UK newspaper The Dail Mail has published an extensive story asking if addiction to video games can be likened to an addiction to heroin.
Beginning with menacing introduction “despite the restricted view through the letter box, it was clear that something was terribly wrong on the other side of the front door”, the article speaks to a number of people whose lives have supposedly been ruined by addiction to MMOs.
It begins with 33 year old mother of three from Kent, whose video gaming habit has resulted in a house of squalor, only two hours sleep a night, neglected children eating cold baked beans and two dead dogs. Which the woman killed, of course, and left to rot in the dining room.
It’s only later in the article that it’s revealed the woman has depression and that it was exacerbated when her husband passed away.
“For some years now, a debate has raged as to whether it's possible to become addicted to video games in the same way, say, as one might become addicted to gambling,” the piece reads.
“Some say it is a nonsense, that these games are simply a form of entertainment on a par with a book or the television. Any obsessional behaviour, they argue, is caused by deeper, underlying problems.
“However, many others are less sure. They claim that the latest super-sophisticated generation of games poses a real danger to those who use them. They are so alluring, so challenging and so cleverly designed that experts believe there is a genuine risk of addiction. Around the world, clinics more used to treating alcoholics and drug addicts are seeing growing evidence of this phenomenon.”
The paper’s attentions then turn to recent release Halo Reach. Which costs £60, apparently.
“To better understand just how powerful a business gaming has become, consider the launch on September 14 of a video game called Halo: Reach,” it adds. “During the first 24 hours of its sale in the UK (RRP £59.99) a staggering 300,000 copies were snapped up.
“Online forums have been raving about the game, awash with tales of all-night Halo-playing sessions and boasts of days taken off work and school (38 per cent of those who responded to one online survey claimed they had skipped classes to play the newly-released game).
Another victim in the report is 24-year-old Kate Flanagan, who spends 70 hours a week gaming or on social networks. In recent times she’s gone from a size eight to an eye-watering, Channel 4 documentary style size 12, and says she often “cannot find the time to shower or look after her appearance”.
Horrifically, “on one occasion, Kate's excessive gaming left her with a damaged wrist, forcing her to attend a friend's wedding wearing a sling”.
The Mail also reports findings from ‘experts’ claiming that between five and ten per cent of Britain’s 46.6m web users “may be” addicted to their computers.
“Gaming is a hobby, just like reading or playing sport,” UKIE director general Michael Rawlinson is allowed to counter later in the story.
“Gaming should form part of an active and healthy lifestyle, helping gamers of all ages to develop social skills. Playing active technology and fitness games can also improve physical health and offer other general health benefits.”