Back in the summer of 2005, an Internet addiction clinic opened in China, and by the following summer, a clinic opened in Amsterdam to treat video game addicts. Later in 2006, a British study concluded that one in nine massively multiplayer online gamers is addicted to his or her online hobby. Now, UK daily The Telegraph reports that therapists plan to go beyond the clinic and venture into the gameworld of the tremendously popular online game World of Warcraft.
Dr. Richard Graham, a psychiatrist at London's Tavistock Center, said he plans to provide in-game therapy services for young gamers who have become addicted to the 11-million-strong massively multiplayer online role-playing game. He claims to have had clients who've played the game 14 and 16 hours a day.
"We will be launching this project by the end of the year. I think it’s already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn’t be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players," Graham said, asking Blizzard to waive or discount the game's $15 monthly fee for therapists. "Of course one problem we’re going to have to overcome is that while a psychiatrist may excel in what they do in the real world, they’re probably not going to be very good at playing World of Warcraft."
Graham said his proposed in-game measures were necessary because the game addicts can be more easily found online than in person. The newspaper's article comes after a related story it published in February, headlined "World of Warcraft 'more addictive than cocaine'." Blizzard could not be reached for comment as of press time.