+ valuable skills are learnt
- some people become addicted

How should we view addiction to games (psychological versus physiological addiction)?
Does playing the game contribute to an addiction problem or is the problem there already due to other reasons?
What is the difference between addiction and creative, focused flow?
Are children more vulnerable than adults? (or is "the child" or "the teenager" a modern construct?)
Commercial games are designed to be addictive to make money - is that a problem?
What is the contribution of game playing to learning theory? (James Gee has a great short article about this - LINK)


The Blurring Boundaries of Play: Labor, Genocide, and Addiction by Nick Yee (audio, video)
Every day, millions of people around the world interact and collaborate via avatars in online games such as World of Warcraft. The marketing and media rhetoric make it easy to think of these online games as fantasy worlds that are somehow cut off from “reality”, but the boundaries of these virtual worlds have always been porous. After a brief overview of what these games are, who plays them and why they play, this talk traces out several case studies in the blurring boundaries of play and challenges some assumptions of what play means in these virtual worlds. Are some players’ virtual jobs more challenging and stressful than their day-time jobs? Can you really be addicted to online games? And in a fantasy world of ogres and elves, why is it that being Chinese can get you killed?

The Psychology of Massively Multi-User Online Role-Playing Games: Motivations, Emotional Investment, Relationships and Problematic Usage, by Nicholas Yee link
"... a prime candidate for acquired skills is leadership skills. In emergent groups within the MMORPG environment, leaders deal with both administrative as well as higher-level strategy issues, most of which arise and have to be dealt with spontaneously. Administrative tasks include: role assignment, task delegation, crisis management, logistical planning, and how rewards are to be shared among group members. Higher-level strategy tasks include: motivating group members, dealing with negative attitudes, dealing with group conflicts, as well as encouraging group loyalty and cohesion. These issues are even more salient in long-term social groups, such as guilds, which have formalized membership and rank assignments. In other words, MMORPGs provide many opportunities for short-term and long-term leadership experiences. "
"10% of users felt they had learned a lot about mediating group conflicts, motivating team members, persuading others, and becoming a better leader in general, while 40% of users felt that they had learned a little of the mentioned skills."

The View from the Top
Interesting post about world of warcraft, from an insider who became addicted. lots of comments at the end too. I think this is just one opinion, i don't really feel competent to make an evaluation because I'm an outsider to this world - but the strongly held opinions in this post and comments are fascinating (Bill Oct 19)
"I just left WoW permanently. I was a leader in one of the largest and most respected guilds in the world, a well-equipped and well-versed mage, and considered myself to have many close friends in my guild. Why did I leave? Simple: Blizzard has created an alternate universe where we don't have to be ourselves when we don't want to be. From my vantage point as a guild decision maker, I've seen it destroy more families and friendships and take a huge toll on individuals than any drug on the market today, and that means a lot coming from an ex-club DJ."