World of Warcraft developer Blizzard has issued a statement on the subject of games addiction ahead of tonight's airing of Panorama's 'Addicted to Games?' investigation.
"Our games are designed to be fun... but like all forms of entertainment... day-to-day life should always take precedence," the developer told the BBC. "World of Warcraft contains practical tools that assist players and parents in monitoring playing time."
We're expecting tonight's show to vilify some of the industry's biggest releases, although the reporter behind the investigation, Raphael Rowe, has told CVG that gamers should "judge after" they've watched.
For the show, Rowe spoke to numerous young players about their gaming 'addiction'. Joe Staley, 21, is said to be 'obsessively addicted' to Call of Duty, engaging in 12 hours sessions or overnighters, while Chris Dando, 19, said he skipped school for weeks at a time to play World of Warcraft.
"Unlike substance addictions such as alcohol or heroin, or compulsive addictions such as gambling where professional help is widely available, gaming addiction is not a recognised medical condition," Rowe acknowledges.
But he goes on to say that a game designer showed him 'some of the invisible psychological devices in video games which keep players wanting more'.
Adrian Hon, chief creative officer of entertainment production company SixToStart, said: "If you give people a lever or a button to press and give them random rewards, they will press it all the time. In computer games... players are randomly rewarded with extra lives or extra in-game features. The idea is to create a compulsion loop that keeps them wanting to play on."
Panorama: Addicted to Games? is on BBC One tonight at 8:30pm.
Games 'addiction' might not exist - but that's no reason to ignore its 'victims', CVG editor Tim Ingham suggested in an opinion piece published this weekend.