Book Review: Video Game Play and Addiction

I’m going to confess to something right away, to clear the air.  I expected to not like this book.  I figured it was yet another attempt by the media, as it were, to tar and feather video games and blame them for all the ills of the world.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  Video Game Play and Addiction: A Guide for Parents by Kourosh Dini, MD is a smart book about how, for good or bad, video games are changing our world and our children.  Kourosh Dini is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, making him more qualified than some to comment on the issue.  He is also a gamer, and that puts him and his opinions head and shoulders above most other pundits.

Video Game Play and Addiction isn’t playing the blame game.  Dini, instead, takes time to teach parents about different genres of video games, pointing out what what children can learn from them.  He writes about how gamers are different; how they believe in success through hard work and in personal responsibility (all learned through video game play).  I’m very pleased by how Dini first focuses on what is good about video games, before moving on to the discussion about addiction.

The meat of the book, though, is about addiction and violence.  And here, Dini is very even-handed.  He provides a list “Problematic Playing Questions” for parents to use when they suspect an addiction problem, as well as some possible solutions.  Happily, he doesn’t advocate a cold-turkey stop, but rather more restrained and tolerant solutions.  He also is clearly presents his belief that parents and caregivers need to be aware of what video games their children are playing, and to make good use of tools like the ESRB rating system.

This isn’t a perfect book, though.  There seems to be a bit too much of a focus on MMORPGs.  Given that most media attention and parental concern seems to be focused on first-person shooters (Gears of War, etc.) and sandbox games (Grand Theft Auto 4), I’m surprised they weren’t talked about more.  And, in the technical arena, Dini suffers from the sin of wordiness, but who am I to throw stones in that department?

Overall, I would recommend this book to a parent looking to learn more about video games, and hope that they take away from it that video games aren’t necessarily the problem.  Dini’s “Problematic Playing Questions” and suggestions for overcoming areas of difficulty make this book well worth the cover price.

Buy Video Game Play and Addiction: A Guide for Parents by Kourosh Dini, MD from Amazon.

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