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New study calls for online game developers to help prevent addiction, claims gamers are playing 90 hours at a time

Tuesday, 6th August 2013 11:12 GMT By Dave Cook

A new study into the addictive nature of online gaming has called on developers of MMOs and other online-enabled titles to do more to prevent addiction.

In this BBC report – which is illustrated with a photo of a man playing offline Super Mario Kart on SNES – online gaming was called a “pathological addiction” by researchers at Cardiff, Derby and Nottingham Trent universities.

Their study, which has been published in the Addiction Research and Theory journal claims that the constant nature of progression, the flow of loot and quests, as well as the abundance of other distractions cause players to sit down for up to 40-90 hours at a time.

It claims 11% of online gamer players are addicts and that the UK must now follow Asia’s rule of imposing limits on MMO play.

Cardiff Business School’s Dr Shumaila Yousafzai said, “These warning messages also suggest that the online video game industry might know how high the percentage of over-users is, how much time gamers spend playing and what specific features make a particular game more engrossing and addictive than others.

“While they do not directly admit this, by showing the warning messages, they do take some responsibility into their own hands.”

Cyber psychologist Dr Zaheer Hussain from the University of Derby added, “As a first step online game developers and publishers need to look into the structural features of the game design, for example the character development, rapid absorption rate, and multi-player features which could make them addictive and or problematic for some gamers.

“One idea could be to shorten long quests to minimise the time spent in the game obtaining a certain prized item.”

As a counter, Dr Jo Twist from UKIE argued that developers do enough to warn gamers about addiction. She said, “There is no medical diagnosis of game addiction but like anything enjoyable in life, some people play games excessively.

“We actively promote safe and sensible game playing through our askaboutgames.com site and encourage all players to take regular breaks of at least five minutes every 45-60 minutes.

“The games industry takes the health and wellbeing of all consumers very seriously and has a number of measures in place to ensure that games can be enjoyed safely and sensibly.

“There are also control systems available on all main games consoles that can be used to restrict the amount of time spent playing games, limit internet access and control access to age appropriate content.”

So then, do you know anyone who fits the study’s bill on an ‘addict’? Is there cause for concern with younger, impressionable minds? Let us know what you think below.

Thanks GAF.

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33 Comments

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  1. Kieran

    remember that poor english fella who passed away due to being idle for longggggg periods due to gaming. sad reading that article !!! but they are right people will know about it when there older

    #1 11 months ago
  2. Hcw87

    It’s not humanly possible to sit down and play a game for 40-90 hours at a time. You have to get up to take a shit, get something to eat, prevent bloodclot.

    Whoever sits down for 40 hours without moving has more serious problems than video game addiction.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. GwynbleiddiuM

    Brace yourselves, TheWulf is coming!

    #3 11 months ago
  4. viralshag

    Hardcore Bros.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. Hcw87

    I want my daily dose of ”zombified MMO players”/”Brand-zombies” remarks.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. silkvg247

    If someone is fucking stupid enough to sit for 40-90 hours.. natural selection at it’s best really.

    Sorry for lack of sympathy there but I don’t see why the rest of the world has to be treat like incompetent children due to the 0.00001% of the populace who apparently were born without common sense.

    Do we ban or limit alcohol? Surely we should? People die of liver failure far more than from gaming overdoses. What about cake? I hear obesity is a massive problem in some places, clearly we need tighter cake controls.

    #6 11 months ago
  7. Lengendaryboss

    @3
    http://img.pandawhale.com/27717-Zelda-Abandon-thread-gif-LwhD.gif

    #7 11 months ago
  8. Puggy

    I heard los of drowning accidents are tied to water. Maybe we should limit the height of it worldwide to about one foot? Or lower in case someone stumbles and falls flat on the nose in it.

    Seriously though, games are supposed to make you play them. And online games are supposed to make you play them “longer”. If it is boring and they can stop any moment and never return, you did something wrong in your whole development process and your P2P game will, as they call it, fail, which seems to be the equivalent as saying you did not make back the money you invested.

    Hm, I can’t really believe that 40-90 hours of playing. There seriously are people like that? I always thought they are urban legends like Big Foot or the next WoW killer.

    #8 11 months ago
  9. Jonabob87

    #6 Uh, yes we do limit alcohol. We tax alcohol pretty brutally. Right now the government is looking at setting up a minimum price for alcohol…

    #9 11 months ago
  10. silkvg247

    @9 If you use personal disposable income as a “limiter” then that applies to anything you pay for, including online gaming subscriptions, so by your own argument online gaming already has acceptable limiters.

    #10 11 months ago
  11. Digital Bamboo

    Self control is obviously a problem for some.

    Here in Korea, one of my teenage students told me that there used to be a serious problem with highschool students (who had burned through their money playing online games) waiting around outside PC rooms and robbing middle school students who were going in just so they could continue playing.

    Teens actually beating down younger teens to support their online gaming problem. Unreal.

    #11 11 months ago
  12. silkvg247

    @11 I don’t think gaming is the core problem there otherwise things like that would happen worldwide. Maybe said students were farming gold for cash or something.

    #12 11 months ago
  13. backup

    All of these addicted are PC gamers
    LOL,Dota,WOW, all other stupid MMO’s

    Console gamers have high standards especially PlayStation gamers

    #13 11 months ago
  14. KineticCalvaria

    @13, surely if that’s the case then pc has better games because we get addicted to things we like?

    Good logic, as always.

    #14 11 months ago
  15. deathm00n

    @12 I think the point here is the cultural difference. Haven’t you ever heard that in Korea, the popular kids are the ones who are top in an online game? While in the majority of the world they are saw as the faty nerdy. While in the rest of the worlds teens are robbing for drugs, there they are robbing for online games. That’s what I’ve read in some places. Don’t know if this is accurate.

    #15 11 months ago
  16. silkvg247

    @15 I should have been a Korean then, would have gotten all the ladies when I was in my teens/early 20s. :)

    #16 11 months ago
  17. MCTJim

    I can see the commercials now for Video Games Anonymous aka VGA… LOL.

    #17 11 months ago
  18. sebastien rivas

    It is hard to believe 40 to 90 hours sitting down just playing so hard core that a player forgets everything else such as tireness, need to eat, bio needs of course, and perhaps more….

    Maybe 12~14 hours yes, but after instincts kick in.

    The only way to forget time is to have a player set in a bunker with no window but again I do not how a player can pass 24 hours playing without natural needs kicking in.

    Regardless of the situation or outcome.
    Who is the kid’s kid? the game developers or the parents? Why do parents let their kid play for so long?
    uhhhhhhhh, I did not know he had a computer or a console.. huhhhh what’s that anyway?

    To me it is like saying Coca Cola, too many kids overdose on coca cola or heyyy Ford why did you let my kiddo purchase your car? Hey Marlboro don’t you know cigarettes are bad for you, why is my kid smoking?

    Seriously…

    #18 11 months ago
  19. backup

    @14

    that’s subjective and depends on individual’s taste

    but PC gamers are addicts that’s for sure
    lol,wow and Sc2 proves it

    #19 11 months ago
  20. MCTJim

    I am still laughing at this….come on..really..calling on developers to find a solution for this? LOL How this…its called put down the controller and go outside…this is not an illness..I am now waiting for people to go on disability, collect a check from the Gov’t and continue to play cause they are not able to work because they have a disability called videogameitis…when are people going to be responsible for themselves and their actions?

    #20 11 months ago
  21. bradk825

    I read the suggestions and to me they say this: “They need to take out some of the things that make the game fun, this way people will stop playing them.”

    It’s not a developers fault if there are some no-life people out there who do absolutely nothing but play games. There’s no reason to force devs to punish the rest of us by taking things out of the games that make them interesting and replayable.

    #21 11 months ago
  22. bradk825

    @3 I am kind of disappointed this did not happen.

    #22 11 months ago
  23. Vice

    Natural selection. Let them play and waste their lifes. Leave real world for the fittest. Those who knows when to play and when to go outside.
    Besides.. Isn’t it the main point of a good mmo? To keep you busy as long as only possible?

    #23 11 months ago
  24. TheWulf

    @2

    Bullshit. Read the article.

    It takes advantage of people who are weak-willed to various degrees by presenting them with a constant goal-reward chain that doesn’t end. Furthermore, there’s the use of operant conditioning to make you want to grind for the next step up the ladder, with the holy grail dangled far above you in the distance, telling you of your greatness if you invest just a little more time.

    The sad part is that from your past posts, I know you’re one of those people who already spends way too much time in MMOs, so of course you’re going to have a kneejerk response to this. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you or some others around here had spent 20+ hour sessions in WoW without even realising why that might be a problem.

    People have died to it.

    And let me stress this one…

    A MOTHER BECAME SO ADDICTED TO WOW THAT SHE LEFT HER CHILDREN TO DIE FROM NEGLECT.

    The effects are very, very real.

    Not everyone is strong willed. You are one of the weak willed ones, so you should know this as much as anyone. But you’d rather stick your head in the sand and play for more 20+ hour sessions than admit you have a problem, whilst this at the same time has a negative impact on your social life, your work, and everything else.

    They have a point, you just don’t want to admit they have a point despite the fact that people have died to prove their point.

    Some of us can be weak willed, like you. Some of us, like you, can be prone to operant conditioning. Some of us, like you, can be willing to die to defend that which our addictive personality has latched onto.

    This isn’t a joke any more.

    The sooner this is investigated more, the better.

    #24 11 months ago
  25. TheWulf

    @3

    Wasn’t it Henry Buckle that said “The great mind considers the notion; The average mind discusses the event; The small mind gossips about the person.

    Yeah. I tackle big thoughts. And I get gossiped about.

    It’s kind of funny, really.

    #25 11 months ago
  26. TheWulf

    @21

    You can create a game that doesn’t have an operant conditioning-inspired chains of goals and rewards. You can pace it out and use story to separate it, and make sure that it’s handled sensibly. Some games can do that, and Portal 2 is a good example of it. Plus, you can have horizontal progression so that people aren’t compulsively driven to climb that ladder.

    You can look at Guild Wars 1 and The Secret World for examples of online games which don’t have vertical progression. For all their flaws, their horizontal systems were actually fun. There’s no ladder to climb, there, and thus no skinner-box, no compulsion. It’s just a fun game to play.

    They could just make fun games, instead of trying to condition the weak-willed into believing they’re fun with carrot-and-stick systems.

    #26 11 months ago
  27. TheWulf

    @20

    And people who have epilepsy should never buy games ever? Or, perhaps, should developers tone down the flashy effects and offer warnings?

    The logic here is flawed, and callous in a very Darwin sort of way.

    Yes, addictive personalities exist, but not all games take advantage of them. There should be legislation to deal with this, so that people can be warned and games can be fit into classifications of how much operant conditioning they contain.

    #27 11 months ago
  28. TheWulf

    @18

    Grown people have had sessions that long and died from it. And parents who should have known better have let their kids die due to their MMO addiction. This is a serious problem. You need to do your research.

    That you don’t know it’s a problem doesn’t actually make it a problem. You probably don’t understand how nicotine addiction and damage works, does that mean that that’s not a problem?

    Ignorance is not an excuse.

    There’s so much faulty logic, apologism, and kneejerking here it’s incredible.

    We need to man up and take responsibility when our hobby has a shitty area that results in health problems, because really, this is a problem. I’ve seen someone fall prey to it myself, so I’ve seen how real it can be. And we need to actually get something done about it.

    Or… hey… we could stick our heads in the sand some more.

    #28 11 months ago
  29. GwynbleiddiuM

    @25 Tunnel visioning the single instance of “A MOTHER BECAME SO ADDICTED TO WOW THAT SHE LEFT HER CHILDREN TO DIE FROM NEGLECT” does not make anyone a great mind. It makes one prejudicial and pretentious.

    #29 11 months ago
  30. Ireland Michael

    People are responsible for their own behaviour.

    Basic rule of adulthood.

    You don’t blame a slot machine if someone has a gambling problem.

    “And I get gossiped about.”

    You “get gossiped about” because you laze every post you make with an inflated ego and self adulation. People would treat you far more respectfully if every second post you made wasn’t about the inferiority of everyone else’s intelligence, and the superiority of your own.

    You would think someone who claims to be so deep and intelligence would appreciate the virtue of humility.

    #30 11 months ago
  31. Christopher Jack

    @30, “don’t blame a slot machine if someone has a gambling problem” well no but there’s a reason they’re not in every corner store- at least not in Australia, there’s plenty of regulations following gambling here. While the machine itself cannot be blamed for someone’s addiction, they’re designed to attempt just that.

    Frankly gaming addiction is taken too lightly imo, particularly amongst children. Regardless it’s ridiculous to blame the games.

    #31 11 months ago
  32. Ireland Michael

    @30 Its the parents job to handle that sort of stuff.

    #32 11 months ago
  33. world of warcraft game card

    Hi Dave, it was actually surprising to know that a person can play game 40 to 60 hours at a time, it is unbelievable. But it is really a serious problem and the people who are attempting such kind of unnatural activities must think at least once about their health. This kind of game addiction is harmful for entire body.

    Although, gaming is good activity and it refreshes our mind even I am very fond of games and used to purchase prepaid game cards from https://www.woyaomaika.com/ but limitations are always there.

    #33 10 months ago