Video game ‘addiction’

Posted: 17/10/2010 in Rants

Screenshot taken from the south park episode 'Make love, Not Warcraft.'


With the endless amount of stories oozing out of the media in the last few years regarding video game addiction, it’s no wonder the experts have got involved, trying to call it a ‘mental disorder’. 2 stories that come to mind when it comes to playing too much games is the guy who played starcraft for 50 hours eventually dying from exhaustion and the Chinese man dying after 3 days of World of Warcraft. Now as these stories are 100 percent true. You have to think to yourself, did these people have more problems upstairs than just liking a computer game? There are plenty of examples of people losing jobs, grades or girlfriends by playing WoW or Everquest for more time than they spend not playing. I’m sure every gamer knows at least 1 person like that. But the big question is ‘Who defines video game addiction?’

I will admit I am and always have been a vivid gamer ever since my Dad bought home a windows 3.1 computer packed full of commander keen games. Right up until being in a Counter strike clan in high school rated 18th in Australia on the game arena ladder in 2006. Eventually making the inevitable plunge into MMO’s like World of Warcraft. (the only reason i’m putting so much time and research into this is because i’m waiting for a WoW patch to download) As games have been a massive part of my life. I never lost a job or friends due to my hobby, and i have pulled a few all nighters playing these games to get to the level I was at. But does this make me an addict?

But back to the point of defining addiction, I think it ultimately depends on who is actually defining the addiction to a certain hobby such as gaming. For instance someone who see’s watching television or being on the computer for 2 hours as inordinate and who never plays video games of any sort, i imagine that ‘gaming addiction’ would have a slightly different definition to them than when defined by someone like me. To make matters even more complicated, alcohol and drug addiction has physical symptoms because its a substance you ingest. Gaming only has psychological symptoms. Making the line of calling it an ‘addiction’ much harder.

Take something as simple as cleaning excessively. What if you knew someone who was ridiculously clean (and face it we all know someone like that). Would you ever consider intervening in that persons cleaning habit? What if that person won’t go places with friends because there too busy cleaning the house. Or they lose well needed sleep to spend more time cleaning? Would you try to interfere with them if they were in clear physical, social or psychological trouble because of the cleaning habit?

Clearly this is a far-fetched and somewhat contrived example. But the point is still there – we can all think of a person who requires intervention because of some sort of hobby. This illustrates my point that pretty much any hobby can easily be classified as an addiction, especially by someone who has little knowledge or doesn’t share a similar interest.

The fact is that video gaming is only frowned upon by people who don’t actually game, and all it is to them is someone staring at a screen for hours doing a whole lot of nothing. Ultimately the people who writes these stories are obviously not gamers at all. Or they wouldn’t agree to it. Backing it up with a stupid statement like ‘But it’s not even real.’ I’ve had this argument countless times with friends always ending on something along the lines of Just because you can’t touch it or take it places, doesn’t mean its not real. Its something you put time into. Leading to a result from your work, and that makes it as real as anything else. What news articles don’t tell you is that WoW is mostly played with up to 25 people in a group, working together in a team environment based on experience in the game to achieve a goal (killing a boss essentially). Leading to building relationships and respect with fellow players.  So isn’t that what parents send there kids to school and force them to learn?

I’m not saying people don’t get addicted to games, people can get addicted to all sorts of things from facebook to chewing toothpicks. There is nothing that is in gaming that physically makes you unable to stop. It’s usually that voice in your head that says one more level, just one more. But even with the lack of self control with gamers, i think complete intervention seems a step to far. Perhaps if your the guy who drags along his laptop to the hospital to play WoW while his first son is being born, yes, but otherwise…

  1. Glen Rowan says:

    I agree whole-heartedly, even though you’re as indecisive as a poofta in a sauna.

  2. Lord William King says:

    That was well written and that last line take the bias edge off it 🙂

  3. Knoxy says:

    Nice blog young Hull and good first post!

    Would think excessive video game playing would be more of a compulsion than an addiction, so agree there.

    But it’s interesting if you compare it to gambling (particularly where it’s blurred with online gambling like poker, or even pokies down the pub) where it’s hard to argue intervention isn’t required.

    To a lesser degree you could also argue in favour of intervention for people who blow heaps of money they can’t afford on WOW and other online games where you can actually buy items with real money.

    Playing devil’s advocate, but I’m saying in extreme cases when people and their families livelihoods are on the line the hype has a grain of truth behind it

  4. MC HAMMA says:

    this was kewl

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