I came across an article today that inspired some good’ ol investigation. The article, put out by Medical Daily, is “Children with Autism More Prone to Video Game Addiction” by Ashik Siddique (04/2013) and it concerned me. Medical daily argues “children and teenagers with ASD also had higher levels of “problematic video game use” according to the clinical measure, like getting angry when interrupted from games, spending more time on games than with friends and family, and having trouble stopping game play when there are other things to do.” *FACE PALM* Anyone who knows anything about autism knows that children and teenagers with ASD would be more likely to appear angry interrupted from an activity. Transitioning from one activity to another is difficult for people with Autism especially going from a mentally stimulating and social game, to (for example) a school assistant who tries to make you use crayons in a coloring book or otherwise undermines intelligence and capability. The issue here is defining problematic…if your everyday was typically chaos, with parents and workers consistently “making you do things you don’t want to do” wouldn’t you want to spend more time in a structured environment too?
Take Away For Parents; give your child fair warning that their game will be turned off at a specific time, so they can include the end time in their strategic game play making exiting the game easier. Understanding what your child is playing is even better because you can set the end time based on more specific accomplishments; if you know that it will take 10 minutes to harvest X amount of wool in Minecraft and you know what your child is trying to accomplish, you can say “turn off the game when you harvest x amount of wool” instead.
The Medical Daily article also says “though technology can be very helpful for young people with autism when used in certain circumstances, the research cautions that autistic gamers are at risk for video game addiction and added stress, as detailed recently in Wired.” So I looked into this Wired article too “For Gamers With Autism, Online Worlds a Cycle of Attraction and Fear” by Ryan Rigney (11/2012). So…
1) this article that MD references actually has little to do with problematic gaming habits and instead chronicles the origins of Falstad Wildhammer being added to the World of Warcraft game only after a man with Aspergers pointed out to developers a design flaw; a plot hole.
2) I felt like the writer had a definite disconnect or lack of understanding of autism considering his concerns regarded the “weird voice” of the man with Asperger’s in the videos. I always encourage all of my students to stand up and ask questions; there is no such thing as embarrassment at conventions! and if you are judging someone because of their voice it is your behaviour that we should be concerned about.
I also went ahead to look at the video on youtube.com to see if their was any general negativity surrounding the video and was pleasantly surprised that the top comment is “I am amazed that you dared to stand up in public and speak, with or without a functional disorder. We need more guys like you in this world, who see things that others miss. Aspbergers/autism is a blessing and a curse…”
3) it also included testimonies from people with autism in WoW who are benefiting from their time playing the game and user comments that are positive to boot (and of course missing from Medial Daily’s article).
Top Comments from Wired article;
“I’m autistic as well, and WoW gave me the opportunity to interact with other players in a safer environment, where social awkwardness is less of a hindrance.”
“I do not care about his autism, this guy is a pro. If he worked for the IRS doing tax audits, we would all be SCREWWEEDDD”
“At this day you saw a plot hole in WOW, in the future maybe it is you who will solve the problems of mankind.”
At Every1Games any sort of videogame “addiction” is understood more as a passionate behaviour and still taken very seriously. Our curriculum works to broaden perspectives of video games! We include an academic point of view, a developers point of view and a responsible consumers point of view. We encourage playing a variety of game genres and types, indie games and franchise, and to recognize where awesome gaming skills are beneficial to a potential career in games. Our life skills strategies remind participants that they can succeed in a career the same way they succeed in the game, with passion, strategic goals and determination (and patience to deal with a-holes too).
Thanks for reading!
- Wired: http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/11/autistic-gamers-autism/all/
- Medical Daily: http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/14722/20130417/children-autism-more-prone-video-game-addiction.htm#Glpfz3hfZrff1Ibg.99