A London psychiatrist has proposed offering in-game addiction therapy to young World of Warcraft players.

Dr Richard Graham of the Tavistock Centre told the Daily Telegraph: "We will be launching this project by the end of the year.

"I think it's already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn't be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players."

Graham, concerned that young players were spending up to 16 hours a day in WOW and neglecting their social lives and education, has called on Blizzard to give therapists free game accounts so they "can more easily communicate with at-risk players in their preferred environment", according to the Telegraph.

"Those affected don't exhibit the same outward warning signs as most teenage anti-social behaviour issues do because they're in their bedrooms most of the time, seemingly out of trouble," Graham said. "Because of this we can't get through to them in the traditional educational environment or intrude on their actual bedrooms, we need to turn to the internet itself to tackle these problems."

A slightly more realistic idea of Graham's is to recruit existing, moderate players to act as "peer mentors" to those struggling with online gaming addiction.

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Oli Welsh

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