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BBC Panorama Programme About the Addiction of Computer Games

December 9, 2010

This week the BBC Panorama team (http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/default.stm) televised a programme on the addiction of computer gaming (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00wlmj0/Panorama_Addicted_to_Games).

My wife and I were very keen to see what the BBC team had to say on the subject and more importantly, what was experienced by those they interviewed. Ever since I was an early teen, in the very early days of home computing, I have been a keen computer gamer. All night gaming sessions with a mate or two were not unusual back in those days. Years later, as a single adult living alone, PC gaming was the norm and again all night sessions were not unusual.

Now as a father, I own an XBOX 360 and play on a regular basis, we also have a Wii at home. My young daughter now enjoys gaming with me, especially the Lego series of games on the XBOX 360 (https://vteclimey.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/lego-batman-for-xbox-360/).

Its for these reasons, that both my wife and I wanted to see what the BBC Panorama team has to say; mainly because we don’t want to get into a scenario where we have unintentionally created a home environment which encourages gaming addiction. Our motives were to see what the potential pitfalls were so that we could avoid them ourselves. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.

Disappointing overall

I must say, the programme overall was disappointing. It seemed to portray the idea that not only was gaming addictive, but that games producers intentionally put in addictive elements. The obvious point that people will only get addicted to something they enjoy and that no one will play a game that they don’t enjoy was left unsaid.

But what about those that did get addicted?

The programme did feature several people who had got themselves into various unhelpful states due to the inability to pull themselves away from a computer game.

The younger ones involved showed an obvious problem source, that of the parents. The programme did not once draw attention to the fact that the parents of the affected children had allowed the problem to become manifest because they simply allowed their children to play games for many hours on end. The most extreme was that of a boy who would play on his computer all night and be unable to go to school the next day. The parents not knowing about the all-nighters is a sign of bad parenting and not bad game publishers.

For the older people involved, such a specific root cause was harder to identify. As someone who has experienced being young, living alone and not having a job to go out to I can certainly identify with the loneliness that can lead to taking solace in gaming because there is little motive to go out and do anything else. It’s a harder pattern to break when you are the master of your own destiny.

So what does it mean for me and my family?

The programme confirmed for my wife and I that we have made the right decision in our home environment. That is, the XBOX 360 and Wii stay in the living room and are connected to the family TV. The daughter does not get a TV in her bedroom and certainly not a games console.

This way we get to control who is gaming and for how long. No one skips a meal and no one pulls an all-nighter; certainly not without anyone else knowing. Gaming, like the TV, is for entertainment and does not dictate how the family runs.

One day we will have a house big enough that will enable us to have the games consoles in a separate family room. Then we may have to adjust our rules a bit, until then we can sit back and be smug in the knowledge that, for now at least, we have any potential dangers guarded against.

In Summary

Contrary to what the BBC Panorama programme implied. Its my belief that its not the games themselves that cause the addiction but rather the environment in which they are played that allows the addiction.

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One Comment
  1. Fun games permalink

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