Video games should be made less addictive, say experts

Experts warn game-makers should make video games less addictive before the government is forced to step in.

Video games are too addictive. That's according to researchers who think game-makers should make games less compelling, before the government is forced to step in and tackle addiction.

Around one in ten gamers are "pathological" players. In extreme cases, gamers are bashing buttons in sessions lasting 90 hours. 

New research from experts at Cardiff, Derby and Nottingham Trent universities, published in the Addiction Research and Theory journal, identifies massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) as being more conducive to addiction in players.

The problem with online role playing games like World of Warcraft is that they're open-ended and ongoing, as opposed to console and PC games that follow a story to an actual ending.

Many MMORPGs show messages warning players not to over-do it, but the researchers believe game developers and publishers need to go further and adjust "the structural features of the game design" to prevent players from getting so deeply absorbed.

Elements that could be changed include "the character development, rapid absorption rate and multi-player features, which could make them addictive and or problematic for some gamers."

The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) says there are measures in place to make sure players enjoy games safely, but admits that, "like anything enjoyable in life, some people play games excessively."

The researchers warn that if the problem is not tackled, the government could be forced to follow the example of China, where a time limit is imposed on games.

Do you think gaming addiction is a growing problem? Should games be made less fun? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our thoroughly addictive Facebook wall.

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Gaming
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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