BBC: Prince Harry has called for the Fortnite video game to be banned, saying the survival game beloved by teens around the world was “created to get addicted”.
His words add to a growing debate among health workers, governments and lobby groups about whether gambling can be harmful to your health.
The remarks come just ahead of the Gaming Bafta Awards, one of the biggest nights on the UK gaming calendar, which takes place in London on Thursday night.
What did Prince Harry say?
At an event at a YMCA in West London, the Duke of Sussex launched a scathing attack on social media and games.
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Of Fortnite, he said, “This game should not be licensed. What is the benefit of having it in your home?
“It’s created to become addicted, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer as long as possible. It is so irresponsible.
“It’s like waiting for the damage to be done and the kids to show up at your doorstep and families to be broken up.”
He added that social media was “more addicting than alcohol and drugs.”
What is Fortnite?
Gambling has become a worldwide phenomenon and the goal is simple: survive as long as possible. Each match has a total of 99 other players with the same objectives and lasts about 20 minutes, depending on your success.
It has 200 million registered players worldwide and is free to download, but players can spend cash on in-game purchases.
Players can play alone, in a team of four or as a team of 20, with friends or people they don’t know.
What do the doctors think?
Earlier this month, a general practitioner told an 11-year-old boy he was “prescribing” a two-week ban on computer games such as Fortnite and Minecraft.
Dr Amir Khan said he was concerned about the impact of gambling on the boy’s life.
It was a slight attempt to draw attention to a serious problem, but, for the record, more and more doctors are seeing links between gambling and the effects on the physical and mental health of young people.
And it’s not just young people who are affected. Research shows that 200 divorces in the UK from January to September 2018 mentioned addiction to Fortnite and other online games as one of the reasons for the relationship breakdown.
However, Scottish university researcher Andrew Reid said he believed the game was not ‘addicting’ and suggested that the use of the term could stigmatize regular video game players. He added that some research has shown “positive characteristics of the game.”
What do gamers say about addiction?
There are a lot of players who play for long periods of time and say it has no impact on their social life or their health at large.
But some have had enough.
Matus Mikus joined Game Quitters, an online forum made up of thousands of people who turned their backs on games after their relationship broke down because he was spending too much time playing.
James Good is an avowed gambling addict, having already spent 32 hours playing non-stop. The problem caused him to fall behind in college.
“My grades were dropping because of too many games. I did not eat, sleep or leave my room. I escaped my problems through games, ”he recently told a group of MPs.
And he said the effect of the game triggered physical responses.
“Games trigger response systems in your brain and other things don’t bring you as much joy,” he told MPs.
“I thought, ‘Why would I spend time with my friends when I can play video games?’
“It felt good to get points, trophies, to beat people. It fueled my competitiveness – but I realized I wasn’t really happy.
James admits he got depressed, but stopped before saying gambling was the root cause.
He added that playing as a teenager was not a problem, as he combined it with an active life, playing sports and hanging out with boy scouts, and his parents helped him manage his time.
Being without parental supervision in college seemed to be the trigger that turned her gambling from a highly regarded activity into an obsession.
He, too, turned to Game Quitters and admits to having withdrawal symptoms when he followed his challenge for new members to quit the game for 90 days.
“I had headaches, moods and had to lock my computer in a closet,” he said.
What is the point of view of the gaming companies?
The BBC has asked Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, for comment but has yet to receive a response.
Gambling is booming and the UK gaming industry is worth a record £ 5.7 billion, thanks in part to Fortnite, according to new figures from the Ukie organization, which said there was ” little evidence ”that gambling was harmful to health.
Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie and President of Bafta Games, said: “We care about the players.
“We want to help parents and caregivers who do not play games themselves feel better equipped and better informed about safe and responsible games, and the positive impact games can have on people’s lives. . “
She added that the age ratings of games “should be taken seriously” and that parents and guardians should use online resources to ensure their children play responsibly.
Ukie points to research conducted by Professor Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute, who said that only 0.3% of gamers might experience problems controlling the time they spend playing video games.
He told the BBC: Large-scale research studies on the subject indicate that games may not be inherently addictive and should be better viewed as a coping mechanism rather than a cause of mental distress. Undue blaming of games risks stigmatizing a popular pastime regularly practiced by nearly two billion people. “
The World Health Organization disagrees and last year recognized excessive gambling as a mental health disorder.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee is currently interviewing gamers, game companies and other experts as part of its ongoing investigation into technology addiction.
He is due to report his findings later this year. President Damian Collins told the BBC before that: “We have invited Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, to testify as part of our investigation, which examines the addictive nature of the game, as well as the links between the game and the game. Game.
“We hope Epic accepts our invitation. We will certainly raise with them the significant concerns Prince Harry has expressed about Fortnite and how they are responding to his call for its ban.
And it’s not just the UK that is studying the links between gambling and the health of young people.
China, the world’s largest gambling market, is increasingly concerned about addiction and the impact of gambling on children’s eyesight, and has taken strong action to combat the problem.
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