Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

September 30, 2009 -

story at Green Pixels tackles the topic of game addiction and questions whether it is a serious health threat or just hype by an uninformed media. After numerous mainstream stories trying to use video games as a scapegoat for everything from poor grades to obesity to mass murder, the topic is a legitimate one to address.

The story delves into media coverage and academic studies, as well as the use of the term "addiction":

The word, "addiction" gets tossed around incorrectly in most media outlets. According to psychotherapist and author Dr. Tina Tessina a true addiction is "when the obsession, activity or substance is creating havoc in the person’s life. That is, causing job problems, relationship problems, money problems, or problems with law and is out of control and therefore an addiction."

The article concludes:

At the end of the day, this is a debate that has not been definitely resolved and will likely be something we’ll continue to hear about in the coming years. If you’re worried you or someone you love truly is addicted to games, have that person evaluated by a mental health professional. As for the rest of us, let’s all use common sense in our gaming. Take breaks, don’t skip meals, and don’t call off work to level up your character in WOW.

It's an interesting debate on the topic and the article does a good job of being objective on the issues, rather than the extremes of the gamer side or mainstream side.

Where do your views fall in this debate?

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Comments

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I agree with most folks here. Yes addiction to gaming can happen, just look at me! Seriously though, if your kid is flunking school, doesn't get out to exercise, no friends, then it's worth looking at. Hard to define though just like food. Can you be addicted to food? Yes, but just because you enjoy food a lot doesn't mean you are addicted. If you are out of control then maybe you are addicted. People will notice behaviour issues long before the addict. Honestly, it's not a big issue otherwise there would be 12 step programs for gamers all over the place.

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Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Game addiction is a symptom not a cause.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Of course games can become addictive. I have a co-worker who once lost her job because she skipped an entire week of work playing WoW. However, if it were games that were the decicding factor in addiction, I would have been lost to WoW as well. As it is I got bored and moved on with my life. Therefore the fault is not games, but the personalities of the user that are the issue.

Anything can become an unhealthy addiction, even faith. I'm reminded of the Flagelants and how they used to whip themselves bloody to become spiritually pure. Or you could look at the rabid soccer/futbol fans of Europe, whose unhealthy infatuation with the sport has caused the deaths of hundreds or thosands in riots.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

As a recovered drug addict and avid game player I can say with out a doubt that while at certain times in my life I may have played up to 8 hours a day (not very often these days) video games have no addictive qualities ANYTHING like that of drug or alcohol addiction.

Games are addictive like TV is addictive, it is fun and if you don't have a lot going on in your life it is easy to fill your time up with it.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I have to say I believe that it is possible to be addicted to a game, just like anything else in life.  What some people seem to not understand, is that some of us choose this as our form of media.  I know people who have books they can't stop reading... plenty of people who can't stop watching television... and damn near every one of us knows someone who NEVER takes that damned IPOD bud out of their ear.  Our media choice is videogames, and there's no problem with that.

However it is something that is more stimulating than most other media.  A book, a TV show, a movie, a song, are just raw data that we take in and accept and maybe think about a bit...  A videogame, is something that YOU manipulate based on what you take in.  Interactive media - the partaker is just as much involved in the experience as the person who forged it.  This is what separates it from the other media - the two dogs will always die at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows, Johnny Dep will always be Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean (the originals, should they remake them), and House will always have used a cane during his TV show.  I believe it is from this difference I believe that videogames have the ability for forge true addiction moreso than most other media.

True addiction is what's stated in the article - but I also believe it's something more.  It isn't just the fact that the addiction "wreaks havoc on your personal life", but it's the fact that despite the havoc wrought you you can't DO anything about it.

There is also the case of true physical addiction to videogames.  I don't know if it's well documented or studied, but it is apparently possible to be actually physically addicted to videogames.  I have a friend, who actually will suffer from withdrawl if he doesn't play videogames for a few days.  He actually NEEDS the stimulus it provides that no other media can.  He starts to get cold sweats and headaches, and various other problems until he just picks up the controller or a mouse and keyboard and plays for a little while.  Ironically enough though, he doesn't have a "true addiction" as his gaming habits DON'T "wreak havoc" on his personal life.  He manages it perfectly well, though I'm sure he'd like to not HAVE to play games every now and again.

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." ~Best quote ever, Albert Einstein

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." ~Best quote ever, Albert Einstein

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Gaming addiction is so over hyped.

All you need is parents who don't know anything except for what they know on TV, then you have kids who are into something that parents don't understand. Add in a news station and newspapers who are desperate for money and something interesting to sell news. Add in the hype and the scare tactics that are overblown and exagerated and it all adds up to something like gaming addiction.

Gaming addiction is not really scary at all, just like global warming, it exists but not as big as other people make it out to be.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I wonder if anyone's ever attempted to study how much the ability to interact with other humans adds to a video game's addictiveness.

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Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I know one study that examined players' use of voice technology in MMOG and its relative association with internet addiction.

My views about video game addiction is that it does exist and they do need professional help (to assess and treat). There will be a lot of debates, a lot of challenges in formulating treatment plans and a lot of temptation in implementing government policies restricting online gaming. Right now, we're not facing the level of problems seen elsewhere (like South Korea and Japan), this should give us some insight in creating reasonable preventive measures.

http://vgresearcher.wordpress.com/

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

As I've said before my dad used to be addicted to online chess possibly due to the fact that my brother and I wouldn't play him because he was a lot better than us.

So yes you can get addicted to video games although i don't think they're anything special in terms of addictiveness.

----------------------------------------------------

Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

let’s all use common sense in our gaming. Take breaks, don’t skip meals, and don’t call off work to level up your character in WOW. yes, common sense is what should rule most of this discussion. That being said, doing one of these things everyonce in a while isn't addiction either. Hell, i remember starting the second half of the original Condemned when i woke up one day, around 9, finished it, and proceeded to have my jaw drop when i saw it was about 5 hours later at 2 o'clock and i hadn't eaten breakfeast or lunch. not addiction but just being drawn in to a great game. Sure my 3 day Kingdom Hearts 2 marathon when i first bought it (beat it too, 50 hours in said 3 days) was probably a little on the addict side, but it was summer vacation and a particularly nasty weather week so i think it slides.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I took a day off of work to play WOW and drink RedBull.  It was one of the best days off I ever had- and I've lived a fairly exciting life.  Addicted? Nope, but I know how to spend a rainy day off quite well.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Its fiction becuse most fiction makes you energetic not violent...


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Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Do you agree that gambling can be an addiction?

If you move it from a physical board to a screen, does it change? If so, why?

 

I think addiction (or at least, obsession as mentioned in another comment) is real. I don't think it's severe enough to be a problem.

 

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Much like the modern abuse of the scientific definition of 'theory', the average person uses 'Addiction' much more causally for anything that gets done compulsively or with high frequency. But the equivilence of the casual use of addiction compared to the medical use is where people get all screwed up. Saying 'I'm addicted to Halo' isn't the same as being actually addicted, but some people will see it that way.

It doesn't help that many older people who never got in on gaming don't understand the appeal or even the extent of the interaction. They see games as unstimulating, unintelligent, isolating activities, when gamers (and often studies) will argue hard in opposition. People who don't understand it see gaming as something more like a vice than a hobby and act accordingly.

And like any other time, the key to clearing up the misunderstanding is to communicate and educate, and I think we're winning that battle over time.

[Certain exceptions and allowances have to be made for psychological addictions, as mentioned by others, but that's not an issue with games and I think we all know that.]

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

As others have mentioned, addictions like this (video games, gambling, etc) certainly fall under the textbook (and clinical) definition of addiction.

I prefer, however, to use the term obsession. Oh, it may not be quite as accurate from a medical standpoint - something can become an obsession without affecting your life quite so adversely - I just prefer to separate addictions with a physical component (nicotine, narcotics, etc) from solely psychological ones. 

There are two main reasons for this: I believe that failing to make that distinction does a disservice both to those struggling with compulsive behaviors, as well as people suffering from physical addictions.  Be honest, the first image that pops into your head when you hear 'addict' is probably not a person staring at a computer screen and clicking frantically.  On the flip side, you can't tell a heroin addict that you broke your WoW addiction by just walking away, and he can do the same.

Finally, when hearing the word 'addict', there's a subconcious secondary reaction for most people: 'What are they addicted to?'.  There's a sort of unspoken blame game played - sure, they may have gotten themselves into it, but now the game is holding all the power. It's the game's fault. Look at the next two sentences:

"Jack is addicted to World of Warcraft."

"Jack is obsessed with World of Warcraft."

The first sentence is subtly shifting the blame on WoW, the second correctly identifies Jack as the one with a problem.

But hey, that's just my two cents.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Bravo, I agree with everything you wrote.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I suspect the reason the media love this story is partly out of self-interest. They would much rather you passively watched their content rather than playing an interactive video game. Pretty much the whole video game addiction hysteria is a nonsense whiped up by religious types, psychologists looking to get on TV and government types wishing to meddle. 

There are the weak-minded that will get addicted to virtually anything. If the world was adjusted for them it would be a rather boring and taste-free place. 

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Agreed. There is no single condition called "Video game addiction". People can get addicted to games the same way they get addicted to booze, sex, food, gambling. It is replacing/blocking out/dealing with something in their life that they cannot deal with in healthy ways and that is a fault in the person or their life, not the game.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Slightly different than booze.  Alcohol is a physically addicting substance.  Everything else on your list, like video games, is a purely mental addiction.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I mean the reason that they get addicted in the first place. Having a few beers (or a lot of beers) now and again doesn't make you addicted to it. It's when people start to see booze as a support or replacement for something that it starts. After long enough behaviour like that they also become physically addicted.

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

I absolutely believe you can be addicted to video games, but you can be addicted to just about anything.  There's nothing inherently addictive about video games.  I think like most addictions, it's a symptom, not a cause and should be treated as such (i.e. find out what made them escape into video games in the first place and fix that)

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Can you be addicted to video games (in the sense that you play them to the detriment of your health, personal, and/or professional life)?  Yes, of course.

Is it the fault of the game?  No, of course not.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Video Game Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

It does exist. Is it special? no. It's just like any other addiction (short of physical and mental addictional substances like drugs), it's just this is new and the elderly and sometimes parents don't understand it so they view it as the ill's of society. Many parents would complain that you play games whether you got admitted to a professional team or not, but few would complain if you were playing football with your friends at 6:00 pm.

 
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MaskedPixelanteProbably dihydrogen monoxide, the most dangerous substance in the universe.09/21/2014 - 10:14am
james_fudgewell I hope he called the police so they can let us all know.09/21/2014 - 9:07am
quiknkoldIt's pretty gnarly. Depending on what it is, it could be worse than white powder or a fake bomb.09/21/2014 - 9:06am
james_fudgeI just looked it up on UPS.com09/21/2014 - 8:56am
james_fudgeand expensive for an American to ship to London.09/21/2014 - 8:55am
E. Zachary KnightThat is pretty scary. Would have been worse if it were a fake bomb or white powder.09/21/2014 - 8:49am
quiknkoldThere's some more tweets regarding it with more pictures09/21/2014 - 8:09am
quiknkoldMilo Yiannopoulos was mailed a syringe filled with clear liquid. He claims it's anti gamergate harassment. Mentioned on his twitter twitter.com/Nero/status/51366668391625523209/21/2014 - 8:07am
Andrew EisenNow, having said that, what sites are you reading that are claiming that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem" or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"? Or was that hyperbole too?09/21/2014 - 1:03am
Andrew EisenFirst of all, ONE person in the Shout box suggested an obligation to call harassers out on their harassing but only after YOU brought it up. Plus, Techno said "when you see it happening." If you don't see it, you're not under any obligation.09/21/2014 - 1:02am
Sleaker@Craig R. - at this point I don't even know what the hashtags are suppsed to be in support of. what does GamerGate actually signify.09/21/2014 - 12:21am
Sleaker@AE - Hyperbole for the first 2, but it seems like some of the comments in the shout are attempting to place blame on fellow gamers because they aren't actively telling people to stop harassing even though they don't necessarily know anyone that has.09/21/2014 - 12:16am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Who the heck are you reading that is claiming "all gamers are bad," we "need to pass laws or judgement on all gamers," that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem," or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"?09/20/2014 - 9:44pm
erthwjimhe swatted more than just krebs, I think he swatted 30 people http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/05/teen-arrested-for-30-swattings-bomb-threats/09/20/2014 - 9:31pm
Craig R.Btw, the guy who swatted security expert Brian Krebs? He got picked up recently. It can be done.09/20/2014 - 8:55pm
Craig R.Such things are not done in a vacuum... hence why the 4chan and other logs show what fools you've all been, tricked into doing the trolls' work09/20/2014 - 8:49pm
Sleaker@Technogeek - How do you call someone out that anonymously calls in a SWAT team, or sends threats to people?09/20/2014 - 7:04pm
Technogeek"It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so." I'd say you're certainly obligated to call them out when you see it happening.09/20/2014 - 5:17pm
SleakerNow if you disagree with anything in my last 2 posts then we obviously have a difference in world view, and wont come to any sort of agreement. I'm fine with that, maybe some people aren't?09/20/2014 - 5:09pm
SleakerIt also doesn't mean that just because a news outlet says that Gamers are the problem and you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem. It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so.09/20/2014 - 4:59pm
 

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