Games For Health Conference 08: Neils Clark on understanding and dealing with game addiction

Neils Clark explains the mechanics behind video game addiction - Image 1What exactly characterizes video game addiction? Writer and researcher Neils Clark recently tackled this and other related questions at the 2008 Games for Health Conference. In his talk, Clark elaborated on the problem, its elements, real world relationships and possible solutions. More on those in the full article after the jump.

Neils Clark tackled video game addiction at the Games for Health 08 Conference - Image 1Yes, addictions need to be dealt with, but it’s important to first understand exactly what it is you’re dealing with. That’s why writer and researcher Neils Clark addressed the subject of video game addiction at the 2008 Games for Health Conference. His talk centered on the problem, its elements, real world relationships and its solutions.

Clark noted is that it has no differentiation between children and adults with regard to game addiction, though pathologies may differ. He also admitted that health professionals are still “in the interim” in their understanding of the addiction.

According to Clark, three distinct elements help us understand what constitutes game addiction:

  1. immersion – Different people are immersed differently into different games.
  2. culture – This is basically how the virtual world works. These worlds have structures and cultures all their own, so researchers need to look at how these elements relate.
  3. how people interact with games – Generally speaking, people play games not for nefarious reasons, but because they get good things out of them (friendships, rewards, etc.).

Nevertheless, Clark admitted that pathologies tend to affect both real and virtual worlds (for example, insomnia due to excessive grinding in World of Warcraft). Researchers, however, still need a more robust way of looking at the problem because taking away a game also means taking away all the good things that go with it.

Clark noted that developers can be a big help in helping to solve the problem, as they can design tools to help players monitor their own playtime and remind gamers to pace themselves.

For the long term, though, Clark mentioned that both developers and researchers still need to connect with each other, work together,  keep themselves up to date with the latest research and “move outside internet addiction criteria to get a handle on what’s really happening.”

Via Gamasutra

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