Panorama On Video Game Addiction

I’m going to be looking at the popular BBC 1 program Panorama, and their coverage on addiction to video games. Panorama hears from youngsters 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. Reporter Raphael Rowe, meets leading experts calling for more independent research into this controversial subject, and reveals the hidden psychological devices in games that are designed to keep us coming back for more.

Full show here: Panorama – BBC iPlayer

Panorama reporter Raphael Rowe meets several people who are addicted¬† to online games such as World of Warcraft. It started with a young man who was playing on it so much he started slipping in his university work, had lost contact with his friends and damaged his relationship with his family. He then claims he went ‘cold turkey’ on the game and started going outdoors and did a variety of activities and felt much better about it.

Ian Livingstone of Eidos Interactive claims that “There is no formal published medical evidence that games are addictive anywhere in the world”, and says that those who claim to be addicted probably have “addictive personalities”. However, the World Health Organisation has described addiction to some games as a serious threat to the mental health of Europeans. I for one agree with Ian who also said that this addiction problem was a product of media hysteria . This is certainly what I would’ve said, too.

Later in the show, they return to the ‘addict’ mentioned above to see how h e was getting on, and the results were disappointing. He’d returned to the game, despite claiming he had the addiction “under control”. What he then did, which I personally find to be a friggin’ disgrace, was to stop answering the questions and focus on the game while in the middle of his interview. He said that he was distracting him from playing it, and complained that he was “dying a lot and playing pretty badly at the minute”. This is appalling behaviour, and leaves a bad impression on people who enjoy gaming.

Another extreme case is a teenager who started skipping school because of his World of Warcraft addiction as he was managing to play 20 hours a day. His parents found out about it and cut off his internet access, this did not bode well at all for him. He want around the house in some sort of frenzy, destroying pretty much everything he could find, which eventually led to the boy’s dad having to pin him down to restrain him. Cases like these are extreme and very rare, but Panorama doesn’t seem to state or explain that, which was what I was worried it would fail to focus on before I watched it.

Those were some of the highlights that I was most concerned with, if you watch the whole thing from the link above, you can see that it also covers a few of the good sides of gaming, but only very lightly. They claim to be unbiased towards gaming in general, but I know they’re aware that video games are under constant attack from the media (because they themselves bloody stated it). If there’s one key point they didn’t include, and that being a one which I am a firm believer of, is to NOT blame the games themselves. If people become addicted like the ones on the show, it’s their responsibility (or for young children, their parents) to do something about it. I’ve grown up with games since I was about 4-6 years old, and sometimes I’ve played ages on them for the same reasons stated on the show, “nothing better to do”, “bored, passes the time” etc. and all that has done has grown into the passion for them I have today. All it takes is a bit of good parenting/willpower and you’re set.

Anyway, thanks for being bothered to read all this! Please post your thoughts about the show or this article in the comments section below.

P.S. Hope you like the new look of the site! Took me a whole damn day to sort out.

– Ben Stewart


About Benjamin Stewart

Graphic/Web designer of I love gaming, and strive to be a games designer.

Posted on December 7, 2010, in Articles, Industry. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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