Panorama, an investigative series on the BBC, turned its lens on the games industry this week, trying to answer the question of whether or not people can be legitimately addicted to videogames. Naturally, the episode, titled “Addicted to games?”, examines primarily the most extreme cases, like the kid who played World of Warcraft for 12 hours a day for two straight years, or the kid who got kicked out of school because he played Modern Warfare 2 instead of doing homework, claiming that he “couldn’t physically pull [himself] away.”
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Panorama’s palindromic producer, Emeka Onono, said that the “documentary” is not anti-gaming. He does, however, say that the industry has been remiss in not addressing how addicting games can be, and his show is trying to reduce what he perceives to be a great deal of ignorance on the subject.
“What we’ve said is there’s a potential for things in games to be addictive,” he explains to GamesIndustry.biz. “There is a potential there. And that’s something that the industry’s always doggedly denied. The fact is it’s there and however small or large that possibility is it needs to be researched and acknowledged.”
While the doc might pretend to be fair by recognizing the fact that these cases are very much in the minority, and that games are a positive force in most gamers’ lives, that part doesn’t really sell. I would be very surprised if this episode of Panorama wasn’t used as the basis for more anti-game legislation, as fear-mongering public officials insist that the onus of responsibility for people who can’t take care of themselves should be on the game makers, and not on the individuals. And thus the cycle continues.