Nottingham Trent University hosts technology and games conference

This week Nottingham Trent University will host the Interactive Technologies and Games Conference which will bring together academics and practitioners working with interactive technologies to explore and innovate within the areas of education, health and disability. The conference aims to explore and raise awareness of interactive software as a rehabilitation method for people with disabilities, to help break down accessibility barriers and tackle issue of games as educational tools.

Chartered Psychologist and conference key note speaker Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University's International Gaming Research Unit explains:

There is a long history of using video games in a therapeutic capacity yet they are often demonised and pathologised by the mass media in relation to excessive usage. Research into excessive online gaming is a relatively new area of psychological study. Furthermore, there are studies that have claimed that online gaming when taken to excess may be addictive.

My keynote talk at this year’s Interactive Technologies and Games Conference highlights the role of context in distinguishing excessive gaming from addictive gaming. I argue that excessive gaming does not necessarily mean that a person is addicted and that the reinforcing properties of gaming can be harnessed for use in both educational and therapeutic contexts.

These reinforcing features of include video games being: (i) fun and exciting, (ii) motivating and stimulating, (iii) interactive, (iv) challenging and engaging, (iv) mood modifying, (v) novelty providing, and (vi) skill enhancing. Such reinforcing properties mean that games can be used in skill development and learning, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, pain management, psychotherapy and behaviour management, and cognitive rehabilitation, etc.

I argue that there has been considerable success when games are specifically designed to address a specific problem or to teach a certain skill. I also argue that an activity cannot be described as an addiction if there are few (or no) negative consequences in the player’s life (irrespective of how much time is spent gaming). I conclude that online gaming addiction should be characterized by the extent to which excessive gaming impacts negatively on other areas of the gamers’ lives rather than the amount of time spent playing.

Also speaking is Chartered Psychologist Professor Monica Whitty with her presentation 'Is all virtual play psychologically healthy?'