Playing games compulsively isn’t an addiction

A founder of Europe’s only clinic for gaming addiction says ninety per cent who seek treatment aren’t addicted.

Addiction counselling is no longer the best method of treatment for people considered gaming addicts, says the founder of Europe’s only clinic for video game addicts.

And that’s because ninety per cent of people who come into the clinic for treatment aren’t addicted to start with.

The Smith & Jones Center, located in Amsterdam, has treated hundreds of young gamers since opening in 2006 using abstinence-based treatment models.

Those models have been successful when treating people who also show other addictive behaviours, like taking illicit drugs or signs of alcohol abuse.

However, Keith Bakker (pictured right), founder of the clinic, believes this cross-addiction only affects 10% of gamers.

For the rest, the clinic changed its treatment to reflect the reality of compulsive gaming as a social issue rather than a psychological one.

By changing tack and offering gamers a way to rejoin society through activity-based social programs and communications skills, the vast majority have been able to leave their compulsive ways behind and rebuild their lives.

But according to Bakker, the real root of the problem lies in parents who have failed in their duty of care and allowed the computer to act as a glorified babysitter.

With 87 per cent of online gamers are over the age of 18, and the average age of gamers in Australia now at 30, the onus is on the individual to take action in their own lives.

Bakker believes issues of isolation and frustration, underlying issues that result in a compulsion to play video games, could be dealt with if parents were more commited.

But for younger gamers, there is still the fail-safe option of traditional treatment: taking them away from the computer and not allowing them to play the game.

Source: BBC