Snake oil Most gamers not addicts   Keith Bakker, addiction expertHospital wards all over the world fill up as more and more snake oil salesmen get cerebral stroked and heart attacks. Austria’s hospital system is breaking down, parent mortality rate exceeds 50%.

The horror scenario outlined above could very well become truth if Keith Bakker, head of Europe’s only clinic for gaming addicted people, gets more media attention. His bold claim:

“These kids come in showing some kind of symptoms that are similar to other addictions and chemical dependencies,” he says.

“But the more we work with these kids 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.”

Paddy Maguire (BBC News) visited him in Amsterdam, and interviewed him on a variety of gaming-related topics. Another popular myth was debunked in the process:

This kind of aggression is not uncommon in young gamers who feel frustrated with their real lives. Besides addiction, aggression and violence form part of the ongoing debate about the influence of gaming on impressionable minds.

When two students killed twelve pupils and a teacher in the Columbine High School shooting in the US in 1999, many believed that their common interest in playing violent games had helped to trigger the massacre.

Research at Smith & Jones seems to imply that feelings of anger and powerlessness often pre-exist a compulsion to play violent games. In some cases these people find each other in the gaming world and form a bond based on those feelings of alienation and anger.

Do your editor a favour and be a good net citizen: pass this story on to your friends and colleagues. Millions of gamers will love for you…it’s a karma thing. Deal? Thank you!

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