to his family. His work did not suffer, but his family did - he can now see just how difficult this time was for the rest of us.

    I also accept that this 'addiction' was in response to external pressures and escapism was at it's heart, much like an alcoholic drinks to achieve 'numbness' or to escape.

    Again, gamers - just because you are not addicted, please remember that there are others out there whose work, relationships and family are suffering because of games like World of Warcraft.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think the article is right in saying WoW is a game which is very easy to get addicted to but I think its wrong to assume that this is a new issue. I'm in my second year of university and wasn't playing WoW when I did my gcses or alevels yet there were other things that I got distracted by and spent many hours on instead of working, i.e youtube, facebook and myspace. I even spent ridiculous amounts of time playing freecell just to avoid revising.
    I think its nieve to think that if WoW ceased to exist suddenly all teenagers would spend their time studying. There have always been distractions and things that teenagers have become addicted to.
    Its important to point out that WoW can be played in a very healthy way as well as an unhealthy way. There is a huge difference in playing a couple of nights a week for a few hours as I do compared to some of the people I've spoken to who literally only have WoW.
    WoW is a friendly and fun game but as with most things is only good in moderation.

  • Comment number 81.

    "People have died because the computer game has been more important than eating, drinking, sleeping and going to the toilet."

    And far more people have died because they've decided to climb over train tracks... What should we do about those evil trains?

  • Comment number 82.

    I don't think it is unreasonable for journalists to be writing about this issue. True, some present a more balanced and retional perspective than others, but that doesn't mean we should seek to curtail discussion and dismiss these writers as alarmists.

    The debate about videogames addition is an interesting one; I myself am a fan of many games and have found myself on occasssion playing for far longer than I intended - driven by a compulsion that is to some extent beyond my ability to control. I have never played Warcraft - neither it's graphics, gameplay, storyline or community hold a great deal of interest for me. But I do have a younger brother who plays - and the effects are clear.

    Often, I will ask my brother if he wants to go out and go bowling, or something similar; and these suggestions are usually met with strong resistance, occasionally anger. When I manage to persuade him to leave the game and come out, however, he inevitably enjoys the change of activity and we have a great time. In fact, he frequently seems to be relived to have done something other than play W.o.W.

    I do, however, feel that the debate surrounding video game addiction is really missing the point. By considering it in isolation, journalists, educationalists, bloggers and many others are failing to appreciate it for what it is - part of a wide ranging and systematic problem with a society in which young people derive a greater sense of prupose and accomplishment from escapist activities than the do from 'real' life. By way of example, I shall refer to the game I spent longer playing than any other: Oblivion.

    Some reasons why Oblivion is better than real life:

    1. In Oblivion I am a homeowner. (In real life I rent a single room in a house full of strangers).
    2. In Oblivion, my employment is personally and financially rewarding, varied, and I'm good at it. (None of these apply in real life).
    3. In Oblivion I can talk to anyone I meet, and I'm a respected member of my community. (In London I feel isolated, I've never met my neighbours and am not a part of any 'community').

    This is, admittedly, a somewhat facetious example - but I hope it illustrates a point - the problem is not with videogames. It is with a socuiety in which an increasingly large number of young people feel isolated, unfulfiled and unable to improve their circumstances. While this remains the case, more and more people will fall into additions of all kinds, and it is this, not videogames that should attract the attention of our government, media and education system.

  • Comment number 83.

    #75 - "One question is, if a game isn't such an important part of someone's life, why do people need to defend their playing it, or it against other games, so vehemently?"

    Who says it's not an important part of someone's life? Why should it not be an important part of life?
    It's a hobby, one that very often involves forming lasting relationships with other people, and one that is certainly more active than slouching in front of the television.

    What if I were to start accusing anyone that like to watch more than an hour of football twice a week of addiction?
    I mean, they take time out from social engagements to go to matches, which takes them away from social engagements and real life!

    And those terrible, nerdy, isolated book readers! Some of them reading every night! Not able to go to sleep without their fix!

  • Comment number 84.

    #81 epic! hahaha

    People who play wow are stereotyped far too much and this needs to change in my opinion.

  • Comment number 85.

    @57, evilkitty1:

    "I hate how fanboys start screaming anti-game bias at the first sign of criticism."

    This is not something exclusive to gamers- start digging into places where fans of more specialist music, film and sport hang out and you'll find the same thing- remember the Emos marching on the Daily Mail? Anonymous vs. Scientology?

    The only difference is that it's very rare anti-game criticism is anything other than sensationalist nonsense (nobody making sensible criticism, and there has been some, has seen the same reaction) and criticism of games tends to be in the mainstream, whereas criticism of other forms tends not to get the same publicity.

  • Comment number 86.

    WoW was not the first MMO to see this type of thing. I played Everquest the original MMO that really started it all (well just after Ultima). Everquest gained the nickname by users of Evercrack...says it all really.

    The main thing about why you get addicted is two fold - the social side in which you make good friends and chat/talk/play together and secondly the greed factor.

    The greed factor is in essence driven from wanting your character which you have invested months to have the 'cool stuff' other have. In a sad way you want others to aspire to be as 'cool' as you - this means to have the best items (armor, swords, spells whatever).

    It all sounds very sad but the way in which your time becomes dominated by seeking new treasure to 'better' in game means you are constantly striving to achieve goals which in turn make you 'cooler' to the dooodz that live in these worlds.

    It's playground mentality gone mad.

    I never bought WoW as i spent 5 years playing everquest and only just escaped with my career intact. i would wake early to log in and trade, i would leave work early to get home for a raid, i would scan websites all day at work about the latest cool stuff to get and tactics to try to get the cool stuff.

    It sounds so very sad when i write it all out now but when you are obsessed you never look up.

    My wife thought i was crazy at the time and to be honest i look back now and agree with her.

    End of the day we all have adicted personalities to a lessor or greater degree. i sadly found i had a hugely addicted personality to a silly 3D world that took over my life and made me forget about eating.

    After writing this down i now feel better...perhaps this is the last step in my self help plan looking back at a time when i never knew what i was getting into until it was too late.

    Now just to stop myself buying a PC that will run these games - partly why i run a rubbish laptop now :)

    I'm 39years old by the way and yes i know i sound very sad after reading the above...

    I was an Evercrack addicted - always will be...

  • Comment number 87.

    People have addictive natures.

    Things are addictive - alcohol, drugs, exercise, food, work etc

    The problem sits with the individual and not that to which they are addicted.

    There's seems to be a streak of puritianism that makes an issue of addiction to games or drugs an issue and not that of addiction to exercise, food or work.

    Book worms from years ago...those teens who spent their whole life reading, trainspotters...avid chess players...same thing as these WoW addicts really.

    Rubbish game though imho.

  • Comment number 88.

    Everyone has an addiction, even the writer of this blog will have one. Do you go home, after a hard day's work, eat your dinner then sit down from 8pm to 11pm every night and watch TV? your addicted.

    What about those people who go to the gym for 2 hours 6 days a week, they are addicted.

    All those people who watch, drink, eat, sleep and talk football? They are addicted.

    I think this is just a stereotypical knee jerk reaction by the BBC and those Nanny groups. The vast majority of WoW players play it because they enjoy playing, enjoy the social aspect of it. Where is the social aspect of TV? reading? Or even watching a football match (unless you call yelling abuse at the player social).

    Maybe if one of these research/psychologist groups decided to do some proper research into what causes addiction to certain things instead of focusing on the Horror of the moment, then maybe we will get some proper, real life results. But, naturally, this wont happen because the media like to blow things out of proportion and cast a shadow over anything that suddenly becomes popular.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ 74

    Thanks for enlightening us all over the obviously confusing question of whether this blog is in fact email... ~slow clap~

    I was just using that as an example, forums and stuff usually do the same thing with www too, I was just surprised at such a basic thing being missing that's all. I also knew it was from South Park etc, that doesn't make it any less true in fact it's a fairly rare example of Truth in Television!

  • Comment number 90.

    I enjoy playing "old fashioned" role playing games (D&D though not that 4th Edition rubbish...... Warhammer, Everquest etc) a couple of times a week. We all start at a certain time, finish at a certain time and there is plenty of human to human interaction.

    However, I do know someone who used to roleplay, who once used up his entire two week holiday to play WoW. The only time he emerged from his room was to use the bathroom (I hope he showered each day, but cannot confirm that).

    Much as I agree there are far worse things in life, I worry about anyone who can spend fourteen solid days in front of a computer screen playing one game. When confronted by concerned friends, he just announced he had levelled his two characters over 70th level (or something similar) and was noticed by everyone else to struggle with natural light. I rarely see this friend now as he goes to work, comes home, then turns on the computer.

    Many of my none "geeky" friends ask if I play such games and I refuse to as I am afraid that as I am single with few committments, I will fall into the trap of running to my computer once arriving home and staying there until it was time to me to go back to work.

    I will happily buy any game that has a beginning, middle and more importantly an end!!

  • Comment number 91.

    @ Peterrockwell

    Having read the article and the comments in detail, my conclusion is that WoW players are irritated that, yet again, WoW is being blamed for addiction, problems with school work etc in such a sweeping manner. Also, very few comments "attack" the article as you claim.

    Obviously everything should be open to journalistic examination but your response of "I can only conclude that those taking offence are either in denial or have an enormous chip on their shoulder" does seem to be missing the point. The WoW-er point of view is that yes, there are some people who will develop an addiction to the game but, of the 11 million users, how many genuinely have a problem? this article does make it sound like all WoW-ers have issues.

    Firstly, the addiction issue - yes, those who are addicted need help, but it is the minority. And one has to wonder, if they weren't playing WoW would they have no addiction, or would they just be addicted to something else... perhaps something that could actually kill them...

    Secondly, this article does imply that all children who play have problems in school as a result of WoW. Again, this is a misrepresentation of Wow - it does have time management facilities so that a parent (or the child/teen themselves) can set a time limit for gaming. Obviously, any child playing a game until 5am in unhealthy, but how do their parents not know that they are? surely the parents are at fault here, not Wow?

    Finally, this is where i come clean. I am 27 and a casual WoW-er. i play for around 2 hours most days, but i also have other hobbies and i hold down a very good job. I am in a guild with other 20/30 somethings, some of whom let their kids play. Every child that i have met through WoW knows when they have to stop playing. And what about the benefits? other than making friends and building social skills (yes, really!) WoW is great at teaching you to think more strategically, to be more goal oriented, to work as a team, to analyse situations and identify the most efficient way of solving a quest... I don't know about you, but when i am recruiting staff, these are all things that make it onto my list of required skills.

    I do strongly believe in everything in moderation and that should include WoW, but lets try to keep this in perspective. It's just a GAME!

  • Comment number 92.

    @81 & 83

    By trying to belittle the point, you are proving it. Why is it that gamers get so defensive about how "harmless" it is as a hobby? I'm not belittling WoW players, I'm saying that some people - be they WoW, EVE, EQ, Starcraft or any other game, players, take things too far.

    Exactly the same applies to people who train athletically to the point where it costs them friendships, relationships and families - it's not healthy and probably an addiction then, as well. There's nothing special or specific about computer games here other than that unlike sports training or something similar, someone in the privacy of their own home is less likely to have the signs of a problem detected.

    The train argument is utterly spurious and irrelevant.

  • Comment number 93.

    #85 I do agree a bit with you there, it's wrong that there's never any criticism of other things - but I still think this point is valid.

    I consider football on the same level as Warcrack really, it's just another thing pandering to animalistic pack thinking (sheep effect) and greed really.

  • Comment number 94.

    @93: You're right, other things are criticised. Just not (or rarely) by the BBC, or other major news media players.

    Like I say though, sensible criticism generally sees acceptance, and that's what matters.

  • Comment number 95.

    @92

    er... i think it was meant to be a joke and not a serious argument.

    My advice to people is to lighten up. Like most addicts, the only thing that WoW addicts hurt is themselves. If they can't admit they have a problem then they can't be sorted out. I know hundreds of WoW players and only very few have such a problem.

    Let's get some perspective here!.

    Why not focus on real problems like getting kids off the streets and interacting socially?

    Perhaps they should play WoW?

  • Comment number 96.

    Where do you get off telling people what to do with their lives? There are people addicted to all kinds of things, why don't you do a piece on them - or better yet, why doesn't the BBC keep it's personal opinions to itself & focus on actual NEWS.
    Now get back to glorifying Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse.

  • Comment number 97.

    Oh and when I say never criticism of other things I mean other "hobbies"... I don't think in all my life growing up in the UK seeing and reading BBC I've ever seen a documentary or article about the negative aspects of football, where violence and even deaths keep occurring over again, it's disappointing and I think people that play games ("gamers" sounds so childish) are an easier target and the media is too scared of sheep backlash and negative "ratings"...

  • Comment number 98.

    Well there are plenty more evil and addictive forms of entertainment out there.


    High School Musical for example.....

  • Comment number 99.

    Main Character: Baltaur, Tauren Shaman. Server: Azjol-Nerub.
    Game Time: Over 200 Days!!!

    I played for over 200 full days on my main in just 2 years and this was not unusual for people in my guild (many achieved much more or were too ashamed to say)

    I clocked that during my first 2 years at university when I could manage 50 hours a week gaming and not have it effect my social life or my studies. How people hold down a job and play at an end-game level (professional/raiding guild) is another story however. This game costs people dearly but dam its fun being UBER!!!!!

    p.s. Baltaur was deleted over a year ago due to work/social commitments (these rank higer to me than a game, for many they do not)

    RIP Baltaur hahahaha!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 100.

    @62

    I sympathise with the problems you've had with your son, but your comments read like WoW got your son addicted to drugs and such like.

    WoW was merely a catalyst to those issues, if WoW wasn't around it would have been something else that caused them. I'm sorry to say your son has deeper problems it just so happens that this game is his self medication to solve or at least calm those problems.

    Sorry but comments like "high percentage of young people who start playing World of Warcraft seem to develop problems" are off the cuff, unsubstatiated and can cause more harm than good. Let's not forget the company that owns this product also has employees it needs to pay, if we burn WoW at the stake due to knee jerk reactions, what's next on our list as a society.

    These issues definately need highlighting and more information provided to hopefully avoid or at least find out early on if people will be susepticle to the sort of troubles that have afflicated poster 62's son.

 

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