University Professor: Candy Crush Is Turning Children Into Obsessive Gamblers

from the think-of-the-royal-flushes! dept

Here is a brief list of all the definitive information we have about the effects of video games on children. Violent video games make children more violent. Violent video games do not make children more violent. Video games make children less sympathetic to their fellow humans. Video games make children more sympathetic to their fellow humans. Video games cause severe health problems in children. Video games have health benefits for children. And, above all else, we know that parents in the United States are so certain that video games are a problem for their children that they brilliantly ignore the tools at their disposal to help them act like, you know, parents.

Whoo. Sort of takes your breath away, doesn't it? Well, we aren't done yet, apparently, now that another study supposedly shows that (sigh) video games are turning our precious youth into wannabe Doyle Brunsons and the only remedy is attentive parents the ever-effective school systems to educate kids about gambling games.

Prof Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit, based at Nottingham Trent University, said large numbers of under-16s were becoming hooked on games often accessed through social media websites. Many sites provide opportunities to play online poker with virtual money or give users a free introductory session to cash-gambling games with no age restrictions.
Free versions of poker and gambling sites are turning children into gambling addicts. Got it. How are they doing this, professor?
Speaking to the Times Educational Supplement, he said these games introduced young people to the excitement and rewards of gambling even when they are not playing for real money, adding: “It’s a bit like the old drug-dealing analogy of giving a bit for free and hooking them in.”
Ah, it's so simple! If you offer something for free and reward the user, they'll become hopelessly hooked and think they can earn real rewards in real life! Like drug dealers do! And play-money gambling sites! And the way Farmville has spawned a bunch of kids now hopelessly trying to grow plants out of their concrete sidewalks! Or how that free NFL game where you run back kickoffs has somehow magically convinced zillions of kids that they're Devin Hester.

Sorry, not buying it. Kids, by and large, are far more intelligent than we give them credit for. But, hey, it's not like the professor is only picking on poker sites.
Prof Griffiths identified games such as Candy Crush Saga which has been downloaded more than 500m times and gives players the option of paying money to access higher levels. He said that these games had a “moreishness quality, a bit like chocolate”.

“You say you’ll just have one chunk and you end up having the whole lot,” he said. “So you say, ‘I’ll just play for 15 minutes’, and you end up still there four or five hours later.”
So...the game being fun and costing something is the problem? Look, I dislike micropayments as much as the next person, but deciding that Candy Crush has caused a need for gambling education in every school in the UK is a bit like saying that because kids read comic books they should have to take a lesson on some of the unfortunate squeeze-effects of wearing superhero tights. It's just a little overboard.

And, I ask, knowing that this will be laughed off by my children-having peers, why is there no mention of parenting anywhere in these recommendations? I played cards with my friends as a child. I played free online poker when I was in high school. All the education I needed to know that I wasn't Phil Helmuth was my father pulling up a picture of the Las Vegas strip and saying, "They didn't build those enormous buildings by letting people win." That, along with some attentive parenting, ought to be enough.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:40am

    In other news Candy Crush also caused a surge in diabetes cases among people who play the game. It is said the number of people with diabetes that also play Candy Crush was at 0 before the game launched and sits now in the range of millions!

    Really.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:05am

    But hand me millions of dollars to implement this plan I created to solve this problem I just identified and I can fix it all... in at least 20 years of 5 million a year.

    Isn't this how defense contractors work?

     

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  3.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:22am

    In other news

    Saying sensationalist things in a public forum can do wonders for an academic career....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:24am

    Re: In other news

    If there was any justice or logic in the world it would immediately torpedo said academic career.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:25am

    Re:

    Isn't this how defense contractors work?

    No - defense contractors do mostly supply something useful. You are thinking of security equipment suppliers.

     

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  6.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re: In other news

    Corollary

    There is no justice or logic in the world.


    (Actually can't be strictly true - or this piece of logic wouldn't exist!)

     

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  7.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:33am

    I know a woman, 50 years old, who is addicted to the Candy, and it isn't a pretty thing. I've no doubt the Candy pushers developed the app in ways that scientifically maximize their return using things like operant conditioning, similar to slot machines. So the described study may not quite deserve the level of mockery and scorn that Mr. Geigner levies.

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:46am

    Re:

    Hmm, the point is that the issue in your example almost certainly is the woman's mental state and not the game. Her "addiction" is a symptom of HER, not the game....

     

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  9.  
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    Jeff Green (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:02am

    Ban reading too!

    When I find a book I often pick it up with the intention of reading for just 15 minutes but if it's well written with a good story I'm hooked for hours. My children are the same, it is high time the powers that be stepped in and banned these insidious devices!

     

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  10.  
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    Geno0wl (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:12am

    Yet another old person trying to blame the worlds woes on something they don't seem to understand because the didn't grow up with it in their youth.

    BUT THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

     

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  11.  
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    Call me Al, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re:

    I see this as something very fundamental.

    It is laudable that many people wish to protect others from things that have a negative effect on them. However that protection should never infringe on those people who are not effected in a detrimental way.

    In simple terms, almost everything that humanity does can have a negative impact on a section of the population. If we follow the pattern of protection to the extreme then we won't be allowed to do anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    ethorad (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:31am

    Re: Ban reading too!

    And ban sleep!

    All too often I think I'll have a 15 minute lie in, and all of a sudden it's 1 hour later and I'm going to be in trouble at work ...

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:46am

    And Another Thing...

    "Kids, by and large, are far more intelligent than we give them credit for."

    Exactly. In fact, they're actually more intelligent than adults, as proven by the professor here. It doesn't matter what kids watch or what games they play, so long as their parents just tell them not to actually do those things in real life. Which brings me to my next point.

    Porn. Why is it that we seem to think that porn is bad for children? Can't parents just tell children that it's OK to watch those things, just don't do them? I mean, "Kids, by and large, are far more intelligent than we give them credit for", aren't they?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:48am

    OMG crazy people are everywhere these days.

     

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  15.  
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    Capt ICE Enforcer, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:53am

    My poor mother.

    It all started innocently enough, a game called Oregon Trail appeared on our first computer. My mother tried it and was hooked. A few years later we moved 2 blocks away to a larger house. My childhood memories all destroyed. Then there was farmville which resulted in her knowing what fruits and veggies look like. My Hot Pocket dinners ruined for health food. And now Candy Crush... Oh that evil Candy Crush, now all her Facebook post are about playing Candy Crush, where is the Love. My mother is doomed. We need to educate the parents in this world. Or we are Doomed.

     

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  16.  
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    Capt ICE Enforcer, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Re: And Another Thing...

    Porn is the best way to teach others about sex education. After all, they are going to do it, so best help them do it the right way. Doggie

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:10am

    "Here is a brief list of all the definitive information we have about the effects of video games on children. Violent video games make children more violent. Violent video games do not make children more violent. Video games make children less sympathetic to their fellow humans. Video games make children more sympathetic to their fellow humans. Video games cause severe health problems in children. Video games have health benefits for children."

    Wow, it is almost as if the science community is composed of individuals with different viewpoints and different ways of doing studies that may only focus on a section of the activity. /s

    As for the rest of the article.

    Yes there are specific activities that could be argued to be built into some games to reinforce addictive behaviour and form habits. Just because people get offended by the suggestion that videogames, or whatever, could be made with negative qualities does *not* mean it shouldn't be studied to see if there is any truth in it.

    These sensational articles on techdirt are really bringing down the overall quality of the site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    that protection should never infringe on those people who are not effected in a detrimental way.


    Or to people who are affected in a detrimental way, but know it and don't want to change.

     

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  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:42am

    Re: And Another Thing...

    I maintain that the moment we are born is the moment we are at our most intelligent, and it's all downhill from there.

    Regarding porn, the only reason porn is "harmful" to children is because of how society deals with porn. To paraphrase Dark Helmet in a comment above, the harm is a symptom of our society, not of the porn itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re:

    That. Much like there are people who completely destroy their lives with alcohol whereas most of us would stop way before.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    When you see lots of different studies looking at the same thing that come up with wildly different results, you can be sure that the effect they're looking for is extremely weak at best. Strong correlations don't do that -- they are impossible to miss except in studies that are extremely flawed.

     

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  22.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:49am

    You could say the same thing about gambling, but there are mountains of evidence that some controls are needed.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:59am

    Either way, it sure is turning them into brainless zombies while in public transit.

     

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  24.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    Nah. They've always been zombies. Before everyone had smartphones, people were zombified by their books and magazines.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 9:22am

    I think they might be right about the addictive part... clearly Candy Crush is a construct of an evil alien race to control the minds of humans so they sit there matching 3 candies while the aliens take over.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 9:46am

    I love to play video games. I don't think when I walk away from the screen I'm some race car driver that can just get up and walk away from a crash unscathed. I don't think bullets will bounce off my chest. I have no inclination to go shoot someone.

    While I don't, I could gamble to my hearts content with one arm bandits or whatever and never spend a dime. I have never in my life ever sit foot in a casino and have no plans to.

     

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  27.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 10:28am

    I looked away for a sec and thought it read

    "Peter Griffin" identified games such as Candy Crush Saga which has been downloaded more than 500m times and gives players the option of paying money to access higher levels. He said that these games had a “moreishness quality, a bit like chocolate”."

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 10:49am

    .The Day We Fight Back - FEBRUARY 11TH

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    Candy crush wants your soul. I'm glad I don't like mobile or the kind of game it is. I feel bad for all the people who like mobile its got a bunch of disgusting practices like Candy Crush. The company doesn't care though because they make tons of money per day on a terrible game.

     

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  30.  
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    decrement (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    This opinion might be unpopular. I believe Mark Griffiths is correct to be unsettled, but is going down the wrong path with linking things to gambling.

    Candy Crush has been tuned perfectly to maximize micro-transactions. The game has an insidious way of leaving the player only one or two turns away from completing a level, then dangles opportunities to spend money or spam friends to continue.

    I consider the practice of dangling the carrot of level completion over children to be predatory. I would love to see pay-to-win micro-transactions reigned in on games marketed toward children.

     

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  31.  
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    McCrea (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 12:30pm

    Dear ed.

    I wanted to read the source for "health benefits."

    Well, "video games have health benefits for children", "benefits" links to an article citing only "video games can improve your health". Improve your health links to another trivial article citing only "video games that are supposed to improve your mental and physical health". Now, not only have we gone from an assertion of fact "do have benefits" and "can improve your health", we've fallen down to a mere "supposition." I suppose you know what they say about suppositions. Finally, "Mental and physical" links to http://www.beyond.com.au/. where the most meaningful science is found in the "Mythbusters 10-Year Anniversary" advertisement.

    Please don't restate and overstatement of a supposition from a presumed source that is no longer linked. All tedium and no source makes Joey want to start cutting himself.

     

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  32.  
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    KeillRandor (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    There is a problem, but...

    There is actually a very specific problem at the root of this issue, but it's not being fully recognised and understood:

    We have a number of different activities that are currently being labelled and considered as being the same, especially when using computers.

    Unfortunately, the differences between such activities are so fundamental, that not recognising and understanding them - (or being able to do so) - IS causing problems. And since those whose responsibility it is to inform and teach people about such differences don't even know any better, either, it should be no surprise that the problems, and symptoms, are getting worse.

    All this professor is doing is recognising the possibility of some symptoms of this very problem, but without relating it to such a problem in the first place it has no true context in which to exist, (and therefore be studied).

    So, the problem is with what we use the word game to represent, and how and why it differs, but is related, to what we can (and should) use other words to represent, such as art, puzzle, competition, work and play.

    So how can the differences between them so fundamental?

    Because we're talking about differences such as:

    Things a person DOES, and things that happen TO that (same) person.

    We're talking about differences between things that can and should never be able to be considered and recognised as being the SAME THING.

    That people (of any age) can be taken advantage of when getting confused between such different things should be no surprise to anyone.

    The main questions, however, that truly need to be asked, are how we managed to get into such a situation in the first place, and what we can do about it...

    Which is what I'm working on - (Part 1: On the Functionality And Identity Of Language).

     

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  33.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 2:01pm

    Re:

    Your point is valid, but it's not the best game at extracting micropayments. I submit that Smurf's Village is much better at it -- that's the one that got kids to spend over $1,000 in a single billing cycle.

    I know several children (well, highschoolers) who play Candy Crush -- but none of them feel compelled to pay. The payment dangle is a cooldown period every so often, and you can pay to avoid waiting for the cooldown. Some of the kids just wait it out. The ones who don't wait it out just set the time on their phone ahead and keep playing.

     

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  34.  
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    DCL, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 2:16pm

    Re:

    What aliens!?!?! you be crazy!... it is the NSA man, the G-men are doing their mind control all up on us.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

    I knew it...

    I knew it wouldn't take me more than a few lines before seeing some location somewhere in the UK mentioned.

    "I don't understand it, therefore it's evil."

    How the hell those people have managed to survive this long is beyond me...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Digitari, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 5:13pm

    Something I noticed in ALL theses studies

    all these studies have one common denominator, get rid of that and the worlds problems ends over night...


    .......did you guess what is is yet.............




    .......Still don't know???............




    it's US!!! We are the Flaw.. Ban us, problem solved........


    (yes OOTB this IS sarcasm)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 5:38pm

    I was wondering why I'm hooked on virtual gambling for a good 10 years now. I've lost a lot and I mean a lot :( at least 75 million! Luckily I'm too much of a tight ass to play with real money.

    My mom says it's because my dad is a Jew but my dad says it's because my mom is a 90 year old man.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 3:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Damn straight. If you know you have a tendency to get hooked on this stuff, stay away from it. The words "personal responsibility" apply. That's why I stay away from pizza parlors and fast food joints as a rule. I'd be struggling to squeeze through my front door if I didn't!

     

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  39.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 3:34am

    Re:

    Agreed, but it should be self control. Perhaps addiction awareness could be taught in schools; you know, symptoms of addictive behavior, etc. and what to do about it. I'd go for that. Give 'em the tools they need to deal with it so they can catch themselves. The nanny state alternative does not appeal. We're not all addicts.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 3:38am

    Re: Re: And Another Thing...

    Wrong. It teaches objectification of women and reinforces negative stereotypes. Get your hand off your dick and actually talk to a woman once in a while.

    And they're not freaks if they have love handles or stretch marks. That's what regular women have.

    Oh, and haven't you forgotten that porn stars tend to have a short shelf life? When your looks go and that's all you've got, it's over. Do you really want your daughter to grow up to do that, then be cast aside when she starts to look like the sofa?

    So no, I don't think using porn as sex ed is a good or healthy idea.

     

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  41.  
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    Michael, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 11:28am

    Re:

    "there are mountains of evidence that some controls are needed."

    Pretty please, point me to those mountains. All I've seen are anecdata.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: And Another Thing...

    What a sexist comment. There are plenty of men in porn. I guess you've never even heard of gay porn, huh?

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:08am

    I have this argument with my family

    As long as you aren't avoiding responsibilities, who cares if your spare time is spent on Candy Crush, or WoW...vs how my other family members are with crocheting and fishing?

    Why does it matter as long as the things that are supposed to be taken care of are being done?

    I mean, I did try to crochet for a while, and the first thing that happened is the blanket I spent at least 2 months of my free time on got used as a dog blanket, I decided F it....and went back to gaming.

    I work full time, pay my own bills, been on my own for 24 years. If I want to play WoW for 16 hours straight, by golly I will. Stop harassing me about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    Pickle Monger (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Sure, that seems logical...

    I guess that means that decades of playing Monopoly was the real cause behind the housing market bubble!

     

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  45.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 17th, 2014 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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