Video Game Addiction

Let’s talk about the much debated topic of video game addiction. I think this odd phenomenon is slowly becoming a big social issue – mainly because people actually think it exists. I have no doubts about this, ladies and gentlemen, video game addiction is complete and utter bullshit. It makes just about as much sense as chocolate addiction.

I’m sorry but if you can’t stop playing WoW, you are not addicted. Is there a physical dependence component to you addiction? Would you do do just about anything to get another fix, no matter how degrading, or revolting it was? Sometimes I wonder if the people who talk about “video game addiction” can even comprehend the plight of those who struggle with real drug and alcohol addictions. Go talk to a recovering heroin addict, or an alcoholic and ask them what they think about the video game dependence. They will probably laugh at you, or punch you in the balls for comparing some dork cutting school to play WoW to the stuff they experienced.

I’ll be blunt here – sorry if it offends anyone, but it has to be said. Would you suck dick to get WoW money? I don’t think you could find a single person who would stoop so low. This is very different for real addict, who deal with real substance dependence. Hell, most of the “game addicts” actually had their gaming fees paid by parents. I always laugh when I see a mother crying on national TV, and telling a sappy story on how she didn’t know what do do about her son’s out of control gaming habit. WTF? How about you call up your credit card company and stop the monthly payment to Blizzard? How is that for a first step?

Any psychologist who claims that video game addiction is a real affliction, is a quack or a media whore (or both). Just about every media story about “video game addiction” contains some blurb about the victim struggling with depression, or some other psychological issue prior to any game related issues. I’m not a psychologist, but if someone has no friends outside the game, and their whole sense of identity and self worth is tied onto the game community, it’s not hard to predict they will be spending inordinate amounts of time online.

So the biggest problem with video game addiction is that we are actually buying into it. It’s dangerous, because someone who needs real help may be misdiagnosed and misunderstood. IANAP but my gut feeling is that obsession with a game is usually not a cause but a symptom of some deeper problem.

What do you think? Have you ever encountered this “game addiction” issue?

[tags]video games, video game addiction, addiction, gaming[/tags]

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14 Responses to Video Game Addiction

  1. jambarama UNITED STATES Epiphany Linux Terminalist says:

    I think a lot of this goes to our societies growing habit of blaming someone else for our problems. If you don’t have enough self control to stop playing video games, claim you’re addicted. There is a big difference between habits (especially enjoyable habits) and addictions.

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  2. Teague UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I would write my opinion of this issue, but I need to get back to X-Com. It callssss usss.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    @jambarama – very good point.

    People use this to justify their lack of motivation and ambition. To lazy to get out of the basement and find a job? Claim you’re addicted to WoW and you can’t stop playing. This way people will feel bad for you and let you mooch off of them – and if they give you crap about not working or playing to much, you can sell them a sappy story about struggling with addiction.

    @Teague – obsession is bit different from addiction. ;)

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  4. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I would agree with you on this one. I had a period of about a year while in college that I was hit with some pretty bad depression. In that time I became “addicted” to counter-strike. I played it like 8 hours a day. Sometimes more. It took one of my friends to tell me parents about it to get me to realize wtf I was doing. Looking back at it, it wasn’t video game addiction, but it was the only thing that gave me a piece of happiness. Video game addiction is crap, it boils down to underlying issues, at least IMO.

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  5. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux Terminalist says:

    It is the same old fake shrink crap that has been trashed out at role playing game before (I mean real paper rpg’s, not the lame computer versions). It is just to make parents feel better about the fact that they are unable to help their kids grow up.

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    @Zack – thanks for sharing. I think you’ve actually touched on something important here. For some people their favorite MMO is pretty much the only social outlet where they don’t feel like a dork or an outcast. For example, a kid may be unpopular or even bullied at school, but when he is playing WoW he is a well respected, or even feared guild leader.

    I mean, why would anyone be surprised that anyone in that situation plays the game obsessively. So it’s not the game, and it’s not always some psychological issue. Sometimes it can be the environment that drives people to play more than you’d think is appropriate.

    @Alphast – yeah, but I think the only people who actually believed int the crap about RPG being addictive, and making you lose touch with reality were people like Jack Chick or the people who made Mazes and Monsters movie (btw, if you want to see the lowest point of Tom Hank’s career, this is the movie to see lol). I don’t think anyone in the hobby ever threated these things seriously.

    Video game addiction on the other hand seems to be considered plausible even in the gamer circles. Just the other day I saw some vlog where they interviewed bunch of people at Blizcon about gaming addiction and not a single person in the clip rolled their eyes and said it’s BS.

    Most people were like “huh huh, you are asking the wrong person” or “well, I don’t personally know anyone who was addicted to the game but if I saw my friend or guild-mate playing way to much I’d probably say something.” So people are actually buying into it, and believe that they could actually one day completely lose control.

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  7. Teague UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    It’s been awhile, but I just came across this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4183340.stm

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  8. macanze INDIA Internet Explorer Windows says:

    With the holidays just around the corner, many people are relishing the thought of relaxing at home, munching all manner of fatty sweets and spending extra time with their … computer games.

    Instead of slurping hot cocoa with loved ones, the gamers will be off by themselves in darkened rooms, slaying monsters, conquering new worlds and otherwise stroking their heroic alter egos.

    That behavior bothers a lot of people. It’s not fun being jilted for a computer game, especially during a season that’s supposed to be about human love, harmony and all those other warm and fuzzy notions.

    And while hard-core gamers insist their favorite activity is a harmless pastime, their loved ones sometimes suspect that their hobby has turned into something a little more compulsive, which raises the question: Is there such a thing as gaming addiction or is the very concept a crock of excrement?

    It depends on whom you ask. At one extreme, there are gamers who threaten to “get medieval” if someone so much as suggests they step away from their computer for a butt break. At the other extreme, there are the neglected spouses, former gamers and a bevy of therapists dedicated to treating game junkies.
    ———————–
    macanze
    Drug Rehabilitation Programs

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @macanze: I am not a psychologist, but I’d suspect that such behavior is a symptom of deeper underlying problems. If you are being “jilted for a video game” perhaps this is an indication of a less than healthy relationship. It’s easy to blame marital problems on video games, but I suspect that these problems start elsewhere and in most cases both parties are at fault.

    In a situation you described I’d really recommend to seek marriage counseling rather than treatment for video game addiction.

    Also, people who never played a MMO do not realize how annoying can it be to have to step away from a computer in the middle of a difficult instance run or a raid. Yes it is just a game, but on the other hand you are playing with other people who rely on you to be there in order to accomplish the mission. If you have to step away your fellow players get annoyed, and you end up looking like an ass for leaving them hanging. This is why people get angry when they get interrupted. I wouldn’t rudely interrupt your phone call in the middle of an interesting conversation or a story. I wouldn’t interrupt your IM conversation or a chat. But interrupting a game is fine apparently.

    The whole video game addiction is FUD and quackery IMHO.

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  10. vincent INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    parents should provide a selection of activities, not just the ones that have the most action or are addictive. Choose some that involve problem solving or good story lines. Also aim for a balance in your child’s life. Sports are important, reading’s important. Just think of computer games as one more component in a child’s exploration of what’s out there in society.
    =========================================
    Vincent
    Drug Rehab

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  11. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Saw this video on youtube and immediately reminded me of this post of yours.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a79_-ZdKrow

    My first reaction: :?

    EPIC FAIL! :P

    It is so freaking obvious that no one understood what his real problems are.

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  12. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Well, 1:26 explains it all:

    Peter says his gaming turned into obsession at age 12, the same year his parents were divorced.

    Mom choose career over her children. She abandoned 2 kids (ages 12 and below) because “she wanted to go back to school”. Now she is wondering why her son is fucked up. Perhaps it’s because you decided to wreck the family, and ruin his childhood because your fucking mid-life crisis bullshit. Eh…

    The kid probably just wanted attention – both from mom, and from that blond tease (aka “his best friend”).

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  13. Skeleton UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Fucking this right here. I used to play in an MMO and hated getting interrupted during group activities where my presence was needed.

    This is just the result of adults not understanding that kids bury themselves into things because of trouble at home, trouble with their life, etc.

    It’s also the Finger of Blame. I agree %100.

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