Posted on October 1, 2018 by staff

Video game addiction scaremongering must stop


Video games do not deserve the bad press they are getting after the World Health Organisation classified gaming addiction as a disorder.

That is the view of Lottie Bevan, game developer and co-founder of independent games studio Weather Factory.

Indeed Bevan says that in moderation, playing games is good for people.

“The talk about gaming addiction has caused a bit of a controversy in the industry,” she told BusinessCloud. “There has been some scaremongering to sell papers but that’s always the case with any issue.

“We’re not inventing the bomb here – we’re inventing ways to entertain people and maintain attention.

“I haven’t seen any instances where people aren’t able to tear themselves away from a game, unless they have personal problems of their own which would make it difficult to do so.”

Bevan co-founded small narrative-focused studio Weather Factory in London with industry mainstay Alexis Kennedy at the end of 2017, with their first game Cultist Simulator released in May.

The English Lit graduate, who was featured on the Code First: Girls Ones to Watch list this year, believes gaming can also be beneficial for children as long as parents are responsible.

“I don’t think we’re becoming a scourge of square eyes in kids,” she said. “Gaming is perfectly healthy and it’s actually very creative and fulfilling to allow children to play with lots of different games.

“If they’re spending too long on them it’s a parental and societal thing, not a case of tech tearing down what we consider to be the good things in society.”

Bevan admits she probably spends too long looking at screens but is also “extremely happy and fulfilled’, ensuring she gets enough exercise and eats well.

“I could sit in a basement and not talk to anyone only eating Wotsits but that’s not a games thing, that’s a lifestyle choice,” she added.

Bevan believes gaming is just another way to tell stories that haven’t been explored before, letting players engage with lots of decisions across the course of a story in way that’s not possible with the traditional linear narrative.

Going forward, the medium and the jobs that go with it will just become part of everyday life, she says. This is partly because most people don’t realise the huge range of disciplines that go into making games, from voice actors to musicians to coders.

“Gaming is our future,” she said. “Most jobs are adjacent to our future because they might not be going anywhere but I don’t see them changing the world, whereas I do think games will.

“A lot of people who don’t consider themselves at all technical would find themselves a place in the industry if they considered it.

“There’s a lot of money and applications for the industry. I think particularly AR will come in over the next few decades because whereas VR has a lot of issues with it I like the idea you can use your phone to play a game that enhances the real world.

“You could even have wearable tech that shows things in different languages, for example, if I went to China I’d be able to understand everything without speaking a word of Mandarin.

“It’ll get more common and we’ll eventually live in the Matrix and I’m quite excited about that – apart from the whole dystopian thing. Gaming is a good thing provided we use it sensibly.”