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.