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Monday, July 03, 2006

My Problem With Addiction

It's not that I have one, per se, it's that I'm afraid people will start to think it's a possibility:

Too much gaming may seem relatively harmless compared with the dangers of a drug overdose, but Bakker says video game addiction can ruin lives. Children who play four to five hours per day have no time for socializing, doing homework, or playing sports, he says. “That takes away from normal social development. You can get a 21-year-old with the emotional intelligence of a 12-year-old. He’s never learned to talk to girls. He’s never learned to play a sport.”

In older addicts, compulsive gaming can jeopardize jobs or relationships. Howard, a 33-year-old project manager who asked to be identified only by his first name, started playing an online role-playing game about six months ago. He plays for three to four hours almost every day — more on weekends — occasionally putting off meals or sleep. His fiancĂ©e says he’s addicted.
-- Detox For Video Game Addiction?

To clarify, I've never doubted that for some people out there - gaming is a bad habit. And by bad habit, I mean they're being detrimental to their health. The thing is ... this can be true of many things and I don't think building focus on a singular topic like games is beneficial to anyone. I mean, examine these "symptoms":

Playing for increasing amounts of time
Thinking about gaming during other activities
Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression

OMG that was just last week!

But in truth, you can pull this apart and define it just like any other addictive behavior. Withdrawal from social actity. Distraction from everyday tasks. Most importantly is the same definition used to diagnose serious depression or other emotional issue ... what's the impact on your daily life? Are you sleeping? eating? For me, probably the most "addictive" thing I ever did in my life occupied nearly eighty hours a week for several months and disrupted not just my afternoon naps, but also my diet and social life.

Course, that was my job at the time. So you can see where none of this is cut and dry.

I'm all for people getting treatment. My fear is that moms will read an article like this and assume that if their twelve year old wants Mario for their birthday that they're some kind of budding dope fiend.

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Weefz said...

More gaming vilification. *sigh*

Children who read books four to five hours per day have no time for socialising either. A kid who eats, sleeps and dreams football player statistics probably hasn't learned to talk to people about non-football things. Someone who's on the phone to other people for four to five hours a day might not be able to do their homework yet somehow these past-times escape comment or are even praised.

Josh said...

Right ... and since the diagnosis and treatment is pretty much the same from one "addiction" to another ... singling gaming out as addictive isn't helpful in an informative way. I can see here one clinic might be more specialized than another ... but I bet a golf addict could go to this place to get help just as much as someone who quit their job to play more EverCrack.

Patrick Dugan said...

Gaming is the only thing thats kept me from becoming a raging drug addict.

Jason "Botswana" Cox said...

I walked into a bookstore today and, even though money is tight, purchased $25 worth of books because I just had to have them. I even stood there in line thinking "We can't afford this right now. I should put these books back. I'll find them later." I didn't, I bought them anyway. I have a serious book addiction right now.

Things you won't ever see in an after-school special...

My point is, anything can be an addiction. Games are being villified as an addiction because right now gaming is evil so far as the media and politicians are concerned. Thus we must "cure" gamers.

Sadly I don't know what the ill effects of gaming are. I think I'm much more concerned about curing alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, and compulsive eaters. I think there are far worse damaging addictions right now. When people start knocking over convenience stores so they can get the money to pay their WoW subscription, then we'll talk.