We hear from a gamer who has been struggling with gaming addiction for years, and a treatment centre that helps people. The author Dr. Pete Etchells found that gaming helped him cope with the loss of his father. In other news, as Borderlands 3 announce an incense-holder version of their main baddy The Rampager (yes really) we look at the worst gaming merchandise of all time. As for new releases - we review Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Love Island the Game! And we’re going old school with “Retro Revival”... this time it's possibly the best game of all time with the longest title of all time... Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fuelled: Nitrous Oxide Edition! With Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner.
In this episode
Out gaming tat correspondent Alex Rhodes investigates.
5) Numbskull has revealed its official range of Borderlands 3 merchandise and the highlight... a 37 centimetre tall statue of the new villain of the series: The Rampager... that you can use as an incense holder. Because who doesn't need a branded incense holder to help them rampage their way to a state of zen relaxation.
4) When Fallout 76 came out there was a special “power armor edition”, yours for a hefty £199 pounds that included a wearable helmet and a bag to keep it in. You might also recall the false advertising backlash when people realized the bag was nylon instead of the canvas promised by the promotional material. Well Bethesda has sent out replacement canvas bags now so everyone's happy right? No. The new bags certainly are canvas and seem to be a vast improvement. But some people still aren't satisfied, saying it's too thin and isn't military grade canvas... just in case you have to use it in an actual nuclear apocalypse. And if you thought that was bad then you haven't played the game itself.
3) In at number 3 it’s Mass Effect 3. If you got the collector's edition from E.B. games you got a metal game case an in-game weapon and a bizarre looking inflatable omni blade. It's worth a Google, but for reference it looks just like a giant inflatable middle finger which coincidentally was what most reviewers and fans thought of the ending.
2) Sonic the Hedgehog is an iconic part of many of our childhoods and remains a hit with the youth today. So what would you think to give out to the fans on the game's 10th anniversary. A toy a remake of the first game? No. They decided to go with a crystal wine glass. That's right. They released a special edition wineglass for a game suitable for all audiences. Can’t down a chateau neuf du pap in one? You’re Too Slow!
1) Angry Birds. The casual game that took the mobile software market by storm. There's just about every kind of angry birds merchandise that you can think of as well as a pretty terrible movie. But clearly they used up all their good ideas pretty quickly. So someone in the merchandise department went to work, sat down at the desk and thought long and hard for a different way to flog that horse. What do they come up with? A bra. That's right. A bra. There's an angry bird on one side and a green pig on the other. Please insert your own joke.
John, gaming addict
John (not his real name) talks about gaming addiction...
John - Hi my name is John and I've been in recovery from gaming addiction since 2014. I started gaming as a youngster, I was born in the mid 70s and you know when I was young it was mainly computers, Commodore 64, and I really liked it and never saw it as a problem. I think as it escalated as I got older and it was when the internet really became quite a big thing, back on dial up and then on broadband connections.
People noticed it was a problem way before I ever noticed it was an issue. My partner used to approach me quite a lot when I'd come home from work and try and stop me playing the computer, trying to get me to spend time with her and my children. Even though it was consuming my life outside of work, I never really saw it as an issue. I used to love playing a lot of first person shooter games, used to really get immersed in the online world. I think as I started to get older, it ended up costing me quite a lot of things, I was unemployed for quite a long time. When I was unemployed I just sunk into the world even more. It becomes sort of an escape from me, just a way to get away from the way I was feeling. And just to deal with everyday life.
I finally got help in 2014, and it was going into a treatment centre in Essex called Sanctuary Lodge, where, back when I went in, it was quite new. And when I went in I learned that really the gaming was an escape for me, it became a way to actually deal with everyday life. And it was myself I needed a look at, really what was going on inside that was causing the problems, you know, why I was needing to escape from the real world and into this world and I'd done a lot of really good work on myself. I learned how to live, you know, being me and to deal with everyday life without having to use it as an escape.
Since leaving the treatment centre I've had varying degrees of actually staying completely abstinent. I don't believe for someone like myself that there is any moderating it. For me, it would come under the same category as any other type of addiction. I have, over the last four or four and a half years or so, convinced myself on a couple of occasions that my time away from it would qualify me, you know, to be able to do it normally. So I've downloaded games, I have a PC at home. At one time I even got a console as well. And what I noticed was in a day or so was, I'm back to doing what I was doing and it consuming my life again. So I now have to look at it as complete abstinence from gaming which can be difficult for me, because I always enjoyed the competition. I almost looked at it as like a sport.
Now, I've heard people say that, you know, gaming should be banned, even Prince Harry said that Fortnite should be banned. I don't ever think that you can ban a game as a whole. I don't think really it's the game that's the problem. I think if you really look at it, it's more of a social aspect now, the way people live, the way people are brought up, constantly seeking escapism in social media, gaming, in general. And I think that there are things that needs to be addressed and not actually banned in some game.
10:37 - Treatment for gaming addiction
Treatment for gaming addiction
Eytan Alexander, founder of UKAT
What can you do about gaming addiction? Chris Berrow spoke to Eytan Alexander, founder of the UK Addiction Treatment Group which is known as UKAT.
Eytan - Gaming addiction is like any other addiction. It's a compulsive obsessive disorder which gets us through the same thing over and over and over again and I think this time the result will be different.
Chris - So how do you help people with gaming addiction.
Eytan - We look at the underlying root causes because ultimately addiction itself is the manifestation of something. I've got a hole somewhere which I avoid which I need to fill and with the game he fills it with gaming. But really it's about the root causes. We would look at their low self-esteem or the fantasy world that they were entering into instead of their everyday life and what they're trying to escape from. And instead of trying to address these issues in a in a healthy way they sweep it under the carpet and we look underneath the carpet through talking therapies and what we need to look at is through group therapy within treatments in a in a safe setting is those commonalities where people get some identification of what's truly going on for them.
Chris - Do we know who it's most likely to be affected?
Eytan - Gaming addiction can affect anyone of any age gender race or sex as addiction does not discriminate against anyone. There's this thought process that it is a younger generation generally would people win the game he's been around now for long enough where you would find people in their 30s and 40s who are playing and and spending extreme amounts of time. And most people who come in they may be using drink or drugs around this as well too so that they can stay up for longer. But ultimately this addiction can affect anyone.
Dr. Pete Etchells
Dr. Pete Etchells from Bath Spa University has written a book called Lost in a Good Game: Why we play video games and what they can do for us. He told Chris Berrow how the book came about.
Pete - Part of the book is about my dad and my dad died when I was 14 of motor neurone disease. And I talk in the book about how games played a big role. At the time I didn't realize it so much but looking back and thinking about it in the context of the book I realise that games played a big role both in terms of how I processed his diagnosis and how I tried to deal with the aftermath of his death. I don't really want to say everybody should play video games to get over grief and things like that. So I don't think it will work for everybody in the same way it did work for me and I'm very thankful for that though.
Chris - When you hear about gaming and people playing games it usually tends to be the word addiction is not too far down the line you know and we've in fact on this podcast in previous episodes a couple of months ago we spoke about gaming addiction and the World Health Organization classifying it is kind of like a mental health condition but also there's treatment centers for gaming addiction. And I guess it's interesting because you sort of came at it that you wanted to basically say well hang on a second some of the scientific research here is not pointing towards that conclusion.
Pete - So there's a group of scientists who argue that it's perhaps a little bit too premature to formally diagnose something such as gaming disorder because really the scientific research isn't quite there yet and I think our argument comes from the fact that we don't really have a good handle yet on what gaming addiction or gaming disorder or how we want to label it what it actually looks like and who it affects. And I think that's the key problem. So I'd say that you know everybody on both sides of the debate is trying to do the right thing and I don't think anybody is suggesting that there aren't some people out there for whom gaming can become a really problematic thing.
14:58 - Review - Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Review - Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner review Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Chris - I mean I like to call this Harry Potter go and I think I have done for about four months.
Leigh - Yeah. You have.
Chris - It's the same game essentially as poker Mongo and it's made by the same company Niantic.
Chris - Well I've been getting to grips with this game quite a lot. It's a long pause isn't it. So okay let me just put my cards on the table. I love Harry Potter. I really like it. We went to see Cursed Child in the theater for my birthday. And I really you know I like Harry Potter. First things first you got a name your character. In this open world real life roaming games you walk around like Google Maps essentially you can see a little character there. You find little icons you click on them and then it all turns into virtual reality. Or altered reality A.R. as they call it and you see like Hagrid about to meet accidentally get hit by the tube which is which is I know because you put your foot you hold your phone. So it's a real life. I don't think that supposed to be part of the game. You hold your phone up and like now. What if I was playing I'd hold my phone up and then I might see I don't know like a wizard standing on the desk. So it's quite it's quite clever. Yeah. So I had to name my character and I can't believe I'm gonna admit this but I never realized that it was her mind me when I was a child I read the name and I thought it was Her-me-own.
Leigh - Oh my goodness.
Chris - Yeah. That's bad isn't it.
Leigh - You're a radio presenter… just listen… if you've got no qualifications just be a radio presenter!
Chris - So I decided to name my character Hermy-own.
It was already taken because somebody else thought it was funny. So then I named myself Hermy-owl because I thought that was funny too and that wasn't taken. Anyway so I played for about 30 minutes which drains 30 percent of my battery.
Leigh - Oh wow.
Chris - So it's really like per minute. It's like Pokemon in one sense but you don't have to catch them all.
Leigh - So what's the point of the game.
Chris - Well exactly so you know you're supposed to get stickers of people that you come across instead of Pokemon. And I really didn't like that at all.
Leigh - You’re not convincing me here to be honest.
Chris - No it doesn't seem like there's a point.
Leigh - It seems quite good and fancy and it must be great to see kind of the characters in like looking in front of your shiny plane. But if there's no point to the game what's the point.
Chris - Exactly. Well so the altered reality is better if you turn it off completely because didn't work for me at all on any occasion what's the point of the game. Yeah. Daniel Radcliffe though is voice acting in it. So I'd say the voice acting is very good. All the actors and actresses are there. The music's excellent as well. They paid the money there. But the fundamental problem is that you're not catching Pokémon. Pokemon was good because you remember when we played this for a little bit you catch them and then you'd go to like a gym a real lifeline location you'd leave your Pokémon and then it would fight for your faction. Love it. Red blue and yellow in this you don't know.
Leigh - What you should have today is kind of walk around meet Wizards. And then when you come up to the wizard you could have like a spell fight with them.
Chris - Yeah but that is what I wanted. And that's not what I got. You can get it from the App Store on iPhone now that's the way I played it on. There's a really funny story you've got to mention as well because it uses real life locations. This is a kid's game right. But the designers obviously didn't check every location. One of them in London. That's like a greenhouse that you can get some herbs from turns out to be a strip club.
Leigh - It's like there's like these little children going to this to this location to get some Harry Potter magic beans or whatever. Well let's hope they don’t ask for them.
Chris - Anyway. They've removed the location from the game now. Well done.
19:43 - Review - Love Island The Game
Review - Love Island The Game
Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner review a game which the world doesn't really need... imaginatively called Love Island: The Game released by Fusebox
Voiceover - play is one of the girls in the brand new love island mobile game experience the thrill of the chase. The temptation of love. And all the sizzling drama in between. Download announce a couple of. Graft or crack on. It's time to play the game and do whatever it takes to back your dream man. You'd be a mug to miss the game. Download and play.
Chris - I’ve got to admit I actually quite enjoyed Love Island The Game.
Leigh - Oh no not just the game, the whole series. It's got to the point where now we base our lives around love island. It's like when do we have dinner. When do we know we gotta sort Bailey the rabbit out. When we're recording this before Love Island. I've even got a Love Island bottle.
Chris - You're the worst person. By the way it's actually eight minutes to nine right now.
Leigh - I need to get going. Quick quick wrap this up! So what do you think about the game?
Chris - Surprisingly good. Now the first thing I'll say is you cannot play as a male character. Bit sexist... which is a bit odd. So I started off and you know as you've heard from a lot of you I like to create a funny character name because we've recently finished watching Game of Thrones and because it's there's a lot of like beach and sand I've called it Miss Sandy Misande.
Leigh - I called mine Poppy because I like the name.
Chris - Okay. Day one in the Love Island house I was introducing myself to my fellow housemates and Lottie right… asked... what you do is a job. And I said “well I'm a classical cellist”. How many classical cellists do you get a love islands. I can't believe I wasn't even an option. So I think there's a lot of tongue in cheek in the writing of this game a mobile game you know you can choose the options basically. Then Lottie goes “Oh it's like you saw a violin and went oh can I get that and supersize!” That is one of the best lines.
It was free to play to start with and it was quite good. Yes what did you think?
Leigh - Yes I liked it. It's a bit like Sims isn't it. Yeah. Yeah. Like Sims but I know what it's like Sims mixed with the Pokemon on the Gameboy. Yeah. Because it's like you know the battles in your mind when you come face to face and it comes up with little titles and you kind of talks you through the game... select your options. But it does get quite expensive doesn't it....
Chris - Well it's really weird because you get given a certain amount of tokens and every day in the Love Island villa complete you get like a gem. But if you want a sort of conversation options you have to spend your tokens and gems and your tickets on that. And it's really a lot... like it's five quid to get I think 20 gems or something and they you can burn through them really quick you know buy an outfit view character which I did and it looked like she'd been savaged by a shark on my outfit because it was obvious. But all her clothes are torn. It's quite expensive quite quickly so that might put me off in the long run but it was quite entertaining. It was. Yeah.
Leigh - I quite liked it. I'll give it a solid seven at ten.
Chris - Yeah. Yeah. It was a funny game you can see the writers were young and if you'd like that sort of thing. Yeah. You don't have the voiceover guy. That's the one thing that's missing I think Iain Stirling you need.
I think 6 out of 10 pretty good available now on the App store.
23:29 - Retro Revival - Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled: Nitrous Oxide Edition
Retro Revival - Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled: Nitrous Oxide Edition
Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner review Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled: Nitrous Oxide Edition.
Leigh - I love this so much. This was my childhood. I mean literally I played this probably everyday for as long as I can remember and it's I think this one's even better your Pesci. It's like Tom Waits singing. My.
Chris - So was it as good as you remember because you played a lot of yeah.
Leigh - Yeah yeah yeah. It brought back all those memories nothing. I think it definitely is better than the original just because you can see what's going on a bit more it's got more levels more choice of characters. The graphics are so much better it's just enhanced the superb game that it already was.
Chris - What I really like about it because I actually didn't play the original but you can choose go karts and you know character models that were the original ones that look quite blocky so you can get that kind of original feeling but it's such a smooth running game.
Leigh - Although to be honest I thought I was much better than I actually am… you beat me every single time and I think I've got a bit of a strop the other day yeah and chucked the controller and said I'll never play it again.
Chris - Yeah sorry
Leigh - Yeah so but you've learned all these little cheats and stuff.
Chris - Well you know the one thing is the drifting is key because you boost boost boost three times to get a little bit of extra speed and you you're still coming to terms with the deal
Leigh - But you've obviously been practicing while I've been away.
Chris - Yeah. Obviously you're very angry about it.
Leigh - Yeah I am very angry about like I thought was amazing.
Chris - So should you buy the nitrous oxide edition... what you get is the star skins you get Coco, Crash of course, and actually you get lots of sort of alternate ones you get new levels as well that are being introduced new kind of racetracks and you don't. Well they did this big update which had loads of chickens that was annoying us remember. Yeah there's that kind of weird. Here's a here's the Grand Prix mode which is an on my back. It was weird wasn't it but they're releasing content each month which is amazing really. It's fantastic.
So what you saying then
Leigh - I think this Get ready. The first 10 out of 10 game well of the entire series is it?
Chris - Well it's your first time ever because you give him about 2 or 3.
Leigh - I'm pretty harsh but I think because of the graphics because of the excellent game that it's always been the choice of characters the choice of tracks is definitely got a 10 out of 10 for me.
Chris - Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled: Nitrous Oxide edition is out now… for Xbox One and Nintendo switch.