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Medicine Games

Interview With the Founder of a Video Game Rehab Clinic 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the real-medicine dept.
Ten Ton Hammer has posted the transcript from an interview with Dr. Hilarie Cash, co-founder of the "reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program," a relatively new clinic that deals with adults who feel that they are addicted to video games. The interview contains some.. interesting nuggets of wisdom. If you want to avoid addiction, you'd better spend less than two hours per day on online entertainment! The good news is that she doesn't recommend beating people. "When people come, they come for 45 days. It is only for adults; patients must be 18 or older. When they first come, they come for a minimum 2 days to be interviewed and to interview us, because we don't want anyone there who doesn't want to be there. So if they decide they want to be there then they stay for 45 days or longer if they choose. During that time they don't have access to the internet. The idea is that it takes at least 30 days for the brain to make some adjustments it needs to make to get over this addiction, so the brain can begin to rewire back to normal. During that time we are helping them look at why they got addicted, what motivated their addiction and we're assessing to see what skills they are lacking so they can be successful in their adult lives. We try to make a good start at helping to build those skills."
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Interview With the Founder of a Video Game Rehab Clinic

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  • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @05:11AM (#30901638) Homepage

    No internet access for 45 days? But there's nothing else to do!

    • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @05:13AM (#30901656)

      So do what everyone else does in these institutions...have lots of sex with total strangers.

      • by starbugs (1670420) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @05:23AM (#30901694)

        So do what everyone else does in these institutions...have lots of sex with total strangers.

        And then you end up in the same boat as David Duchovny.

      • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @05:26AM (#30901702)

        So do what everyone else does in these institutions.

        In this case, they hold role-playing classes. People get to give themselves a new identity for the duration of the treatment. They are then encouraged to refer to the other patients by their new names.

        They aren't allowed to bring in money from the outside, but they are given gold-coloured tokens which they can spend at the tuck shop for food, or they can go to the costume room and spend it on clothing accessories. If they save up enough tokens, they can spend them on keys to hidden rooms at the centre where they can learn the secrets of beating addiction. They can also buy weapons to further aid them in their epic quest for freedom from game addiction...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Jedi Alec (258881)

          Actually, that all sounds pretty cool. However, I happen to be addicted to Eve Online instead of World of Warcraft, so where's my spaceships?

          • by CisJokey (1625407)
            www.startrekonline.com
          • You save tokens to buy spacecraft (fashioned from cardboard boxes). You can arm them with "laser cannons" (water guns) and "space mines" (water balloons) to attack other craft. You can armor your craft with a "forcefield package" (outer lamination) or "forcefield plus hull breach protection package" (double lamination) however this will require you to swap all weapons to a new airframe.

            • Actually that sounds pretty damn fun. It reminds me of a club that built remote controlled replicas of military warships, and fired water cannons at each other at competitions. Sadly I cannot find a link for it.

            • Some group of geeks needs to realize this game. As soon as possible.

          • by jbezorg (1263978)

            However, I happen to be addicted to Eve Online instead of World of Warcraft, so where's my spaceships?

            Give it time,... right now the institute is low on funds so we're going to turn you lose on the commodities market.

          • by CaseM (746707)

            For you, they just load up Excel onto a laptop.

        • Your sig fits perfectly with the comment. My page break was such that on the next scroll it went from ... to squirrel! My cube mates think I've lost my mind.
        • by Frnknstn (663642)

          Patients can stay as long as they want, but have to pay monthly after the initial treatment period. Additionally, patients can earn extra tokens by performing repetitive chores, and good performance results in 'recovery experience points' for access to additional areas in the treatment facility.

          All the patients are supervised. If they ever think their treatment is not progressing well, or if they have a dispute with another patient, they can petition the RMs or 'Rehab Masters'.

      • by santax (1541065)
        Where is the fun in that if I can't upload the hidden webcamvid to porntube and twitter my friend(s) about it. :(
  • by club (1698284) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @05:20AM (#30901686)
    I wonder if they have a website?
  • Can they cure Slashdot addiction?
  • by leonardofelin (1211778) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:01AM (#30901852)

    I've played video games for the last 19 years, since I was 12, and I never got addicted.

    Actually, I don't have any addictions. I only smoke and drink when I play video games...

    • I thought that way once, but I was wrong. With the help of friends and family, I've successfully limited my addictive behavior to days that end in 'y'.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:21AM (#30901916) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure that demanding 7 weeks off work because you got busted playing World of Warcraft in your cube would be a career limiting move.
    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      No it wouldn't. Just break down crying about how you have this crippling addiction and enjoy your 45-day vacation. Odds are, someone in upper management spent a few weeks in a methadone clinic or something similar in a medium-sized company anyway.

  • Flawed theory? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by holiggan (522846)

    From the sumary:

    "(...) we're assessing to see what skills they are lacking so they can be successful in their adult lives (...)"

    Does this mean that videogame addiction "sprouts" from the lack of some "skills" needed for "success" in "adult lives"? Is it just me, or are they trying to shoe-horn videogames as something "for kids" again? And if you play too much of them, does it mean automatically that you are "lacking some skills so you can be a successful adult" (i.e. you are a big kid)?

    Does a smokin

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Skills such as not playing video games so much that YOU feel that you need to stop. Keep in mind if nothing else that the power of a placebo is correlated with the inconvenience you must undergo (time, money, pain, etc) to achieve it. Sugar pills are less effective than shots are less effective than surgery. If nothing else, the cost and time may well help, and perhaps they develop healthy new hobbies while there such as playing tennis, playing D & D (it's not a prison), and LARPing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jedi Alec (258881)

      Does a smoking addiction sprouts from "lack of skills needed for success in adult lives" as well? How about achool addiction? What sort of skills might a person be "lacking" to "fall" into a smoking habit?

      The same skill as with any addiction. Self-control. Except with smoking 1 cigaratte is already too much, and in the case of alcohol or gaming the limit isn't quite as low. (yes, i realize that for someone who is already an alcoholic 1 drink is 1 too many).

      I don't see anything implying that gaming is only f

      • by holiggan (522846)

        The same skill as with any addiction. Self-control. (...)

        I don't see anything implying that gaming is only for kids, just that doing it excessively is harmful.

        Well, I agree with you, it's about self-control indeed.

        I just found it odd that she says explicitly "be successful in their adult lives". Why not just "be successful in their lives"? If the "clinic" if for adults only (+18), why the need to stress the "adult" bit?

        It's almost as if videogame addiction is related to the "inability" to grow up in some way, and people need help to be sucessful in their "adult lives" (like some sort of "Peter Pan" syndrome).

        I might be reading too much into this, but I tend to be

  • If you want to avoid addiction, you'd better spend less than two hours per day on online entertainment!

    Maybe I should set my sons Club Penguin account back to a one hour per day limit. He seems to have persuaded his mother to set it to three hours.

  • by BlueTrin (683373) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:26AM (#30901934) Homepage Journal
    ... I can't believe people are paying for this.

    Just cast cure to remove the confusion status ... noobs !
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:59AM (#30902420)

    Hi,

    if you are into games or long programming sessions, PLEASE do check http://www.dvtawarenesscampaign.com/ [dvtawarenesscampaign.com] or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_vein_thrombosis [wikipedia.org]

    DVT are blood clots formed in legs etc., that can block your blood flow in the particular limb or travel around in your veins, and in worst case, damage your heart or lungs.

    I'm now probably up for a lifetime treatment with blood thinners and compression stockings. Ironically, I probably developed DVT after I quit smoking (I didn't smoke indoors, and thus went out of the house/up from my seat every hour to get a cigarette)

    Once again, DVT is dangerous and it affects a huge number of people every year, and quite a few of those are ganked permanently.

    The scary part is that I also know several other programmers and gamers who've had DVT the last 5 years. Don't be a fool like me: Game, program and work responsibly.

    If you are diagnosed with DVT, it will hit you like a hammer physically and mentally.

    • by p-k4 (113223)

      and in worst case, damage your heart or lungs.

      Minor correction:

      Worst case is death, typically due to a massive clot lodging in your lungs (also called a saddle embolus)

      Really bad case is with certain heart conditions they can bypass the lungs and cause a stroke.

      Just plain damage? That's probably "bad case."

  • by Atreide (16473) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:36AM (#30902646)

    I am addicted to lazyness
    may I get 45 days off ?

  • Ouch. That's like going cold turkey on the smack and the cigarettes at the same time.
  • Yeah. Travian is pretty addictive - takes over your whole life 24/7/365 days.
    Talked to someone who only sleeps 3hrs at a time, logging on to play, log-off to sleep. Others play and lose their jobs. Family comes 2nd.
    After a year, the game finishes only to restart 3 weeks later. A real vicious circle.

  • What does online entertainment have to do with addiction? So if you listen to 3+ hours on online radio per day instead of RL radio you will become addicted?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't know how the rest of you gamers feel, but I am so tired of people complaining about how we play video games for 2 hours in a night, yet it's ok for them to watch TV for 2 hours. The hypocrisy to me is ridiculous. Someone can sit down and watch a 2 hour movie and that's considered normal and common behavior, but heaven forbid we sit down and play a video game for 2 hours! Does anyone else here feel the same way? Sorry, this has been bugging me for a while. :) /end rant ;)

    • All I'd say is that they are not the same activity, one is passive and one requires a lot of thought and coordination. Maybe concentrating on a task that requires hand-eye coordination and lots of thought for more than 2 hours at a time is not healthy. I know I always feel queasy if I've been playing an action game for that amount of time.
      • Maybe concentrating on a task that requires hand-eye coordination and lots of thought for more than 2 hours at a time is not healthy.

        Um, isn't that what most /. readers do for employment? Except they do it 8 hours a day.

        I know I always feel queasy if I've been playing an action game for that amount of time.

        Motion sickness when playing 3D games is common; I would hope that you wouldn't suggest that travel by car, ship, or boat is unhealthy because they cause motion sickness.

  • I'd like to start a clinic for the rehabilitation of those addicted to spending money. I can help, honestly. They can turn their money over to me and after a week of therapy, I can guarantee they won't have that problem anymore. They just have to want it bad enough and do the program.
    Once this takes off , I can open my other clinic for women addicted to virginity and celibacy . Is there someone you know, maybe a friend, sister, relative or even your wife who doesn't get any

  • by Motorelius (1705098) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:43AM (#30904108)
    A few years ago, I started playing eve-online, well I must admit that I was instantly hooked-up. I spent the next 3 years playing this game hardcore, and became very good at it. Eventually, I managed to become quite wealthy and amassed a ton of very expensive items and ships. I was very successfull in this game... That was until I lost everything, when my freighter was blown up by other players. In a heartbeat,I lost everything I had, everything I spent time for. I realised that it took only a second to destroy three entire years of efforts. I finally "woke up", cancelled all of my 4 (!!!) accounts and never touched it again. Peoples need to understand that "virtual worlds" are just that - it doesnt exist - the only real thing is the time and commitment one can spend on theses games.
    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Feh. Quitter.

    • Now your accomplishments likely take decades and are very modest, and when you are blown up you (hopefully) won't have the opportunity for regret.
    • Welcome back to Meatspace.

      A quick recap: you have to grind a helluva lot harder to have any chance of becoming successful (3 years? Pfft, Meatspace needs at least 30), most diligent (and lucky) players amass only a little more "money" than they need to keep them grinding, you can still lose everything in a second, and you only have one account. Physical corporate warfare is only allowed on the PK server ("Somalia"). There are good reasons for this, which you will soon be re-familiarized with. Some of your c

    • by Turiko (1259966)
      See, you're one of the people that are playing games for the wrong reason. I play games to have fun, you play games to escape from reality. You're likely way better of reading books or watching movies.
    • by club (1698284)
      Rule 1: Don't fly what you can't afford to lose
      Rule 2: Don't fly what you can't afford to lose

      You broke rules 1 and 2 of EVE. Why are you surprised you lost everything?
    • A few years ago, I started masturbating, well I must admit that I was instantly hooked-up. I spent the next 3 years masturbating hardcore, and became very good at it. Eventually, I managed to become quite skilled and could go for hours at a time. I was very successfull in masturbating... That was until I lost everything, when my -ahem- was blown by a woman and I realized it fely way, way better. In a heartbeat, I lost everything I had, everything I spent time for. I realised that it took only a second to de
      • My point, which upon re-read was probably too subtle, is that playing games in fun. Who the hell cares if it's virtual? And if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.
    • by OnTheEdge (136784)
      "In a moment, all of your plans can change" - This is true in all aspects of life. Loss of job, loss of family, and other catastrophic losses are difficult to deal with. Looking at your situation as rationally as possible and making the best of what you have left is the only way to reduce the suffering that goes along with such painful situations. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" depicts a great example of someone that did just that given an awful situation, the magnitude of which most of us, hopefully,
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:22PM (#30911518) Journal

    I have vociferously posted against the use of the word "addiction" for psychological dependency on non-addictive substances (e.g. sex, games, gambling).

    However, the treatment is going to be similar, with a few notable changes.

    1) Withdrawal won't happen with games, because there's no physical dependency. In fact, this is a big part of what differentiates true addiction from "addiction" to games, etc.
    2) After withdrawal, a drug addict will normally go through counselling and the like, to avoid falling back to the drug. The physical breaking free, though, is a huge part. Now with game "addiction", the lack of a physical dependency (and alternatively, lack of withdrawal) means that counselling is all there is to keep the person from going back to the game.

    I know someone currently going through alcohol addiction detox and recovery, and it's a six-week program laid out quite a bit like this. Alcohol detox/withdrawal is a weird one because it is usually very short and mild, although the residual effects linger for ages. Anyways, after withdrawal is dealt with, 6-12 weeks seems pretty standard to get a person back together enough for them to move forward, regardless of what they're dealing with.

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