"MMO Addiction": Real or Imaginary?

It seems as if everywhere we turn, someone has a problem with video games these days. Even the President of the United States, it appears. Addressing the American Medical Association last week, President Barack Obama outlined a series of "preventative care" issues deemed important to modern health care reform. Limiting the amount of time that kids spend playing video games is a small part of that plan. "The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place," Obama said at the press conference, referring to his reform plan. "That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children. […] It means going for a run or hitting the gym, and raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside."

Sure, it's not exactly a defining topic of the speech, or even a full paragraph's worth. But it does indicate—at the very least—that modern video game culture has the attention of the Obama administration, in some capacity. It doesn't read like a "call to arms" against video games as a whole. More so, it seems as if the administration is urging the AMA to recognize video games as a potential "health hazard" (if only in the sense of physical fitness and mental well-being). The question remains: "Does the government believe video games—including MMOs—pose a risk to public health?"

Recap of ZAM's E3 Coverage

Members of the ZAM team were on the floor of the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009 at the Los Angeles Convention Center last week to bring you all sorts of information on your favorite MMOs. You can check out all of our coverage on our E3 news feed, but we've compiled all of our noteworthy features and news posts in this post for easy access. So keep reading below and after the jump for our in-depth E3 coverage, from the unveiling of Final Fantasy XIV Online to our impressions on Star Wars: The Old Republic!

ZAM E3 Features

All Points Bulletin E3 Impressions: Andrew "Tamat" Beegle gives us a first look at All Points Bulletin, Realtime Worlds' upcoming fast-paced third-person action MMOG. While he didn't see any live gameplay, he was highly impressed with the level of depth available in character creation, as well the number of car models and in-game MP3 player.

Star Wars: The Old Republic at E3: The ZAM team had the opportunity to enjoy a private gameplay demonstration of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and everyone was amazed by what they saw. Of course, the team wasn't allowed to record footage of any of the gameplay, but Tamat did get an exclusive interview with SW:TOR Lead Writer Daniel Erickson and Lead Designer James Olhen. Check out the video!

The Potential in Heroes of Telara: Trion World Networks unveiled its new fantasy MMO at E3, and Tamat gives us his first impressions on the game. While he says it's too early to tell if Heroes of Telara will deliver on its promises, he does emphasize it's a beautiful game with some new ideas and improvements to ideas that have potential.

E3 Interview with Jens Andersen: Once you've watched the PS3 gameplay demo for DC Universe Online, check out our interview with Jens Andersen, the game's creative director.

E3 Gameplay Footage of The Agency: The ZAM team was able to get some video of a mission being played out in The Agency. Take a closer look at this espionage action game from Sony Online Entertainment.

E3 Booth Babes

Reporters tend to get a little scatter-brained by the end of E3. In an effort to relieve some of that stress, ZAM's Andrew Beegle spent the last day at the expo performing his own time-honored tradition of courting the local talent. (Otherwise known as "Booth-Babe Stalking" to anyone who's not Andrew.) It's one of his most favored pastimes; whether he's honing his "direct-eye-contact" skills or bragging about his Greatsword of Girthful Terror with a "professional" WoW gamer, it's the glimmering light at the end of any dark expo tunnel.

As per usual, Andrew wouldn't dream of breaking tradition, as you can see in the following video from ZAM's E3 2009 coverage. Our Editor-in-Chief decides to up the ante this year and jump in the pool head-first, abandoning the usual toe-dipping. Things actually look a bit optimistic at first, when a gorgeous young booth babe asks Andy just exactly where he'd take her out, if she let him. Rather than spoiling his brilliant reply, you can pretty much sum it up with this: /facepalm.

Luckily for Andrew (and our squirming viewers), he decides to hit up Casey from the MMO Report for a little sage advice. It turns out Andrew's talent spec and primary skills were way off-base for this type of encounter; no wonder he was wiping so much! After a quick respec and some heavily-stacked Charisma points, he repairs, suits up and goes back out for one last try. Check it out after the jump!