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BBC Panorama Investigates Games Addiction

BBC investigative documentary series Panorama is to broadcast an episode focusing on the “addiction” to video gaming.

The documentary met with the mother of a 19 year old man from Stoke-On-Trent, who worries that her son is addicted to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) title World of Warcraft.

Her son became so obsessed with playing the game that he started refusing to go to school, spent nearly 20 hours per day on the game and suffered physical withdrawal symptoms when the game was taken away. This eventually led to her disconnecting her home internet connection, which caused her son becoming enraged and violent.

Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft said to the BBC: "Our games are designed to be fun…but like all forms of entertainment…day-to-day life should always take precedence. World of Warcraft contains practical tools that assist players and parents in monitoring playing time."

This is not the first time World of Warcraft has been criticised for addicting players. A Korean couple made the news in 2005 after being arrested for letting their four month old daughter starve to death whilst they played the game.

Gaming often comes in for a kicking from parental groups and the press, with video game ‘nasties’ such as Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto being derided for including brutal, realistic violence in-game. Other games have also been criticised for addicting players and causing obsessive and socially reclusive behaviour, such as Second Life, Pokemon and even Tetris.

Unfortunately this is normally the result of unbalanced media reporting, as a majority of gamers are socially normal whilst an extreme minority normally attracts headlines.

The episode Panorama: Addicted To Games, will be broadcast tonight on BBC One at 20:30 and will be available on iPlayer afterwards.