Rewind Wednesday – Video Game Addiction: Level 1

Standard

Video game addiction is a topic that flares up just about as often as the devastating Southern California wild fires. Which is to say that every year the words “video games” and “addiction” get tossed into the media blender. Unquestioningly accepted as truth, the case for video game addiction is built upon statements such as,  ”My son plays My Little Pony’s Adventures in 128 Bit Land x-amount of hours, he must be an addict!” Is it fair though to compare video games to something as addictive as sex, drugs or alcohol? Take a look at the following DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition) Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Dependence entry below:

A maladaptive pattern of alcohol use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three or more of the following seven criteria, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

  • a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
  • b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.

2. Withdrawal, as defined by either of the following:

  • a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to DSM-IV for further details).
  • b) Alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

3. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.

4. There is a persistent desire or there are unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.

5. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol or recover from its effects.

6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.

7. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the alcohol (e.g., continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption).

Now, I can see how video game “addiction” can be compared to alcohol dependence. There are many similarities:

  • The Time Escalation Component: Where the gamer increases his gaming time as he becomes more engrossed in the game.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Especially from games that employ the “carrot on a stick” philosophy (“just have to get to the next level…”).
  • Gaming Culture: Checking out video game web sites through out the day. Reading the latest walkthrough and immersing oneself into the particular game’s community.
  • The Social Sacrifice: Family, friends and loved ones fall to the wayside as the gamer becomes more immersed in the game. This, in my opinion, is when things become a problem. The gamer has lost any sort of balance between the digital and the real. Welcome to the world of escapism.

What do you think?

  • Are video games and alcohol on the same level?
  • Do we overuse the word addiction?
  • Is this a matter of what society deems acceptable?
  • Could you apply what was written above to your favorite hobby?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

Digitally Numb: How Media And Video Games Desensitize Us

Standard

Last week, I wrote a series on video game addiction. If you haven’t had a chance to read my posts, you can catch up on them here, here and here. This week, I would like to shift gears and talk about another video game related topic, desensitization. 

Desensitize –  To make a person emotionally insensitive or unresponsive, as by long exposure or repeated shocks. – American Heritage Medical Dictionary

“What are you looking at?”

Sometime in the first grade, Jacob, the next door neighbor boy, invited me and a few other neighbors over for a sleep over birthday party. I remember playing with whatever toys he had received that evening and then watching the movie Aliens. Up until that point, my parents had protected me pretty well. Sure the other neighbor boys, Jeff and Joe, had introduced me to the Jaws film series–which made me seriously afraid of swimming pools and water, especially water.–. Aliens, though, was on a whole new level. Though my memory is a bit fuzzy, I clearly remember heads exploding into pudding-like goo, aliens decimating humans and a woman fighting to protect a little girl. To make matters worse, after watching the movie we slept outside, in a tent, in the backyard. Away from parents and terrified, one of the neighbor boys, Jeff, left at 2am and walked home. I struggled to sleep that night.

The media that we consume, whether it is of the interactive nature such as video games or more passive such as a film, serves to desensitize our very souls. With each repeated gameplay session/ viewing, we further and further become numb to that which at one time terrified us. The soul begins to develop callouses as a learning and as a defense mechanism. Subconsciously and consciously, we then seek out the next thrill, the next experience that will only ultimately numb us from whatever level of violence or emotion we just encountered.

This week, I’d like to talk a bit more on this subject of desensitizing our souls. To share my personal stories, those of others and examine whether this innocence lost is simply a rite of passage or somehow a good thing. I invite you to join me in this conversation in either the comments section below, Twitter or via email.

Note (3/21/12): I would like to take a bit more time to think through this topic. Expect a re-visit sometime in the near future. Again, if you have any thoughts please feel free to share. Thanks!

Video Game Addiction: Level 3

Standard

Think of gaming like you would think of reading a book…when you sit down to read a book, you are totally in it…but then you close it…you are done. I think gaming should be like that. – Scott

The problem with video games as a hobby is that the hobby doesn’t stop when the game is turned off. Magazines, web sites, and discussion boards further fuel what can easily become a second obsession, the video game culture itself.

Through out the day, I find myself visiting various video game related sites to check out the latest news, reviews and editorials–all of course happening on pre-determined breaks–. Quite quickly, this habit can become distracting as my thoughts all rotate around my hobby. Now I am sure that a sports nut checks the stats of his favorite teams/ players through out the day. People desire to stay connected to that which they like. However, I have had times where I have needed to cut back. I have found that all the professional and enthusiast press chatter can actually serve to depreciate my love of gaming. Sometimes one has to experience the artwork without the critic’s comments coursing through the back of his mind.

| .:. |

My good friend Cory Anderson, of teencounselingsd.com, saw that I was writing this series on video game addiction and wrote me the following (thanks Cory!):

A book I highly recommend on the subject is called Hyperstimulation by Georgianna, Underhill, and Kelland. I know two of the authors, they worked on the teen addiction recovery book with me.
Another simple principle we use to distinguish addiction is “the 4 C’s”:
1) Can’t control – there is a pattern of out of control behavior
2) Consequences – severe consequences due to the compulsive behavior (related to relationships, work, school, legal or health)
3) Can’t stop – even in light of the consequences present
4) Coping mechanism – using the behavior to numb or escape difficult life or emotional circumstances
Hope this helps further the cause, you and the other blogger are doing a great service!

Video Game Addiction: Level 2

Standard

Jordan Ekeroth, over at Follow & Engage, has been writing a series on video game addiction lately. In his second post, “Engage: Game Addiction Part 2”, Jordan says that gaming can be “compulsive”. I couldn’t agree more.

I have witnessed the devastation of video gaming taken to the level of obsession. Which is to say the hobby taken to levels where a gamer’s health, relationships, and job become affected. In college, I remember guys on my dorm floor staying up until all hours of the night playing the latest game. For some this was perfectly normal behavior as they used video games as a means to blow off stress in between homework sessions; For others, video games were the only thing they lived and breathed. As the sun rose and fell, they played with little regards for personal hygiene or school work in general. Those that fed this obsessive behavior either wizened up after a devastating semester of failing grades or dropped out.

College, in particular, is an interesting time of learning all about personal responsibility and life in general. I remember what I consider to be a “lost summer”. I had driven home to California from my college in East Texas. I had left my girlfriend, my friends, and the sheltered life that college brings–sheltered from reality that is–. In an effort to have fun and just chill out, I ended up playing World of Warcraft that entire summer. Day and night, night and day, I sat at my parent’s kitchen table and leveled my character. Working hard to out level my friends who worked during the day. I feel stupid talking about this now, as that time seems like time completely wasted, but it is what it is. I was obsessed over the game.

My personal relationships began to suffer during this time. I drove my parents nuts, almost lost my girlfriend, and did nothing to grow myself physically/ spiritually. What I do know from my experience is that:

  • I will never again let a game control me like that, ever.
  • Video games, as with any other media medium, can quickly become an easy way to disengage and escape from reality. For me during this time, I was escaping getting a job for 3 months and trying to ignore the nagging of my Mom to get a job (she was right!).

What about you? Are video games more than just a hobby?

Video Game Addiction: Level 1

Standard

Video game addiction is a topic that flares up just about as often as the devastating Southern California wild fires. Which is to say that every year the words “video games” and “addiction” get tossed into the media blender. Unquestioningly accepted as truth, the case for video game addiction is built upon statements such as,  “My son plays My Little Pony’s Adventures in 128 Bit Land x-amount of hours, he must be an addict!” Is it fair though to compare video games to something as addictive as sex, drugs or alcohol? Take a look at the following DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition) Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Dependence entry below:

A maladaptive pattern of alcohol use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three or more of the following seven criteria, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.

b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.

2. Withdrawal, as defined by either of the following:

a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to DSM-IV for further details).

b) Alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

3. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.

4. There is a persistent desire or there are unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.

5. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol or recover from its effects.

6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.

7. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the alcohol (e.g., continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption).

Now, I can see how video game “addiction” can be compared to alcohol dependence. There are many similarities:

  • The Time Escalation Component: Where the gamer increases his gaming time as he becomes more engrossed in the game.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Especially from games that employ the “carrot on a stick” philosophy (“just have to get to the next level…”).
  • Gaming Culture: Checking out video game web sites through out the day. Reading the latest walkthrough and immersing oneself into the particular game’s community.
  • The Social Sacrifice: Family, friends and loved ones fall to the wayside as the gamer becomes more immersed in the game. This, in my opinion, is when things become a problem. The gamer has lost any sort of balance between the digital and the real. Welcome to the world of escapism.

What do you think?

  • Are video games and alcohol on the same level?
  • Do we overuse the word addiction?
  • Is this a matter of what society deems acceptable?
  • Could you apply what was written above to your favorite hobby?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

Friday Sing Along!

Standard

Phew. What a long crazy week! As the countdown to summer approaches, I don’t know about you, but spring fever is hitting hardcore. Others around the world must be feeling this as well (even though its not spring everywhere). Below you will find a collection of odds and ends from through out the week. So sing along with JBG…

it's a world of laughter, a world or tears its a world of hopes, its a world of fear theres so much that we share that its time we're aware its a small world after all...

1. Number 1 on our countdown is a delightful story of a little boy with rage issues. You see, his parents took his keyboard away as a disciplinary measure. So, the kid bludgeons his dad with a sledgehammer while he is sleeping. Mom, scared stupid, gives the 14 year old his keyboard back. The kid takes the keyboard and plunges right back into playing games (which is why his keyboard was taken away in the first place). Scary. – For the full story click here.

its a small world after all its a small world after all its a small world after all its a small, small world!

2. Number 2 in the news of the weird this week, a Wii Fit accident leads to sexual addiction. Don’t believe me? Click on over here then for more. If you dare…

There is just one moon and one golden sun And a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide And the oceans are wide It's a small small world (repeat chorus)

3. Finally, number 3 on our countdown is a bit of a cheat. The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced a curfew for young gamers this week. For more on this click here or here.

It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all

And to answer the person who searched for “why am i paying $15 a month to be harassed by wow players”…I truly don’t know. 🙂

It’s a small world after all, it’s a small small world.

Song stuck in your head? Too bad.

Until next week. Good bye! Adios! Ciao!

Curfew

Standard

South Korea: Known for housing some of the worst video game addicts in the world. Home of news reports regarding parental neglect/ infant death due to the parents being addicted to a popular MMO.

Earlier this week, the war against gaming addiction heated up when the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced a new curfew for online games (as reported in The Korea Herald). The ministry is attempting to shoulder the personal responsibility some of its citizens lack. Baby deaths due to obsessive gaming are to be a thing of the past.

Under the ministries new ban, young players will have options to choose between three six hour black-out times. Lame titles such as Maple Story and Mabinogi are being targeted in addition to 17 other titles.

Could this be the end of South Korea as we know it? For a nation that sits on the verge of nuclear annihilation from its northern neighbor, I can understand its citizens wanting an escape. With a mandatory sentence — service! — in the nations military, I think it is only fair to let the young waste their time away. Perhaps the children should even be allowed to play for free?