February 9th, 2006

PC Gamer Mag Challenges Paper on Need For Speed Crash Hype

Hey, Toronto Star - sensationalize, much?

The over-hyped media coverage of a recent fatal car crash in Toronto enraged gamers from Albany to Zanzibar. EA's popular Need For Speed came unde fire when investigators found a copy of the racing game on the front seat of one of two cars which had been racing.

A recent edition of PC Gamer Podcast examines the issue and features an interview with an editor from the Star, one of the more egregious offenders in the NFS blame game.

Good stuff!

GP: By the way, just to avoid confusion, the graphic accompanying this piece is PC Gamer's, not that of the Toronto Star. Just thought I'd mention that...

Are You a Video Game Junkie?

Does spending upwards of fifty hours a week playing video games qualify one as an addict? Or is that simply how some choose to spend the majority of their time?

That's the question posed by a recent Associated Press article (we caught up to it in the Boston Herald).

Computer games may not be chemically addictive but experts agree that they can hook certain people in the same way that gambling can. However, even excessive gamblers aren't necessarily addicted to their recreational activity of choice. Professor Mark Griffiths, who studies behavioral addictions at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England, elaborates:

"To count as a real addiction.it has to be destructive, cause withdrawal symptoms and prompt ever greater use to maintain the kick... When you apply those criteria to something like Internet use or video game use, you find that yeah, lots of people display some of those components, but very few display all of them, and in that sense, to me, they are not classically addicted."

That's not to say that computer or game addiction doesn't happen. Robert LaRose, a professor of telecommunications at Michigan State University, has studied the phenomenon among students and estimates that, similar to gambling addiction, it only occurs in a fraction of a percent of users. So while true addiction is rare, in today's technology driven society, obsessive computer use is not.

"If you're not feeling connected at home, at work, with your parents, with your loved ones, or with your family, then you're going to look for it somewhere else," said Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, executive director of NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals. "The human being is made to need other people."
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VSDA's Bersell Spars with Censorcrat in California Newspaper

Gamers, Sean Bersell has your back.

Regular GP readers will recall Sean as the VP of public affairs for the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), a plaintiff in the ongoing suit against California's video game law. Sean is also the 2006 chair of the Media Coalition, a First Amendment advocacy group.

GP has taken notice of Sean's response to a surprisingly ill-informed op-ed piece in the Glendale News-Press, a local California paper. It all started last week when the News-Press ran a column penned by Charles Unger, a criminal defense attorney and family therapist (odd combination, but we suppose it comes in handy for insanity defenses).

Despite his contention that, "When it comes to the 1st Amendment I am a pretty liberal guy," Unger made, for an attorney, some surprisingly ill-informed comments. Among them:

"I don't see how (California's video game law) is any different than having a movie be rated R to restrict entry."

"I can't imagine these games are doing the kids any good. When I was younger I remember my parents wondering what television would do to me since they had only radio and they had to use their imagination more than I did growing up."

"Skateboarding and violent video games; if there were to be a common thread among young patients I see, those are the two."

Riding to the rescue, Sean (more politely than GP might have) fired back with his own op-ed in the News-Press (which happens to be his hometown paper). Highlights include:
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