'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, 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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Latest comments (61)

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany7 years ago
Any passion or hobby is potentially addictive, that includes TV "services".

Taking only on games is searching for cheap easy audience, this people should be ashamed of thenselfs for making a life out of the missinformation and half truth.

Wonder how they can sleep at night, guess the millions in their bank accounts help to achieve this.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 7 years ago
The "underlying issues" goes for anything not just games.

I said this yesterday but there are people who link an activity, be it going to the gym reading, playing games etc that can also fit this 'addicted' mentality.
Its not just games, and its not just gaming triggers of rewarding and challenging the player that is doing this.

Can there be people who potentially become in a sense addicted to game, yes but what the defence against this that there is no link between a clinical adiction (like that with drink, drugs, smoking) and playing video games.

That is where the defination needs to made, are we going to re-define what an addiction is and then give those people with underlying issues the help they need?

It is nice to see the people behind this program engaging the gaming industry community via this site, it does mean we have a way to give direct feedback to them on the program and give out opinions on the findings.

I know not everyone will agree with me on everything but I am personally open to talking about issues like this as long as the findings are accurate and not spun to suit the program makers end goals.
I will reserve final judgement until I see this later this evening.
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I think it's possible to get addicted to anything under the right/wrong circumstances. Escapism is sometimes a problem, but we all do it and video games are probably the lightest way of doing it compared to the socially accepted forms such as drinking. But, how can you compare video-games to drugs? It's down to the person playing, if they can become easily addicted to something like that then they should seek help, it never helps to dumb down/overcomplicate a medium because of a minority.

But then if you look at companies like Zynga who actually prey on the weak deliberately for a profit, that's a conversation of ethics, not of addiction.
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Show all comments (61)
Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend7 years ago
Gotta laugh about this.

First it was 'GAMES ARE FOR LOSERS AND NERDS!!'.... probably not.
Next it was 'GAMES ARE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH!!'..... no proof there.
Then it was 'GAMES MAKE YOU OBESE!!'.... again no proof.
Now it is 'GAMES ARE ADDICTIVE!!!'.... I think we know where this is going.


I look forward to the next 'we have no idea of what we are on about' hate campaign against games. Give it up noobs, we won the war a long time ago.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 6th December 2010 3:06pm

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Ryan Locke Lecturer in Media Design, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
Personal responability people.

Why arent you in the pub enjoying a pint right now?
Why arent you at some crazy party whacked out on some sort of mind altering chemical (even the legal ones)?
Why didnt you spend last weeks wages gambling ?
Why arent you smoking 40 a day ? watching bad TV, sitting through umteen series on crap....

Addiction is the responsability of the person. Of course games want people to play, its well with in their rights and abilities to make that a compelling experience gameplay niche. Im sure there's a few developers who wouldnt be afraid to admit they design addictive gameplay on purose. It still has no weighting in an argument that gaes are stealing our souls. If you find your life being sucked into a game then switch the damn thing off.
How long before we have appologists calling game addiction a discease and pandering melancholically to those poor game addicts.

"....Stan was....such a lovely man....but....after Stacey left, he hit the warcraft pretty hard...every day, he'd sit, crying endlessly as he grinded bloodelf after bloodelf to level 80. Stan !? Why ! Quit the warcraft! " (narrator bursts into floods)

Of course games are addictive, the same way Im addicted to internet rants, coffee, wearing band tshirts and an impartial fondess of eating unhealthy food. But thats my repsonability. no one elses. get off my vices Panorama!

If we're talking about kids? Then Shame on the parents. You see your kid sitting at a PC all day, its time to throw the PC out the window and replace it a fresh box of scrabble.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 7 years ago
HAH Darren spot on, games are just made a vessel for blame.

When will Panorama do a documentary on people who watch movie series back to back like those Star Wars marathons, Lord of the Rings marathons etc.

They also need to cover the dangers in reading too much, Oh my dear god all the people who get addicted to their book and sit up late with a lamp on and their reading glasses trying to finish it, the HORROR! [/sarcasm]

*'Scaremongering television 'documentaries' must be acknowledged'

Charlie Brooker, hack Panorama apart!
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Mark Hill Studying Computing & Networks, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
Ryan - aren't you worried about the long term detrimental effects of Scrabble Addiction?
* Random use of short, high-value words in conversation
* Lashing out at people for bad spelling in any written work "You CHEAT!"
* Uncontrollable phobia of the letters 'Q' and 'X', sometimes causing fits of tears or cowering.

If the issues in this post have affected you, please call 0800-XZSQHPT
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Jon Gregerson Managing Member, Timbuk2 Studios7 years ago
Defensive ? Who's Defensive ? I'm not Defensive. Are you saying I'm defensive ? LOL, Just had to poke fun at some of the defensive responses to an article about defensiveness.

Some degree of social responsibility doesn't necessarily equal censorship. The game industry is notorious for being dare I say paranoid of wanting to take social responsibility for anything because we fear it's some kind of slippery slope. It seems like we often have childish canned responses that other major industries ( including other entertainment sectors ) at least have gone through different stages of "growth" in. Mainly, to acknowledge that our products may have an impact on the public in positive and negative ways. There are so many good arguments for the good things that the video game industry offers the need to be overly reactionary about these kinds of criticisms... that's what critics want. What is needed is a little dose of maturity to admit that game products can have an addictive effect on some people as well as bringing to bear that all addictions are not equal. As was mentioned, many things are addictive and it doesn't mean we stop doing those things all together. If the game industry was more mature and less reactionary and heaven forbid that we would ever be proactive about having a calm dialogue on the subject then perhaps the "watch dogs" wouldn't have as much to hang their hat on?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jon Gregerson on 6th December 2010 4:03pm

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Private Industry 7 years ago
Damn those addictions, now I need to get home as fast as possible and watch the new episode of Dexter.
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David Bachowski VP Business Development, Babaroga7 years ago


Funny you mention that... one of my company's games is literally called "Babaroga Eats Children" and is about...ummm....eating children. Thank god the news hasn't caught on to it yet, or else we might have a couple lawsuits on our hands from the media blaming us for making people eat children.
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Diarmuid Murphy Developer Marketing, Microsoft7 years ago
I would agree with Emeka that games have the potential to be addictive and can ave a negative impact on some peoples. The video games industry is very defensive, mainly because most of the media portrail up to now has used shock tactics and misleading stereotypes but on this point there is a legitimate concern.
Games are not in anyway as addictive or as bad for you as alchohol, drugs, smoking etc but any medium which can transport you away from the real world has the potential to become a enviornment of choice for those who are at risk with addiction.
I have seen my cousin who would not be very social, retreat further and further into games as opposed to communicating to those around him. If it was not games it could have been TV, Film, Comics any other escape mechanism but the industry must acknowledge the impact it can have on a very small percentage of the population and have a proper debate the role it plays.

These opinions are mine and not my employers.
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Ian Jarvis artist 7 years ago
Isn't it about time another form of media became the target of this sensationalist, daily mail level, ill informed 'journalism.'
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Arthur Yarwood Principal Tools Programmer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe7 years ago
"Hi, my name is Beeb, and I'm addicted to scaremongering. I.. I can't help it, I just live for the thrill of stirring trouble and grief. It started off with one of two basic expose of malpractice. But each time, I wanted a bigger hit, a little more publicity, bigger viewing figures. It reached a point, where I just couldn't help myself. I started twisting the odd quote, editing the juicy bits, but before I knew it, I just couldn't find the facts I needed, I'm ashamed to say it, but I created falsehoods, just to reach that new level of scaremongering. Nothing else could quite satisfy the same. Initially I chose games as my target, they were always an easy target, the masses rarely question tales of nerds. But now I'm stuck, there's no way out, I can't back down - the viewing figures will plummet. If I carry on, its only a matter of time before someone will notice the tall tales. Which is why I'm here today. Please help me Scaremongers Anonymous. Please..."
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The better Developers get at making these virtual worlds, and the more interactive and compelling the content is, will definitely make game addiction far more apparent in the future. Especially as MMO type games appeal to the broadest market to gain players.
The thing is whether or not the person is using gaming in a dysfuctional way. I mean instead of going out and hanging out with friends if a person constantly chooses Eve over human contact that this is strange. Some said that 40% of WoW players were addicted, but the number is probably far more likely to be around 5 to 10 percent of players.
Something I had noticed when I felt addicted was that I had impulse control issues, and I also felt very compulsive about playing the game. Recent changes in WoW however have greatly reduced those urges as the EQ type Vanilla old world has been updated with a far more friendly and less time consuming leveling experience. The elimination of hybrid specs, no longer seeing lots of numbers increase (spell ranks, etc...), being able to wear tabards for various factions to gain rep, and many new additions have greatly reduced for me any urges that are hard to control. I can now play for up to 4 hours and if I play that long I get fairly tired.

The main issue here Devs, if you are listening, is finding creative and innovative ways to help peole at least feel encouraged to take breaks about every hour. Some experts say you need about a 15 minute break for every hour of gameplay. WoW's rested XP is a decent start towards this goal, but doesn't encourage you to take breaks while questing. Mainly the huge issue here is fatigue. It gets very exhausting to do quest after quest and it feels as if there is no end or encouragement to take a break. THere are tons of details to consume and things to do while leveling a few levels and doing several quests that it is easy perhas to overlook how much has been done. This is especially true I would think for the younger crowds as they might fly through quests and content at a much faster rate, but they more then anyone might need a reason to stop and realize how worn thin they feel. It really does sneak up on you, and you think you aren't tired until you get up to do something and you feel kind of like you are lagging.

Just some thoughts.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 7 years ago
Diarmuid, I do agree with you on what you say and while I have not seen It first hand I can see people using games a cruch to escape life.
Its not to say that the industry sets out to hook people to spend every waking moment playing games and giving up on life.

The industry is dogged by the press using it as a easy target for to pin some form of blame on and this is somthing the BBC and Panarama will need to address if they protray this badly.

So far I am going to wait and watch and then judge them.
I have a feeling though this is a topic that wont go away but it may not be all bad.
Though I am expecting Mr Vaz to file some stupid thing demanding game companies make their games less fun and entertaining tomorrow morning.
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Michael Shillingford PlayStation Access Community Manager, Sony Computer Entertainment7 years ago
Look inside any game manual ever made. In there, you'll find a warning:

"Do not play for prolonged periods of time, and take a 15 minute break for every hour of gameplay".

Oh, and there's this site: <a href="

If you ask me, I'd say that's recognition of the health risks and advice on preventing them. That said, I very much like Christoper Willis' sentiment above regarding engineering games to encourage regular resting.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Michael Shillingford on 6th December 2010 4:56pm

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Paul Schwanz Game Designer, Red Fly Studio7 years ago
To build on what Jon said:

1. A game has the ability to impact its players. (If not, it is the poorest of mediums.)
2. It makes no sense to assume that this impact can only ever be positive.
3. A game's design may influence whether it has a positive or negative impact on its players.
4. With this influence comes a degree of social responsibility, that is in no way negated by a game player's responsibility to choose healthy entertainment.

Said another way, everyone is responsible for their own choices and the consequences of those choices; both the game designer and the game player. Denial of this responsibility is the height of immaturity.
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Barry De La Rosa Senior Staff Writer, Dennis Publishing7 years ago
'Addictive potential of [insert anything here] must be acknowledged'

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

"A child might be bullied or they may have self-esteem problems or they may be depressed," said Onono. "By turning to [insert anything here] 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 [insert anything here] becomes a problem in itself."

tl;dr Duh!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Barry De La Rosa on 6th December 2010 5:13pm

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Dave Cook Staff Writer, Imagine Publishing7 years ago
It just seems that while this programme will focus on 'severe' cases of addiction, that it will also use these people to tar the whole industry with one broad brush.

There are far worse things to be addicted to, and I find it incredibly timely and shoddy of the show to choose the week Cataclysm comes out to run with this. it feels more like 'what events can we latch on to this week?' thinking, rather than identifying and discussing a prevalent problem.

Either way, expect a lot of angry gamers spitting acid online tomorrow.
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Nana Nielsen Senior Game Designer, SUMO Digital7 years ago
Games can indeed be abused in a way that is bad for you. We shouldn't deny that. Further study could indeed shed some light on this problem and whether we would be able to add some kind of restrictions in games like WOW to try to counter this.

But as so many people here have said, that is no reason for yet again hounding out games as being evil and bad.
If we are playing with the blame stick I think we should also have a go at restaurants. Damn them, they make the food so tasty we are compelled to overeat, exacerbating the obesity problem for our society!
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I was reading a book the other day, and I just couldn't put it down till it was finished. Someone should ban them to save me from myself...
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Richard Westmoreland Senior Game Designer, Codemasters Birmingham7 years ago
We're not defensive, we're highlighting gutter-trash sensationalist journalism for what it is. We'd expect this sort of headline grabbing garbage from ITV or the Daily Mail, but some of us remember when Panorama was a respectable television program and didn't have to resort to this.
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In all honesty, I feel the games industry should take this stuff on the chin. After all, we've been pushing games as "addictive" in reviews and blurbs for decades. The truth is, yes, it is addictive; but much like the caffeine industry, we're providing something people want. I sincerely doubt anyone will find that games has the same kind of mass-destructive power alcohol has, nor the rapid and strong addiction factor of nicotine. Addiction as a lifestyle is a part of modern society, like it or not, and this kind of "OH NOES THINK OF THE CHILDREN" is infantilising for both the children they claim to be defending and for society as a whole.
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Daniel Harty Audio Capture Specialist, Electronic Arts7 years ago
I love games and work in the industry but I think they have a point about the games industry being defensive over the susceptibility of kids to videogame addiction. It would make a refreshing change if instead of Panorama, it were a "pro-games" party researching video-game addiction.

It's true that absolutely anything can be addictive to certain people/groups but that deosn't mean that the susceptibility of kids/adults (WOW anyone?) to videogame addiction shouldn't be investigated.

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Panorama reads from the daily mail mfraid :)
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Tim Ryan Producer, Fire Muse Consulting7 years ago
As most addiction therapists will tell you, addictive personalities will migrate from one addiction to another - and there's all kinds of addictions. The problem is the addictive personality, not the particular addiction du jour.

The most troubling addiction these days IMHO is the Internet and social apps which have now made it incredibly easy to stay connected 24/7, which only reinforces the addiction.
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Chris Nash QA Engineer 7 years ago
Apparently this documentary features an interview conducted with a WoW player while he's playing the game. The interviewee becomes understandably annoyed at being asked questions while he's playing, as he can't concentrate on the game. The programme then seems to think it's made some kind of point - "Video games are so addictive, he can't even stop to answer these questions!".

But tell me this, BBC. Would you have interviewed a literary critic while they're in the middle of an engrossing novel? Or a moviegoer while they're watching a film in the cinema? I'd imagine that they'd be a little annoyed at being interrupted with questions while they're doing something they enjoy, too.
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Christian Allen Design Director, WB Games7 years ago
People can get addicted to anything. People are addicted to running, climbing, surfing, collecting paintings...etc.

I know I'm not addicted to games. I take a break every smoke a cigarette.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christian Allen on 6th December 2010 7:55pm

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Timothy Webb Technical Designer, Avatar Reality Inc.7 years ago
Only if we do our job well.
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Paul Shirley Programmers 7 years ago
Well, just watched it and I have a nagging feeling they're really pissed about how it worked out. My guess is the only people they could find to really lay into games were so ludicrously frothing at the mouth they couldn't be used without damaging their own case. End result, a programme with almost nothing to say.

Bottom line: addictive personalities can get dangerously hooked on gaming. Or they can when they aren't hooked on gambling, exercise, drinking, reading or in fact anything else that has any sort of reward from doing it. To the extent we should be doing something with warnings I fear its going to be very easy to just ignore this whole issue because the programme was such a limp effort.

No doubt the complete lack of a story here won't stop Keith Vaz popping up with a frothing anti-game rant in the next few days, but he was due for another hissy fit about now anyway. Anyone that watched will perhaps take him less seriously when he does.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 7 years ago
Wow. It seems there are a lot of people on this board who are experts in psychology.

Maybe they could share their dissertations with us. Or tell us some anecdotes from their clinical experience.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 6th December 2010 10:11pm

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Roger Godfrey Agile Project Manager 7 years ago
There is certainly the smell of moral panic about this:

[link url=

Hmm. From a medical standpoint Panorama's evidence seems to be flimsy at best. The Byron report did not find anything as I recall.
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Paul Gheran Scrum Master 7 years ago
@ John

Great comment. What really needs to be looked at is the nature and definition of addiction.
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Adam Campbell Studying Games Technology, City University London7 years ago
Sure, but it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

There are people prepared to watch entire TV series without sleep, there are people who gamble and can't stop when they feel the potential reward is high and unmissable.

Addiction is a problem in many areas, though it doesn't affect the majority out there.

I do think something has to be done when people substitute their lives for MMOs to the extent they're becoming ill, but there are clinics for that now..
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Benjamin Seeberger Writer/Translator 7 years ago
I love the parents' defense. That's probably the most overused and impotent argument in the entertainment industry, if we are actually serious with ourselves. While it may be obvious that parents should care more and sad that they don't, it's not a feasible to just stand by that and claim, 'well I can make anything I want and target it to anyone I want' and then expect the stalwart and icon parent to defend his or her child from you.

The defense that everything can be addictive is also a funny one. While true, tv (especially today) is being developed to help you sit on the couch longer, and the internets are buzzing with so many distractions, you could short-circuit a grandma if she was from the wrong century, just falling to popular consensus that as a business we ought to chuck ethics to the dogs until the man with the big stick tells us to behave ourselves --- is a bit infantile.

While it may be a pipe dream that the industry have an ethical watchdog mechanic that governs itself, I do truly hope someday they do. The only authority that a gamer respects when it comes to games are other gamers. If we sit on the field and refuse to acknowledge that the rules of the game are designed in a certain way, we cannot expect the people in the stands to see us in any other way than the way it appears. While many companies only intend to make a short, sweet little slice of adventure, more companies than ever are implementing strategies so turn consumers into gaming pod people, who live and breathe that game and get momentary flashes of awareness that read, "Danger, playing this game for more than 12 hours is harmful to your health, but oh wait, look! Another potion!"

Forgive my sarcasm.
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Jeffrey Kesselman CTO, Nphos7 years ago
Anything pleasurable can be addictive to the right mind.

Every psychologist who knows anything knows this.

Why do we keep giving these nuts any attention?
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Dan Lowe 3D Animator, Ubisoft Montreal7 years ago
I'm sure that gaming can have potentially addictive effects on some people, but the BBC should be ashamed of themselves for the way this programme was presented.
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John Burns Studying Game Software Development, Westwood College7 years ago
I think they should worry about the people addicted to crack and meth.
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Sean Rogan Freelance Journalist 7 years ago
As an aside, don't game developers create game mechanics that are supposed to be addictive?

For example, think about the type of reward systems used in MMOs.

Don't games sometimes use the same kinds of mechanics that are used to keep people playing pokies?
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Cal Mackendrick Founder, Bamboo Raven7 years ago
I'm pretty sure nearly everyone responding to this article has lost some sleep to a video game that they should have stopped playing hours earlier. Some of you might have children and find it hard to keep their playing time in check as well.

So, to deny the addictive potential of video games doesn't serve the industry's interest or players. The industry has been able to avoid a lot of externally imposed regulation and interference by carefully self-policing and creating a recognized standards code for mature content; in the same way they can avoid any potential issues in the future by openly educating and comparing the risks of video games to other addictive 'pursuits' like, say, beer and extreme sports.

Ultimately, as we learn more about patterns of addiction for VLTs, casino games, video games, we'll be better equipped to educate and address problems, proving foresight and cutting down government or media crusades against the industry before they even start.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
Jebus Crisp. Will SOMEONE just find a copy of Werthham's "Seduction of the Innocent", read it (and some of the great commentary about it written back then 'til now) and see that this is yet another paranoid recycling about an entertainment form that's based on useless information and lousy "facts" which are at worse, set up by folks who are worse for society than than any video game or other form of entertainment?

Wake me when this crap is over.
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Well I for one am thankful that the Beeb are around. Without them I would have never known that FIFA are corrupt and that enjoyable things can, in certain circumstances, be addictive.

The message I got from last nights Panorama was "put down the controller and pick up the pint glass". We saw Korean teenagers who were at a net cafe playing games instead of "going out for a drink or going to a nightclub". Oh the huge manatee! Joe (the big ginger games addict) gave this nugget of advice "Put the controller down, take a deep breath, go ring a friend.....and go out and get smashed"
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Steve Powell Studying MSc Computer Games & Entertainment, University of London7 years ago
Bottom line, and in fact the only thing to know with all of this "journalism" is that gaming = bad. You don't really need to know any more than that. By trying to engage with the "addiction" argument, you indulge their unwitting (I'm being kind) wedge strategy.

What's most depressing for me is that despite gaming being a multi-billion dollar creative industry, with opportunities for many types of employment - and a socially cohesive pastime for many young people - the only time it gets mentioned in mainstream "newsmedia" is to rubbish an aspect of it. "It's dangerously addictive", "it inspires people to commit acts of violence", "it turns people into social misfits and loners". All of these arguments have been used on every other type of pastime or entertainment at one time or another, and each has matured beyond that point. Gaming will eventually mature past the point it's at now eventually - but not until the old wave of people who don't understand it have gone.

The most telling was the presenter talking about the WoW addict's online "friends" - utterly dripping with disdain. The subtext was loud and clear - "These aren't real friends! Real friends are people you go out and get pissed with".

Well, seeing as Raphael is so eager to throw light on how dangerous gaming is, I don't think it's unfair to point out his history here...
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Paul Packham Studying Interactive Media Design, Edinburgh Napier University7 years ago
I think Panorama may have failed to explore the social element: if a kid is allowed to play a game for up to 20hrs a day (like in the program), maybe, just maybe, the parents deserve some of the blame??
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Jordan Woodward Level Designer, Rebellion Developments7 years ago
Ah yes, the evil games industry.

The problem with documentaries like this is that people will only pay attention to all of the negative things that were said. Comments that games can boost intelligence, reduce stress or aid learning will be completely ignored. Also the addiction expert who mentions most will also have underlying problems or addictive personalities anyway.

Anything can become addictive, especially if there is an incentive or reward, not just video games. there has to be some responsibility with the parents, society can't just keep blaming video games. If their child was watching 20 hours of TV a day, I doubt the film or tv industry would get the same amount of flak.

It just seems like they've gone out and found the most extreme cases to try and prove their point.
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Greg Brown Senior Artist, Nice Tech7 years ago
@ Paul

My sentiments exactly. I watched, bewildered and amused, as one Mother said (of her young son) "He was too engrossed in games. He would sometimes spend more than 10 hours playing them". Ok. Stop right there and lets ask the question "Who is regularly allowing their child to spend 10 hours a day playing computer games?".

I suspect that the vast majority of parents would nip that particular issue in the bud long before it got to that stage. I know that I would.
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design7 years ago
The BBC always seems to be targeting videogames and putting them in a bad light. I think they're just bitter about Fightbox.
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
The program was heavily sided towards the negative aspects of gaming - as always 'extreme' cases are highlighted and this is not the first time the BBC have had a bash at gaming - The Alan Titchmarsh Show?

[link url=

Maybe the BBC should get on board and open up a bit to the positives of gaming (yes there are some!)
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 7 years ago
This is typical British isn't it really? Always talk about the doom and gloom side of things, don't talk about the nice rose garden next to it though!
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design7 years ago
Kevin - The Alan Titchmarsh Show was on ITV. I remember complaining about that and getting zero satisfaction back with the reply that ITV gave. Gaming has always been an easy target for the media. I'm sure Panorama has some kind of agenda with this too - let's not forget the Panorama shown not long ago which helped to scupper our chance to host the World Cup.

Gaming has many positives, espcially now there's more motion-based games coming out. At the end of the day, shows like Panorama have been produced by people who don't play videogames or aren't very good at them, to the point that they turn their nose up at the pasttime as a whole. There will always be extreme cases of gaming, but these are always in the very, very small minority. It's a shame that this minority is always highlighted and made out to be the majority when it clearly isn't the case.
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"Need...more...World of" ;)
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robert troughton Managing Director, Coconut Lizard7 years ago
It's true that there are a lot of (unfortunate) people who are addicted to games. And the Panorama timing for the week when a new World of Warcraft patch/episode/whatever was released is surely not accidental as that's one of the worst games for feeding people with addictive personalities... that said, as people point out, if games didn't exist, these people would simply be addicted to something else. At least sitting at a computer desk, they'll be doing marginally more exercise moving a mouse and using a keyboard than they would lounging on a sofa watching endless episodes of Jeremy Kyle, I'm A Celebrity and Coronation Street.

The fact is that the games industry right now is doing much more to try to stimulate people into exercise than other mediums. If ITV are so concerned for people's health, why doesn't their programming feature more fitness shows? I remember 15-20 years ago when there were loads of those shows on during daytime TV - where are they now?

Television broadcasters accusing video games of being bad for peoples health? What's the saying about the Pot and the Kettle again?
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Carl Muller Programmer, HotGen Ltd7 years ago
How did Blizzard manage to wrangle an hour long advertisement on the BBC in prime time? Lots of clips from the game and calling it addictive and fun... where do we sign up for publicity like that?
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Howard Parry7 years ago
That was quite funny for a serious documentary. First, the flyovers of quaint Middle England houses accompanied by the imminent doom soundtrack. Then, some quotes that would come from the best of the parody shows:

"I used to hit him a lot... but you have to communicate with your child to understand"


"My advice to gaming addicts is to go out, get smashed"

Love it!
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Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software7 years ago
I am Christopher McCraken, and I am here to ask you a question: Is a man not entitled to the game of his own choice?
No, says the reporter in Panorama. You will get addicted.
No, says the lawyer in Florida. You will shoot up a school.
No, says the Mom who does not parent her child. I think the government should parent my child for me.
I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose...personal responsibility!
A concept where a person accepts that they are responsible for themselves, without the need for someone else to tell them what is good and bad for them.
Where the parent pays attention to what their children are doing, and actually parents them instead of asking a government to do that for them.
Where the game developer was free to create what they want, without worrying about being sued by someone looking for a settlement.
With a teaspoon of clue, personal responsibility can be your policy too!
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Jim Bond Studying digital media cultures, New York University7 years ago
The "addiction" framework is a huge can of worms and unless journalistas, industry-insiders and researchers alike acknolwedge the instability of the construct even as it applies to classic substances of abuse, we'll have no idea what exactly it is we're arguing about. Currently the neuroscience hard line in the US has addiction as a "brain disease." Given the mixed bag of (largely inefficacious) therapeutic modalities clustered around drug addiction, it's unlikely that getting DSM specification for "gaming addiction" is likely to result in the help people need.

RE: MMO's however, there seems plenty of evidence now to assert that game designers are using Pavlovian and Skinnerian reinforcement of multiple intervals operating simultaneously to create the most compulsive, lever-pushing--farm much, anyone?--game experiences to date. That those experiences are further catalyzed by experiences of social belonging and responsibility makes the incidence of "problem use," let's say, a more pressing concern than ever before.

A recent nationally representative survey in the US (Gentile 2009) on "pathological" gaming shows that it affects roughly 8% of gamers who play "at least casually." I always find it really distasteful to hear 1) idle speculation about how this is really just a matter of self-control and restraint that affects only a feeble-minded minority and 2) generalizing supposition about the "underlying issues" that invariably pave the way to addictive syndromes like these. While I accept the kernal of truth in each of these, both are condescending and stimatizing formulations best suited to the defensive industry attitudes or scare-mongering journalistic agendas that were indeed on display in the Panorama special last night.

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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd7 years ago
I've commented on the other threads related to this.

To keep this short Rock Paper Shotgun says it all.

Yes, some people with underlying psychological issues are vulnerable to addiction, particularly when the activities involved are pleasurable, this means the person in question has a problem, it in no way follows that the activity itself is in anyway harmful or addictive. This is neither the industry's fault, nor its responsibility.
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Not to mention, without video game coordination, who is there to fly the military drones? Folks without opposable thumbs?

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Lets go produce some great games and give Panorama something to holler about
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Lewis Mills Creative Partner, Ninja Beaver Studios7 years ago
I think Panorama may have failed to explore the social element: if a kid is allowed to play a game for up to 20hrs a day (like in the program), maybe, just maybe, the parents deserve some of the blame??


Yes, yes, but...........this doesn't explain the young man who played too much WOW. Old enough to have no parents looking over his shoulder here. The young man knew it was a problem, even tried to give it up but came back. He may have an addictive personality, in which case anything pleasurable may have done. But too many posts on this thread have been a little on the defensive side and not admitting that there could be a problem (which tends to be the sign of an addict :)) Remember, to have an addiction there must be something to be addicted to.
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd7 years ago
@Lewis actually think you've missed the point here.

No one is belittling the suffering of those involved or looking to point fingers or apportion blame.
I believe that we would all welcome an honest, clear and fact based debate about both the positive and negative aspects of games and gaming. That said, for all its claims the program in question isn't it.

Had the program been comprehensive, even handed, factual, balanced, hell it would have been nice if their conclusions followed from their assertions it would have been okay. The show was none of the above.

"He may have an addictive personality, in which case anything pleasurable may have done...Remember, to have an addiction there must be something to be addicted to."

So you're arguing that anything pleasurable should come with a health warning, because tiny minorities of people have gone with undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues?

"too many posts on this thread have been a little on the defensive side and not admitting that there could be a problem (which tends to be the sign of an addict :))"

No, there are plenty of posts pointing out that the program was lasy in its research and was little more than scare mongering loosely tied together with some psuedo facts.

And no, denying that there is a problem when there is clear evidence to the contrary would be a sign of addiction. The whole point is that Panorama provided nothing substantive, actually got stuff wrong, and glossed over the fact that every case they presented to demonstrate "games addiction" was in fact the result of an underlying psychological issue and in one case probable child abuse.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alex Loffstadt on 8th December 2010 6:31pm

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