Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra analysis
, writer Neils Clark has been discussing game addiction, suggesting that the industry needs to be more proactive in researching the potential adverse effects of gaming.
Clark, who was previously published MMO research
on Gamasutra suggesting that playing with real life friends, side activities like exploration or taking pictures, and membership to social guilds may be related to less harmful play, comments in the conclusion to his lengthy piece:
"If the game industry is going to be sustainable, and if games are going to live long enough to meet their potential as a form, then society has to understand the health issues in gaming. They need to be responsible, but so do we.
Facing the issues may be as simple as showing that games aren't the cause, but it's our level of concern that's more likely to win the heart of the mob. Yes, regular folks need to educate themselves; gamers, parents of gamers and game developers also need to educate themselves.
No, the quality of the information in 2008, especially how it's presented, is not perfect. What can we do about that? As we can understand ways to separate problem gaming and amazing gaming, like wheat from the chaff, certain developers might play a serious role in encouraging more responsible play and design.
Over anything else, whether we win or lose will depend on how we play the game. The actions of developers and their players will speak loudest.
Game developers aren't crack dealers. The people who make games are giving us something to do, and they're good at what they do. While there are serious considerations to weighing in on addiction, sooner or later the industry will want to engage critics in dialogue.
If the research can't pony up and provide reliable information, then it won't hurt to have discussed health issues freely and openly among colleagues. Some kind of language for discussing excess-balance might be a byproduct of those conversations, but it's a distinct possibility that there wasn't much to talk about in the first place. What are the truths and fictions behind the anecdotes?
It's high time someone figured that out."
The full Gamasutra article on the subject
includes lots more thoughtful discussion on the state of thinking and research on addiction, including interviews and feedback from developers.