Tag: video games

Gaming Addiction Classified As Disorder By WHO

Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder“.

The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests“.

Some countries had already identified it as a major public health issue.

Many, including the UK, have private addiction clinics to “treat” the condition.

The last version of the ICD was completed in 1992, with the new guide due to be published in 2018.




The guide contains codes for diseases, signs and symptoms and is used by doctors and researchers to track and diagnose disease.

It will suggest that abnormal gaming behaviour should be in evidence over a period of at least 12 months “for a diagnosis to be assigned” but added that period might be shortened “if symptoms are severe“.

Symptoms include:

  • impaired control over gaming (frequency, intensity, duration)
  • increased priority given to gaming
  • continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences

Dr Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at the Nightingale Hospital in London, welcomed the decision to recognise the condition.

It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.

But he added that he would have sympathy for those who do not think the condition should be medicalised.

It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers.

He said he sees about 50 new cases of digital addiction each year and his criteria is based on whether the activity is affecting basic things such as sleep, eating, socialising and education.

He said one question he asked himself was: “Is the addiction taking up neurological real-estate, dominating thinking and preoccupation?

Many psychiatrists refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fifth edition of which was published in 2013.

In that, internet gaming disorder is listed as a “condition for further study“, meaning it is not officially recognised.

Lots of countries are grappling with the issue and in South Korea the government has introduced a law banning access for children under 16 from online games between midnight and 06:00.

In Japan, players are alerted if they spend more than a certain amount of time each month playing games and in China, internet giant Tencent has limited the hours that children can play its most popular games.

A recent study from the University of Oxford suggested that, although children spend a lot of time on their screens, they generally managed to intertwine their digital pastimes with daily life.

The research – looking at children aged eight to 18 – found that boys spent longer playing video games than girls.

Researcher Killian Mullan said: “People think that children are addicted to technology and in front of these screens 24/7, to the exclusion of other activities – and we now know that is not the case.

Our findings show that technology is being used with and in some cases perhaps to support other activities, like homework for instance, and not pushing them out,” he added.

Just like we adults do, children spread their digital tech use throughout the day, while doing other things.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Microsoft Xbox At E3 2018: New Console And Games Coming

Microsoft’s got a new Halo for you.

The hit Xbox action series starring the superhuman Master Chief in his latest adventure to save the galaxy was teased Sunday during the company’s press conference here at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox, said it will be the character’s “greatest adventure” yet, though the company didn’t say much more than that, nor when it will be released.

The game will be called Halo Infinite.




The new Halo was just the tip of the spear. The day also brought announcements on some 50 games and 20 exclusives designed to show the world the Xbox is the gaming device to buy, even if it’s not the most popular.

To emphasize that, the company wowed attendees at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles with a series of announcements about plans for its most popular franchises, including the Gears of War space shooting epic and its hit Cuphead and Ori adventures games.

And if that’s not enough, Microsoft also dropped hints about its next Xbox console, saying teams are “deep into architecting” the next device, though it didn’t give a timetable for a release.

The company also said it’s building a new streaming service designed to allow gamers to play on an Xbox, PC or phone.

The message throughout all of it: Microsoft wants fans to know it hears them.

The company has been criticized for its lack of compelling and exclusive new games, something Nintendo and Sony have been successful at over the past few years.

The top recently released games list on game-review aggregating sister site Metacritic, for example, include Sony’s God of War epic and Nintendo’s update for Donkey Kong.

While Microsoft does have some popular exclusive games of its own, such as Halo and Gears of War, the criticism has grown louder.

That includes exclusive games made by Microsoft. “We always tell our teams to focus on the gamer,” he added. “If fans ask us for exclusives and first-party titles, that’s where we’re going to focus.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Elon Musk Says We’re Probably Characters In Some Advanced Civilization’s Video Game

I don’t want to freak you out here, but there’s a chance you’re not the only ‘you’ in existence.

I’m not talking about the possibility that you might actually have two different brains, which means it’s virtually impossible to tell which one is ‘you’.

I’m talking about the fact that there could well be countless parallel universes, and each one contains a slightly different version of you.

Within that parallel universe construct, our own reality might not be as ‘real’ as you think. Are some of the most massive objects in our Universe nothing but holograms?

Is our Universe itself a hologram? Is this whole thing one giant simulation and we’re just characters in the most advanced video game ever? I swear I’m not high.




Everything I just mentioned is part of actual thought experiments that have been devised and debated over by the world’s best thinkers for years now, because one way or another, we have to make sense of this very strange and incredibly unlikely reality we’ve found ourselves in.

At Recode’s annual Code Conference this week in California, billionaire tech genius Elon Musk was asked about the possibility of us humans being unwitting participants in a giant simulation built by some alien civilization that’s far more advanced than our own.

His argument is pretty simple, if we look at our own history of video games. Forty years ago, video games meant stuff like Pong and Space Invaders.

Now we have photorealistic, three-dimensional stuff that looks like this, and we could have millions, potentially even billions, of people all playing the same game online at the same time.

Sure, there’s a certain ‘uncanny valley‘ quality to our video game counterparts right now, but think of what things are going to look like in another 40, or even 20 years’ time, with virtual and augmented reality already trying to inch its way into our living rooms.

Musk explains:

“If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now. Then you just say, okay, let’s imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.

So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions.”

It might not be the most comforting thing in the world to think about – our reality isn’t at all what we think it is – but Musk says all of this being one big video game is about the best option we could hope for, given the alternatives.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

You Might Apply For Your Next Job By Playing A Mobile Game

The next job you apply for could involve a challenge even before you submit your resume. Two companies are gamifying the recruiting process to change the way they search for talented candidates.

It’s not surprising, given the major shift in the way people look for jobs over the last decade.

Research from the Boston Consulting Group and Recruit Works Institute reveals that 55% of searches globally happened through Internet job sites and 35% via a smartphone.

Applying through social media and submitting a video interview are rapidly becoming more accepted.




But on the recruiters’ side, things aren’t changing as quickly, even though 95% of companies admit to making bad hires each year.

Communication channels are broken or unused as employers invest resources in less efficient ways to attract talent.

According to Talent Board, as many as 88% of employers are allowing more candidates to complete their applications even after they fail screening questions.

And those who rely on software to automate the recruitment process could unknowingly be discriminating against qualified, diverse candidates.

Changing recruiting wasn’t the original intent for CodeFights. The platform was designed to offer users a way to learn and improve their coding skills by proposing, solving, and discussing challenges with other programmers.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Nintendo Introduced A New Product Called ‘Labo’

Nintendo surprised the world once again this week.

The Japanese gaming powerhouse announced a new product with a strange name: “Nintendo Labo.”

Stranger than the name, however, is the product itself: a cardboard construction kit for building gaming peripherals. A what?

It’s worth explaining up front what you actually do with Labo. It’s not just a toy you buy, but a construction set for toys that are used with the Nintendo Switch console. The sets start at $70, and come with games.




The project may seem strange, but it’s actually a perfect marriage of Nintendo’s history as a toy maker and its recent history as a video game powerhouse.

The word “Nintendo” is synonymous with “video games,” and has been for nearly 40 years.

But the company’s actually far older than you may know — over 128 years old! — and much of its history had nothing to do with Italian plumbers fighting evil turtles.

The bulk of Nintendo’s history was spent as a playing-card manufacturer, up until the mid ’60s when it began creating toys.

That toy division eventually morphed into one that focused on a burgeoning format — video games — in the late ’70s.

All of which is to say one thing: Nintendo Labo makes a lot of sense given Nintendo’s history.

It’s a toy. It’s a game. It’s something you build  — that you create — and then play with. It can be drawn on, or covered in stickers, or accidentally stepped on.

Maybe you’ll have to repair it with duct tape and, uh, an old soda carton. Maybe you use the box Labo came in!

Isn’t that kind of rad, actually?

On paper, Labo is a kind-of DIY, adaptable gaming peripheral, with custom games made specifically for the various permutations of that peripheral. In reality, it’s a custom game controller that kids get to build, fix, and own.

Here, Nintendo uses cardboard as a feature, not a flaw. Cardboard can be repaired easily! It also lends itself to modifications, which will assuredly result in some delightful, unexpected ways to play Labo games.

Nintendo is selling a box full of cardboard for $70 with some basic software!” one might argue.

What Nintendo is actually offering with Labo is a relatively inexpensive, Lego-like experience on its wildly popular Nintendo Switch console.

Better yet: The entry-level set, the “Variety Kit,” offers five different builds of varying complexities. Considering the cost of a Lego set nowadays, you’re probably not doing too bad by comparison!

Nintendo Labo is set to launch on April 20 2018.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

A New Study Suggests Gaming Addiction Isn’t A Real Disorder

There are those that take their gaming time too far, to the extent that it negatively impacts their lives, their careers, and their relationships with friends and family.

But according to a new study from Cardiff University, gaming addiction might not be a real condition – at least, not as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes it.

There are currently nine criteria for “internet gaming disorder,” an area of interest for the American Psychiatric Association that has not yet properly been classified as a mental disorder.




The study reports that almost nobody fits the five of nine criteria necessary for diagnosis.

Of more than 2,000 regular online game players surveyed, only nine met the criteria for the disorder. When the participants were questioned again six months later, none still met the requirements for diagnosis.

The study suggests that rather than game addiction itself being a problem, those who struggle with too much game time are instead filling a hole caused by sources of unhappiness in other areas of their life.

Symptoms of gaming disorder had been reduced in participants who had found greater satisfaction in other areas of their life.

It seems none of this is to say that spending too much time in-game, but rather that gaming addiction serves as a symptom of more general unhappiness.

Nonetheless, psychological organizations and game developers alike have taken steps to mitigate gaming’s role in those problems.

The British National Health Service began treating game addiction in 2015 alongside porn and online shopping habits, Valve even began adding healthy gaming timers in Dota 2 last year.

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Pass it on: New Scientist