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'Addictive potential of games must be acknowledged'

Director of controversial Panorama documentary criticises "defensive" games industry

The producer and director of this evening's Panorama gaming special has accused the games industry of being "very defensive" over the issue of addiction - arguing that the "potential for things in games to be addictive [...] needs to be researched and acknowledged".

In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Emeka Onono said that this potential was "something that the industry's always doggedly denied". However, he insisted the documentary – entitled "Addicted to games?" – was not anti-gaming, but focused on an area where there is justified cause for concern.

"What we do know and we have made clear is that, for the vast majority of people games are good," he said. "It's a positive thing. But we need to keep an eye on them: what can be good for you can also be bad for you".

In the 30-minute feature reporter Raphael Rowe meets a number of gamers, in Britain and South Korea, who claim to have suffered severe social and emotional problems as a result of their gaming habit.

While highlighting extreme cases, the show acknowledges that games are good for the vast majority of players. But for the minority with "underlying issues", they could represent a problem.

"A child might be bullied or they may have self-esteem problems or they may be depressed," said Onono. "By turning to games they find they can forget about it for a while. [But] what can start off to be something that can help them, in some cases turns into something else where the game becomes a problem in itself."

The full interview with Emeka Onono can be read here.

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Johnny Minkley

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Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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