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UK game industry hits back at Panorama

"Playing games is a hobby."

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Games industry trade association TIGA has responded to Panorama's investigation into video game addiction.

In 'Addicted to Games?' Panorama "hears from youngsters who've dropped out of school and university to play games for anything up to 21 hours a day".

"TIGA has yet to see the Panorama documentary, so cannot comment on specific points raised in the show," Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, said.

"However, what we can say is that there is absolutely no proven link between video games and addiction. The World Health Organisation has no official medical diagnosis of video games addiction. Playing games is a hobby and people can certainly become passionate about them. This is no different from a passion for a particular book, TV programme or sport. In addition, playing games such as Wii Sports of Xbox Kinect can improve fitness. Games can also be educational. A fifth of UK games businesses make educational or serious games."

He added: "There is a world of difference between people who claim, in the colloquial non medical sense, that they are addicted to games, music, football or a TV programme and people who are clinically addicted, in scientific parlance, to drugs or alcohol. People may claim to be addicted to something like games or football, but in most cases they are not."

In the episode, due to air tonight at 2030 GMT on BBC One, Panorama reporter Raphael Rowe meets a mother who cut off her internet connection at home because she was worried about the amount of time her 19-year-old son was spending playing computer games.

Which computer game? MMORPG World of Warcraft. Expansion Cataclysm is out at midnight tonight.

Blizzard told Panorama in a statement: "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."

"TIGA would welcome additional independent research in to this topic and takes this issue very seriously," Wilson continued. "As with all hobbies we advocate that video games are played in moderation, with gamers taking regular breaks. Parents and retailers should also ensure that children only play games that are age appropriate. Games are clearly marked with PEGI or BBFC age ratings to inform parents about which games are suitable for their children."

Eurogamer's Johnny Minkley has seen the Panorama documentary and spoken to the director and producer behind it, Emeke Onono.

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