Past Rants, Raves & Views

Gaming Rehab centre opens

New service setup for ‘screenagers’

At some point in our gaming lives, we’ve all blown our metaphorical top at a video game. Repeatedly dieing at the hands of a final boss, getting piped to the line by another racer, taking bullet after bullet to the face from an unknown enemy; these will all send you into a rage of video-gaming mist that is all but uncontrollable. Until now! Or so it seems…

Richard Graham, a London consultant psychiatrist (please note he’s not a doctor) has established a new rehab service for teenagers who are addicted to their precious electrical items and services. The service is primarily aimed at a young gamer/gadget nut that reacts badly to an order or request to stop. Like any addiction, it’s the stopping that’s the hard part, and this service is aiming to stop the cravings of any ‘screenagers’ (I thought ‘screenRAGERS’ would be better?). So, if you have a teenager who is constantly glued to their mobile phone, internet provider, iPod or gaming console, you’ll know where to send them. You could try parenting first, but that’s not the modern way.

"Mental health services need to adapt quickly to the changing worlds young people inhabit and understand how seriously their lives can be impaired by unregulated time online, on-screen or in-game," said Graham. Will the service be available online Richard, via XBLA of the PSN Network?

Graham also added that other services are outdated, "borrowing from older models of addiction and substance misuse to very limited effect". Damn parenting and pills, where have they ever got us?

To be honest, in my teens I would react badly to losing or being told to switch off my video game. I’d whack my Megadrive as if it were a funfair ‘Test your Strength’ game (although the console still works to this day, unbelievably!), throw the controllers around the room, and just general throw a pubescent tantrum. A friend of mine got so angry once, he punched my copy of Micro Machines 2: Turbo Challenge (the one with the extra ports at the top of the cartridge) with such force that he imprinted the port marks onto his fist. So in that respect, any service to stop youngsters doing this is probably a good thing. Think of all the damaged consoles we could save.

It’s strange that this ‘service’ Graham has provided is only available to teenagers. I know plenty of gamers, all in their later 20s early 30s, who still throw ‘wobblys’ at their consoles whenever things go against them. And as a games reviewer, I often dismantle into a puddle of gloopy anger whenever I have to playtest a bad game, so this service could be a big help. Why can’t I come along to one of Graham’s sessions, and unhinge myself from the shackles of this terrible affliction? It’s free I’m guessing?

In all seriousness, and despite the lazy comical tone of this piece, this service is probably a good thing. The police have to deal with numerous calls every year from worried parents, after their children have reacted violently to being told to stop playing. Any service that can help this problem, and give children as young as 12 a chance to break away from their addiction is a good thing. Although in my day, my Mum would have just smacked me on the naked botty and sent me to my room without any supper. Maybe she could get a job working at this rehab centre?

Scott Tierney