"Computer and video games can be fun and innocent," reads the clinic's site. "Most people can play computer games without trouble. However, 20% of all gamers can develop a dependency on gaming. Many of these individuals have neglected family, romance, school, and jobs; not to mention their basic needs such as food and personal hygiene--all for a video or computer game."
BBC News spoke with center director Keith Bakker about the growing phenomenon and the treatment program. "You can't do a urine test to see that they're not still gaming. And if a coke addict said they wanted to go out to a club or to see people, we'd be worried about whether they'd meet a dealer," said Bakker. "But if a gamer said he wanted to go out for the night and meet people we'd throw a party."
Bakker was insistent about the potential severity of such addictions. "There were 15 year olds being brought to us who were showing the same behaviour as 50-year-old gambling addicts," he said. "This can get totally out of control. These games can be designed to keep the players going, there's no pay-off, it's like climbing a mountain with no top. They're not in their rooms playing games about collecting flowers. They're up there for 18 hours a day playing computer games about killing people."