On the eve of the UK’s Gaming BAFTA awards, Prince Harry weighed in on the on-going debate surrounding video game addiction. In particular, the Duke of Sussex chastised Fortnite for being “more addictive than alcohol and drugs,” calling for a ban on the battle royale title.
“That game shouldn't be allowed,” the royal explained to mental health experts in West London. “Where is the benefit of having it in your household? It's created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It's so irresponsible. It's like waiting for the damage to be done and kids turning up on your doorsteps and families being broken down.”
Video game addiction has been discussed for many years, with Epic Games’ Fortnite recently becoming the epicentre. Due to its free-to-play model, the game has garnered over 200 million registered players and is continuously highlighted in DivorceOnline’s research, via the BBC, as a cause for separation.
Prince Harry’s words echo the many opinions in the mental health industry, as practitioners continue to attribute excessive gaming as the cause of many physical and mental negatives in youngsters. Just last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) placed gaming addiction on its list of mental health disorders, prompting many to research into categorisation and treatment.
Although it is often agreed that more research is required into the phenomenon, some researchers disagree with labelling games as an ‘addiction’. Scottish researcher Andrew Reid has advocated for the positive aspects in Fortnite, leaning away from the term in order not to “stigmatise” the UK’s most popular industry, worth £5.7 billion.
Epic Games has yet to address Prince Harry’s comments, but the industry at large opposes the term ‘addiction’ being thrown around. While all claims “should be taken seriously,” the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) chief executive, Dr. Jo Twist responded by saying that she wants to turn the industry’s attention to parents and carers in order to better educate them about “safe and responsible game play, and the positive impact games can have on people's lives.”
On behalf of the UK, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is currently investigating into addictive technologies, including video games, smartphones and social media – another area which Prince Harry called for a ban against despite launching a joint Instagram account with his wife earlier this week. The board’s chairman, Damian Collins, has revealed that Epic Games has been invited to aid the investigation, but has yet to receive an answer.
KitGuru Says: I still think it would be best for companies within the video game industry to explore more preventative measures, in hopes of avoiding what seems like inevitable government regulation. How do you feel about the current discussions behind ‘video game addiction’?