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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Does Orzack know Jack?

There's a new PC Gamer Podcast (Episode 45) out today. If you skip twenty one minutes into the podcast you will find an interview with Maressa Hecht Orzack on the topic of computer games addiction. Ms Orzack provides a service which aims to help those who feel as though the internet has gone beyond escapism for them and into the territory of damaging their personal and professional lives.

Although Ms. Orzack is certainly no Jack Thompson (by this I mean she is not a self-righteous, deluded failure), she did not make a good impression on me, or a convincing case for herself in this interview. Although I am sure that Ms. Orzack's motives are to help others, she has failed to grasp the fullness of the issue and of the increasingly technologically developed society in which we live. This quote from PCG Podcast Episode 45 may elaborate my opinion:
Dan Morris: "I'm wondering if you were to ask a clinical psychologist in 1945 lets say, if you were to give them a crystal ball and show them how much TV use America was getting in 1993... would they have said - 'hey! 70% of our population is addicted to this new technology'?"

Ms. Orzack: "Well, no, of course not. Why would you say 70%?"

Dan Morris: "Well because that's the amount of people in this country watching five or more hours of TV a day."

Ms. Orzack: "Oh. Alright [...] but it isn't a matter of percentages."
I find this ironic coming from the person who claimed that 40% of World of Warcraft players were addicted to the game - using data that she collected from a forum.

I think that Ms. Orzack is correct in her viewpoint that if an individual finds that they are unhappy with spending a large amount of time in a virtual world, but unable to free themselves from a perceived grip the game has upon them, then under this circumstance the services of a professional such as Ms. Orzack should be employed. To deem 40% (or as Ms. Orzack amends herself in the podcast - 15%) of a game's players as addicts, however, is untrue and cannot be backed up in any form of evidence to the extent that Ms. Orzack's professional demeanour is tarnished.

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