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UKIE pre-empts Panorama 'games addiction' broadcast

Body moves to dismiss claims of addiction ahead of BBC report

UK Interactive Entertainment is attempting to pre-empt the BBC's Panorama broadcast next week, which intends to "reveal the hidden psychological devices in games that are designed to keep us coming back for more."

The show will air views "from youngsters who've dropped out of school and university to play games for anything up to 21 hours a day," and "describe their obsessive gaming as an addiction."

But according to UKIE there is no solid evidence that so-called games addiction exists or is a legitimate affliction.

"There is currently no proven link between videogames and addiction, with there being mixed opinion among academics about whether a game can be clinically addictive," said Michael Rawlinson, director general of UKIE.

"There is no official medical diagnosis of videogame addiction, either from the American Medical Association or the World Health Organisation."

Rawlinson was interviewed for the Panorama programme - along with other industry figures - but has not seen a final edit of the show, to be broadcast on BBC One on Monday December 6.

"UKIE is aware of some individuals that play games excessively but often the causes of many of the sad cases that we hear about are down to other underlying medical, social or environmental issues concerning the individuals concerned," said Rawlinson.

"UKIE continues to monitor any research developments on the issue of excessive gaming and will welcome reviewing any conclusive new research. Any new research undertaken should be as balanced as possible.

"Therefore any research undertaken should ideally be independent of the games industry and any other bodies that may have an interest in the results."

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Latest comments (30)

Dan Stubbs Studying BA Design for Games, Plymouth College of Art9 years ago
Panorama stopped being a serious investigative documentary program several years ago, when it began to sacrifice journalistic integrity in favour of head-grabbing pieces like this.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Stubbs on 2nd December 2010 5:57pm

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Private Industry 9 years ago
Games are as addictive as TV.
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 9 years ago
I read GamesIndustry.biz everyday, addiction!!!!
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Show all comments (30)
Lee Hansiel Lim Game Developer - Unity3D, Anino PlayLab9 years ago
@Aleksi Ranta true, that. :D
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
More than the question whether games are addictive, there should be an investigation into finding something which humans CANNOT get addicted to. Those "tricks'" making people come back can be adapted to a lot of things, not just games.
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robert troughton Managing Director, Coconut Lizard9 years ago
Somebody should investigate why people in general are addicted to media bullshit. That's the real story here...

Anyway, I'm just off to feed my Angry Birds addiction...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by robert troughton on 3rd December 2010 8:49am

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Chris Kay Senior Level Designer, Crytek9 years ago
life is addicting ;(
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany9 years ago
Oh look!; our sensationalism metter is going down, we are loosing audience!. We need another biased, misguidings and useful-to-no-one TV show.

Let's make one about a unprooved addiction; we could do one about how bad tobacco, alcohol and drugs are and save some lifes in the process... but this will give us a bit more audience. Go for it then.

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany9 years ago
By the way; maybe the industry should broadcast a program about how the press sometimes uses misguided (if not fake) information for the shake of profit.

There would be a difference in that case thoug: they industry would not need to lie.

And true, I have conbulsions now; did not have my "Dead Nation" + "Meat Boy" fix this morning...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 3rd December 2010 9:15am

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Ben Furneaux Principal Designer 9 years ago
I thought in the last 5 years as gaming became more widespread and touched more people we were 'over' these kinds of reports. Panorama is sensationalist nonsense, and I don't think they give their audience the credit they deserve. They will probably come out of this more hurt than the industry, as far more people play games nowadays than in the past when 'reports' like this were broadcast.

I hope people enjoy our games and platforms and I hope they find them addictive, because it means we're doing our jobs right and making good products.

The BBC would struggle to make a documentary like this about TV addiction because everything that is on at the moment is un-engaging dross that people are starting to care less and less about every day.

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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments9 years ago
Simple solution; watch it, and if factually inaccurate, complain to ofcom.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 9 years ago
Why don't we do a documentary on how Panorama have contributed in ruining the English World Cup hopes?

Don't Panorama do 'real issues' anymore instead of just riding the media wave? (I haven't watched it in God knows how long).
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Phil Hindle Technical Director, FreeStyleGames9 years ago
I'd like to put a request in for Panorama to investigate the addictive properties of coffee. I'm addicted to it, so the only appropriate thing to do now is ban coffee.
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gi biz ;,pgc.eu 9 years ago
Guys, I'm addicted to women... should we ban them as well?? :S

Seriously, some games do cause addiction, but back then, when I used to be stuck on Ragnarok, I remember meeting people with all sort of problems... an homosexual who got dumped for a girl, a young bride with a man too busy with work and friends, a lady who couldn't find a job, people who failed the year at school... I'm not saying that everyone was a God-forgotten depressing being, just that the game offered a colourful distraction to many players (including myself). Sometimes we do need to get addicted to something, and if you can get out of it after a month or two, imo it's not such a bad thing. I think cigarettes, just to name one, is much more a die harder than games.
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"hidden psychological devices".

I missed that meeting; on all the games I've worked on! I now need to watch this programme to learn how to make more addictive games. Although... I can't help wondering whether it will just be obviuos generalities and vague suggestions that "fun" is addictive. Well excuse us for making engaging products. What should we have been doing?

I will watch the programme, no doubt grinding my teeth at the time. Maybe I'll learn something. Maybe it'll just be that Panorama is no longer the quality documentary it used to be.
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Matthew Eakins Technical Lead, HB-Studios9 years ago
@Robert Jeffrey I'll admit, that was my first thought as well :)
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 9 years ago
Can people over do it playing games?
Sure, but if you look at the people who drop out of school and life to play games you can usally find some underlying pre-condation that shows them to be succeptable to addictive type behavour.

Ever hear of those people who go to the gym 7 times a week for 2-3 hours and if they dont they feel unhappy?
Same thing so lets ban gyms

What about people who are addicted to reading, head stuck in a book every spare moment, including while driving (Yes I have the photo to prove this one)
So lets ban books

Let me see,
Food, yes people can be addicted to food so lets ban that

We already know about drink but its taxed, same with smoking, drugs both legal and no so much also are know but these are substances that have a clinical and measurable mental and physical effects.
There is no chemical change from gaming except for our bodies own natural responses to stress, excitement and fear.

So we are addicted to the naturally occuring biological functions and responses now?

Basically lets ban everything and make us all wear grey, live in grey houses, with grey walls with no TV, games books with any excitement, films, music, fun.
Lets ban life and then everyone can be equally miserable.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Donnelly on 3rd December 2010 3:08pm

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Paul R. Statham PR/Community Manager, Bohemia Interactive9 years ago
I play approx 10-15 games a year, I read approx 30-40 books a year, which are the most addictive? Yeah let's ban books, why not just burn them in a big pile, worked well in the past for fascist regimes...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul R. Statham on 3rd December 2010 3:35pm

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Emily Rose Freelance Artist 9 years ago
Why is there all this talk about "let's ban X" nowhere in the article is anyone calling for bans on addictive things.

Stop jumping to conclusions.

If anything it may help those that need help to get it. I remember when mental issues weren't recognised at all, we've come a long way since the days of electro-shock therapy.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend9 years ago
IMO, there will always be hatred towards the games industry because politicians control is pretty much tied to the persuasive power of television. Games on the other hand are not passively absorbed, they encourage free thought, problem solving and are good at bringing communities together.

Film & TV has a lot to lose if people are playing games more than watching their films/programs. Politicians have a lot to lose if people are playing games more, just how will they peddle their bullshit to them?

Funny how (or maybe not) it is the media and politicians who have the most to lose from computer games ascension in society and are the ones pushing these trumped up messages about how dangerous games are for you the hardest. But then again, they should be very worried. The rise of the internet, social networking and computer games will shape the world in profound ways.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 3rd December 2010 5:51pm

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Jake Clayton9 years ago
I don't really see where everyone is getting this panorama hates the game industry idea from, its just highlighting the growing problem of people addicted to a lifestyle of gaming, just like in the past its highlighted many issues some users of products incure while using them.

Games like World of Warcraft, and other mmo's relie on a semi-perminant feeling of needing to play, and have done since their inception, some players have not been able to cope with the way these types of game reward their players for grinding, doing dailies chores etc. and have been playing incessantly as a result, trying to gain that "reward", and although there is no physical addiction it as real as any other addiction.

Panorama i believe is trying to address this issue and as such should be given a fair chance to, before whiney ass comments about how this is all bullcrap, as i'm pritty sure we've all encountered atleast one person who plays an mmorpg for more than 6 hours day.
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Al Campbell Studying Computer Games Technology, University of Abertay Dundee9 years ago
@Jake Clayton - True, there is no question there are people like that, but the general angle taken by the media is that the problem lies with the games industry and not with that minority having other issues that lend themselves to an addiction. And how many people watch 6+hrs of television a day? Are we blaming the broadcasters for putting on such ridiculously addictive programming?

That said, I'll wait and see how the programme itself goes, but my hopes aren't high for any fair and balanced discussions.
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Samuel Chay Mottershaw Studying Scriptwriting, Staffordshire University9 years ago
It would be within my interests if someone stopped to think of the children.
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Tom collins9 years ago
Next head line " Play the Game Super Mario Galaxy Backwards to hear Satanic Messages" Bit wordy but i could imagine it. The Smear campaign against the games and industry is becoming more and more ridiculous by the day, the BBC should be ashamed of broadcasting something with such low journalistic integrity.
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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University9 years ago
who does not use hidden psychological devices to get people to buy and play them?
it not like computer games are the 1st.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship9 years ago
Personally, I think we'll know we've made real progress not when these kind of attacks stop appearing, but when we stop giving a shit. I've learned, finally, to suppress my natural knee-jerk defensiveness about gaming - a behaviour I'm sure I got from years of being told games were pointless and childish.

Who cares? Panorama is irrelevant. The journalists involved come from another generation. They know next to nothing about the medium they criticize. We have long since broken out of the ghetto - almost everyone under the age of 35 grew up, if not actively playing games, then having a brother or a friend who did. If we've not won yet, it's only a matter of time and demographics.
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Paul Packham Studying Interactive Media Design, Edinburgh Napier University9 years ago
Definition of Panorama: Desperate scare-mongers with little to no credibility
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Ben Hewett Studying MA Philosophy, University of Birmingham9 years ago
I think maybe we should all watch the programme and see what they conclude before we jump to the defence of videogames.

I accept that it is a knee-jerk reaction which has been engendered through exposure to a long line of attacks against videogames but, as Nick McCrea says, the less that supporters of videogames react to such attacks, the less frequent they will occur.

Having said that, we also need to accept that there ARE problems and issues associated with videogame play. However, what is often mistakenly assumed (and what, I think, supporters of videogames are reacting against) is that videogames are in some sense intrinsically bad when compared to other mediums; that there is something especially bad about videogames which other mediums do not share. It is this fallacy which needs addressing, rather than the very real problems surrounding potential videogame addiction.

Once this fallacy has been put to rest, we can move forward with both cultural and political changes which allow for the safe use of videogames.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Ben Hewett on 5th December 2010 2:31pm

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Lewis Marriott Functionality QA Tester 9 years ago
Developers and publishers should stop trying hard to make good games and just push out lacklustre garbage; that way no one will ever become addicted because if they make good games this will be seen as a deliberate tactic to get people addicted.
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Russell Watson Senior Designer, Born Ready Games9 years ago
Just more of the usual bored journalists desperate to find 'a hard hitting story' to flesh out their career because they have no real news to report on.
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