On occasion, I see an idea online that makes perfect sense. Granted this is a rare occasion, but on occasion, it does have.
Today was one of those times. A London psychiatrist, having recognized the dangers of addictive videogames, has presented the proposal that Blizzard offer psychologists free entry to the World of Warcraft servers so that they may offer counseling to video game addicts, while they are gaming.
Okay, so I said, the idea made sense. But seriously, this guy thinks that Blizzard Entertainment, the purveyors of war crack and the people who have made millions of dollars convincing millions of people to feed the addiction on a monthly basis, is going to offer them free access to the game so that they can discourage people from playing it?
I have witnessed the addictive factor of the World of Warcraft. I have seen a man going through a divorce contact his ex-wife not to talk about the future of their child or to attempt to reconcile their relationship, but instead to plan raids for their WoW characters to embark on together. I’ve seen college students forgo sleep, and ultimately work and classes in favor of their imaginary lives on World of Warcraft.
I know people who’ve chosen to pay their Internet bill and their monthly subscription fee rather than their rent or grocery bill. I see the World of Warcraft create and ruin relationships and lives. So I have no doubt that Dr. Richard Graham is correct when he talks about the addictive power of the game and the need to treat it.
I think his innovative idea of offering treatment to patients via the game system is an interesting approach to making contact with addicts who may not be willing to face their addiction or visit a psychiatrist’s office.
In short, the basic idea is a good one. However, according to the Daily Telegraph and Internet reports, Dr. Graham’s approach to making this happen is to ask Blizzard Entertainment to offer free game memberships for therapists or to consider creating a form of peer counseling within the game to discourage people who are showing addictive tendencies.
It’s not that I’m questioning Blizzard’s desire for their customers to be healthy. I am absolutely convinced that the company would love to see its customers remain healthy and solvent so that they can continue to be customers. However, I cannot see how any company would find it in their own best interests to offer free memberships to someone whose intention is to detract from the company’s sales.
Dr. Graham’s ideas and innovative treatment methods might be worthy of consideration, but they might also represent an infringement on the rights of the WoW players. Regardless of the form of addiction, as individuals we should have the right to determine when and if to seek treatment for it. Having psychiatric professionals on the site analyzing people for signs of addiction is another step towards a Big Brother state that is completely inappropriate.
Mental health professionals should find a way to communicate with addicts on their own turf and in a manner that makes seeking counseling more acceptable, but if Dr. Graham believes that Blizzard Entertainment and World of Warcraft players are going to embrace his idea with open arms, he might want to consider some professional mental health counseling of his own.