Smith & Jones, addiction consultants in Amsterdam, offer a new detox service for compulsive gamers, making the astonishing claim that 20 per cent of all game players can develop a dependency. "We saw that these gamers often displayed many of the same characteristics of addiction as heavy gamblers and drug addicts," the centre's website says. "Many of these individuals have neglected family, romance, school and jobs, not to mention their basic needs such as food and personal hygiene." Compulsive gamers are treated using many of the same techniques for other obsessive-compulsive behaviour, including group therapy, psychologists and psychiatrists. The consultants claim to have observed the same "withdrawal symptoms as chemically dependent people" in players as young as eight, and recommend total gaming abstinence.
EoR is automatically a little skeptical of claims of gaming "addiction" since it confuses the general meaning of the word with the specific medical meaning (a compulsive dependency) as opposed to a non-dependent habit, but then the article becomes very confused.
The games commonly associated with anti-social behaviour are multiplayer online worlds such as Everquest, Second Life and World of Warcraft.
It's precisely the MMORPGs that encourage socialising and interacting with other individuals. Just because it happens to be via the use of a computer doesn't change that fact. Should telephones be banned? Should letters? Should only face to face interaction be classed as "socialising"? EoR thinks not.
One commenter to the article stated
"I know two people who've lost long-term relationships to that game. They're both scarily intelligent and hold down well-paid, demanding jobs, yet this game is an obsession."
So. They're "addicted" to the exclusion of everything else, yet manage to hold down "demanding" jobs? EoR doesn't know too many heroin addicts who can perform so well. There is a hint of good news at the end of the article:
Fortunately, Bond University's GamePlay Australia 2005 survey found most gamers play in only short periods and also enjoy a range of other hobbies.
Could that be because they're conducting an independent survey, and they're not selling anything?