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Computer Games - A Hard Habit to Break?

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Eamonn Walsh | 16:43 UK time, Friday, 3 December 2010

It's fair to say that Santa will need all of his little helpers' assistance in delivering all the computer games consoles and software on Christmas lists this year.

The computer games industry is thought to contribute over £1bn annually to the UK economy, with much of that spend coming in the festive season.

This season the market is expected to be dominated by the latest version of the multi-player online role-playing game World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

Clearly big business and undoubtedly lots of fun.

But amid all the fun, Panorama has been investigating a more worrisome side to the games industry - whether or not some people find video gaming - in its many forms - addictive.

The programme speaks to some young people who've dropped out of school and university to play games for anything up to 21 hours a day. They describe their obsessive gaming as an addiction.

It's not the first time the games industry has had accusations levelled at it. The usual charges included accusations that violence in the games can cause copycat behaviour in real life, but as the industry grows, experts are now concerned by the potential psychological harm of addiction.

The industry itself feels it is unfairly targeted; games are not addictive, just well-designed and engaging and Panorama's programme this week has already drawn reaction.

For most, playing games is simply a hobby, but parents and teachers groups have raised concerns and called for independent research into this virtual world that 'Addicted to Games?' highlights.

Addicted to Games? is not the first time Panorama has looked at the Christmas games market.

In rather more innocent times, Panorama reporter Max Robertson dressed as a slightly grumpy Father Christmas to discover what toys were must-haves for children in 1955.

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Back in the 21st century, join in the debate and let us know what you think about Addicted to Games? Please leave your comments on our blog forum here.


  • Comment number 1.

    I agree with the fact that these games are addictive its the taking part and for most kids and even adults it gives them the opportunity to take the role of someone else or do something they may not be able to do in actual real life situations this can be a good thing.
    My concern is not with addiction even though this is highly possible its the advertising incorporated into the games.
    look closer at the games and you will see the advertising maybe its subliminal and now where bordering on the fringe of conspiracy now thats another topic altogether.
    But i am almost certain this is taking place because there is no better audience than one that is sitting right in front of the TV and concentrating hard to aim your products at who will be susceptibile to it .

  • Comment number 2.

    The gaming industry is right to be concerned with reports like this. I watched the clip "Mother: Video games 'dangerous tool'" and was surprised that people were blaming video games when there is quite clearly another underlying problem.

    I live with a mood disorder, it affects pretty much every aspect of my life. Most of what had been said could apply to me (though these days I have more control). I am a gamer, quite often they allow me to detach from the world and relax a little or act as a safe haven from life when it becomes too much. My disproportionate reactions to loss of connection etc. were not because of a gaming addiction, but an illness that has nothing to do with games, computers or even, at times, events going on around me.

    Take away the video games angle and you start to see the truth of the matter. Scapegoats are easy to come by, but this doesn't help.

  • Comment number 3.

    Of course your definition of addiction is important in a debate like this. I play a vast amount of videogames and so do my friends, however I do not consider us addicted because we actually do other things as well. If my girlfriend wanted to take me to a restaurant I could put down that gamepad and enjoy a night out. That to me is not addiction, it is just a passionate hobby.

    However, anyone can become addicted to anything, from chemical addiction like alcohol and drugs to mental addictions like gambling. There are people out there and unfortunately many are children, where there lives revolve around there second life in World Of Warcraft or winning matches in Call Of Duty and get angry when another person trys to take that away from them, that is addiction and videogame addiction, like all addictions whether they are common or rare should be researched and treated seriously just like medical conditions.

  • Comment number 4.

    Without pre-judging the show. I'm curious to see if the show makes a clear distinction between "addiction" and "psychological dependence" as you can become dependent on anything that makes you happy be it sex, movies, gambling etc.

    The other thing I would like to know is if there is any possible suggestion that the parents could have done something wrong? Like say spoilt their child? We seem to be quite schizophrenic in this country with regards to complaining about the "nanny state" interfering with parenting while also having it both ways by blaming and demonising outside forces letting parents off from actual responsibility. Well the media anyway.

  • Comment number 5.

    "We have absolutely no doubt that there are people across the country and indeed across the world who are addicted to gaming. Japan even has a special word for sufferers: Not the innocent Otaku, but Hikikomori, who shut themselves away from real life, locked in their rooms and rarely seeing daylight. But a quick Google search will tell you that there's more than videogames behind it. Social phobia, avoidant personality disorder, extreme shyness and agoraphobia. Games don't cause it, they're a happenstance result. Causation and correlation are not the same."

    Games are a new form of entertainment so are naturally going to be vilified - the type of people who get addicted also get addicted to sitting in and just watching film after film, chatting online all the time, getting into drugs and just vegetating in their room… even eating. Press pick on the easy, newest target – so instead of just accepting some people are like this and may need help – they go after the poor guys outlet. As for the mother/son, who wouldn’t make up/exaggerate a story just to get some air time – blaming all the issues on the addictive nature of games.

    As a games designer, I create things that are fun to play – that I would enjoy. I will not create a game that just punishes you because it would not be fun or rewarding and will be a horrible experience. If some old investigation into the human brain proved that rewarding people makes them do that activity more – well maybe that’s why it’s enjoyable. I also get reward from exercise, from finishing a book. People equally get addicted to these, doesn’t mean that we should change the rules so that the losing team gets punished rather than the winning team gets a reward! Just means people wouldn’t run the risk of playing!

    "when people devote sufficient time and attention to an activity that it begins to overshadow their thoughts, mental images, and dreams"

    Leave us gamers to it - people have to learn themselves when enough is enough of anything. If they can't, then its up to the people around them to help.. or they will naturally just have to be part of Darwinism with lack of kids.

  • Comment number 6.

    It doesn't matter what the activity is it's not healthy to spend too long doing anything but to just blame the games industry is just weird. It's like blaming the car industry for people driving for too long. Surely people need to take some responsibility for their own actions & those of their children? In the clip he admits to spending 20 hours non stop playing games but what I want to know is why it took him refusing to go to school for his parents to notice there was something wrong?
    I think the key is moderation as with anything and if you aren't going to teach your children moderation & self control then them being addicted to games is going to be the least of your worries!

  • Comment number 7.

    Computer Games are in some ways just an extension of thousands of years of tradition in humans playing games. Some of these developed into gambling activities, and some have been addictive as well.
    It might be more appropriate to see these cases as the extreme end of a spectrum where activities that engage and excite people can create overindulgence as well.
    There is also a huge volume of existing research in this area that might be useful to highlight. A quick search of Google Scholar brings up many entries, but government has also looked at it in the Byron Review, I think. Calling for more research without referring to the body of work that exists is a little unhelpful.

  • Comment number 8.

    "The industry itself feels it is unfairly targeted"

    And whose fault is that?

    While the BBC is not unique amongst mainstream news organisations in this regard, the only time the BBC ever has anything to do with games is to attack it- if it's not about addiction in tonight's Panorama, it's about violence, such as the BBC's response to Modern Warfare 2 last year. Even when it's meant to be positive, it's either marginalised or sneering, sarcastic and flippant.

    I don't want to judge the show before I watch it, and I don't want to undermine the issue of compulsive gaming, but the BBC could do a better job of displaying to gaming as a whole- that is, the industry that sells them, the creatives that create them and most importantly the members of the public that play them- that they don't believe that all games are evil and wrong. Maybe if they did this, then perhaps programming such as this would be received more warmly- the industry wouldn't need to respond in the way that they have, and the show would not be viewed as negatively by gamers- you only have to take one look at the comments underneath stories about this show on games websites to see how cynically it is being viewed.

    That may sound a little like shooting the messenger, but when the messenger writes the message...

    So the question is: when is the BBC going to sort out its coverage of this artform?

  • Comment number 9.

    There is absolutely no coincidence that the BBC would chose to air this programme on the night that WoW releases its latest expansion pack. Certainly a great number of players will be up late tonight and bleary eyed tomorrow because of it. I completely agree with illusionoftruth's comment above. Parents obviously need to be aware of what their children are doing, but everybody else needs to be aware that the overwhelming majority of players are adults and are not addicts to a game, just perhaps to having fun. Moreover, the video game industry is one of the most successful in the UK. It is an industry that is seeing remarkable growth to £60 billion in 2008 from £40 billion in 2006 and is arguably the most important entertainment vehicle for the foreseeable future. I look forward to watching Panorama and seeing some of these statistics reported in a balanced way. (If only wishing made it so).

  • Comment number 10.

    I'd be interested to know the answer to one question before even starting on the addiction topic. How many people can honestly say that they read and follow the age guidance on the game boxes? I would be very concerned with a Panorama programme which concentrated on 'children' or 'teenagers' becoming addicted to something like Call of Duty - Black Ops (18 rated). Even World of Warcraft has a 12 certificate, and warns several times about the on-line dangers, and has parental controls for playing time. So I'm sorry, but the parents have to take some responsibility here, if children/ teenagers have Internet access (which is pretty easy with Wi-Fi), then put a timer on it.
    I've have played WoW and CoD and own a PC, xbox, PS3, and a Wii. But I honestly can't say I have an addiction - I use it as a form of relaxation, like reading a book. If you play responsibly there's a great social aspect to online gaming and this can be a positive aspect. I know of several people online who can't get out of their houses easily or interact directly who have an excellent time playing an elf, etc in World of Warcraft.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm currently creating a documentry film for Panasonic which has a large aspect of this idea of "addictive gaming" and how it effcts communication and society within it. I can see this Panorama been very interesting and informative! Certinatly the commnets on this website are intresting in themselfs to get a new perspective than my own on how other people see the effects of gaming and the game industry!

  • Comment number 12.

    Zeph please be aware that schizophrenic is not multiple peronalities as is it is commonly thought, it's hearing voices.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm a 16 year old male and I've played games since I was 3, at the least. After seeing the BBC's reports, and the Daily Mail's, etc. it seems that the subject of videogames provoking children and teenagers to perform violent acts has been blown way, way, way out of proportion. I, admittingly, played Grand Theft Auto at 7 years of age, and I had quite the obsession for the Need for Speed series.

    Parents shouldn't ban their children from playing games such as World of Warcraft. If they want their children to drop out of school, let them. In the future when they have no job, girlfriend/boyfriend or income, they'll discover they should've stopped. If the parents don't want their children to play World of Warcraft, it's not hard for the parents to stop their account being paid for. I've never seen such a harshly targeted industry in my life, to be fair. It is as you say 'unfairly' targeted. Films such as Saw and Hostel are worse than games shall ever be, and some children can get access to them easily. In Call of Duty, World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto, do you see a woman being hung from a ceiling, being tortured with a scythe? No, you don't. But you see that in Hostel. My friends, some of which are 14 at most, watch Hostel and Saw. They also drink, and smoke marijuana and do all sorts of other things. This country desperately needs to concentrate on the real problems right now, not videogames. They're not the problem. If a parent genuinely allows their son or daughter to play games for TWENTY-ONE hours a DAY, they seriously need to reconsider their parenting skills. I'm still at school, and I'm generally on my computer/Xbox 360/PS3 5 or 6 hours a day, and I'm healthy, I have friends, I have a girlfriend, and I work at A/A* grade in school. I consider my computer a way to get away from the world, and it's the fact I have an INTEREST in games and technology. Parents, look at these words: Games are NOT addictive, merely an escape.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm very ineterested in this program because I've been studying "computer addiction". I personally play a lot of computer games and have felt the frustration of "just one more click". But although my initial reaction was that it must be addictive I'm looking at alternatives to this view. One such alternative is that gamers are simply doing something that other people don't understand or like. I have been schooled in the Person Centred (PC) perspective and after deliberating with myself as to whether computer addiction exists I look at the PC view which is that if it's a problem for that person, it's a problem.

    You may be aware that computer addiction or any of it's derivatives are not as yet in DSMIV (the bible for psychological diagnosis) and neither are any other process addictions such as gambling, shopping, or sex. There are people pushing on both sides of the debate as to whether it should be included in DSMV. If you have any knowledge of the scientific journals that are available you will realize that they are all flawed and all bias in their opinions.

    A seperate category of computer addiction changes the law when it comes to mental health, as it is seen as being the truth after it has gone in the DSM. Personally I am interested in why people would want a seperate category and one reason I am exploring is that essentially the more mental illnesses are created the more work is created for psychologists and the more esteeem is placed upon the professionals.

    I'm also aware of such games as Evony and World of Warcraft which use the 'grindstone' a technique of repetitive clicks which can in itself become a problem. I'm also aware that there are programs which utilize the techniques of the Skinner rat experiments, where random prizes or punishments can elicit a feeling of lack of control.

    There are a lot of issues involved in the subject (far more than I could mention) and to oversimplify by stating that "computer games are addictive" is not doing the area any justice.

    As a final note it is interesting to look back into history and recall that whenever a new technology comes in, fear of it is high and the likes of wireless radios and television have both been called addictive at some stage.

    I'd be interested in any comments.

  • Comment number 15.

    After moving to the UK in 2003 I have spoken with many colleagues in the security industry about the issue of video games. They all say that in the US they use firearms as opposed to knives.

    The reality is that video games do something called Operant Conditioning. Operant Conditioning is used by police and military to teach professionals under constrolled situations to use force. Lets cut the chase video games are teaching our children to kill without the controls of legal, policy, controls, restraints etc that are used in police and military training.

    I first studied this many years ago from lt Col DAve Grossman an American (yes i realise this is not America). He wrote a book called Stop Teaching our Children to Kill and On Killing the Psychological Cost of Killing In War and Society. I have recommennded this many times I can give you the proof through professional forums where this topic was mocked.

    I give you the following example. Many years ago in Paducah Kentucky a student a young man had a point and shoot video game set up in his garage. He had never ever fired a weapon but had spent hours shootign on that simulator. In the police and military it is called Simulator training weather its FATS or some other training.

    So this kid goes to school and shoots 8 class mates. 5 head shots and 3 upper torso shots in 8 seconds. Don't take my word for it check it out. Speak to Lt. Col Grossman.

    In policing and military there is something called stimlant and response. So what happens is that in training when you hit a target it falls down. The target will appear hostile (or as a civilian) and the operator would have to make a decision. So if its a hostile target and once the shot hits the target it falls down and then up again. There u ahve it stimulus response.

    The difference is that you don't have all the controls in place to teach. The children are left to their own devices in using computer games. Weather it be shooting games, fighting games etc. This process desencisize the user to the reality of what is in life.

    It's not just a video game. The longer we hide from the facts the worse it will become.

    Just my thoughts

  • Comment number 16.

    There is a huge amount of scientific research available now to demonstrate that the skill of 'managing feelings' has to be learnt to 'avoid becoming addicted'. It is one of the 8 skills we need to succeed(overcome difficulties) and improve wellbeing. Since our society, lifestyles and particularly schools do not create the learning opportunities for these 8 skills to be learnt, the numbers of people becoming addicted to games, shopping, gambling, drugs etc will only continue to increase. The solution is to ensure that our media, government, parents, schools etc "Everyone's Responsibilty" focuses on developing the 8 skills we need to succeed, improve wellbeing and the life chances of our children.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have two sons and one daughter. Both my sons have played World of Warcraft and I myself play World of Warcraft and I have NEVER seen that sort of behaviour in my two boys over the game.
    Yes it might be addictive to an extent but to be truly honest, what I have seen in your program so far is that kid needs better parenting. His parents are just blaming a computer game for their son's lack of control of his own emotions and to be quite frank, I can't believe they let it get so bad or didn't realise what was going on in his bedroom. Surely they were checking on him? It's one of the number one rules of the internet. Make sure you know what your children are doing, alongside who they are talking to or looking at. If I as a single mother can do this then a boy with two parents should have no problem whatsoever.
    When you start to blame people's behaviours on games with an atmosphere that is so obviously not to be taken seriously, then you're ignoring the real reasons children act up and giving yourselves and easy cop out. It's easier to blame someone else than open your eyes and see where you failed.

  • Comment number 18.

    What a joke of a program tonight. I'm a 30 year old man, I have a good job, a girlfriend of 10 years, a great bunch of mates and I exercise regularly. But guess what, I also play online games 10-20 hours a week ... OMG!!! I'm an addict!! Thank you panorama for telling me that because I have a hobby that involves playing online games I'm endangering myself and others around me!

    Make a program about smoking, crack or alchohol addiction because gaming addiction is a very small minority of weak individuals who would be addicted to anything, don't blame the games blame the idiots who can't control their addiction. They are giving the millions of us normal gamers a bad rep!!!!

    Parents, don't be scared of online games, just make sure you send your kids outside to play now and then, it's called 'Good Parenting'.

    /rant over

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    At 37 and someone who has an Xbox and plays World of Warcraft, most games and consoles have parental controls. In the case shown about the son addicted to World of Warcraft, I feel the parents didn't take the time to check these or the nature of the game. I would also query that didn't they wonder where the son's money was going seeing as its a subscription based game, or were they actually fitting the bill?
    Although I do recognise that certain people can get carried away and go over the top, it does seem that parents can use gaming as an excuse to paper over issues they have missed or not aware off. I know in my day growing up if I spent hours on end in the house or in my room, my parents would of asked questions or told me to go and kick a ball about.

  • Comment number 21.

    I just watched the Panorama report on BBC, and I have to say, I thought it was lacking in a couple of major aspects of gaming addiction. I am a 21 year old male, and I've played games since I was 11. I've never been addicted, but there have been one or two periods in my life where I played more than I should.

    Now, "grown-ups" always say that online RPG's (role playing games) are the most addictive games, which I think is true. But they don't seem to understand WHY. It's because of the virtual reality, the ability to become someone else - a hero. But it's much more than that. It's not just the character you play as, which is what most people believe. It's also the society you play in.

    Let's take World of Warcraft for example. The main addictive problem is not just developing your character, which anyone can do over any period of time. The main problem is in the social reputation and obligations (yes, gamers have obligations online!). In this game you can join Guilds, and play with friends in a group. However, since the guilds are ranked, and the strongest guilds wield a certain amount of influence in the gaming world, this leads to guilds not just asking, but DEMANDING that their members spend at least 10 hours a day playing in order to maintain the guild reputation. I was once banned from a guild because I was "only" playing 3 hours a day. I think this is a major issue in gaming addiction. It's actually the ranking system and reputation that makes people play obsessively, since they constantly strive to climb higher and protect their current rank. They want to be the best!

    Of course, gaming habits also come from depression. I was depressed when I got into my first rut, and it took quite a stern hand from my parents to get me out of it, for which I am definitely grateful. I just hope that we don't end up like South Korea, which would be catastrophic.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm very ineterested in this program because I've been studying "computer addiction". I personally play a lot of computer games and have felt the frustration of "just one more click". But although my initial reaction was that it must be addictive I'm looking at alternatives to this view. One such alternative is that gamers are simply doing something that other people don't understand or like. I have been schooled in the Person Centred (PC) perspective and after deliberating with myself as to whether computer addiction exists I look at the PC view which is that if it's a problem for that person, it's a problem.

    You may be aware that computer addiction or any of it's derivatives are not as yet in DSMIV (the bible for psychological diagnosis) and neither are any other process addictions such as gambling, shopping, or sex. There are people pushing on both sides of the debate as to whether it should be included in DSMV. If you have any knowledge of the scientific journals that are available you will realize that they are all flawed and all bias in their opinions.

    A seperate category of computer addiction changes the law when it comes to mental health, as it is seen as being the truth after it has gone in the DSM. Personally I am interested in why people would want a seperate category and one reason I am exploring is that essentially the more mental illnesses are created the more work is created for psychologists and the more esteeem is placed upon the professionals.

    I'm also aware of such games as Evony and World of Warcraft which use 'the grind' a technique of repetitive clicks which can in itself become a problem. I'm also aware that there are programs which utilize the techniques of the Skinner rat experiments, where random prizes or punishments can elicit a feeling of lack of control.

    There are a lot of issues involved in the subject (far more than I could mention) and to oversimplify by stating that "computer games are addictive" is not doing the area any justice.

    As a final note it is interesting to look back into history and recall that whenever a new technology comes in, fear of it is high and the likes of wireless radios and television have both been called addictive at some stage.

    I'd be interested in any comments.

  • Comment number 23.

    No coincidence, methinks, that this aired on the night the most successful game of all time launches its latest expansion: WOW Cataclysm. I am 58 years old and have played MMORPGs since the 1990s. I have three adult children who all play WOW; they have an articulate, intelligent and highly engaged circle of friends who have done likewise for years. We are all tired of the same nonsense being peddled by ignorant reporters who smugly admit that they do not play - and therefore know nothing about the subject on which they are reporting. But the joke is on you, BBC - you purport to be at the forefront of technology spending our licence money on rolling out high speed broadband which will be joyfully embraced by those of us who can appreciate the creativity and skills of those that create these games and welcomes the jobs and revenue it brings - as well as the fun. If you want to do something truly useful about addiction, then tackle the issue of successive Governments' failed drugs policy which has resulted in institutionalised drug-related crime.

    The comforting knowledge is that tonight there will be queues of hundreds, if not thousands, outside Game and Virgin stores across the country waiting to buy Cataclysm. In comparison the numbers at recent student protests will look pathetic - but there will not be one episode of violence, not one police officer hurt and millions of pounds in revenue generated, not tax payer subsidised. Something to celebrate surely?

  • Comment number 24.

    This was loathsome, cheap and talentless journalism at it's very worst. What a waste of license payer's fees, this same tripe gets churned out by the media every November/December, just prior to the games industries peak season (Christmas, obviously).

    Let David McCandless enlighten everyone, as he explains how pathetic uninspired journalists play the same fear factor cards REPEATEDLY on a annual basis. These are facts, enjoy; https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html

  • Comment number 25.

    My son is 23 and has withdrawn from life,has no friends,doesnt go out and stays up all night playing games,sleeping by day.This has led to him leaving a job after a few weeks ,leaving a university course after less than two terms and doing nothing other than play games for 3 years.
    He will not sign on,has no income and refuses point blank to look for work. Any attempt to rationalise with him results in verbal abuse and removal of internet connection has resulted in violent behaviour,smashing up his room,furniture etc.
    He was a perfectly normal child and this behaviour didnt manifest itself until his late teens when he started playing computer games. Buying him a laptop (for studying !!) was a big mistake.
    We have tried to get psychiatric/medical help but no one recognises this as a serious problem and he refuses to see anyone anyway.
    Does anyone have any similar experiences and/or suggestions for dealing with this type of problem.

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't think enough is being said at the way game companies make their games with the sole purpose of sucking you in. In the actual program there was only 1 sentence mentioning the behavioral psychology used to entice games into never stopping (the skinner box). If youb want to know more check https://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html

    It's a really interesting article, I used to be addicted to games a while ago and a lot of what is in the article I already subconsciously knew however reading it in plain English was like an epiphany.

  • Comment number 27.

    Just before this show went out the BBC Worldwide Communications Boss Phil Fleming would like to remind everybody that “The games that we [the BBC] do are family-based, they’re not about traditional firearms, the games are about using your brain.”
    I wasn't happy with the show, but this made me furious because it shows a complete lack of understanding by the BBC. One of the very reasons why games are so addictive is because they engage their audience on multiple levels from base action and reward, to cognitive and emotional levels. And yet Phil would like us all to believe that the BBC isn't part of the problem. No Phil, BBC games aren't part of the problem because they are rubbish.

    The show should have talked to real experts like Jesper Juuls New York University Game Centre Professor, games consultant and writer who has cronicalled many game mechanics and their effects on the gamer. You should have spoken to Jonathan Blow one of the first people in the industry to speak out about junk food mechanics (also a game designer). This is a real growing problem and all the BBC could to talk to was none gamers including, some child psycholinguists (who don't play), some managers in the industry (who we all know don't play, but I will save that rant), the victims parents (who don't play) and the victims who don't understand their own addiction.

    I despairer BBC, your technology coverage seems to never be able to catch up with current technology. You always have to dumb it down way more than you need to meet the comprehension level of a BBC executive.

  • Comment number 28.

    For all those who take this as a joke and don't see how serious it is, you dont know what it is like to live with someone with this addiction. I've watched it rip my family apart and its taken away a member of my family. And I feel so desperate because I don't know how to get them back and get through to them. I became angry and depressed and even grieved for the person though they were still alive. I live in the same house as them but dont see them for days. And i miss them. Its been well over two years, the addiction started well before then but I count the days from when they ran away from home (though they have returned now).
    And for all those of you that say I shouldnt be angry at the game? Im not just angry at it, I'm angry and the person for being so selfish and letting it destroy my family, im angry at myself and my family for letting it happen and get this far but I cant help but be angry at the game too. Surely this is natural like a person would be angry at the drugs as well as the drug addict for what they are doing?!
    And as for the argument that there is a underlying problem with these people, i dont doubt there could be. But what difference does it make. People who can be addicted to drugs and alcohol can have underlying problems and use the addiction to escape but that doesnt make their addiction any less real, so why should this be any different?
    It has all the symptoms of other additions so why isnt it being taken seriously?
    And please don't say we havent tried, you dont understand how unbelievable hard we have tried. But its not as easy to deal with an addiction when they are grown up and no-one takes it seriously than if you were dealing with it when they are a child.

  • Comment number 29.

    i play the game counterstike source quite alot but i dont consdider my self addicted, i just go through phases of playing the game alot to playing other games. a few daysof counterstrike, 40hrs, not too bad really considering how much i did on rusecape at one point XD. but you dont get addicted, you just get into the game alot. i wont die without it. i hope
    i think the people making this are making an attack on kid gamers. go see ken burton, hes in his 40s and works for machinima making loads of gameplay videos, but he isnt addicted, just having a good time.

  • Comment number 30.

    This whole documentary is both alarmist and pandering to old stereotypes. No longer are gamers young males shut up in their rooms. Where are the women games, the older gamers, and so on. Or is this 'addiction' just something that affects that demographic? Are these people the type who would get addicted to anything. Where were the interviews with those who play these games without any issues what so ever?

    I'm female and over thirty. I play World of Warcraft regularly but not excessively. For me it is a communal interest as I frequently visit the US and WoW gives me a chance to have a communal activity with my US friends. And yes I have paid for and I am excitedly waiting for the Cataclysm update.

  • Comment number 31.

    Personally I felt this report was rather one sided. Addiction to computer games isn't anything new, there has been instances of murders/child neglect etc from many games prior to the current generation of mmo's and fps games. Even games like pacman can be classed as addictive using some of the definitions described in the program.

    As a gamer i have seen others, when playing games such as warcraft & call of duty. that there are extreme cases where people become encapsulated and their world effectively revolves around their online world. as with anything, there will be a minority who take this to an extreme.

    For any parents who are concerned about their children playing of World of Warcraft. The brief mention in the statement by blizzard towards the end of the program of their parental controls are worth looking into. You can set your child's account to limit their access on an hourly basis.

    The report also seemed to suggest that students who play these games seem to end up dropping out/ getting poorer grades. Of a group of 10 players gamers who played WoW through university the lowest grade we have between us is a 2:1. We were just a little pastier than some of our other friends!

  • Comment number 32.

    I find it disappointing that so much of the programme directed its ire towards the Games Industry, rather than the individuals who find themselves incapable of turning off a machine.

    I guarantee you the machine does not make you play it. It is not sat with a minigun saying "Come with me if you want to live~". There is no biochemical dependancy as found in narcotics addiction. You will not suffer actual, physical pain as a result of going cold turkey.

    At no point did the program mention that even now most games released in the UK advise all players to avoid long, unbroken sessions of play. Nor, despite heavily referencing of Blizzard's flagship MMORPG, did it mention that World of Warcraft's load-screen eyecatches include reminders that players should not play the game at the expense of the other things in their life.

    In addition, Panorama gave very little airtime to the reasons people might find games enjoyable, over and above comparing gamers with rats desperately pawing for tidbits. In fact, there was almost no discussion of the background of the 'addicts' in the documentary - which is surely an important facet in determining the nature of their overindulgence in gaming. Are they escaping to, or escaping from.

    For my part, I have been playing computer games since I was around seven. The first game I played was Missile Command, on the Atari XE - which should give a rough indicator of my generation.

    I view gaming just as I view any other entertainment medium. Do I occasionally take a Saturday and decide to spend it reading? Of course - with a few food and bathroom breaks, obviously. Have I ever marathoned all three extended-edition Lord of the Rings movies with friends? I confess, it has been known, and a good time was had by all that day. Have I sat and had BBC News 24 on in the background for hours on the occasional Sunday, if there's nothing else I particularly want to see? Once or twice.

    Would I consider myself addicted to Peter Robinson novels, Peter Jackson motion pictures, or Peter Sissons' ties? No. So why, if I decide to spend a weekend burning through a particularly engrossing computer RPG, or playing a realtime strategy game against a few friends who live in the States, should I consider myself 'addicted' to games?

  • Comment number 33.

    This Panorama raises some interesting points, particularly about the relation between the access to high speed broadband and the number of persons addicted to video games. But it's disappointing that they didn't mention certain aspects, in particular those capable of diverting the blame away from video games.

    I would have liked to see at least a mention of parents responsibility, the case of Chris Dando in my opinion is a good example. I know that Mrs Dando doesn't understand video games but I think she should have noticed a problem when her son spent 20 hours a day locked up in his room!

    Another thing is about when Chris "went berserk" - nice touch adding the berserk orc from World of Warcraft to strengthen your point by the way!!! lol - lets all be honest wouldn't you get angry if someone made you lose your page or if someone changed channel in the middle of your favourite TV programme? Add to that teenage hormones and the result isn't pretty that's for sure.

    On the other hand it would be nice to get a better answer from the gaming industry than "There is no formal medical evidence that says games are addictive anywhere in the world." They could simply say that there is a small minority of people who could become addicted to video games and therefore to limit the amount of time playing video games a day.

    But we can't blame the gaming industry of being defensive about the subject considering the amount of criticism they have taken over the years especially from the media, just a few examples of this is the attack on the violence in Modern Warfare 2 in the BBC, the ridiculous debate on Fox news in 2008 over Mass Effect.
    It would be nice if just once in a while mainstream media mentioned some of the positive side of gaming, for example the fact that it is scientifically proven that video games are beneficial to people suffering poor eye/hand coordination and visual attention skills. I suppose that is still far from happening.

  • Comment number 34.

    For anyone genuinely concerned by or interested in this subject, please read this article: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/12/06/editorial-panorama-addicted-to-games/

    And this, a reprint from several years ago: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/12/06/what-is-the-truth-about-gaming-addiction-2/

    The author is a widely respected video games journalist of over ten years standing. The care, bipartisanship and integrity he has given to his analysis of an important issue puts Panorama's fear-mongering-dressed-as-journalism to shame.

  • Comment number 35.

    I found the comments by Joe (the amateur film-maker) at the end of the documentary revealing.

    "My advice... go ring a friend and go out and get smashed..."

    Gaming addiction, which does seem to be a real phenomenon, seems on some level to be about escapism, which persists even in the absence of the games in this instance. There is something fundamentally better about the worlds that are presented in games, books, TV and film, or of getting drunk to the point of memory loss, than the world we actually live in; whether it be the simple rules governing action and consequence, the vibrant and exciting scenarios we find ourselves in, or simply the absence of the mundane stresses of everyday living.

    The problem with Games is that the deeper mode of immersion in these worlds requires that its users possess a stronger sense of will and self-control than in many other modes of escapism we've seen thus far. But rather than a challenge to game developers, I take this as a challenge to the way we educate our kids. We basically teach them to accept the impositions and boundaries they're given, with an education system based more on the rote-learning of fact and creating economic producers and consumers than helping develop critical thinking and rational evaluation.

    It ought be no surprise that this one and the same strategy comes back to bite us when we introduce our kids to immersive fictions.

  • Comment number 36.

    So I'm assuming that this programme's reporters went into the issue with a totally open mindset, and looked at the issue from both sides

    - but somewhere along the line all the scientific evidence, research, balance and detail got thrown out in favor of ominous music, random anecdotes from people with no broader view, and tabloid journalism?

    Textbook example of fear-mongering one-sided journalism. Not what you'd expect from Panorama.

  • Comment number 37.

    My story is very similar to the lady in the show. My eighteen year old son became gradually more and more reclusive, disappearing into his virtual world. We saw before our eyes a once very popular sporty son gradually becoming a complete recluse. We had no alternative but to pull the plug on the internet. The violence was immediate and so extreme that we had no alternative but to ask him to leave.

    He spent the next 2 years living at a girlfriends house. Her parents would regularly contact me worried for his well being, as (you guessed it) he had become reclusive and would only infrequently appear from the computer to eat. Finally they asked him to leave.

    He was homeless, girl-friendless in fact totally friendless. After a long conversation with him where he confessed his realization that he had lost his childhood sweetheart due to a computer game, we took him back on the understanding of no more games. I spent the next 3 months getting him a motorbike and a job. Little by little he worked his way back onto the computer. First it was the need to look up old friends on facebook, then simple facebook games, until finally he hacked into my account and installed his old addiction (World of Warcraft). I disconnected the internet. My son is now leaving the house for work but going to friends to play all day on the game. I'm at a total loss of what to do next. He's now 21.

  • Comment number 38.

    "rondb wrote:
    I don't think enough is being said at the way game companies make their games with the sole purpose of sucking you in."

    I'm such an evil person for researching new dangerous ways to get babies addicted to heroin like video games and practise on lab mice, clearly ¬_¬

    It was as biased and scare mongering as I throught - and some of the sound bites were really offensive to both me as a gamer, and as a professional creating games I hope my own children will love one day and will touch on all the lives as Mario or Zelda has.

    As I said before, I use game mechinics to help users enjoy what they are playing, and that includes myself. If its not enjoyable or linked to the story then it doesn't go in. People love progression, feeling like they are getting somewhere.. people love rewards.. people don't want to be punished. In the same way writers use story writing techniques, I use gameplay mechanics, and love coming up with new ones that I can wait to try out in a game to see how they feel.

    And as for teh above comment about teaching kids to kill - theres age ratings, as last time I heard 21 year old guys don't like playing with my little ponies! (no offence!)

    I barely watch TV as it is due to its outdated and just boring medium, just not switching it on again now.

    The "kids" that were addicted (i.e. all people who much ratehr play games than go to school/uni) clearly would of got into something else, and the guy at the end encouraging youngesters to get out and smashed... really..? Yeah, cause thats much healther and cheaper than staying in and playing a few multiplayer games with some mates.

    As usual - the problem is BCAC, between chair and computer.

    As for the comments above about your student kids needing help/tearing you family apart.. its simple. You just ask for a word when they are grabbing some food, say just playing games with no education isn't going to get you a job or a partner and that you won't be around forever to help recover them after their mistakes. Call social Darwinism if you have to - but say they have to learn themselves what the limit is as I have often seen with some people I used to know. At the end of teh day, WoW servers are not going to be on forever and they will never be at the top of the social structure and Blizzard will never invite them to test out new stuff for it - if they realy want to get into the games industry they have to get a decent education at a good university and play lots of DIFFERENT games.

    My sister didn't get addicted to games, but she did end up in a simliar situation as all these drop out young adults - and my mom suffered, but my sister was the one who had to grow up and deal with it herself and know the limits LIKE EVERY TEENAGER, she did. All teenagers go through an age like the ones seen in the program, games is the safer, cheaper, and keeps you out of bullys/social awkardness way route for a lot of kids.

    When I was back in university, I was president of the computer game society. We had all sorts of gamers there, and some who would be classed as "addicts" to WoW. For a lot of the kids, we were the only social society they went to - as they felt they didn't fit in anywhere else, they got picked on, they didn't like drinking. Gaming culture helps the little guys out in this case, it gives us a social group - a very large one - to be part of which can include people all over the world if you enjoy WoW. This is not addiction or even an activity which is antisocial - people socialise with it and games such as MMOs actually encourge that social play. Surely theres a few adults here remember playing Goldeneye007 on the N64 with friends, or Mario Kart.

    I would of loved to see a bit more inclusion of what young game designers actually feel, how they go about their "dirty work", what their view are - but no. I saw no email or message to the games industry as a whole.

  • Comment number 39.

    Obviously, from some of the comments here, this can be a very real issue for some people, and the BBC did a great dis-service to their suffering by treating the subject matter in such a biased, anecdotal, ill-researched manner.

    At no point was any scientific evidence produced, any alternative reasoning for problems considered (despite frequently being mentioned by the experts questioned - see the Korean doctor who treated the malnourished baby, and mentioned the low IQs and mental instabilities of the parents), nor any effort made to show that games specifically are the problem, and not underlying mental issues or social problems that could manifest as an obsessive relationship with any medium.

    The reporter in question was also clearly completey unaware of the irony in him standing in a PC Baang, questioning why these gamers were not invovled in a more wholesome activity such as drinking (a physically addictive substance which causes a multitude of deaths annually) or in a nightclub (a scene well-known for its involvement with illegal drugs). Clearly a simple computer game is far more dangerous to the health than either of these situations!

    The entire episode was constructed around a conclusion decided well in advance of the research, with editing clearly used to cherry-pick the statements that best suited the argument being presented and no time given to any contradictory statements that might decrease the impact of this most tabloid-inspired of "documentaries". For shame, Panorama, once you were a heavyweight of journalistic integrity but you now find yourself reduced to the televisual equivalent of the Daily Star.

    For those suffering under obssessive behaviour (and not addiction, as the BBC loves to mislabel it), might I suggest talking to your doctor about receiving psychiatric support, possibly cognitive behaviour therapy - a conversation which will do far more to inform and help your loved ones than this program did.

  • Comment number 40.

    In my my work I meet gamers with a real strong addiction. And I have good results in helping them-worldwide.
    An interesting thing is that it is often people with high IQ.
    Best regards
    Sven at [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 41.

    This is the most unforgivingly one sided show yet from "Paranoidrama showing people the extreme worst of cases but doesnt include facts like most gamers arent this obsessive and why go to North Korea with its internatinal StarCraft Competions and finally most people dont smash things up when their internet gets blocked and they can't play WOW

  • Comment number 42.

    I find it quite shocking that our lisence fee's go into making such utter rubbish. I hope the team had a nice little holiday to Korea.

    I am 27 and have been a gaming enthusiast most of my life, I am currently renovating my own house whilst living with me partner and raising our little girl. Both of us play games. She is studying a phd in history, I work as an engineer whilst studying game design.

    I have to agree with a lot of the above comments, if we take the example of world of warcraft no effort was made to show the other side of the coin. The controls that are available to parents to help them limit excessive play. How about showing a little interest in your childs hobby? Maybe if you understand it a little better you could avoid getting into this situation?

    Whilst studying my degree I worked in retail selling games and was disgusted at how many parents would get angry at me for refusing to sell 18 rated games to their kids who looked about 10 (or younger). The program asks why there isnt information about gaming addiction on the packages? Why bother most of you ignore the age reccomendations that are already there?

    I see my job as a parent involving teaching my kids about how to lead a balanced life and helping them to develop an understanding of how to deal with emotions etc. Why is it that society seems to want to absolved of their responsibilities and attack anyone who makes a good scapegoat. Get involved at the start. If you wait till your child has fallen that far you have already failed.

    Gaming can be a great hobby. The stories I played through, the characters I have 'been' or 'met' are far richer and better thought out than anything you will find in a trashy soap. The mental challenges in solving the puzzles and problems provided by a good game are far more stimulating than mindlessly watching tv. Yet this program would rather you didnt see that, we are all reclusive addicts who would let our children starve and get violent if anyone takes our game away.....

    If the games are directly responsible for this behaviour why out of the millions of gamers are there only a small number of these cases? Do you blame the alcohol industry for people who choose to drink too much and become alcoholics? No you recognise the person has issues and that alcohol is the result of that not the cause.

    I could go on a lot longer but think most of it has been said several times over. Overall just very disappointed with the very poor standard of the program.

  • Comment number 43.

    Quite frankly I think it was an appalling show.

    Played games since I was 5 (I'm now 21), probably played too much at times, particularly during my 'angry teenage years' but certainly not addicted. At some point the BBC and other organisations are going to have to accept that video games are here to stay, and they're going to have to stop treating it as some absurd and weird phenomenon.

    After watching the BBC screen panorama last week in the face of criticism I was privately very glad it did, then it ruins it all by this fear mongering 'but what about the children!?' nonsense. Best of all in typical BBC style it then goes to the gaming industry and says what are you going to do about it? Despite the problem obviously being that these teenagers have clearly almost no life, and their parents for not realising that spending twenty+ hours in a room isn't good for you.

    The games industry does not have to answer for a minority of teenagers and their poor choices.

  • Comment number 44.

    This was the worst look at video gaming ive seen in a long time.

    I play video games and have done for a very long time, am i addicted, yes to a degree i am. I enjoy gaming. I get excited at new releases, angry and stressed at playing them sometimes when things in game arent going my way, but isnt that the same as real life. If you dont get the job you want or get stressed out over work deadlines its the same. You have to know when its time to put down the controller or turn off the computer.

    All this TV show did was show how crappy the parents of these so called "addicted" gamers are. As a parent i know the line in gaming when you have to tell your child "look its time to turn it off now". Not ignore them and let them play for 20hours straight. My son, while hes still only little loves playing his games but at the same time he still enjoys going out to the park. Hes crys and gets frustrated when hes losing at his games, dont we all, wether its playing games or something else in our lives.

    All it takes is a little parenting to control the use of video gaming. Setting time limits or arranging activities outside of the house.

    Seriously is show made me angry. What a load of rubbish, what a narrow minded view on video gaming.

    Maybe i should quit my so called addictive video gaming and start going down the pub and slowly become an alcholic as this seems like its more of a socially engaging activity.

    I agree with most of the posts. The games industry has nothing to answer for when it comes to addictive gaming. In my view its the parents for letting it get out of control.
    One ost i read talked of how the poster works at a video game shop and gets angry customers complaining when he/she wont sell them an 18 rated game. I too work in a Video game shop and get the same situations on a daily basis. I would never let my little one play extremely violent, realistic video games. But you as a parent have the responsibility if you do buy those games to monitor it.

    Parents need to stop complaining to Games companies about the games they make or sell, and be better parents.

    I could go on all day with this but it would just be repeating what so many of us have already said.
    Next time have a better argument and stop wasting our Licening money on this rubbish.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm going to join what seems to be a vast amount of shocked and disgusted people

    This Panorama episode was a joke. Yes some computer games can be addictive in the way things like slot machines are. It's the "just one more go" syndrome, but most can realise when enough is enough. Some can't, it's not essentially their fault it's just their conditioning, we tend to call that an addictive personality. Yes for lot's of the people who get too intranced and let these things take over their lives it has some form of escapism to it. I love how brushed over the comment from the Korean mother was; "I used to hit him quite alot", and people are suprised he wanted to escape into something that wasn't real and was fun. Who wouldn't?

    As for responsibility of the industry: If the games they make aren't fun for people to play, if they don't keep people playing them regularly and wanting to buy sequels then the company goes bust. It's in their interest to make the game as good as possible and as lasting as possible for them to survive, if people think that's irresponsable of them then they need to change the entire fabric of the world system.

    This was nothing more than scare tactic bully journalism, designed to create paranoid histeria in the 2.4 children family with parents that don't know anything about the nature of computer games and see it as some foreign anomaly. If your child starts refusing to go to school then of course something is wrong, don't blame it on the only thing in life they like, find out why it's the only thing in life they like.

    I do feel for people like ElZorillo who see someone they know become recluse as they begin to enjoy the fantasy world more than the real one, who can blame them. The real world is hard and uncomprimising, World of Warcraft is a lot more simple and kind. The problem is the internet is not going to go away and neither is Warcraft. Just like anyone with a psychological addiction to something you have to not want it anymore. That's not an easy thing, being cut off for a bit means you will just go straight back to it when you can or find a way to get it back. The saying goes "if you can't beat them, join them." So why not? firstly your teenage kids might decide it's not quite so cool to go out hunting cave trolls with your mums level 20 warlock. Secondly you can find out what it is about the game they find so compelling, help them find a real world equivelent of this (which there will be) and try to help them wean off warcraft and onto other things. They might not stop playing it all together but will take it back from an obsession to a past time.

    I hope that the entire panorama team are ashamed with themselves, this was so unobjective, so forcibly opinoinated that it made my skin crawl. Every opinion contrary to the one it supported was brushed under the rug and then ended with the advice of one recovering adict "go out and get smashed"; I suppose that way you can be on the next panorama about Britains binge drinking culture instead of the addictive gaming one.

  • Comment number 46.

    As soon as I saw the advert for this episode of Panorama, I knew exactly what to expect; yet another "unbiased" look into the world of gaming, and how it's destroying lives. What nonsense.

    This is a prime example of what you get when you combine presenters who know little-to-nothing about the content they're investigating, with the latest pet peeve of bad parents and conservative scaremongerers. I agree with a previous poster in saying that the entire team behind this episode should be ashamed of themselves for allowing the BBC to sink to a new low.

    To begin with, the explanations of the various games presented in the show were laughably poor, to the point of being mistaken. In the simplest case, it was the presenter calling Eidos icon Lara Croft "Laura". This was by no means the first warning sign of an uneducated observation, but it was the most memorable. Other disgraces to television reporting included the description of World of Warcraft and its subsequent depiction. Why, I wonder, did the BBC focus on an avid PvP'er (someone who plays WoW mainly for competitive purposes)? PvP is only one facet of WoW, and something less than half of the 12 million subscribers take part in seriously.

    The antagonistic behaviour and biased opinions of the presenter were abhorrent. When speaking to the "WoW addict" later on in the show, the presenter commented on the player seeming annoyed that he was talking to him while he was playing, equating this to some clearly evident "addictive" behaviour. "Look what happens when I interrupt this man while he's getting his fix!", the presenter all but said. Or perhaps, Panorama, it was the same sort of annoyance that one would exhibit when you shush someone while you're watching a movie. Or ask for quiet when trying to listen to something on the radio.

    The actions and prejudiced opinions of this entire ensemble have served only to prove that the BBC are just another bunch of yes-men when it comes to games, and that's a best case scenario. If you truly believe what's being reported, without giving the decency of a balanced review of the situation? Then I simply don't know what to say.

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    I heard about this episode of Panorama and unfortunately I've been too wrapped up in Cataclysm to watch it. Thank goodness for iPlayer!
    Ok, that's a lie - I've been working 12 hours shifts. I'm still a gamer, I play on any platform, I play any genre of game, I play pretty much anything to a reasonable standard. I have certain very strong beliefs within games (Shooters are best on PC instead of consoles, vice-versa for racing games, X-Box Vs PS3, Wiimotes Vs Kinect... You name it). The point is, I know of what I blather mindlessly about, yet still maintain a decent job and almost always turn up to work on time; awake, showered and ready. Actually, a quick side-note; My best mate's mum's teaches philosophy at post-degree level and asked me for a sketch outline of the history of games and gamers. In under 3 hours, I'd knocked up a 4,500 word essay, fully referenced with pictures, gramatically correct and fully spell-checked. She was impressed. I'm fairly proud that I impressed a PhD in under 3 hours with a single document. And got drunk while doing it. Epic win.

    I stopped reading these comments at #14 because after a full documentary, a blog, and 13 other comments I finally found someone who understands balance. (Probably plays as a druid). Thankyou, Goodgreeftoyboy for real facts delivered in an intelligent way. You're absolutely spot on there, and I cannot do better than highlight your awesomeness and not try to add anything to it.

    Now my tuppen'th - Yes, there are addicts. In fact, I attended the 'funeral' of a WoW player. In Darnassus. She'd dehydrated, passed out and died because of a marathon session. Yes, it can and does damage lives.
    Do I accept that there needs to be a half-hour programme of utterly one-sided scaremongering about it?
    Give me a break - 'The first thing we noticed was when we lost our connection and he destroyed the house in a fit of rage'
    'Am I irritating you by distracting you?'...'Well, yeah you are - I'm dying on a lot here. Seriously dude, a LOT'
    Pure comedy genius. Firstly - the first thing she noticed about her son... stop there - her SON. Look, if you give a teenage/late teen/early 20's guy a console, while you're letting him still live at home, and then let him put it in his bedroom... Whatever, you're just asking for trouble. Frankly I'm suprised he hadn't also formed a half-ounce a week cannabis habit.
    And 'Leo' - Totally right to be irritated. He's an undead warlock for goodness's sake. He should be owning that battleground, not sucking mightily. His whole faction will be laughing at him now. PvP Fail. Despite the Antec case no doubt filled with excellent spec bits & attached Razer gear (I recognise it well).

    Look, it works like this:
    If you only understand my third paragraph, you're an addict. Probably. There's a new invention called "Beer"; Finish your raid, log off and go find some. Bring a guildmate but leave the headset.
    If you only understand my second (probably minus the 'druid' bit), you're a rational and intelligent person with the capability of reading & understanding before speaking. If you get the druid bit too then nice one - a gamer with balance. Grats!

    Enough. Games are neither evil nor good. They're somewhere in the middle, and I'm so bored of thinking that if we all just understood the basic concept of MODERATION, then life would be so much cooler. Get used to it - games are here to stay. Just learn how to budget time. Or buy a game that allows you to save your progress.

    For the Alliance! (Just... not for long, 'cos I got to be up early for work).

  • Comment number 49.

    I think we need to flip the perspective on this a bit. Yes, there was obviously some editorial involvement designed to pitch the documentary as somewhat alarmist and populist. That's the game, guys; this is how you suck in the mass market when it comes to the typical Panorama audience.

    Where Panorama made their biggest mistake was in thinking that the target of their documentary was restricted to the boxes of plastic, copper and silicon sitting in peoples' front rooms. The kind of "game design" under attack was supposed to be the use of the psychology of addiction. And if you're being realistic, rather than going with the gut defensive reaction, you'll realise that of course this is present in games. It's present in everything commercial. That's what happens when entertainment is driven by market forces.

    In the end, I reckon one could throw a huge "Tu Quoque" back at this documentary. Why has it said what it has said in the way it has said it? Answer: to satisfy the viewing public, and allow them to delve deeper into the virtual world of "moral outrage" they waste so much of their time in.

    It can still be worthwhile to launch some of the criticisms that this documentary does ask, when you look at it that way. But the real substance of such criticism goes way beyond the question of whether you should buy a Wii for Christmas.

  • Comment number 50.

    Scenario 1:
    Somebody wears a football shirt on their days off work, spends copious amounts of money every month on TV subscription packages to make sure they don't miss a match, spends hundreds of pounds to watch their team play in a foreign country when they can and then sits down and watches Match of the Day - this person is a fan, someone who is passionate about their hobby.

    Scenario 2:
    Somebody wears a Warcraft shirt on their days off work, spends £8.99 a month to play the game, and plays it all night when they get home from work in lieu of watching TV (the average Brit watches around 4 hours of TV a day) - this person is dangerously addicted to an antisocial hobby and will be lucky if they remember to wash themselves. Apparently.

  • Comment number 51.

    Did I hear that correctly on the episode... the reporter and one interviewee recommended that someone with a potential addictive personality type to go out to a nightclub or "get smashed" (i.e. alcohol). I'm pretty sure swapping one compulsion for another really doesn't solve anything.

    Regarding psychology in modern gaming, it certainly is something that needs to be addressed and I should add has been studied. There is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate the homology between the reward systems in games and those within operant conditioning chambers. Not only do they possess the random reward regime; but also subtle queues to reward performance; and reinforcing collecting/hoarding obsessive compulsive behaviour. It should be noted though that the rewards games provide merely tap into the pathways that are already extant in our brains (essential for learning key behaviours), which is something the reporter failed to note or even casually mention.

    The reporting for this episode of Panarama I found to be extremely lazy, and to a certain extent lacked a lot of the meat required to produce a satisfying piece. There should have been significantly less focus on shocking people into thinking this is some latent problem, and more research/reportage on the underlying causes of this behaviour.


  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.


    "While the BBC is not unique amongst mainstream news organisations in this regard, the only time the BBC ever has anything to do with games is to attack it- if it's not about addiction in tonight's Panorama, it's about violence, such as the BBC's response to Modern Warfare 2 last year. Even when it's meant to be positive, it's either marginalised or sneering, sarcastic and flippant."

    I suppose the Charlie Brooker show on games could be classified as sneering, sarcastic and flippant, but at least he's an actual gamer.

    Eventually the media will run out of people who can legitimately stumble across gaming, wide-eyed with amazement, like a Victorian explorer discovering a bunch of cannibals in a jungle clearing. Soon we will all be cannibals.

  • Comment number 54.

    To say game developers are responsible is laughable to say the least. The real problem here is lack of parenting. I fail to see how any decent parent will not notice their son or daughter shut up in their room for days on end and of course when they "explode" the game developers are the obvious scapegoat for their neglegence.
    Also, children need to learn how to have little self-control and prioritise. Lessons that could be learnt from their parents, mind you.

    I play World of Warcraft and I got addicted. But fortuneately my parents intervened. I still play it as it's a highly enjoyable game, nothing wrong with that. I find it hilarious, also, that Panorama should purport irritance while doing something as addiction when in fact it equates to shushing someone during a film, as Leivan pointed out.

    And to all those people who jump on the "Game developers lie! Blizzard Lies!" bandwagon, which I know people do and have, they DO have parental controls and they DO advise that players do not spend too long on the game.

    But what it boils down to is that whoever is addicted just needs a slap round the face, after all, it's only a game.

  • Comment number 55.

    54. At 7:54pm on 10 Dec 2010, James wrote:
    To say game developers are responsible is laughable to say the least. The real problem here is lack of parenting. I fail to see how any decent parent will not notice their son or daughter shut up in their room for days on end and of course when they "explode" the game developers are the obvious scapegoat for their neglegence.
    Also, children need to learn how to have little self-control and prioritise. Lessons that could be learnt from their parents, mind you.

    I'm not sure this is always the parents' responsibility either. What about single parent families where the working parent has to work long hours in order to keep the family home, earn enough for the food and bills and pay education fees? I would hardly call them a bad parent just because their kids spend all of their pocket money on video games to keep themselves entertained, however much of an addiction this might be.

    There is only so much parents can do alone. I agree that this seems to be an education problem, but we're putting too much weight on the idea that biological parents are always the right people to raise children to the exclusion of everyone else. There is a kind of stigma against the intervention of social workers in the family environment; I think this stigma is unwarranted, particularly when it comes to dealing with addictive personalities, but even when it comes to general care of children and how to best balance work and life commitments.

  • Comment number 56.

    your right Mav. spot on. I have 2 big addictions (if thats what you want to call it) in my life gaming and fitness. Gaming has lots of positives:

    * Increases resistance to distraction (especially when playing action games).
    * Increased visual acuity. Your peripheral vision is improved quite significantly.
    * A great social activity, whether playing some games at a party or playing games online.
    * Can teach people more about life. Virtual pet games, for example, can help teach people about what is involved in raising a pet.
    * Puzzle, adventure and word games can help improve problem solving and logic skills. Sudoku is a game that greatly increases these skills. Adventure games where you have to complete certain goals can also help you to ‘think outside the box’ (note that if you use a walkthrough, you aren’t increasing any of these skills).
    * Can be used to assist in education. Studies have shown that children playing educational games learn more because they do not realize that they are learning.
    * Increases attention span.
    * They are fun!
    * If you are playing the Nintendo Wii, you can actually get a reasonable physical workout! Studies have shown that you use much more energy playing the Wii than the Playstation 3 (ps3), the Xbox 360 or the PC.

    Video games are a great invention. They increase reflexes and hand eye coordination. When people say that video games create violence that is complete crap. There are ratings for a reason and the violent games are meant for 17+ but parents are too nice on their kids now a days and let their six year olds play games meant for another decade. It disgusts me when people blame the game company for making a fun entertaining game meant for the right group when it effects their kid because of their actions. Video games are meant for entertainment only. If people take the game world as real world then something is wrong with their comprehension of life and the universe. When someone takes drugs and when someone asks why they took the drugs and they blame it on video games, that is wrong. Video games cannot control you or make your decisions for you so when you blame something like video games for your problems then you have bigger problems than that. Without video games then our military would not be as good as it is because of their training consists of playing simulations that are considered video games. If someone is against video games then they are against the future. I have been addicted when I was younger but I grew out of it like everyone else in this world will when their responsibilities come back and bite them. No one will be able to control their actions and how they will react to certain things except themselves. They choose to be violent, addicted, do drugs, and any other means how they comprehend the games they play.https://fat2burn.net


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