When I was young I suffered a terrible addiction. Reading books. I read well over 400 in just one year. Obviously other things I should have been doing with my time suffered. Schoolwork for instance. Luckily it was only a phase and now I don’t read many books. The internet provides nearly all the information I need.

People can become addicted to all sorts of things. Chemical addiction to smoking, boozing, crack cocaine, crystal meths or heroin. Amy Whinehouse knows about this. Then there is psychological addiction. To gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, work, exercise,  shopping, or religion. There are many others activities which can have a psychological dependency. All of which involve some element of harm.

So it is little surprise that when Dr John Charlton of Bolton University looked at nearly 400 players of the game Asheron’s Call a massive 3% of them were showing “some” signs of addiction. This compares with the 5 million people in the world that the WHO say are killed by their smoking addiction each year.

Regular readers here won’t be astonished that the Daily Mail has leaped on this with the shock headline “Computer game addicts warned they could start behaving like autism sufferers”. You really have to wonder what is driving these journalists, what they write has no balance or connection to real world reality. All they want to do is sell newspapers by frightening people with shock headlines. And as they have no understanding of computer games our industry becomes a repeated victim of their ignorance.

Amy Whinehouse would be far better off addicted to computer games than the stuff she is addicted to.


  1. A nice bit of “cart before the horse” research there.

    Studying exclusively people who already are regular players of a fantasy role playing game blows any kind of cause and effect thinking completely out of the water, because the kinds of people who are going to exhibit those symptoms are very likely to be playing computer games. (Speaking as the husband of a therapist who works with young children with ASD, who has found that watching me playing games gives her a mine of information to use as an excellent point of connection with the children she works with.)

    Mind you, it’s not really any different to the “violent media make people violent” line of thinking that completely ignores the fact that people with violent fantasies are more likely to want to see films/read books/play games that fit in with their violent fantasies, so I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise…

  2. Old media running scared of new media, maybe? Trying to kill the competition while its still weak?

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