UKIE Responds to Panorama Special on Addiction

December 2, 2010 -

Even before BBC One airs the Panorama special "Addicted to Games" next Monday, the UK games industry trade group UKIE is sounding off. The Panorama special promises to "reveal the hidden psychological devices in games that are designed to keep us coming back for more," according to a promo for the show.

UKIE director general Michael Rawlinson, who was interviewed for the show according to Computer & Videogames, issued a statement ahead of the broadcast highlighting the fact that there is no "proven link between video games and addiction," adding that opinions among academics on the subject are mixed. More from the UKIE head:

"Playing games is a hobby - just like reading, listening to music or playing a sport - that millions of people around the world engage in safely every day," said Rawlinson. "We know that most people use games as part of a balanced lifestyle: in the UK, 55 percent of gamers aged 16-49 play for 1-5 hours a week, with only 12 percent playing in excess of 10 hours a week. "

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

Rawlinson went on to say that playing games sensibly has multiple benefits such as developing social skills, nurturing strategic thinking, physical health through games that provide physical activity, and other general health benefits.


Comments

Re: UKIE Responds to Panorama Special on Addiction

Reposting my earlier comments on this matter here since no-one's gonna be reading the old post anymore:

1) I trust Panorama. It's generally been exemplary investigative journalism, cutting to the point and free of bullshit.

(For those not familar (ie, anyone not British), Panorama is a current affairs program that has investigated topics ranging from hot-button issues of the day to scoops relating to actual, significant public-interest issues. Their wikipedia entry contains a list of their finer moments.)

2) There ARE devices in games, outside of core gameplay mechanics, that are inserted into games to make them more compelling than they would otherwise be. That's why every other goddamn game these days has some sort of shoehorned-in RPG mechanic where you get XP and level up to unlock arbitrarily better stuff. That's why random item drops were gradually added to Team Fortress 2. That's why the proliferation of achievements hapened. Hell, it's the sole reasons MMORPGs (and even JRPGs) are successful. I could write a goddamn doctoral dissertation about TF2 in particular, and about the profit argument (that must have existed) behind the scenes that inevitably lead to the monetization of the most steadfast "game first, profit second" videogame in recent history.

3) The actual debate is likely to (correctly) take for granted that there are addictive elements in games, and center around the question of whether these elements are harmful. IE, would an otherwise non-addictive personality fall victim to them, can they be the sole focal point of a person's downward spiral or just an aggrivator, etc, etc.

Re: UKIE Responds to Panorama Special on Addiction

1) Agreed, and I hope this will be one of their better editions.

2) While that is true, these features are usually not hidden in any way, and are usually entirely optional. In my experience, achievements and unlocks are used to encourage the player to try new things, play the game in a different way and take on new challenges. What the program's tag-line suggests is that there is some nefarious element (like subliminal messages) that make video games addictive in a way that the player cannot control. Obviously, the tag-line is just meant to draw our attention and does not necessarily represent the content of the program.

3) Agreed, but it would be helpful if they gave some background information on what those elements actually are. It would certainly be useful for the non-gaming audience members.

Re: UKIE Responds to Panorama Special on Addiction

As someone who has dealt with real chemical addiction and is also a big fan of video games I can say without a doubt that while people may get waaaay too into games to the point it damages their life it affects a MUCH smaller percentage of the population than traditional addiction, has much less devastating effects, and is more easily treated and overcome. If it is a real phenomenon at all.

Re: UKIE Responds to Panorama Special on Addiction

Panorama's really on a roll at the moment. Rushing out a programme featuring a rehash of previous allegations at the corrupt organisation that is FIFA in order to damage the World Cup bid and now this?

I'll have to watch it, but the quality of Panorama has dropped dramatically in recent years.

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