Jesus... Video game addiction? I know this is an old subject but since BBC aired an episode of Panorama recently, addressing the issue, I feel that it's worth talking about. I will be writing this as I watch the show.
Let's deal with the show itself. within the first five minutes it's giving us skewed facts, over the top music, etc. A couple of minutes in it says that the UK "spends more than 3 billion a year on gaming. More than we spend on film or music." They, of course, give a source for this statistic. I'm not arguing with their accuracy. But they didn't mention that games are a bucket load more expensive than films and music? To spend the same on CD's as I do on games I would have to buy four CD's (more or less). With films, I'd have to buy three DVD's or go to the cinema around eight times.
We all have that moment when we're playing a game and we realise we've got stuff to do. But we carry on playing for a bit. It happens. Let's look at it a different way; We all have that moment when we're reading/watching/talking to/listening/masturbating to a book/a film/TV/a friend/family member/music/porn when we realise we've got stuff to do. But we carry on. It happens.
But the interviewer manages to find a guy who defines this as an addiction. It's not. the guy is just lazy and stupid. Isn't he? He says that he plays games all day, he doesn't eat sometimes (still over weight, though, but whatever) and has abandoned his friends. Sounds to me like he hasn't been taught how to enjoy things in moderation, right?
Next, after a couple more addicts and a very brief argument from Eidos, we're taken to Korea. They have boot camps there to deal with addiction to games! Seriously! But more importantly, one of the members, when asked why he loves game so much, says "They're just fun" and "there's nothing else to do." Maybe we should be looking at the fact that young people are ignored by a lot of the time? Youth centres are closed down because of cut backs, university fees are rising, some parents haven't done a great job- You know what? yeah, there's nothing else to do. Maybe if there was... people wouldn't play so many video games. Video games that allow people to escape the boredom and sometimes abuse in their real lives, sometimes giving them a place where they can interact with other people from around the world.
"Instead of going out for a drink or to a nightclub..." The interviewer says that. He really does. While standing in a huge room filled with gamers who are behaving themselves, interacting with each other and other from around the world. He says this with a serious tone! Jesus, I think I'd prefer them there rather than falling over into roads drunk, fighting each other, puking on my shoes and trying to hump a bloody lamppost.
In Korea, gaming is national sport. Darn you Korea for giving shy, weak people the chance to shine and have fun!
In an effort to make us scared, a news story is discussed. a Korean couple let their baby starve t death while playing games. Tragic, I know, but then he interviews a psychiatrist. she says "They were mentally not that stable to begin with." And this brings me to all the other addicts. Are they maybe suffering from a mental illness like Depression? hey obviously have a reason for their "addiction" and maybe you should look into that instead. One of the parents says "I used to hit him a lot but you need to talk and communicate." Yeah, because nobody wants to escape into a virtual world when their mother is hitting them.
The boy says "I think it's much more fun to be playing outside..." Yeah, it probably is. But he had the help of this group. a boot camp. they helped him through his problems, he had the chance to play with others his own age- this goes back to the whole lack of things for youths to do thing, doest it?
But let's wrap this up. I'm not going to deny that some folk have troubles! But that isn't the games fault! It's clear that people use these games as a means of escape from a troubled life. They could be suffering abuse, mental illness or even a lack of things to do. And not once did this show address this issue fully. It was mentioned here and there but, like the argument from Eidos, it was brief and useless.
But it's down to the parents and the individl to realise that there is a problem and to do something about it. Running to the media and blaming games is not a solution, by the way. Addressing the underlying problems that make you want to use games as an escape is a good start.