With more than 200 million registered players, Runescape is one of the world’s largest free online RPG’s. Set in a medieval fantasy world, players compete or work together to fight monsters, complete quests and earn new skills.
KAREN’S* 17-year-old son Sam stays up for 25 hours at a time, rarely washes, never cuts his hair. He’s gaunt, subsisting on occasional meals of fast food, and barely talks. He’s a junkie, but he’s not addicted to drugs. He’s addicted to Runescape. Two years ago Karen says Sam was a bright, smart teenage boy with a normal social life and an interest in team sports.
“Once when I was out he smashed up my bedroom, upending furniture, ripping down curtains from their tracks and cutting electrical cords with scissors, tripping the safety switches,” she said.
She has bolted the computer to the wall of the loungeroom in an effort to monitor his usage, and for the past few weeks has given him free rein, just to keep him off the streets. The next steps involve installing an internet lock to restrict access at certain times of the day and re-introducing him to regular meal times and sleep patterns.
UK developers Jagex, did not respond to requests for comment. Source