Video Game Addicts Now Have a Detox Clinic – I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve played games since the late ’70’s with Pong and the Atari 2600. I worked in the gaming industry for over 10 years. I have racked up a lot of video game playing time. And I still do, as time allows for it. My parents helped me cultivate outside interests, and some I maintained on my own, such as drawing, reading, or just going outside. Oh sure, I’d play Final Fantasy or Phantasy Star Online or Donkey Kong Country for hours on end. And while working in the game industry, I’d have periods of logging over 16 hours a day, usually 6 days a week. It was more than I wanted at times, but projects don’t complete themselves.

Do I consider myself an addict? No. No, I don’t.

I think this quote in the article that completely invalidates this story for me:

“Hyke van der Heijden, 28, a graduate of the Amsterdam program, started playing video games 20 years ago. By the time he was in college he was gaming about 14 hours a day and using drugs to play longer.

‘For me, one joint would never be enough, or five minutes of gaming would never be enough,’ he said. ‘I would just keep going until I crashed out.’ ”

The fact that the kid owned up to having a drug problem is completely overshadowed by the slant of this article. Not all gamers use drugs. Not all drug users play games. It’s asinine to say that video games drive children to drugs any more than it can be said that video games draw people to violence. When I first started work at Williams/Midway, my first two placed I was placed on were Doom and Mortal Kombat 3. Both violent and bloody games, sure, and due to work (and even outside of), I’ve certainly logged my fair share of time on both titles. I never even gave so much as a black eye to another person during that time, much less entertained thoughts about murder. And since then, I’ve played Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Eternal Darkness, the recent Jaws…. The list goes on, but the point remains, I haven’t snapped and lashed out against society over a video game, and I doubt one is going to come along to push me over the edge.

I wish these concerned parents and “moral” committees would look into the real issues: How active are the parents in their children’s lives? Do they scream at them to “straighten up and fly right”, or do they actually make the time to talk with them and spend time with them? Who are the peers that their children spend time with? Decent kids, or little prision inmates in the making? Ever just turn the game system off and just say “take a break for a while”?

This is a sensitive subject for me. When I had worked as a game counselor, I and my co-workers got our fair share of angry Mothers screaming that I have “ruined their child’s life”. Funny, I don’t remember shelling out my money to buy these games for them. As it turned out, the parents themselves were the ones who took them to the store and bought the game for them, and then question me about the content? Did you not see the big ESRB “M” rating? Was the demon head inside a pentagram on the cover of Doom 64 not a clear indication that the game might have questionable religious merit, or might have gore and frightening imagery?

The video game companies just make the games. It’s up to the the customer to buy them. And it’s up to the parents to be aware of what their children are playing. Sit down with your children sometime. You might actually find your kid’s Metroid Prime session interesting.

At any rate, this “clinic” idea is just a trendy cop-out for a concern that could be easily resolved without outside assistance.

Overheard: polite clapping for Nintendo is quite enough, fanboys – Joystiq.Com posted this article around the time of E3, and again, as an industry veteran, I don’t agree with the “modest, reserved stance” that the editorial makes a point of addressing.

As someone who has also worked closely with marketing, one of the the more amusing aspects of the job was either devising a clever gimmick or seeing how other companies delivered their products to other industry people or retailers. Nintendo usually includes some clever gimmick when they send their games out for review or to interest people in the product. But other companies do this as well, and this ranges from little toys and items to a full costumed stunt or event (I recall a time with midget cheerleaders about six years ago), to even just a humorously typed letter. The video game industry has never taken itself too seriously, even when it’s a big company. The companies want to have fun with their product, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Game magazines, sites, and blogs need to be written by gamers. They understand they mentality and the hype, and exactly why a new Legend of Zelda sequel is such a big deal. Game companies want the journalist to be excited about their products, who in turn will convey that enthusiasm through their editorials, who in turn will influence the readers who love games and still dream of taking a larger part in the video game industry. When I hear something about a new Everquest expansion, I’d want to hear more than “Eh, it’s okay”, and then list the technical aspects of the software. If there’s a moment that stuck out in the writer’s mind as really cool, and wants to share it, I want to experience that from the article.

Nintendo stole the show this year with Wii. This has been covered many times, and with the price point and features, it’s understandable why. If people want to cheer excitedly that Solid Snake and Pit are in the new Smash Bros. Brawl game, let them be excited. Smash Bros. fans have been begging Nintendo for Pit for years now, and Solid Snake is a randomly unexpected, but very cool addition to the title.

A lot of these journalists or fans and gamers. I think it’s flattering to the people who actually work on these games to let them know that their work is still appreciated, and they are remaining on the right track with their product’s development. How different is this from an enthusiastic crowd giving a standing ovation to an opera singer for hitting an incredible high note, or for a musical that has just completed an emotional production number? Are these people in their suits and evening gowns “unrefined cretins” as well by that editor’s estimation?

All the cheering and best marketing campaigns in the world is not going to successfully cover up a crappy product, or change the mind of someone who simply just does not like what is placed in front of them.

If people want to be vocal with their appreciation because something makes them happy, I think there’s a lot more in the world to look down upon. And as an writer of a game blog, doesn’t that make you a “fan” too, or are you just more interested about the reputation of your “journalistic merit and integrity”?

Show me a gamer who doesn’t get excited about the continuation of their favorite game series, and I’ll show you a Pac-Man who isn’t hungry.

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