Subject of Video Game Addiction Inspires School Play

April 14, 2010 -

While the topic of videogame addiction has spawned books, studies, round-table discussions and even treatment centers, up until now, it’s never been the subject of a school play.

Students from the School of Performing Arts at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School in East Brunswick, New Jersey are preparing to unveil just such a production. Entitled Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, or N3RD for short, the play centers around a group of kids who become addicted to a fictional horror videogame (Neighborhood 3).

The Sentinel reports that the play, written by Jennifer Haley, “explores video game addiction and the importance of teenparent communication by revealing the thin line between reality and virtual reality, and dramatizing the consequences of games gone too far.”

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Korea to Impose Gaming Black-Out Periods

April 12, 2010 -

In a bid to limit the screen time of its young gamers, Korea has unveiled some drastic initiatives.
 
Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will try to block certain online games after midnight, reports the Korea Herald. Midnight, however, appears to be a generic term, as gamers will be able to choose their specific six-hour long gaming black-out period: 12AM – 6AM, 1AM - 7AM or 2AM - 8 AM. Under the plan, online access to massively multiplayer games would automatically shut off at the appointed time.

A secondary aspect of the policy would have the Internet speeds of young gamers throttled down if users remain online for a “lengthy” period of time. The slowdown policy is said to be in current testing on four online games, with plans to spread the procedure to 19 games in total in the second half of 2010.

The Ministry will also target young gamers who use the registration numbers of their parents in order to circumnavigate such restrictions.

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No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

March 23, 2010 -

A young man with a promising future as a writer seemingly gave it all up to in order to give in to the unhealthy combination of Grand Theft Auto IV and cocaine.

The Observer has an article up written by Tom Bissell, the former essayist himself. Bissell begins by outlining the period from 2001-2006, which saw him author two books and a series of magazine articles. During this time he says he “rarely felt disciplined,” and his productivity seemed to happen in spite of itself.

The author's dive into gaming kicked off with GTA: Vice City, which he called, “the first video game I can recall having to force myself to stop playing,” before he moved on to GTA: San Andreas and eventually GTA IV. When the latter game came out, a friend introduced Bissell to cocaine and the pair played the game for 30 hours straight.

Bissell attempted to put a finger on the attractiveness of the game:

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Korea Launches Fight Against Game & Net Addiction

March 19, 2010 -

In a bid to combat its estimated 2.0 million Internet and videogame addicts, South Korea will offer free software to the populace that would limit time spent online.

Under what’s termed a “consensual shut-down program,” users would be able to set the days and times that they would be able to access the Internet, reports the Korean Times. A second method of limiting screen time would involve a program dubbed Internet Fatigue, which is designed to “make gamers become bored as time goes by.”

The measures were issued by a special inter-ministry group setup to fight the overuse of the Web and games. The government is said to be focused on preventive actions and will launch educational programs expected to reach 10.0 million people, while 300,000 heavy Internet users will be able to receive counseling services. 10,000 jobs will be created as a result of the latter initiative.

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UK Facility Offers Technology Addiction Treatment

March 18, 2010 -

A UK treatment facility has introduced technology addiction to its repertoire, claiming that the service was added in response to increased calls from parents concerned about their children’s over use of games, the internet or cell phones.

London’s Capio Nightingale Hospital’s Young Person Technology Addiction Service features programs that “are individually tailored to the needs of the young person and vary from intensive in-patient care, through day care to group and individual therapy.” Treatment includes processes such as interpersonal therapy, exploring “the meaning” of a users dependence on technology, the promotion of life skills and improving health and diet.

The hospital’s Dr. Richard Graham on the new service:

Mental health services need to adapt quickly to the changing worlds that young people inhabit, and understand just how seriously their lives can be impaired by unregulated time online, on-screen or in-game.

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Korean Parents Neglect Real Child for Virtual One

March 4, 2010 -

The South Korean parents of a three-month old allegedly fed their gaming habits obsessively while neglecting their daughter, who effectively starved to death.

The 41-yeard old husband and his 25-year old wife, identified only as “the Kims,” spent up to 12 hours every night at Internet cafés playing games, according to a story on ABC. The couple came home one morning last September, after spending the whole night out, and alerted authorities upon finding their daughter deceased.

An autopsy revealed that the baby’s death came about from malnourishment. The Kims subsequently confessed that they had been feeding their daughter “rotten, powdered milk and had often spanked their crying baby.”

In a sinister bit of irony, officials reported that instead of taking care of their real child, who was born prematurely, the couple was infatuated with raising a virtual daughter in the massively multiplayer online game PRIUS.

The article also features a quote from Dr. Kim Sang Eun, of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, who believes game addiction is a brain disease. She stated, “there's no certain clinical indicator to define 'game addiction' but our study shows that brain PET [scan] images of suspected online game addicts are very similar to that of a cocaine addict.”

The parents were arrested on Wednesday.

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MTV’s True Life Looks at Videogame Addiction

January 27, 2010 -

A new entry in MTV’s True Life television series takes a cursory look at the impact that playing too many games can have on relationships and life in general.

True Life: I’m Addicted to Video Games shadowed two fixated gamers: a white male college student named Barry and an African-American female college student named Charisse. Jezebel summed up the episode nicely, choosing to focus more on the plight of Charisse mostly because the site is for females, but also because Barry came across as attempting to “live up to every possible stereotype that exists about guys who game.”

Jezebel noted that Charisse “Though an obsessive player in her own right... showed quite a bit of range, devoting time to her five Sorority Life accounts, Farmville accounts, Guitar Hero, and Halo.” Additionally, “Charisse's boyfriend (Corey) is also African-American, a pairing that illuminated three different demographics not normally associated with gaming: a gaming couple, black gamers, and black girl gamers.”

The show caught Charisse and Corey in a rough patch in their relationship, but ended with the two accepting each other for who they are and trying to advance their relationship, with Charisse attempting to include Corey in her passion and play more games with him.

In a comment on the story, Charisse added that the heavily edited show didn’t show every aspect of her addiction. She said that her reliance on games caused her to “lose my job, neglect household chores, and lose financial aid.”

The episode is scheduled to air again tonight on MTV at 7PM ET.

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Social Interaction as a Lynchpin of Gaming

January 27, 2010 -

A love of the social aspects of videogames tends to drive any perceived dependence on games more so than a game’s activity itself.

This is the angle a Kent State University article takes in examining the aspects of what fuels gamers to keep on playing, in addition to the subject of whether or not the term “addiction” is fair to use in relation to videogames. KSU Sophomore Brian Clark weighed in on the latter subject, stating that the use of such a term was misleading:

Rather than craving the game itself, they crave the interaction they get in the game so rather than going out and having a real life social interaction, they’re having social interactions with other people on a game.

The piece notes that a definition of someone addicted to videogames, as put forth by the American Medical Association (AMA), is a person that “has more control and success over his or her social relationships in the virtual world than reality.”

World of Warcraft was mentioned often in the piece, with Clark admitting that a friend of his had a reliance on the online game, which Clark, again, attributed to the social aspect of WOW. The additional factor of playing a game that never really ends only increases the difficulty of putting a game like WOW aside noted student Connor Shivers.

Achievements can also be a powerful lure for gamers to keep playing. Clark’s previously discussed WOW-loving friend also became reliant on them, “He would play some Xbox games just for the fact of getting achievement points (on Xbox LIVE) and feeling like he accomplished something.”

GP: The definition as defined by the AMA probably needs to be updated as more and more relationships that begin in virtual worlds cross over to the real world. I would venture a guess that most hardcore gamers have befriended a fellow gamer via an online guild or clan and then met up with them IRL.

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PBS Prepping All Encompassing Look at Digital Life

January 20, 2010 -

The Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) investigative show Frontline will air a deep look into how digital media and the Internet have transformed human lives and the subject of videogames is featured heavily in the program.

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier will debut on February 2 at 9:00 ET. The 90 minute show was produced by Rachel Dretzin, who also created the recent Frontline special Growing Up Online, and will feature commentary from Douglas Rushkoff. Segments include Living Faster, Relationships, Waging War, Virtual Worlds and Learning.

Many individual videos are already available for viewing on the PBS website and a trailer for the show offers a quick overview of what it’s all about.

The Waging War section features game-related topics such as the military’s use of virtual reality training, as well as looks at both America’s Army and the Army Experience Center.

Virtual Worlds contains a cornucopia of videogame segments, including the use of virtual reality therapy for veterans, gaming addiction, professional gamers, violent games, Second Life and about 20 more pieces.

Another cool aspect to the program is that the Digital Nation website launched about a year ago ago in a bid to let users collaborate with the project by sharing their own experiences.

ReStart Co-Founder on Game Addiction as Vice

January 5, 2010 -

The straight-shooters over at Vice interviewed the co-founder of Washington State’s ReStart facility, which treats people for gaming, Internet and texting addictions.

Dr. Hilarie Cash was asked whether or not she believes games are becoming more addictive:

All games focus on the idea of unpredictable reinforcement – you don’t know what’s going to happen when you reach the next stage, but you get “rewards” or “treats” at random points. And people who develop successful games have figured this out. In fact, many games companies hire professional psychologists these days to help them develop the best unpredictable reward payoff structures.

Dr. Cash on the potentially violent side of the addicts she treats:

There was a young man who ended up having to have an intervention. When the parents tried to take the computer out of his room, he tried to attack them with a knife. They just backed down, gave him his computer, went away. A teenager whose parents just take the computer away cold turkey – it’ll send them into a rage, and that rage can be quite dangerous.

How about Dr. Cash’s thoughts on whether gaming addiction or porn addiction will be more hazardous to society over the next ten years?

I think they’re equally hazardous. Pornography taps into anyone’s sex drive or need for sex. I’m sure the numbers of sex addicts far outnumber game addicts. That will probably continue, but I know that the internet-based games are typically highly addictive.

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Addiction Expert: Australia Needs Game Rehabilitation Center

November 5, 2009 -

Following the news of a treatment center in the UK expanding its offerings to include treating game addiction, an Australian academic has called for a similar program to be launched down under.

Sydney University Psychiatric Professor Vladan Starcevic, also billed as a game addition expert, made the call for action to the Herald Sun citing his own recent research in which he polled 2,000 gamers. The results of the survey led him to believe that up to one in ten subjects showed signs of addictive behavior. Starcevic said that his study was undertaken due to more patients exhibiting signs of being addicted to games.

Of the UK’s Broadway Lodge treatment center, Starcevic noted, “I think it's good that someone has taken this seriously. I think it should be recognised that this is a problem for some people.”

Starcevic’s full study will be released in this month’s Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

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UK Treatment Center Now Caters to Game Addicts

November 3, 2009 -

The latest in a wave of gaming addiction centers has opened its doors in the UK.

Established in 1974, and located in the English town of Weston-super-Mare, Broadway Lodge has expanded its treatment repertoire to include game addiction, employing a 12-step abstinence program to help patients kick the habit. Group therapy and “therapeutic” tasks such as cleaning and vacuuming are also used in treatment, but apparently baking cookies is not part of the mix.

The center’s Chief Executive Brian Dudley tells the Telegraph that he thinks game addiction is a widespread problem, “I would stick my neck out and say between five and ten per cent of parents or partners would say they know of someone addicted to an online game.”

Broadway Lodge Counselor Peter Smith added:

It's not unusual for people to get so obsessed with online gaming that they forget to eat and drift towards an anorexic and undernourished state. You have a relationship with characters in the game that give you an artificial feeling, created by your body's natural endorphins, when you have killed some monster or solved a problem.

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Games + Sex + Drugs = Fail For College Kids

October 26, 2009 -

A post on the ChristWire website argues that videogames, along with “nonstop dorm masturbation” and drugs, are among the reasons why our college kids are failing at life.

Author Stephenson Billings previously explored the topic “Is Video Gaming a Threat to America’s High School Jock Culture?,” but believes that the problem is even more widespread in college. Why? “Dorm rooms are like bacteria dishes where crueler and more virulent microorganisms are constantly introduced to breed in a frothy frenzy of poor judgment.”

He continued, “When video gaming is added to a culture of persistent sexual experimentation in a peer group of sex radicals fueled by vast amounts of mind-altering narcotics, reality is the big loser.”

Even more:

Sharp colors and quick movement like you find in Grand Theft Auto make these couch potatoes feel as if they’re really moving through life at a brisk pace while in reality growing obese. It makes them feel important, as if they’re achieving something, while their textbooks sit unopened on nearby desks. It sucks up hours upon hours when these children could be learning business or engineering. Instead of American history, they memorize the satanic rites of Resident Evil, thrill in emotional suffering with Silent Hill or train to be Columbine-style murderers with Dead Space Extraction.

Billings, who bills himself as “an Investigative Journalist, Motivational Children's Party Entertainer and Antique Soda Bottle Collector all in one special, blessed package!,” also tells parents that if their child really loves them, they will submit to regular drug testing.

He concludes his article with a special note to his “young readers”:

The foundation of modern morality so necessary for the next generation to lead is not something you children will get sucking on the end of a filthy bong while yanking a joystick around the streets of San Andreas, gunning down minorities and looking for “Hot Coffee” as some mysterious classmate from Art History oils your tensed-up pecs.* This might seem fun now, but it’s truly destroying your soul.

The site bills itself as offering “Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.”  Other articles include Parent Alert – World of Warcraft and Cosplay Will Destroy Your Child, Teens Use Facebook To Support World of Warcraft (WoW) and Denounce American Values and The Golden Girls: How One TV Show Turned A Generation Of American Boys Into Homosexuals.

GP: It’s like The Onion, except it’s not. Wow.

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Kotaku Editor Details EverQuest Addiction

October 20, 2009 -

Kotaku editor Mike Fahey has written a wonderfully detailed and candid first-person account of his addiction to EverQuest.

Fahey begins his story in late 2000, noting that he had a job, a car and a girlfriend. Shortly after, following the breakup of his relationship, he was enticed to join the online world of EverQuest at the behest of his roommate. Falling completely for the game he soon found himself unemployed, his car towed and his wallet empty. While he rebounded for a time, he apparently committed the long rumored, rarely admitted geek-sin of turning down relations for a chance to hit level 40 with his character.

Mike again rebounded, turning his addiction into a job, which helped, as he states, “I've managed to turn a habit that once interrupted my work into something I actively have to do for work. It's no longer escapism if I am doing my job.”

Fahey also admitted that the fault was mostly, if not all, his own:

I hid. I ran from my problems, hiding away in a virtual fantasy world instead of confronting the issues that might have been easily resolved if I had addressed them directly. As far as I am concerned, the only thing Sony Online Entertainment is guilty of is creating a damn good hiding place.

Thanks Andrew

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Study: Video Games lead to Gambling?

October 15, 2009 -

Can problems with video game addiction lead to other gaming addictions? According to a recent study looking at Australian youth, it can.

An article on BASIS Online looks at the study, which examined the correlation between video game play over the past year with a screening instrument that looks at pathological gambling markers. Participants in the study, a total of 2,669, were 12-17 years old and pulled from four major metropolitan schools in South Australia.

Video game involvement "measures included frequency of play, number of hours played, and type of game played, including: TV games (e.g., Xbox, Nintendo, Playstation); phone-based games; hand-held games (e.g., Nintendo, Gameboy); PC games; and arcade games." Pathological Gambling (PG) was assessed using 12 yes/no questions that looked at past and present behavior. With the answers to these questions allowed researchers to put the student into three groups: Not At Risk, At-Risk and PG. The results of the PG were then correlated with frequency and type of video game play.

The conclusion:

The results indicated significant associations between various types of video-gaming and gambling-related problems. However, the effect sizes were very small; this suggests that frequent video-game playing accounts for only a small part of the relationship between video game playing and gambling-related problems among adolescents. The inconsistency within the results (e.g., PC games were protective of PG, but hand-held games did not show a difference between no risk and at risk) suggests that other factors might better explain the association between video games and gambling-related problems. Future research should consider exploring additional factors (e.g., social/family influences, personality, beliefs etc.) that extend beyond frequency of playing video games that may explain why some adolescents experience gambling-related problems.

The article mentioned several limitations on the study and provides a chart that breaks down gambling groups in relation to frequency of video game play in the past year.

Legitimate concern or grasping at straws? I'm honestly not sure.

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Gamer Compares WOW to New Girlfriend

October 6, 2009 -

A study conducted by Singapore’s National Institute of Education reveals that its youth rack up an average of 27 hours a week playing videogames.

The group has polled over 3,000 students during the course of the three-year study, which The Straits Times reports is still ongoing. Lui Tuck Yew, acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts was reportedly “quite surprised and a little bit shocked” at the number of hours spent gaming.

Lawrence Lee, a 16-year old World of Warcraft player, called four hours of gaming a day “nothing,” and compared the game to fledgling love:

It is the novelty, like getting a new girlfriend. You want to spend every minute with her.

Singapore has formed an inter-ministry committee to address “cyber-wellness” issues.

Read the entire scanned article at the Education Soon blog.

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Study: Teens Dealing with Internet Addiction

October 6, 2009 -

Another addiction study has been released, with this one focusing on Internet addiction in teens who are facing depression, ADHD or other emotional issues.

According to a story on CNN's Health.com site, researchers from Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan followed 2,293 seventh-grade students for two years and "found that ADHD and hostility were linked to Internet addiction in children in general. In girls, but not boys, depression and social phobia also predicted problems."

Boys were at a higher risk of Internet addiction than girls, and those who used the Internet for more than 20 hours a week, every day, or for online gaming, were at higher risk as well, the study said.

Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, said the study is not surprising. From the article:

"The study's indication that children who are hyperactive or diagnosed ADHD are finding an outlet on the Web makes such perfect sense," he says, because those children crave the constant stimulation of fast-paced video games and interactive social networks. Kids with depression, anger issues, or social problems also turn to the Internet as therapy, adds Gilbert, who was not involved in the study. "They can take on an avatar or a different identity, and can contact other kids with the same problems and social inadequacies; they don't have to function in conventional social ways."

There are some interesting pros and cons in the article, which goes a bit beyond the study itself. An interesting read, but begs the question: Is the Internet an addiction when it is a main source of communication and information delivery in this technological age?

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Ten Game Addiction Fallacies

October 5, 2009 -

At least partly in response to a story on game addiction that ran on GP last week, author Neils Clark has written a piece that looks at fluff addiction stories.

Using his blog to examine the original article GP covered, a Green Pixels story on game addiction by Nicole Tanner, Clark offers up a nifty Top 10 list of gaming addiction issues brought up in Green Pixels’ original article.

The first issue Clark’s article—Big Trouble in Little Articles: Ten Game Addiction Fallacies—takes on is “Games Aren’t Drugs. While noting that drug analogies are inappropriate for videogames, Clark states:

While behavioral triggers don’t magically transfigure a game into an ingested substance, not all cravings, or even addictions, rely on ingested substances. So while straight drug analogies commit a logical fallacy, so also do presumptions that since games aren’t drugs, they cannot be the basis of an addiction.

Clark is the co-author of the book Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects.

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U.S. Gamers Play More Than EU Counterparts

September 30, 2009 -

83% of the U.S. population plays games, enough to eclipse their equals across the pond from a small selection of European countries.

GamesIndustry.com recently disclosed results from its Today’s Gamer series of surveys, which polled populations in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Runner-up to the U.S., in terms of the total percentage of the population playing games, was the U.K., with 73%, followed by the Dutch (70%), Belgium (67%), Germany (65%) and France (63%).

U.S. gamers also led the way in hours spent playing per week, averaging 10.5 hours, almost double that of the second place French, who averaged 5.5 hours a week gaming.

In every country surveyed, at least 60% of the population over the age of eight played games. More graphs are available for viewing here. Specific reports for each European country are also available.

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School Decries Game Addiction, Offers Treatment

September 24, 2009 -

In an apparent bid to drive enrollment, a Huntsville, Alabama school for struggling teens has issued a press release warning of rising teen gaming addiction in the U.S.

Citing data from a study released earlier this year by the National Institute on Media & the Family, The Pinnacle Schools lists a series of warning signs for gaming addiction, which it notes are “the same as those for alcohol and drug addictions.” Signs include lying, eating meals at the computer while gaming and defiance.

Pinnacle has programs for treating obesity, mood difficulties, lack of motivation, depression, drug & alcohol abuse and online gaming addiction. The school’s physician, Dr. Charles Lee, offered that:

Video/online games stimulate the brain’s “reward centers” which gives the same high drug addicts feel.

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Bake Cookies, Beat Internet Addiction

September 23, 2009 -

More details on exactly how a new facility treats Internet addiction have emerged via an article on the ShanghaiDaily website.

The reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program, which opened its doors earlier this year in the state of Washington, takes a cold turkey approach to treating Internet addicts and attempts to fill their days with a mix of counseling and daily chores, such as baking cookies.

The program has its first patient, 19-year old Ben Alexander, who said his World of Warcraft addiction caused him to flunk out of the University of Iowa. The center can handle up to six patients at a time, but draws the line at accepting Internet sex addicts, as the retreat’s owner, Psychotherapist Cosette Dawna Rae, lives in the facility with her family.

This story claims the 45-day program costs $14,000, differing from earlier reports that pegged the figure at $45,000.

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Youth Care Foundation: Game Addiction a “Pandemic“

September 17, 2009 -

A Swedish youth advocate, who earlier this year likened World of Warcraft addictiveness to crack cocaine, is the recipient of a profile piece in an online news site in which he claims game addiction is a problem of “pandemic proportions.”

The article goes on to note that, in light of its WOW/cocaine correlation, the Youth Care Foundation and Sven Rollenhagen have been “flooded with inquires from across the globe looking for more information about how to address the problem.” The requests prompted the group to translate their materials into English and to create the Centre of Computer Game Addiction.

Rollenhagen added:

These are smart guys, highly intelligent, capable of being anything – doctors, engineers, whatever. But they find themselves tempted by computer games and end up just wasting time in front of a screen.

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First U.S. Internet Addiction Center Opens

August 21, 2009 -

Whether your Internet addiction involves online games or plain old web surfing, there's a new treatment option for you.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that the reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program, which opened recently in Fall City, Washington - not too far from Microsoft HQ - is the first facility of its kind in the United States.

How do you know if you have a problem? Take this quiz. reStart's 45-day treatment program will set you - or your healthcare insurer - back about $45,000.

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Vietnamese Legislator: "Moral and Mental Erosion" in Online Games

August 19, 2009 -

Vietnamese legislators openly criticized a government minister for failing to act to regulate online games, reports the Thanh Nien News.

Minister of Information and Communications Le Doan Hop (left) addressed the National Assembly last week to discuss plans to manage online gaming. However, representative Nguyen Ngoc Dao claimed that online games caused "moral and mental erosion" and argued that Hop's strategy was insufficient.

Hop told legislators that online games could not be banned and began to speak of their advantages and disadvantages. Those comments were cut short by another representative, Nguyen Van Thuan, who wanted to hear more about enforcement of regulations directed at online games:

The representatives were not asking about the pros and cons of online games but they wanted to know if the ministry was responsible for the current situation.

Management is supposed to include the issuing of regulations and the enforcement of them but the minister hasn’t talked about enforcement.

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CDC: Adult Game Addicts are Fat and Depressed

August 17, 2009 -

The Center for Disease Control reports that the average adult computer game addict is 35 years old.

According to The Telegraph, the CDC partnered with researchers from Emory and Andrews Universities on the study of more than 500 adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The results are not encouraging for gamers, with investigators finding correlations between video game play and health risks:

  • Female gamers reported greater depression and poorer health than non-gamers
  • Male gamers reported higher BMI (body mass index) than non-gamers
  • Gamers of both genders reported a higher than normal reliance on the Internet for social support

The CDC's Dr. James Weaver III commented on the data:

As hypothesized, health-risk factors specifically, a higher BMI and a greater number of poor mental-health days differentiated adult video-game players from non-players.

Video-game players also reported lower extraversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status, and to mental-health concerns.

Internet community support and time spent online distinguished adult video-game players from non-players, a finding consistent with prior research pointing to the willingness of adult video-game enthusiasts to sacrifice real-world social activities to play video games.

The data illustrate the need for further research among adults to clarify how to use digital opportunities more effectively to promote health and prevent disease.

The research will be published in the October, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reports Medical News Today.

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13 Arrested After Chinese Teen Is Killed at Internet Addiction Camp

August 10, 2009 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on the tragic death of 16-year-old Deng Senshan (left). The Chinese teen was beaten to death by employees at a camp for Internet addicts.

IDG is now reporting that 13 people have been rounded up by Chinese investigators. The facility itself, the Qihang Salvation Training Camp, has been shut down after authorities found that it was unlicensed. 122 students receiving "treatment" there were sent home to their families. From the IDG report:

Conservative [Chinese] officials blame hugely popular online games like World of Warcraft for getting teens hooked on the Web, harming their grades in school and dividing them from their parents. Some of the camps have used shock treatment on students, but China banned the practice last month.

UPDATE: More at Slashdot...

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16-Year-Old Beaten To Death in Chinese Camp For Internet Addicts

August 4, 2009 -

It's unclear from reports whether or not Deng Senshan (left) was a gamer. It seems likely, however, given his age and the fact that many of those confined to Chinese Internet addiction camps are there for alleged obsessive play of online games.

Tragically, the Global Times reports that the 16-year-old was beaten to death by three camp teachers on Sunday for failing to run fast enough. His bereaved father, Deng Fei, spoke of his son's death:

My son was very healthy and was not a criminal. He just had an Internet addiction when I left him at the camp. The police informed us that our child had died on Monday morning. We can’t believe our only son was beaten to death.

The teachers promised me that they would not use any physical punishment on my son when I dropped him off... We’re planning to sit before the local government for a protest tomorrow. If they don’t give us justice, we will go to the camp to confront them.

Deng Fei paid 7,000 yuan - US$1,024 - for his son to spend one month at the camp.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese netizens are outraged by Deng Senshan's murder:

Many [Netizens] questioned the fairly new diagnosis of “Internet addiction” as a mental disorder.

“Internet addiction? It’s a term made up by some so-called ‘experts’, how come these parents believe what they’ve said?” said one commente... “[It] should be the parents’ problem. Why do they always exaggerate their kids’ hobbies, turning them into addictions or problems?” said another...

One netizen called for greater tolerance of Web habits: “I am sure only China has such a term: Internet addiction…. Why can’t its people accept new ideas and new things with an open mind?”

GamePolitics readers may recall that China recently outlawed electric shock therapy as a means of treating teenage video game addicts.

Via: Gizmodo

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Treating World of Warcraft Addicts Right Inside the Game

July 28, 2009 -

Let’s say you’re hopelessly addicted to World of Warcraft.

You play for 16 hours a day. You’ve lost your job, your friends, and you hardly eat or bathe anymore. Obviously, you need help but you’re unwilling to tear yourself away from your PC and see a counselor.

Well, if you’re not going to them, maybe they can come to you - in Azeroth.

Dr. Richard Graham, a consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock Centre in London, would like therapists to join the game in order to treat addicted gamers right where they’re spending all their time.

[Addicted gamers] don’t exhibit the same outward warning signs as most teenage anti-social behaviour issues do because they’re in their bedrooms most of the time, seemingly out of trouble. Because of this we can’t get through to them in the traditional educational environment or intrude on their actual bedrooms, we need to turn to the internet itself to tackle these problems.

Graham admits that many psychiatrists may not be very good at playing video games and suggests existing players can be recruited to act as “peer mentors” for users identified as problematic.

The project is scheduled to be launched by year’s end by which time Graham hopes to convince Blizzard to waive or at least discount the game’s subscription fee for psychiatrists.

AE:  An interesting idea but, as a practical matter, one wonders how an addicted gamer would react to another player "counseling" him or her to take a break.

Via: Telegraph

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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Worried About Game Addiction, Thailand Considers Youth Curfew for Cyber-cafes

July 22, 2009 -

Concerned about game addiction among the young, Culture Ministry officials in Thailand have proposed a revised curfew for online game shops.

The Bangkok Post reports that, under the new guidelines, youth under 15 could only remain in gaming establishments until 8pm. Those from 15-18 could stay until 10pm. Shops which allow minors to remain past the curfew could have their operating license suspended or revoked.

Some, however, believe that even more stringent measures are needed. Anya-orn Panitpuengrat, who heads Thailand's Family Network, called for a three-hour time limit on gaming for children.

The Thai cabinet will consider the proposed curfew change next week.

11 comments

Should Ontario-Ubi Deal Include Game Addiction Education Piece?

July 15, 2009 -

Recent news that the government of Ontario plans to grant $263 million to assist video game publishing giant Ubisoft in the creation of a game development studio in Toronto has generated a good bit of controversy.

Supporters maintain that Ontario is investing in job creation while critics see a government handout to a company that is profitable, foreign and in the business of creating violent games.

But Brad D. of ExGamer.net looks at the deal from the game addiction perspective. In last week's podcast, Brad comments on the new marriage between Ubisoft game makers and Ontario bureaucrats:

The government of Ontario has just made a massive investment in the firm Ubisoft... When we see massive infusion of cash, let's say in... casinos, we always see that matched with public education programs around the potential dangers of excessive gambling...

 

When I see a quarter-billion dollars being invested by the government in the video game industry, it raises a couple of eyebrows. While I'm thrilled to see jobs in any industry that will be high-paid and lasting, I am concerned that the government is not matching that with some kind of investment in education on the risks of excessive [video game] usage.

11 comments

 
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Jessy HartIs this stuff about Windows 10 legit? Is it actually called Windows 10 or is it just some stupid joke?09/30/2014 - 6:57pm
ZippyDSMleeSo I been trying to play Bioshock Infinite I got all the DLC,ect but do not want the extras to make your charatcer over powered from the start.....they force you to take them which is quite annoying......09/30/2014 - 6:45pm
Craig R.I need to upgrade to an SSD, still seriously debating moving to Win8.1 from 7 at the same time09/30/2014 - 6:07pm
Craig R.Win10 is probably Win8.1 with more cleanup and the Start button back.09/30/2014 - 6:06pm
Sora-ChanAhh, it's just weird seeing someone's post all of a sudden have replies from days prior before it was posted due to that.09/30/2014 - 5:49pm
MechaTama31sora: I broke the ordering intentionally, as AE's and my conversation had squeezed the text boxes down to be quite slim. I replied to an earlier post of his instead of the one I was actually replying to.09/30/2014 - 5:46pm
MechaTama31So, 9 would have been the good one, but they are skipping it to do two crap ones in a row?09/30/2014 - 5:41pm
Sora-ChanSo, judging from the poll post for #gamergate, it looks like too many thread replies breaks the ordering of posts, as seen with the recent post from Infophile.09/30/2014 - 5:31pm
Andrew EisenOr no! It wasn't Y3K compliant. Microsoft thought it best to super future proof its OS and skipped straight to 10 which is Y3K compliant!09/30/2014 - 5:01pm
Andrew EisenJust tell them it wasn't Y2K compliant.09/30/2014 - 5:00pm
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Jessy Hart@E. Zachary Knight Is that show called Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures?09/30/2014 - 3:34pm
IanCWin 8 isn't bad, it just can't decide whether to be a desktop OS or a tablet OS.09/30/2014 - 2:40pm
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MaskedPixelanteWindows alternates between bad and good versions. XP was good, Vista sucked, 7 was good, 8 sucked, therefore 10 will suck, QED.09/30/2014 - 2:18pm
E. Zachary KnightPerhaps they are calling it "10" because on a scale of 1-10 of how awesome it is, it is a clear 10.09/30/2014 - 2:06pm
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