Gaming Possibly as Addictive as Heroin and Causes Child Death, Apparently

The UK press had linked gaming to Heroin addiction and sadly a child's recent death, all published on the same day.
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According to UK press, gaming causes Heroin addiction and recently a child’s death. 

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There were two articles published by UK press, The Sun and The Argus, that boldly state “Gaming as addictive as Heroin” and “St Leonards father killed his five-week-old daughter after she distracted him from a video game.

The first article goes on to talk about the claims from a London-based clinic that they receive upwards of 5000 calls a day from people wanting to get help for their child’s addiction to video games. The clinic also claims that Call of Duty was the cause of three suicides and increased Dopamine levels in the brain. 

The UK Press Talks Heroine

Dr Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, shared his input in the article by providing 10 yes-or-no questions to find out if you are addicted to video games. 

In an interview with Eurogamer Dr. Griffiths had this to add, 

“It depends how you define addiction in the first place,” he said.

“I’ve spent my whole career trying to say if you’re going to call something an addiction it has to be similar right across the board. The criteria I use for video game addiction would be exactly the same as in heroin addiction in the sense that this is an activity that becomes the most important thing in your life, it compromises everything else in your life including your relationship, work and hobbies.

It’s something you use as a way of modifying your mood. It’s something that builds up tolerance over time, so you need more and more. It’s something where you get withdrawal symptoms if you’re unable to engage in it. And it’s something that if you do manage to give up for a short time when you do the activity again you relapse.

The good news from my perspective is on those particular criteria, the number of genuine video game addicts is few and far between. If we’re talking about genuine video game addiction, it doesn’t matter what the activity is if we’re using the same criteria.

It’s a bit like that trick question my physics teacher used to give us, which was, if you’ve got a tonne of feathers and a tonne of lead, which weighs heavier? Most kids put down a tonne of feathers, but the whole point is it’s a tonne.

It’s quite clear that some, whether it’s kids or young adults, have some problems around the fact they seem to be unable to control the amount of time they spend gaming, and maybe it’s impacting other areas of their life. But just because there are some addictive-like components there it doesn’t mean they’re genuinely addicted.”

Gaming and Infanticide

The second UK press site, The Argus, also published a story about how a father tragically killed his daughter because she distracted him from a game. 

“Mark Sandland, 28, had a “sudden loss of temper” and shook Aimee-Rose shortly after looking up real-time instructions on playing Assassin’s Creed 3, prosecutors said.”

The rest of the story goes on to say that Sandland already had pre-existing issues with coping with stress and that he is due to sentencing Wednesday. However, the article doesn’t make a strong case about that being the cause, only the video games. 

The two articles posted on the same day, coincidentally I’m sure, but this has serious effects on the UK gaming scene and industry all together. 

What this says about gaming?

It’s no secret that a lot of people who never play video games and don’t research the facts think that violent video games cause real-world violence. The first story above claims these negative consequences of gaming while the second story sadly shows a real world scenario of how games can be related to something as tragic as a child’s death. 

The issue I have with these articles is that both seem to put the sole blame on the video games without making much of an effort to take into consideration that the people in these stories have pre-existing conditions and may not be able to cope with stress and anger management. 

Video games are an easy target for people to immediately place blame because there are violent video games, but it wouldn’t have mattered if the people were playing video games, watching movies, watching sports, or reading a book – they still wouldn’t have controlled their anger. 

What are your thoughts on gaming and how it’s being portrayed in the UK press? 

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Miranda Kirk
Former member and Senior Intern of the JTP program, woo!