Snooker player Neil Robertson blamed a recent drop in form on video game addiction. But was he right to? We speak to the researchers trying to find out
Snooker player Neil Robertson claims a ruinous addiction has harmed his professional career. It’s not alcohol, it’s not drugs – it is video games. In a recent interview with Eurosport, the Australian said his compulsive need to play the online fantasy game World of Warcraft interfered with his training and preparation for a tournament in China. “I’m two months sober from playing them,” he told the site. “My friend said to me: ‘you don’t get to choose the crack you are addicted to’. And the multiplayer online ones I can’t touch because I just get too hooked on them.”
It is only the latest article to put forward the possibility that video games have addictive qualities similar to drugs or gambling. Over the last 20 years, as the medium exploded in popularity, there have been regular scare stories about zombie-like teenagers slumped in front of their PCs, eschewing school work and social interaction. In South Korea, where online gaming is effectively a national sport and its pro players are treated like rock stars, the government has funded treatment centres for games addiction and passed laws to limit access to games for children.