Opinion: University study discovers online role-playing games are addictive. No, really?!

Columns & Opinion, Gaming

kat-halo-3-lick.jpgSome idiotic university professor with too much university grant money on his hands has concluded that role-playing games, or MMORPGs played online are more addictive than playing on consoles. No, really?

Judging by the fact that tens, if not hundreds of people (mostly in the East) have died from several days’ worth of non-stop gaming on Second Life, Starcraft, World of Warcraft et al, but hardly anyone has ever carked it from playing Burn Out or console games, you’d think that would’ve been fairly obvious.

Of course, that’s not to say people haven’t died from acting out Burn Out on the M25, but that’s another story. It’s universally recognised that games played online are far more addictive, due to their interactive natures.

The study was undertaken by a Syracuse University psychology professor, who divided 100 student volunteers into four groups, with the first given tokens to play at local arcades, the second played Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, an adventure game on the PS2, the third played nasty ol’ Diablo II on PCs, with the fourth playing the MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot online using PCs.

He caught up with the students a month later to discover how they went on, and found out, surprise surprise, that the group playing Dark Age of Camelot played around 14.4 hours in the last week, more than double the other groups. Side-effects were noted, including a decline in overall health, less sleep and interference in their personal lives, however they did admit to having had fun, and that they made new friends online playing the game.

Now obviously this experiment was daft and inconclusive. Firstly, the group given tokens to play at arcades were always going to show the least amount of addiction, as arcades are not as accessible as a PC or console, actually being outside your front door. Then there’s the sense of losing money, even if they were given unlimited tokens, and that they would’ve faced intense hatred from other arcade-frequenters if they used a machine for over 24 minutes. Hatred in the form of Slush Puppies thrown over them, or cruel whisper campaigns formed around the hot dog stand.

The groups playing Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and Diablo II, on the PS2 and PC respectively, wouldn’t have faced too many differences, apart from added pressure by housemates “to get off that darned PS-whatever already”, and the temptation to pause Diablo II and check emails/eBay/yarn stocks.

You could argue that when connected to the internet, the Dark Age of Camelot gamers would be tempted to check emails and update their Facebook statuses with progress reports on how many elves they’ve slashed/gold coins collected/friends they’ve made.

However, I believe when interacting with other gamers online, conversing and role-playing with them, it’s fairly obvious that you’re bound to become hooked, hence the student volunteers within this group averaged 14.4 hours of use in the last week, and experienced the various side-effects.

I’d like to see universities stop giving stupid money to stupid professors involved in stupid social-experiments when they already know what the stupid outcomes will be. Any idiot just has to read the internet to find a plethora of stories backing up what they already know.

Katherine Hannaford is Deputy Editor of Tech Digest and is getting increasingly sick of seeing stories about incompetent university professors involving their students in unnecessary experiments, hoping to see their names on Yahoo News.

Story via Yahoo News
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Katherine Hannaford
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