the fifth estate: Top Gun, video game addiction (2009)

Via gamepolitics, the fifth estate televised a report on Brandon Crisp and his relation to video game addiction. I wasn’t interested in the case since it first broke news some time ago because it was family matter much like that video game industry rep said. What made me watch the report is to make sure they get their info right, namely any studies they mention.

Well, they mentioned one study which suggested that one in twelve video game players can be clinically diagnosed as addicted. I’ll visit their website or ask the journalists involved to cough up the study and maybe I can say yay or nay. I suspect the study involves MMO players, it may have some generalizability issues or some other related problems in video game addiction research.

Most of the report, I can’t really relate since I don’t play Call of Duty 4 or don’t know much about professional gaming. But there are few highlights that snapped me to attention.

  • Dr. David Walsh, he took a few jabs on the video games industry to take on some responsibility. I suspect he’s got more and better things to say than what we’re shown.
  • (asinine) The use of Command and Conquer: Generals’ theme, which is annoying. From my point of view, using this theme is not in good style. Stop that!
  • Robbie Cooper‘s Immersion project. A video can be seen from the New York Times.
  • The insistent push by the journalists into the video game industry and unto the audience that the industry should take a big responsibility in regulating video game sales to minors.
  • Reporter Gillian Findlay insisting that violent video games should have bigger warning signs. Reminded me of those warnings on those cigarettes packs. My take is nay, it’s been said suggested before, it’s just sad and more education for parents and kids to learn about those ratings. It makes me wonder how parents learn the movie ratings, by growing up with these ratings?
  • A missing point about kids playing violent video games, if parents don’t buy violent video games, It’s just not through the internet kids can play violent video games, their kids can find a friend who has parents that will buy them.
  • (4chanesque attitude) Reporter Gillian Findlay gaming fail.
  • Findlay’s comment on whether players get tired of killing people and her skepticism of whether gaming can be considered competitive sports. Anything that induces competition and betting can be considered sports.
  • The annoying use of figurines and classical music. I felt like they wanted to piss off someone.

I generally loathe journalists as they selectively disclose information that they think is important without input from the interviewees (i.e. cutting parts of the interview and showing parts the consider important from their point of view). I know they have word limits, or time limits in what they can disclose. This is why this blog was created because I can say a lot and don’t care if I bore some readers.


10 thoughts on “the fifth estate: Top Gun, video game addiction (2009)

  1. Understand that from a mature gamer’s persective, aged 16, that the said incident involved a fourteen year-old that had no boundaries. I am NOT saying that his parents are at fault, but they need to be as aware of the ESRB Ratings as they are of the Movie Ratings.

    Nevertheless; most gamers see games such as C.O.D 4 (Call of Duty 4), Halo 3, and other FPS (First Person Shooters)as mere entertainment, or fun. That directly relates to the said study that one in twelve players can be clinically diagnozed as addicted.

    • @ Dan

      Can you elaborate on how FPS games are directly related to the said study of addiction. What about other gaming genres, say RTS or MMORPGs? Many games are also mere entertainment, I say deeper issues are at hand, such as the social elements of gaming (voice over IP, reputation, rankings, etc.). Think for example the case of South Korea where Starcraft is still the object of fame and obsession or the notable news articles from China where several deaths (some criminally) were directly related to online video games.

  2. This documentary is garbage. The way the narrator sensationalizes the Call of Duty videos has nothing to do with the core issues. I’ve played the games with many people of all ages who played non-stop. Some had jobs and played all night, some were young who had no gf etc. But eventually they move on and get busy in their own lives and stop playing so much. It’s not the video games but what vice someone choices to waste their time on. It’s not physically addictive like alcohol so why demonize it like an alcoholic? The “feeling” of “destroying” that this kid talks about with Call of duty is laughable. His mom needs to go in there rip the cord out of the wall and be like “we’re going for a walk and a talk.” Why play the victim here because your family was not able to reach out to their own children. So many people play these online games a lot and many live normal lives. Picking out a few select cases is not journalism.

    This is just a bad social behaviour that can be corrected if the people around that person understand.

    The lady who’s son ran away because she took his game she “called his bluff” when she said “if you’re going to run away make sure you take a coat” laughingly. What does that say about the connection between the parents and the child? Did they ever try introducing their child to other activities and take the bad social behavior more seriously. These are socially constructed behaviors that are do to the environment that one grows up in. NOT THE VIDEO GAME. Get over this argument already. It makes great sensationalism but fails to look at reality. People need to make critical decisions about balancing their families instead of trying to demonize something like playing shooters which many people enjoy peacefully.

    they make it seem like this one teen “had to play because he was letting down his team.” He mae his own choices and now he’s milking it to be on tv. Hate these types of documentaries.

  3. @ kam

    You’ll to keep in mind that one of journalism’s goals is to filter out useless news, like some guy broke his ankle. However, you do have good point that it is quite sensationalistic and does not present both sides of the issue sufficiently. Especially, when we’re talking statistics where a good majority grow out of video games and get serious about life.

    But I disagree pulling the plug quite suddenly, even if the parents want to talk with their kid. It is unlikely the child would cooperate when his focus is suddenly interrupted. Dr. Jerald Block had also explored this kind of parental tactic in relation to the Columbine case (see , article title: Lessons From Columbine: Virtual and Real Rage)

    You have to understand that based on what the Crisps described. How do you get your child’s attention when they’re focused on their game? They are quite helpless when trying to communicate. I don’t have any viable suggestions, but they are in a sense the victim, but again they are partly responsible for that.

  4. Studies like these are often cited when number like 10% pops up indicating that some players demonstrate characteristics of addiction:

    Grusser, S. M., Thalemann, R., & Griffiths, M. D. (2006). Excessive computer game playing: Evidence for addiction and aggression? Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10(2), 290-292.

  5. At The Bin, we’ve written two articles on this episode and have received some interesting remarks from a couple of readers. For the most part though, it still appears that most people are completely oblivious to the existence of gamer culture, and those that are aware of it look down upon it. Concerning your point about the episode’s comments page, I got the very same feeling. You could almost pick each one out an put them in their own predisposition pile.

    On your note about the classical music and figurines, and also to answer Hi’s question, that was not the CBC’s own original footage. The music and figurine footage came from the Diorama Commercial/Trailer for Halo 3. It’s available at (behind an age gate, I should note).

    This was an interesting and refreshing perspective.


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