A consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock Center in London is planning to provide online therapy for gamers addicted to MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest 2, and other popular games. Dr. Richard Graham, concerned over the growing problem, told The Daily Telegraph that some players were so addicted, that they neglect their social lives and education by playing for up to sixteen hours a day. Many experts claim that MMORPGs are more addictive than crack cocaine.
To back his planned virtual therapy, Graham approached Blizzard Entertainment to waive or discount the costs associated with joining the subscription-based game. According to Graham, this would make it easier for therapists to communicate with the "at-risk players in their preferred environment" rather than addressing problems the conventional way.
"We will be launching this project by the end of the year," he said. "I think it’s already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn't be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players."
Graham noted that the drawback to therapy within World of Warcraft would be that therapists are not experienced in virtual existence. "We may have to work at that if we are going to get through to those who play this game for hours at end," he added.