Gaming Addiction

Are games addictive? And what can you do if you need help?
21 April 2019
Presented by Chris Berrow with Alex Rhodes. 
Production by Chris Berrow.


A playstation controller in the dark


Prince Harry says that Fortnite should be banned… saying the game was “created to addict”. So how addictive is gaming? And can you get treatment for it? Plus, as Game of Thrones returns for its final season, we hear from a fan of the living card game. Alex looks ahead at the nominees for the gaming BAFTAs, including a special mention for friends of the show Jagex. As for new releases - we review Anthem and Hearthstone’s latest expansion: Rise Of Shadows. And we’re going old school with “Retro Revival”... this time it's Final Fantasy X and X-2! With Chris Berrow and Alex Rhodes.

In this episode

A picture of a trophy

03:55 - BAFTA Gaming Awards 2019 roundup

Who were the big winners and losers of the BAFTA Gaming Awards 2019?

BAFTA Gaming Awards 2019 roundup

Alex Rhodes has a roundup of the gaming BAFTA awards.

Alex - First of all walking away with the top prize at the 15th annual BAFTA Game Awards was God of War. The latest installment in the action adventure blockbuster franchise from Sony stars an older more grizzled toss and his fresh faced son Atreus.

Voiceover - We do not fight because the world makes us fight. We fight for a greater purpose. We forge into the unknown. To fulfill the promise we made. No matter the darkness. Nothing will stand in our way.

Alex - Not a bad year for Greek mythology Assassin's Creed was also one of those nominated in the category. Prince Harry isn't a fan but almost every 13 year old on planet Earth is fortnite one of the biggest games in the industry today walked away with the award for best evolving game. It was originally released in 2017 so it wasn't eligible for some of the other categories.

Voiceover - There are 100 tiers over 100 awards to earn including new wraps, emotes and more. Remember you keep all your rewards after the season ends. New in this season to all players is the party assist feature before a match. You can pick a daily or weekly challenge and your friends can help you completed. The season a battle passes available right now for just nine hundred and fifty V bucks. A new adventure awaits in Season 8. We'll see you in game.

Alex - Back in my day 13 year olds were all playing RuneScape so it's great to see old school RuneScape and friends of the show Jagex taking this top spot in the mobile game category. Mining copper has never been so fun.

Voiceover - So come join hundreds of thousands of players and relive your heritage. Slay all the dragons. Complete all the quests. And reclaim the wilderness as your own. Old School RuneScape. Relive your adventures.

Alex - And shockingly the big loser of the night was Red Dead Redemption. The latest mega hit from Rockstar was nominated in six... six! categories but didn't manage to scoop the gold in any of them.

Voiceover - I wish things were different. But it weren’t us who changed.

A person chained to a computer

06:56 - Gaming Addiction

What can you do about gaming addiction?

Gaming Addiction
Dr. Louise Theodosiou, Psychiatrist from the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Prince Harry said this month that he wants Fortnight to be banned. Gaming addiction is listed as a mental health condition by the World Health Organization as well. So what are the signs of gaming addiction and what can you do if you think you might have a problem. Chris Berrow spoke to Dr. Louise Theodosiou, a leading adolescent psychiatrist with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Louise - There are ways of encouraging people to continue to use digital technology when it may be less helpful for them to do so. For example people may continue to game if they are reminded that other people in a game that they are playing cooperatively with other people will be continuing to embark conquests. They may also receive reminders telling them that there will be time limited quests available for a short period of time that would enhance their character. They may be reminded that their character is online and waiting for them. These concepts of persuasive technology can be seen as encouraging people to return to games at points when actually they had decided not to.

Chris - Is there a particular age group that's affected by something like this?

Louise - What we know is that increasingly people are gaming at all ages of life. It is true that more younger people are gaming. However what we have to acknowledge is that gaming is not in and of itself a negative thing.

Chris -  Do you become disconnected from the real world?

Louise - Yes there are situations where people may find that they are less likely to engage in reality. If for example you are feeling very anxious in the real world you don't want to leave the house. You don't feel accepted by your peers. You find being in open space is very anxiety producing. You do not feel that you're doing well at school in all of these circumstances. People may find that they are becoming less involved in the real world, and that the virtual world is becoming a place where they feel much safer. Yes this can of course be problematic.

Chris - Do you feel like games companies have a responsibility towards their own customers when it comes to something like gaming addiction?

Louise - Yes indeed they do. What we would recommend is that games companies acknowledge some of the persuasive strategies that may be used for example notifications and time limited quests. We would also recommend games companies to keep an eye on the amount of time that young people and indeed games of any age are spending on games.

Chris - And what can parents do if they're listening to this.

Louise - If a parent is listening to this and is worried what they need to remember is that ultimately the best way of addressing this is to speak to their children. Say that you recognize that gaming is important to them but that that needs to be a balance of activities. What we would also encourage people to do is to not allow children to be gaming after a certain time at night. Although we recognize that this gets much more difficult as children get older. Addressing the accompanying mental health needs is a process that can be supported either through school nurses or possibly through primary care. You can of course then liaise with mental health services.

A woman sitting on the iron throne

10:41 - Game of Thrones the card game

How do you play A Game of Thrones - the card game?

Game of Thrones the card game
Daniel Mulchrone, Organiser of Game of Thrones - the Living Card Game events.

Game of Thrones has returned for its eighth and final season. According to HBO the first episode was watched by seventeen point four million people across all platforms, and that was just on the Sunday night. But before the TV series of course there were the books, and alongside them A Game of Thrones living card game.

Voiceover - A Game of Thrones the card game is a living card game of politics battle intrigue and betrayal for two or more players based on George R.R. Martin's best selling A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series. During the game each player controls one of eight great factions in the Seven Kingdoms. You must best your opponents in order to gain power in Westeros defeating them on the field of battle outwitting them in the intrigues of court or stealing their power in the political arena.

Chris Berrow has been speaking to Daniel Mulchrone who runs a group that plays the game in Northamptonshire. So how does it work?

Daniel - It's a Game of Thrones it's a living card game. It's akin to things like Magic The Gathering, Hearthstone that become quite popular in recent years. We play it locally. It's released by Fantasy Flight Games. Basically you buy a pack and you get all of the cards you need it's not randomized like you would do in other games.

Chris - So how many cards are in the pack?

Daniel - So each time a pack is released you get two cards for each factions you get thirty six cards I think in each pack. But it's when you buy the pack you know exactly what you're going to get and you get everything you want. It's not randomized in any way like that in the game. The purpose of the game is you. The focus is around three challenges. You get military so you get to kill your opponent. You get intrigue and try and take away their options and limit what they can do on their turn and power which is how you're going to win the game by accruing 15 power. And when you get 15 you win.

Chris - So it's as simple as that and you're trying to basically get that influence that power together. And what does it symbolize when you get to 15?.

Daniel - So when you get to 15 power that kind of symbolizes you kind of ascending to the Iron Throne getting enough influence to kind of win the game and be on the throne. We play locally on a Tuesday night from six o'clock at the Roadmender.

Chris - When you say it's a living card game as opposed to another type of game what does that mean in terms of it's the way that the game is played?

Daniel - So I use the word term living card game as opposed to like collectible card game where you're collecting cards or trading card game where the focus is trading to get a full set. A living card game basically means is is a distribution model whereby you buy a pack and in that pack you know what's in there you're going to get those set cards and it's going to progress and change over time. So the cards that you're playing with are going to change month by month if you buy different things or get different packs and different things released. But it's a slowly evolving game.

Chris - Let's say you get a set of 36 cards or whatever the package is and then another pack gets released two months down the line. Are those compatible?

Daniel - Everything is all compatible so when you get in if you're a beginner if you haven't played the game before you just go out buy a Game of Thrones living card game core set. All the instructions are in the book with some suggested decks that you can play and just give it a go. Then once you've done that if you then want to look into more you can then slowly look at buying different packs - there's expansions focused around specific houses depending on who you like thematically and also in terms of how they play in the game and which cards tend to be strong.

Chris - This is like the impossible question because everyone is trying to make the decks that win, but at the moment you know you tend to after a game has been out for a while there tends to be certain strategies or certain themes that tend to be quite good. What's kind of popular at the moment in the game.

Daniel - So one of the great things about it being a living card game as with any card game is the meta shifts and evolves.

Chris - When you say the meta...

Daniel - Sorry the metar is kind of the overview of what people are playing in tournaments and playing against each other, what's good at the time will change because when you decide I'm going to go really really aggressive and I'm going to try and destroy everything on your board people can turn around and go “well I know that there's this strategy that's going to try and shut you down that's going to work really well against your deck type” so that will then become really good... is a really good archetype to play but then obviously people then go “oh well actually you're controlling me so I'm going to go really fast and I'm going to rush and I want to try to get to 15 power as quickly as possible.” So it changes kind of with time at the minute. I slightly ironically Greyjoys are top dogs at their own game and just blowing everyone's stuff up and destroying the world and just watching the world burn.

Chris - It's kind of like... I always think of when you talk about meta - it's a bit like you know paper scissors rock, where if everybody's playing rock and you know everybody's playing rock, then you can start intentionally playing paper.

Daniel - Absolutely.

Chris - But then once everyone starts playing paper to counter that, then you can say well I'm going play scissors. And so it is good to hear that there is those kind of different archetypes that can take on other one.

Daniel - Yeah there absolutely are. And obviously because it's a living card game that model that I described about how cards are released... things change slowly over time anyway. So obviously there are decks that are going to be stronger and weaker at different times, cards and factions that can be stronger and weaker. But you can then choose to counter what you think is going to be popular or sit back play what you enjoy and wait for different cards to come out.

Chris - Game of Thrones has been going for you know eight, nine, ten years. But how recent is the card game in comparison to that.

Daniel - Well so the card game is really really old. We are on the second edition of the game. There was a first edition before that and before that it was a collectible card game a completely different model. They originally Fantasy Flight acquired the licence back when it was just the books - there was no television show. So this is over 15 nearly 20 years ago I'd probably say so it's been going a really long time. Obviously when the TV show came out that became much more popular.

Chris - I was going to say. I'm imagining that because this season is out now. This is kind of why I wanted to mention it on the show today because I think that you know people who are interested in Game of Thrones might fancy it.

Daniel - Yeah I think I think it does a really good job of capturing the kind of essence of Game of Thrones there. The fact that from one time to the next you never know who's gonna die who's going to live, who is suddenly going to win you the game. And that kind of unexpected element is really good. It also captures the character of some of those key like Cersei Lannister one of her abilities is she gets power when she discards your cards when she takes away your options she which starts winning more. So that captures those little elements of the TV show and the books really well.

A playstation controller

17:24 - Review - Anthem

Is Anthem worth buying after all the patches?

Review - Anthem

Anthem is an online multiplayer action role playing video game developed by Bioware and published by Electronic Arts. It's quite similar to destiny. If you've played that game except that it's in third person. Chris Berrow and Alex Rhodes share their thoughts.

Voiceover: Feel the power of your javelin. It's precision. Rely on each other. Unleash your power.

Chris - Well Alex I'll tell you what. I've been playing this a bit too much probably to the detriment of me actually completing the walking dead from the beginning to be honest with you.

Alex - Well you've only got so much time.

Chris - Yeah yeah I know. But I tell you what it is. This is one of those games where the reviews came in and it was really slated and I will yeah. I'd be very tepid. I was I was reluctant to buy it to be honest with you. But I watched a video and I thought it looks like it could be my kind of thing. So I bought it. And it's one of the best games I've probably ever played. To be honest I love it. It's just incredible.

Alex - You see I also you know I was put off by the reviews and I watch some videos on it and it seemed like because it's been in there it's been in production for a long time I think like you say it was very much inspired by Bunji's destiny. And back when I think everyone in the industry thought this is the way gaming is going to go. But destiny didn't really perform the way they wanted. But by the time they were really up and running it was kind of too late. So yeah it's interesting to hear that you really enjoyed it because I've seen a lot of people saying you know even though it's taken so long to make it still could you do some extra time to polish. Yeah things like that.

Chris - Well what I've noticed is that I'm lucky in the sense that I came to it slightly later so I'd got a few of the day one patches already. So I hadn't gone through the kind of frustration that you know you're getting thousands of guns every time you do a mission. But none of them are useful so you have to sift through them all than you know melt them down into basically parts for other guns and stuff like that. And I have to say though this is just pure gameplay for me the actual gameplay is just amazing the way you fly around in your javelin suit as a freelancer as I mentioned. You really feel like you could go anywhere on the map and the maps are huge. They're enormous.

Alex - You know if you can get the core gameplay right. You can actually fix the things in patches. I mean in an ideal world you wouldn't. I heard of one and one little mistake on it when it was first sent out was that obviously with the loot it's all randomized the sort of attack values on weapons you could get you know one of the drops where some of the guns would come in and their attack value was zero. So they wouldn't actually actually damage anything.

Chris - Well thankfully I managed to miss out on that but I suppose what really kind of trying to argue is that is it worth buying today. And I would say the answer to that question is yes maybe you steered clear of it because of release but because the latest patches are there they fixed some of the loot problems they've actually just made it a very smooth running game and it's it's you feel powerful you know you feel like you should feel when you're flying around a big kind of mechanized suit. The story is okay the voice acting's fine. One of the side characters Owen is really quite annoying, but it's not really a game about story. It's got very smooth multiplayer so you sign it for a mission you load up and yeah keep the loading times a little bit long but you get chucked into a mission with three other random people online. Or of course your own friends if you want to add them into your party and it's just really good. Everything runs smooth. The missions are great. It's a lot of variety in there. And I have to say that you know I've got absolutely no problems with this game. I think it's really incredible.

Alex - Well I hope it does the numbers there that Bioware hopes it will do because they seem like a bit of a studio and they're kind of their last legs really so the problem with this game is you also came up came out at a similar time as Apex legends. Yeah which is this which is free to download. So you always get it. And that proved to be a massive smash even like you know seeing our Fortnite in terms of most streamed games on Twitch and things like that so you know when someone's absorbing all the hits like how no one tries to release a game when RockStar release one or when the new Call of Duty is coming out you get sucked into that black hole there.

Chris - Yeah you certainly do. A couple of complaints that I had you know I can ignore most things. If you can't play offline so if you're an offline kind of player if your internet isn't brilliant do stay clear of this one because it's one of those games where you need to constantly be connected to the Internet. You can't play in any way if you're not connected. The only thing that's a bit weird is that every time you load up the game in the sort of opening credit thing for about five seconds there's a message that comes up on PS4 in my experience that says “sorry you cannot stream this because this is restricted content” which is really weird and then after that goes it says “streaming available again”. And you think well why is that showing up every time I log into the game.

Alex - Again that seems like another bug that should have been detected.

Chris -  Yes.

Alex - These days every game needs to be able to be streamed. I think these arguments that you know people are giving away on on Twitch and things like that but I don't think that's the case. I think it's helped them out in terms of publicity if a game is doing well on Twitch and YouTube and things like that.

Chris - So true. One of our next games is certainly doing well on Twitch, but I would give this one a good 8 out of 10 if you don't mind getting the later release and going through all the patches. It's well worth it. Anthem is available on PS4 and Xbox One now.

A playstation controller

23:08 - Review - Hearthstone: Rise of Shadows

Is Hearthstone's latest expansion enough to make you want to play again?

Review - Hearthstone: Rise of Shadows

Hearthstone: Rise of Shadows which is the latest expansion and it's available now and PC and mobile, so Chris Berrow and Alex Rhodes share their throughts. 

Voiceover - So you're probably wondering why I've gathered you. Take a moment. And break it down. We've been given black eyes by the good guys. Oh about that's all. Those that got some mortals who mucked about missions. We'd finally feel some about. Hey you seem devious a bad guy requires a demonstrative thing to chop your will have your dreams come true. I'd be better off.

Chris - So you haven't played Hearthstone before Alex, how would you describe it. Because I mean I would say it's kind of like an online card game based on World of Warcraft characters but it's a bit like poker in a way as well isn't it.

Alex - That's the way a best way to do describe. I'd say. Yeah it's one of these online card games if you have played. So for example like the which of three one of the mini games was went Gwent exactly which became its own sort of spin off. But this is a something that's been around for a while obviously being pushed by Blizzard so big backing, looks very nice and crucially for me, you can play it on your MacBook Air and like anything else that’s it Rome Total War that's all I've got.

Chris - Wow that's so true. I've got it on my Macbook as well. It's not the air, I've upgraded, but yeah I mean I suppose the thing to say about this is if you haven't played Hearthstone before it's a very colorful game. It is basically a kid's card game which adults spend too much time on. I think I've mentioned before and you go head to head against other online players so you can play people who are playing on their mobiles. You can play on the move and you have a collection of cards that grows and grows. There's like a classic set of cards and then there's expansions that turn up and we're in a brand new year of Hearthstone which is quite good because all the old cards are basically gone and it's time to start your collection almost again really.

Alex - Yes it's always interesting to see a game that thinks in terms of years you know most games will you know they realize they've got about a shelf life of 10 months or a year on you know console or whatever then people stop playing and they just try and hit you with various DLC's made for a couple of years, but Hearthstone has been around for ages, and they as you say they they come out with new seasons and eventually some of the older cards become redundant so I guess it keeps it fresh.

Chris - How do you find this one because I've actually found it quite a pleasant change up after playing one particular deck, after playing Hunter for about a year. You get sick of it and you go away but this does change things up enough for me to be interested again.

Alex - Exactly new cards new sort of different you know they do different things and also it looks like another single player expansions on the way they did that in the last few expansions they had like single player content which I've been really enjoying yearly so I'm excited to see what that new what that new element is.

Chris - It's not yet been released they've just released this sort of multiplayer cards so far and it's worth saying as well you don't have to actually pay to play it although there's some people say well it costs money to buy the packs if you don't want to earn them but you doubt you can play for free which is one of the bonuses next game.

Alex - I've never spent a penny on it and you know you downloaded it for free of the I suppose the AppStore and then yes you can. It's one of those things where if you want to put some money into it you can buy some card packs.

Chris - But the game does let you earn them. Give me your rating out of 10 Alex Rhodes.

Alex - I'd give it a solid eight.

Chris - Good good. I was going to give it 7 so let's go with 8. That's very generous I think. Good good rating.

Alex - I'm not kidding around.

A group of retro game characters including Space Invaders

26:44 - Retro Revival - Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

Is it worth replaying Final Fantasy X and X-2, the remastered versions?

Retro Revival - Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

Chris Berrow and Alex Rhodes review Final Fantasy 10 and Final Fantasy 10-2 which have been rereleased and remastered.

Voiceover - Until the end. Not so. Always. Cherish me. And I'll cherish you.

Chris - Well it's been interesting going back and playing this actually. I'm sure that you played Final Fantasy 10 as well growing up.

Alex - You know what Chris you've embarrassed me now. I've never played a single Final Fantasy game ever.

Chris - Unbelievable scenes you probably haven't missed out anything in terms of story because I can tell you now as an adult playing this game 10 years later the story makes absolutely no sense. I mean I sort of vaguely remembered it as a kid and I thought “Oh it's quite nice and the combat is good and whatever” but I just can't... there's no way I can't make any sense of it all. There's this big flying whale in the sky. He attacks Zanarkand which is your kind of home town. And then apparently this big whale is called Sin is coming to get you right.... philosophical but it’s a whale. But then I mean spoiler alert but then Sin turns out to be your dad. Okay. I've never really understood what's going on there.

Alex - So whales yes. Interesting. Yeah well I mean what we are now in terms of final point of at least 15 or 15 16 17.

Chris - Yeah it's it's ridiculous. But the good thing about 10 is that the graphics are greatly improved so if you really do genuinely love Final Fantasy 10 and you can look past how ridiculous the story is, the graphics are greatly improved. But in a way I don't know it doesn't add that much for me. The best thing about it though and the fact it's only 20 quid it is worth it if you want to play it. The best thing about it is that they've done a rearrangement of the soundtrack so you can either play it through with original soundtrack or you can play it through with rearranged soundtrack and I'd recommend doing that because it really sounds bigger... fuller. It sounds a bit more epic and I was enjoying that actually that was kind of keeping me playing when I would have gotten bored a bit early on. So its interesting.

Alex - It's nice when they redo the score and these remastered because you know sometimes if you punch up the graphics too much you can't have the same kind of you know the old school 8 bit sort of soundtracks.

Chris - Yeah I mean it's worth getting if you're a fan. If you've never played before I wouldn't really recommend it. I didn't even bother with Final Fantasy X-2, I thought was such a bad game originally anyway but Final Fantasy X is the one after seven that really stands out in the series it's the one to play that everyone goes on about so if you loved it do you get it again. It is available now on PlayStation, Xbox and you can get it in various different guises as well actually. I'd say it's if I'm giving it a five because it doesn't really add anything extra but it was a bit nice to go back and have a bit of the old nostalgia there.

Alex - You can't go wrong to get nostalgic look at RuneScape winning that award.


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