London Free Press reporter seeking interview

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Randy Richmond
Last seen: 12 years 9 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 06/15/2010 - 9:11am
London Free Press reporter seeking interview

I'm doing a feature on the 25th anniversary of Addiction Services of Thames Valley.

They tell me they are getting more clients with gaming addictions.

I'd like to talk to someone who has battled, is battling the addiction.

Anonymity guaranteed, of course.

Contact info.

Randy Richmond

London Free Press


randy.richmond@sunmedia. ca

Last seen: 12 years 5 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 03/15/2003 - 2:12pm
I just got off the phone

I just got off the phone with Randy.

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Last seen: 11 years 11 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 05/24/2010 - 4:17pm
Oh wow, how did it go? What

Oh wow, how did it go? What sort of things did he ask?

Last seen: 12 years 5 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 03/15/2003 - 2:12pm
Our local addictions

Our local addictions services agency is celebrating its 25th anniversary. They are seeing an influx of gamers and their loved ones. We talked about trends - flash games on Facebook etc. - and how we need to take the issue of gaming addiction seriously. I'll post a link to the story when it's published, or keep checking at

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Last seen: 12 years 5 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 03/15/2003 - 2:12pm
Here's the article,

Here's the article, published on the FRONT PAGE of the Saturday edition, reaching about 100,000 homes. They have placed a link to OLGA on the front page!

Game . . .over?

More and more adults and youth are being drawn into online gaming habits to the point they are now addicted.

Jon swore on the soul of his unborn baby boy he had given up playing.

He stopped eating and sleeping regularly, but kept playing the online fantasy game.

He quit college, missed work and kept playing.

Christmas Day, he played after opening presents with his parents. He went for dinner at his grandfatheraEU(tm)s and hated every minute he wasnaEU(tm)t playing.

Instead of going out New YearaEU(tm)s Eve, he told his friends he was sick. He kept playing, saying now aEUoeit was very easy to get lost.aEU

By the time Jon finally stopped playing, he had been hospitalized, prescribed anti-depressants, lost his girlfriend several times, and alienated friends and family.

HeaEU(tm)s not alone. Addiction workers in Southwestern Ontario are starting to see a steady trickle of adults and youths addicted to online gaming.

aEUoeIt is new to us,aEU said Heather Elliott, program co-ordinator for problem gambling at Addiction Services of Thames Valley.

In one two-week period last summer, Addiction Services had six referrals of people worried about their gaming habits, or the habits of their children.

aEUoeThat almost qualifies as an epidemic for us,aEU said Linda Sibley, executive director of the agency.

aEUoeThere are really no programs for this. ThereaEU(tm)s no money for it now. Money needs to be spent now on prevention.aEU

A former online gaming addict warned there are many addicts and problem gamers, and it will take a lot to move those people into treatment.

aEUoeThese arenaEU(tm)t people interested in getting together to talk. They are used to being isolated,aEU said Brad Dorrance, a Londoner who started a local support group for other addicts.

aEUoeSociety is going to have to start taking this seriously.aEU

Jon, a 21-year-old Londoner, agreed to tell his story in order to help people learn about the addiction. (Jon is his real name but he asked that his last name be left out of the story.) He speaks in a soft voice, and often stops to rub his eyes and declare, aEUoeItaEU(tm)s hard to talk about some of it.aEU

Jon was like a lot of other kids growing up in Ontario. Born and raised in a small southern Ontario city, he graduated from hand-held video game systems to a full game system.

In high school, he played video games with his buddies.

aEUoeIt was just something to have on while we talked. WeaEU(tm)re guys. We canaEU(tm)t just sit in a room and talk to each other.aEU

In his last year of high school, he started dabbling in World of Warcraft. With 12 million subscribers, it is the worldaEU(tm)s most popular online role-playing game.

Players control a character, or avatar, within a fantasy world of magical characters, and gain points and power through a series of tasks.

aEUoeIt is hard to describe the depth of the world,aEU Jon says.

Even as addicted as he was for two years, he figures he only visited about 60% of the four continents that make up the world.

In the real world, players pay a monthly subscription fee, but can also buy items and even entire characters aEU" a practice frowned upon by the gameaEU(tm)s makers.

What makes the game addictive, though, says Jon and counsellors, are a system of rewards and the fact the competition never sleeps.

aEUoeIt feels really good when you get a reward, when you become more powerful,aEU Jon says.

Researchers believe the reward systems in online role-playing games cause the brain to release the pleasure-causing chemical dopamine.

The more rewards you gain, the more you want, Jon says.

aEUoeYou want to get better than anyone else. You can be someone, an amazing hero. But if you donaEU(tm)t stay in the world, it goes on without you. People will progress and you will fall behind.aEU

Nothing much happened to Jon when he first started playing. His high school marks remained in the 80s and 90s and when summer came, with a job and few responsibilities, he started playing more.

He sold his account on the black market for $200 when he started a college computer engineer course in the fall of 2008.

A few months later, though, the lure of the game was too much. He emailed World of Warcraft and claimed his account had been hijacked aEU" an occasional occurrence in the competitive online role-playing game world, he says aEU" and got his account back, intact.

aEUoeThat wasnaEU(tm)t in my nature. That was stealing. I had sold the account.aEU

Over the winter of 2009, he got into the game more heavily. His grades began to slip in his second semester.

aEUoeI started neglecting a lot of things. I didnaEU(tm)t bathe as often as I used to. I wasnaEU(tm)t eating as much. I was skipping classes, leaving dishes in the corner.aEU

He had met a girl in college. When she called him up to go for a walk, heaEU(tm)d say, hang on for a few minutes and disappear for hours.

A summer job in British Columbia offered a reprieve but in late summer 2009, back at home, he dove right back into the World of Warcraft. He ignored his friends and family.

He spent the entire frosh week of second year in his room playing. He pretty much neglected his girlfriend, but not so much she didnaEU(tm)t announce in the fall that she was pregnant.

Jon stopped playing, but only for a month, and then, the responsibilities of college and a new baby and girlfriend weighing heavy on him, got into the game.

He and his girlfriend broke up for a brief period.

aEUoeI didnaEU(tm)t have any way to cope, so I just went right back to the game. I played all day long, no sleep, one or two meals a day. I was having an emotional struggle. The game was taking everything worthwhile in my life but I was spending hours playing the stupid game.aEU

He quit college and moved back to his parents, getting his old part-time job back.

There, he played aEUoepretty much every waking hour.aEU

aEUoeThings got really, really bad. I was spending money on the game instead of saving for the baby.aEU

His parents wondered what was going on.

aEUoeI was a much darker person. The game is so draining.aEU

He began having suicidal thoughts when he wasnaEU(tm)t playing the game and was prescribed anti-depressants. That Christmas, he spent most of the day playing, ignoring his family.

When his girlfriend called to chat, heaEU(tm)d quickly brush her off. I have to go shovel snow. I have to go out with my mom. Then it was back at the laptop on the game.

His girlfriend came to visit and was shocked at the sight of him, shocked that he lied to her about playing the game.

How can you take care of a baby if you canaEU(tm)t take of yourself? she asked.

She urged him to seek help. Jon admitted to his parents he was addicted.

aEUoeThey thought I was just being irresponsible. Like most people they didnaEU(tm)t understand.aEU

In the midst of an argument over gaming, Jon stormed out of the house. A few hours later, his worried parents found him wandering alone in the dark in the country, and forced him to go the hospital.

That led to counselling, but in the meantime, Jon began playing another online role-playing game.

His girlfriend found out. Are you playing again? She asked.

No, he said.

Do you swear on our baby?

aEUoeI said, yes,aEU Jon recalls. He rubs his eyes.

aEUoeI donaEU(tm)t know what happened after that. The next few days are just blacked out in my memory. I am really surprised she is still with me.aEU

He surrendered his computer to his parents.

aEUoeI had horrible cravings. I was having dreams about playing.aEU

Still tempted, he moved to London to stay with his girlfriend and her parents. Once more he snuck onto her computer and began playing. Once more she confronted him and once more he lied.

aEUoeThat is when I realized that if I didnaEU(tm)t change, there is no way I would keep her. I want her in my life until I die.aEU

He stopped playing in March.

aEUoeI am really proud to say I havenaEU(tm)t had a relapse.aEU

HeaEU(tm)s taking counselling at Addiction Services and learning to fill his life with the activities he enjoyed before the addiction.

He wants to tell his story to help himself get better, offer hope for others and warn parents that children as young as 13 can legally buy and become hooked on role-playing games.

Warnings on the games and age restrictions would be a start to preventing the addictions, he says.

Counsellors worry that the biggest growth in problem gaming will come among children, who are technologically savvy and surrounded by opportunities to play.

aEUoeWe have to be careful about giving electronics to our kids because we donaEU(tm)t yet understand what is happening in the brain with these games,aEU Sibley says.

aEUoeGrounding kids, if itaEU(tm)s an addiction, itaEU(tm)s not going to work.aEU

Jon is not sure what, if anything, will prevent some people from getting addicted to the virtual world of role-playing games.

aEUoeIt is extremely immersive, a full-blown world.aEU

As for himself, Jon believes counselling, the birth of his son a few days ago and the loyalty of his girlfriend will keep him safe.

aEUoeOnce you stop for a while, you can see there are so many other better things in life, things you can quickly ruin.aEU

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson