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Psychologist calls for devs to do more to thwart game addiction

Developers of massively multiplayer online games are responsible for addictive aspects of gameplay, according to university lecturer in psychology Dr. Zaheer Hussain in a new study titled "Social Responsibility in Online Videogaming: What should the Videogame Industry Do?"

The study, authored by Dr. Hussain, Dr. Shumaila Yousafai of Cardiff Business School and Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University recommends game designers look to the structure of their games and shorten long quests in order to avoid government intervention as seen in areas like Asia.

According to the paper, some gamers play as much as 90 hours in a session as part of their "pathological" addiction. The researchers state between seven and 11 percent of players are considered "pathological."

"As a first step online game developers and publishers need to look into the structural features of the game design, for example the character development, rapid absorption rate, and multiplayer features which could make them addictive and or problematic for some gamers," wrote Dr. Hussain.

"One idea could be to shorten long quests to minimise the time spent in the game obtaining a certain prized item."

While bans on gaming aren't common in the West, China's Ministry of Culture first cracked down on the production of consoles 13 years ago in an attempt to address potentially unhealthy and violent video games. The country's Premier Li Keqiang has since provided a blueprint to end the ban on the production and sales of consoles.

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