The Daily Herald reports that an interview Phelps gave the sports site ThePostGame prompted Liz Woolley, founder of a network for addicted gamers, to warn the Olympian about the dangers he may be facing with his time spent in front of the the screen.
"Any time you get up to more than a couple of hours per day regularly, it can start to interfere with your normal life, your job, your family, your friends and your social life," Woolley said. "But it can be even more dangerous for people like [Phelps] who are highly driven and competitive, which of course elite athletes and swimmers have to be. The games can be used as an escape from the pressures of training or competition, but it has to be moderated carefully or it can have terrible repercussions."
Woolley notes that "very high achievers" run a particularly high risk here because they are predisposed to intensely competitive nature. In the original interview, Phelps seems to admit as much when he discusses playing the game online:
TPG: You have a new Kinect video game. What's your game system?PHELPS: I really only play Xbox.
TPG: What's your game?PHELPS: I've been playing a lot of Call of Duty lately. I find myself playing like 30 hours a week.
TPG: Do you play online and people don't know it's you?PHELPS: Yeah, people don't know it's mine. I just get crushed. I always find myself getting heated, trash talking. And you know it's a 10-year-old kid on the other line that just demolished me. It's so frustrating. But it is fun, and I'm very competitive in everything I do.
While videogame experts don't necessarily agree about the maximum hours of gameplay that is "healthy," game designer and researcher Jane McConigal argues in her recent work "Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World" that gamers shouldn't play more than 21 hours a week.
Though Michael Phelps' success at the 2012 Olympics is yet to be seen, we will most likely be forced to cut back on XBox in the coming days.