Panorama and videogames

Last night’s Panorama programme – the BBC’s flagship current affairs show – was dedicated to the evils of videogames. I haven’t seen it, but I do know that John Walker of Rock, Paper, Shotgun is an eminently reasonable and trustworthy writer, so I’m linking to this piece he wrote about it.

I believe that there is a real risk for those who use gaming to compensate for other negative factors in their lives, and for those whose gaming becomes problematic for any reason. I believe that these matters deserve to be taken seriously. It is to be treated with severity. This sort of scaremongering endangers such people by mis-labelling.

For example:

We move on to the tragic story of the Korean couple who let their baby die through neglect, as they spent their time gaming. We get told that they both had “low IQs” and that both suffered from “depression”, but both those factors are ignored because as a result of their circumstances they spent too much time playing Prius Online. “She was mentally not that stable to begin with,” explains a doctor at the clinic that treated the mother. But this isn’t an episode about mental illness leading to the deaths of babies. It’s about gaming causing it. Gaming caused it.

I agree entirely with John: so many people play games that it’d be strange if problematic gaming didn’t exist. However:

Until there is some evidence that gaming can create an addiction in someone otherwise undisposed to addictive behaviour, then it must be understood as a consequence of addiction, not a cause. To do otherwise is ignorant, dangerous, and harmful to the individuals. Blame it on gaming, and you’ll take away the games, leaving the person to continue suffering.

4 thoughts on “Panorama and videogames

  1. mupwangle says:

    Some things are addictive. Pretty much everything that program said is that some people have emotional problems and get addicted to games. Don’t think that means that the games are necessarily addictive, more that these people are more prone to addictive behaviour patterns, which in their cases are games.

    Games, especially online ones, allow anti-social people to be social; Cowards to be heroes, etc. Add that to the fact that kids are now treated like prisoners until they’re teens and banned from leaving the house then treated like criminals when they’re older. Closing youth clubs, stopping kids from playing in public areas means that there isn’t anywhere for kids to be social, so this is a substitute.

    This program was bobbins. Your man in the article points out the obvious reason – a problem child is apparently addicted to games. The fact that his mother used to beat the crap out of him and she didn’t think at the time that anything was wrong with that has nothing to do with it. They also suggest at least twice that people should go out and get pissed rather than playing games.

  2. Gary says:

    I think there are a few issues to this. Some games are addictive, and of course they’re designed to be – we’re (well, I am anyway) old enough to remember compulsively feeding 10p pieces into arcade machines for just…one…more…go of Battle Zone or R-Type or whatever.

    But that’s a different kind of addictive, it’s not sell your possessions and skive off work addictive, IMO. It’s more akin to the book you can’t put down till 3am because you can’t bear stopping before the end.

    I think the linked piece is right, if you’re going to let games take over to that extent you’ve got an underlying problem.

    > Closing youth clubs, stopping kids from playing in public areas means that there isn’t anywhere for kids to be social, so this is a substitute.

    Yeah, that’s a really good point. Multiplayer as the new youth clubs.

Comments are closed.