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UKIE counters BBC gaming addiction exposé

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Games industry trade body UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) has criticised an upcoming edition of the BBC's Panorama on addiction to video games, arguing that there is "no official medical diagnosis" of the problem.

Due to air next Monday on BBC One, the Addicted to Games? special will aim to "reveal the hidden psychological devices in games that are designed to keep us coming back for more".

UKIE director general Michael Rawlinson, who was interviewed for the programme, stressed that there was "no official medical diagnosis of video game addiction, either from the American Medical Association or the World Health Organisation".

In a statement, he also claimed that there was "mixed opinion" among academics about whether a game can truly be deemed "clinically addictive".

"Playing games is a hobby - just like reading, listening to music or playing a sport - which millions of people around the world engage in safely every day," said Rawlinson.

"We know that most people use games as part of a balanced lifestyle: in the UK, 55% of gamers aged 16-49 play for one to five hours a week, with only 12% playing in excess of 10 hours a week.

"UKIE is aware of some individuals that play games excessively, but often the cause of many of the sad cases we hear about are down to other underlying medical, social or environmental issues concerning the individuals concerned."

The trade body stressed that the video games and interactive entertainment industries take the health and wellbeing of consumers "very seriously", including the promotion of balance and moderation, such as regular breaks during sessions.

"Playing games sensibly and safely can have benefits: helping gamers of all ages to develop social skills such as collaboration and turn taking, and nurturing strategic thinking," said Rawlinson.

"Playing active technology and fitness games can also improve physical health, and offer other general health benefits that result from this. UKIE continues to monitor any research developments on the issue of excessive gaming and will welcome reviewing any conclusive new research."

He added: "Any new research undertaken should be as balanced as possible. [It] should ideally be independent of the games industry and any other bodies that may have an interest in the results."

This week, the BBC defended an edition of Panorama on alleged corruption at Fifa, after the Football Association described it as an "embarrassment" to the corporation.

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