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Game Addiction Clinic Owner Changes Stance

Posted Wed, Nov 26, 2008 by Morvelaira

Keith Bakker is the founder of The Smith & Jones Centre, Europe's first and only clinic dedicated to treating video game addiction. He's been a strong supporter of the idea that playing video games excessively are symptoms of addiction, and with the zeal of an ATF agent has been doing his best to stamp it out. Until recently, that is.

Mr. Bakker now admits that his previous stance was incorrect and that what has been called video game addiction is really just a more visible piece of a larger social problem in society. Of all the patients admitted to his clinic, all of whom met Mr. Bakker's previous criteria for video game addiction, only 10% truly had a problem that needed to be dealt with.

Using traditional abstinence-based treatment models the clinic has had very high success rates treating people who also show other addictive behaviours such as drug taking and excessive drinking.

But Mr Bakker believes that this kind of cross-addiction affects only 10% of gamers. For the other 90% who may spend four hours a day or more playing games such as World of Warcraft, he no longer thinks addiction counselling is the way to treat these people.

"These kids come in showing some kind of symptoms that are similar to other addictions and chemical dependencies," he says.

"But the more we work with these kids the less I believe we can call this addiction. What many of these kids need is their parents and their school teachers - this is a social problem."

Mr. Bakker now believes that the root cause of this social problem is a basic failing of parents and other responsible adults raising their children. Not just in controlling their kids' access to games, but also in helping them to live in a secure and comfortable environment where they could become proper, assertive adults.

It's good to see that someone out there gets it. If someone who was so for the idea of video game addiction can change his mind and see the real problem, then maybe there's hope that the rest of the nay-sayers will do so too - or at least they'll shut up.

For more information, please visit the BBC.

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