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Technology / Software

Gamers developing “pathological” addiction

A study has concluded that online game companies need to do more to prevent players from becoming too addicted in order to avoid government intervention.

Researchers at Cardiff, Derby and Nottingham Trent universities said that some video gamers will play up to 90 hours a session, developing a "pathological" addiction.

Whilst conventional video games have an ending, online role-playing games do not, with MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) having an inexhaustible system of goals and successes.

However, the gaming body Ukie said it took the health of users seriously.

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It said that a number of measures were in place to ensure that games could be enjoyed safely and sensibly.

Western Governments might have to follow in the footsteps of Asia and limit usage if game companies did not create restraints for players.

The study was published in the Addiction Research and Theory journal, who have evidence that suggests around seven to 11% of gamers are having real problems and are considered "pathological" gamers.

Online video games do warn players not to overuse their products though, said Shumaila Yousafzai from Cardiff Business School.

"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," he said.

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

But cyber psychologist Zaheer Hussain, from the University of Derby, said warning messages were not enough.

He said: "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."

Jo Twist from the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) said video games were played "safely and sensibly" by millions.

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 site and encourage all players to take regular breaks of at least five minutes every 45-60 minutes."
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