Compulsive gaming 'not addiction'

Head of Europe's only addiction clinic for excessive gamers says that 90 percent of those treated have a social problem and not a psychological one.

Compulsively playing World of Warcraft may be a cause more shameful than an obsession with pornography, but it's a social problem rather than a psychological one, according to the founder and head of Europe's only centre for treating gaming-related problems.

Really, we can stop any time we want!

Keith Bakker, talking to the BBC, said, "These kids come in showing some kind of symptoms that are similar to other addictions and chemical dependencies... But the more we work with [them], the less I believe we can call this addiction. What many of these kids need is their parents and their school teachers--this is a social problem."

The Smith & Jones centre in Amsterdam opened in 2006 and has been treating compulsive gamers ever since. The centre's Web site likens gaming addiction to gambling addiction, saying that "true compulsive gamers will never regain control of their behaviour" without treatment, and in some cases withdrawal from gaming triggers the same symptoms as drug and alcohol withdrawal.

Having now been treating people for more than two years, Bakker has come to the realisation that the problem has more to do with upbringing and environment. "Eighty percent of the young people we see have been bullied at school and feel isolated. Many of the symptoms they have can be solved by going back to good old-fashioned communication," he told the BBC.

"If I continue to call gaming an addiction, it takes away the element of choice these people have," he concluded. "It's a complete shift in my thinking and also a shift in the thinking of my clinic and the way it treats these people."

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Discussion

71 comments
downloadthefile
downloadthefile

I don't think a lot of gamers are addicted but if anyone thinks that any one of the real WoW addicts or anyone else can just give it up one day is really ignoring reality. I know that I personally have given up WoW totally, and while subscribing would go for months without playing. I have also gone months without playing any games just to prove to myself that I could find something else to do as well as that I am not really addicted. If they use the word "addicted" to describe doing something you like for a large portion of time, then I have been addicted to reading certain books the same way as I am with playing certain video games, just like with certain sports I am addicted to playing them. So taking into account that a majority of the average people who play video games don't go in for testing, shows that they can't have any genuine accuracy in their data, because I know that I could watch a movie OR play a video game on any given day.

dprsince83
dprsince83

I used to love riding my ATV, but the police don't let people ride ANYWHERE and sanctioned facilities are few and far in between. I used to love playing football and basketball with my friends. Swimming, running, biking, hunting, cookouts, parties, bowling.... you get the idea. Problem is, everyone has a job now...wives...kids...responsibilities and obligations that seriously inhibit our ability to get together like we did in the past. I still go out with friends, have cookouts, parties, this and that, but it's nice when these little events can't be arranged that there is an alternative. I can go home, have dinner with the family, talk about my day, and instead of turning on the TV and silently/mindlessly watch another "crime drama", I can turn on the Xbox360 or the PC and engage in ANY video game with my family and friends (online) laughing, socializing and horsing around the whole way. Gaming is not an addiction, it's not a social disorder... it's simply a source of entertainment, and a way to communicate with people. It keeps kids off the street, it brings people together, and gives them the ability to do things you could never do in reality. It's one of the ways I bond with my child, and my FATHER (44 yrs. old) I've seen people who wake up, play video games, go to sleep, repeat. They have good jobs, lots of friends, and a healthy love lives... they simply choose to spend their free time with a controller in hand. For goodness sake stop relating gaming with social disorders, it's harmless entertainment, not an excuse for how you CHOOSE to live your life!

Liquify
Liquify

Lol, you'd think that in Amsterdam "gaming" addiction would be the least of their worries. :P

tiusej1
tiusej1

Rarson, Uh, I suppose crack babies suffering from addiction would also follow your logic since addiction ALWAYS features the element of choice. What a well-thought-out, fully developed reply you've concocted.

tawagivercetti
tawagivercetti

***EMERGENCY*** I have a serious gaming compulsion and need to be sent to Amsterdam ASAP, please sponsor me. XBOX 420 :)

rarson
rarson

Uh, there are physical addictions and psychological addictions. No matter what the addiction, there is ALWAYS the element of choice. Nobody forces anyone to pick up that first drink or smoke that first cigarette. It's absolutely ridiculous to me to call one thing addiction and not the other. But then again, I have no reason to assume Mr. Bakker is qualified in any way to make such a distinction in the first place.

shinigami_death
shinigami_death

haha @ rockysquirle ^^ "intercourse is an overated reaction" seriusly ur not doing it right :| haha well on a more seruis note, alot of u are saying "we can give up when we want" well mabey u can but alot of ppl cant, they depend on "social rings" such as WoW to make them feel they have someone or something important , i used to be like that when i was a tad younger. all they have to relise is that there are a hela lota more important stuff in life, when ur pc gose off, those ppl no longer have any weight on whats going on in ur life ^^ thats just my 2c :D. ps: my spelling sux sory if i hurt ur eyes :|

gbrading
gbrading moderator

It's important to remember though that gaming can be a psychological addiction, just like anything else. This study just illustrates that the majority of cases are often misdiagnosed. Addiction implies a dependence on it.

oneofthefall
oneofthefall

Its all rubbish really, So what...some people prefer spending hours Gaming and chatting to people who you couldn't care what they look like or do & enjoy it! some people like spending hours in a sweaty club full of loud mouths and bigheads who never shut up and judge each other by looks and what they do and think they have a point to prove! i know what i prefer and no one is going to stop what i enjoy! Is sport an addiction if you do it too often and dont socialize? Its all control and that's about it!

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

"...the clinic has changed its treatment programme for gamers to focus more on developing activity-based social and communications skills to help them rejoin society. " I wonder if they teach them things like, "Don't say L-O-L, just laugh if something is funny. And please, don't /facepalm in front of your date."

sieg6529
sieg6529

I go through phases myself. I'm currently "off" gaming, but all it takes is a trigger game, something truly groundbreaking, and I'm back "on" again for a few months. Is this what an alcoholic feels like?

0678
0678

darn grown ups stop trying to ban our games and pay actual attention to your kids rather then championing a cause to destroy the espacist medium they resort to cause your too busy 'protecting them from murder simulators' rather then talking to them! *shakes fist*

harkusrex
harkusrex

people should get addicted to games that take skill nd require thought. Damnit the DoTa vermin are taking up the good computers at the gaming cafe

TheClown24
TheClown24

we could stop gaming but, we dont want to simple as. Why would we stop something we enjoy that dosent really damage our health?

ramesses
ramesses

The game releases on Thursday Midnight and Saturday morning I see someone hit 80 - first in realm. Is that an addiction? I am a 48 year old player...I'm addicted. Face reality people. OK, enough talk...back to WoW!!

RockySquirrel
RockySquirrel

Real life sucks... churches are for the weak-minded... bars suck... good restaurants charge too much... intercourse is an over-rated chemical reaction. I will stay in WoW.

12534554
12534554

wow, some of these guys against video games are dumb a**es

Aralerm
Aralerm

I am an older gamer (36) and do really like spending time playing WoW, chatting away with other guild members etc. As many of you say it is not only kids playing and yes I can stop whenever I want. Arale

glycer67
glycer67

@Zweikin "A video game offers a new reality, a completely different world, but the same can be said for movies, books, and plays, yet they're all revered." Drugs also offer a new reality or different world, but they aren't revered.

kid-poker1973
kid-poker1973

In a world where we are inundated DAILY with mass killings....grim economies, unemployment, fear of this race or that religion and horrific attrocieties one man to another...And we question WHY?? Yeah it really comes as a shock why so many people choose to exist in a make-believe world where the biggest fear is a long runback to your corpse...or worse yet NINJA LOOTERS! Rather than worrying about weather or not Gaming is an addiction...maybe we should work on fixing the real world so that more people would want to play THERE! (but then again looting the corpse of your fallen enemy in real life is pretty much illegal everywhere) Yeah I'll stick with Azeroth thanks

Zweikin
Zweikin

Video games is to television what the radio was to the book. It is the new media and one day it'll be replaced by something far superior and all of us are going to be shaking our hands and calling their subscribers addicts and possibly even dorky. In regards to addiction, there is no such thing as video game addiction. A video game offers a new reality, a completely different world, but the same can be said for movies, books, and plays, yet they're all revered. You're not addicted to playing games, you're not addicted to watching television, and no one is addicted to reading books (not anymore). Instead, people who have no lives or are unable to handle their current life force themselves into a false reality to make up for what they're actually lacking.

sagute
sagute

I have met more adults playing this game than kids, in fact. Most are 16+, and average 18-19. Me being 26. I have met people up to 40 years old playing this game, whole families even. Being bullied at school? No, working 12hour rotating night shifts is what was my case into going to live virtual world instead of real one. But it's not addiction, any of us can stop it any time, if we feel like it. I have stopped gaming month ago, since I decided it's time to step back into reality, yet I miss terribly my virtual friends that I have met playing this game.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

Dude, these people DO realise that it's not just CHILDREN playing videogames anymore right?????

V-Nine
V-Nine

...social disorder?..surely they jest....(won't elaborate, been banned from rough critiquing..ie You can't handle the truth..lol.)

CazmoV
CazmoV

Us gamers are human beings too. Bullies and non-gamers should really leave us to our hobbies, while they go and get entertainment from other things.

jazziey
jazziey

So they finally woke up and figured it out...the kids dont have a problem, its the world that seems to have a problem with them...

blakeney
blakeney

Damn..... there goes my chances of claiming sickness benifits for game addiction!! on a serious note..... i myslef play wow proberly the worst of them all, and i do agree its not an addiction as such, but there are defantly very addictive elements to the game.

Dreski83
Dreski83

Sounds like a worth-while cause, treating gamers who are so addicted to vids its relatable to gambling... but... when you tell me a big piece to the puzzle is getting kids back in touch with their parents and teachers, I kind of chuckle thinking of how many parents and teachers that actually play as many games as the kids :roll: Not trying to be the devil's advocate, but the double edge blade strikes big when that suggestion is trumped by such a realization.

dRuGGeRnaUt
dRuGGeRnaUt

@:auntbessie how is gaming anymore childish than sitting on the couch in front of TV watching "another hip crime drama" for hours? about the article: gaming is a choice of media entertainment, thats all. More people watch CNN WAYYYY more than they should. and for that

Redgarl
Redgarl

Totally true... do peoles game because they are alone? Or are they alone because they game?

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

It does give off a high. I cant remember were i seen it at but it does trigger something in your brain.Thats why you can easily stay up till 3 am on a saturday with 20 ciggaret butts in the ash tray and a controler in your hand. But I know a lot of people on drugs and it isnt an addicition till you loose your job and loose touch with society. When your offering to do devient things to play. Thats an ADDICTION

okassar
okassar

The only games that can be ADDICTIVE(not necessarily better for that,just addictive)are ones where you level up and people actually care,usualy MMORPG's and always online...because that's where the "and people care" part comes in.Off the top of my head,WOW,Warhammer,and (gigglegiggle) Runescape---are like that.But yeah,I can stop playing Gears of War 2 matches(for example) whenever I want,it's beautiful,it's easy to say you know after this online match I'm done,but for games like WOW it's like "OMG I GOTTA GET TO THE NEXT LEVEL,OMG I GOTTA GET THROUGH THIS QUEST,ONE SECOND MOM(and you know it's not one second:))"

Feniks9174
Feniks9174

I only partially agree. It's true that, like he said at the end, there's an element of choice. But I don't agree that calling it an "addiction" takes away that element. Addictions, regardless of what you're addicted to, all require you to take some sort of action of your own will. Whether it's going to the liquor store, downloading porn, calling your dealer or stuffing your face with fried chicken, there's always a point where you decide to move forward with it and feed the craving. Whatever, as long as he's not saying that it's genetic or some other crap . . .

zintarr
zintarr

I SAY NAY!!! I am a game addict and I am proud of it!

MarshTheMod
MarshTheMod

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

Yay! I'm not actually addicted!

rikhan_z
rikhan_z

This is more reasonable... I found no evidence of having it to be an addiction. I also that socialing alittle bit more DOES take you away from the control pad.

Thomasus101
Thomasus101

DecadesOfGaming, i completely agree with your comment. It is very true that people try to knock us gamers back as though we have some sort of problem. Many of my close friends enjoy playing video games, sometimes for a few hours a night, but they are by no means 'addicted', as all of them would much rather do something more fun, however with the government (UK) deciding to stop us all having fun, its about all they can do on an evening now. I myself play video games occasionally, as it has to be said...TV is crap compared to actually using your brain and having some input in what you do. Oh and if anyone was wondering, games and booze really do help get over an ex, tis how i did it and now i have a new, awesome gf, a decent job and have really moved on from everything bad thats happened to me in the past. Games have my vote, yes they keep you from being out socialising...but it keeps the kids off the streets, helps you use your head (to a certain extent) and above all they are generally enjoyable and relaxing.

Ardiendo_1
Ardiendo_1

Ardus that is not what the article is saying at all. This guy's theory is that the social conditions WoW players live in force them into their fairytale existence in the game and they cannot help themselves. However it differentiates from an addiction in that if the social problems surrounding the players in question are rectified and they can communicate well with others they are less likely to even want to play the game whereas addictions are chemical and usually impossible to cure i.e. an alcoholic who has gone 20 years without a drink is still an alcoholic.

GriffinLord602
GriffinLord602

To 'thekodaman'; About the willpower thing. These people who have the 'addictions' or whatever we're calling, probably have a bit less willpower than you or I probably do. So Willpower wouldn't help them one bit :L.

thekodaman
thekodaman

The easiest way to avoid this addiction or whatever you want to call it is by keeping yourself busy i.e. job, studies and by a little something I like to call willpower. At least somebody is finally realising that video games aren't the root of all social evil as some recently disbarred former legal practitioners would like us to believe, social elements account for so much more than this petty thing.

Pete5506
Pete5506

hmm I some what agree with it

Wrecked69
Wrecked69

Finally, a solution to this issue that makes sense. Im going to have to agree 100% with this article, based on personal experience.

Ardus
Ardus

This is no surprise to me...having many friends who are compulsive WoW players. It's a choice, not a sickness.

ellzhimself
ellzhimself

The timing of this article seems about spot on; its only a week after Lich King and look how much press is being divided to this debate. You make your own minds up.

-Celeste-
-Celeste-

I played WoW alot when it was new and entertaining. BC came out so i started again to get to 70 and get some newer gear. But it all became the same again. Update gear to do this instance, but unless you could do 4 raids a night for 4-5 hours a night, you would get left behind. Once you grind out one honor set, or do arena games for one set, doing it again and again is repetative. I will agree with the person on the social issue. I can understand how WoW exhibits social gatherings. However, when you look at the true raiders, they play this game solely for beating the bosses and getting the loot. Spending time with people they want to be around is always a bonus or never a priority. Its level or loot. WoW provided an escape from reality. While thats good in its own sense, spending all your free time gets your nowhere. My biggest gripe with MMO's and constantly play is just a feel of wasted time. When i'm all said and done with, i have nothing to show for it. Spending money for the enjoyment and experience only goes so far.

frog154
frog154

How can it be a social problem when the reason WoW is so addictive is because its full of people??