World Of Warcraft 'more addictive than crack cocaine' as teenager suffers convulsions after 24-hour-long game
An internet computer game has been condemned as being as addictive as cocaine after a teenager who played it 24 hours non-stop had convulsions.
World of Warcraft has been hugely successful in capturing the imagination of players by drawing them into a virtual universe of battles and quests.
However, it is at the centre of a growing problem of computer game addiction.
Highly addictive: World of Warcraft has been described by experts as the crack cocaine of the gaming world
Many players will sit alone in their rooms for hours at a time, immersed in the lives of their fantasy character creations - or Avatars.
Some 11milion around the globe play World of Warcraft - making it the world's most successful 'MMORPG' - massively multi-player online role-playing game.
However, a report from Sweden's Youth Care Foundation describes it as 'the most dangerous game on the market'.
The report's author Sven Rollenhagen said: 'There is not a single case of game addiction that we have worked with in which World of Warcraft has not played a part.
'It is the crack cocaine of the computer game world. Some will play it till they drop.'
The Swedish National Institute of Public Health has backed the report, adding: 'Computer game addiction is becoming more widespread across the world.'
The warning comes after a Swedish boy of 15 collapsed after playing it for for 24 hours earlier this month.
Hospital doctors diagnosed an epileptic-type seizure brought on by sleep deprivation, lack of food, and too long a stretch of concentrated game playing. He has made a full recovery.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours per day of 'screen time'.
Psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham of London's Tavistock Centre said: 'Some of my clients will discuss playing games for 14, 16 hours a day at times, without breaks and without attending to their physical needs.
'For those, the consequences are potentially severe.
'Such prolonged gaming can produce a sort of socially withdrawn figure who may be connecting with people in the game, but is largely dropping out of education and other social opportunities.'
By Ian Sparks
Last updated at 7:10 PM on 27th February 2009