I came across this article, thought it’d be interesting to talk about.
I thought I was addicted to gaming, but as I get older I play less and less, and am much more choosy about what I play. I can also go without games (or phones) for quite a while. For a holiday this year I just turned my phone off. Felt like disconnecting from the matrix.
Then again…I do have 2000 odd hrs in Age of Wonders 3…
So, can you be addicted to gaming, or is it something you do when you are bored etc?
What do you mean, “addicted”? Chemically addicted? Because from what I know, that’s not really a thing, you’re not putting anything into your body.
Addicted as in, you end up wasting more time / money than you should, thinking about it too much? Yeah, sure you can. And it’s not like the companies aren’t spending money trying to figure out how to fine tune their systems to ensure you get hooked.
Ending up “addicted” because you have a personality that’s inclined towards that and the game is just awesome, I don’t have much of a problem with. Eventually you’ll get bored with it, I imagine. And it’s not like you can’t ruin your life by getting addicted to watching movies at night or getting too much into fandom and doing it during work hours or getting addicted to conspiracy theories, etc…
Getting addicted because people who study the brain implemented a system to make sure you get addicted, that I have issues with.
I browse reddit’s StopGaming sometimes. It’s a support group for game addicts. Most of the people there play because there’s something missing in their lives, which agrees with that study. That was my problem as well when I played way too much twenty years ago. I took steps to improve things and didn’t feel like playing anymore.
I definitely feel like I’m addicted to gaming, but I think I also have an addictive personality. If a scoop of ice cream is good, than 4 is better. When I used to drink (before I should), I felt like I had to drink until I was really drunk. If I have gum next to me, I feel like I need to keep putting in a fresh piece and chew until my jaw starts to get sore. When I’m shooting for a leaderboard score I can try and try and try until I get it (although I’m not always capable of getting it). If I enter a grocery store I have a very difficult time not getting multiple treats and then eat them.
As far as something missing from my life - I do think that is kinda true. First, I have a great family. I love my wife and son and they love me. We do things together. Other than playing games I don’t feel like I have a passion for doing anything. I guess that’s not entirely true - I absolutely love hiking in the mountains (I just don’t get to do that much). I don’t have a drive or passion to do anything productive. By productive I don’t necessarily mean something that someone will pay me for. There is nothing I want to build or make, make art, play music, etc. I think it makes me feel empty - like I never do anything worthwhile.
My wife is the opposite. She loves her job. She always wants to have some productive project going on - she likes to build things from wood, bake fancy desserts, dabble in guitar, grow a vegetable garden, and just basically get things done.
I can never think of things to do, so I fire up a game. It’s an easy out. It’s not that I don’t like playing, but it’s like I’m incapable of coming up with anything else to do.
It’s like… people sometimes drink because they are unhappy in other areas of life. But stopping gaming cold turkey will never give you delirium tremens. There’s no medication to taper off gaming.
I can see how someone might get to the point where they “have to game” as some sort of baseline-maintenance, it’s no longer fun and turns into an unhealthy behavior. Maybe advances in brain-scanning techniques will reveal additional interesting neuropathy correlated with the behavior.
My personal feeling lies more or less in line with the following national geographic article:
Is it possible to pathologize just about any behavior? People get addicted to sex, and things one unequivocally needs to survive, like food. The addictive behavior is real, but perhaps there needs to be some kind of distinction between this and say, opioid addiction. How close are we to dipping our toes in the waters of behaviorism? How much is due to social norms and what is deemed “socially acceptable”?
It’s a very personal issue, and I don’t mean to undermine anyone’s journey of recovery. If something is bringing more life and a richer human experience, then I’m all for it.
Psychological additions are indeed real. They can apply to gaming as much as any other activity. One of the prime questions of whether something has become an addiction is whether the heavy participation is causing problems in your life.
For instance, is it causing you to skip work, causing relationship stress, or harming your finances to a point that you really can’t afford it? Those are signs of an addiction. Keep in mind that heavy participation can be just a simple choice of entertainment, and entertainment is something that people put a lot of time into when they can. Putting x hours into a game doesn’t mean one is addicted. Doing it to the point that it’s harmful to you is a key determination.
I feel like if I have ever been addicted to anything in my life, it was to World of Warcraft.
Glad I’m over that.
Gaming in general…? If someone told me tomorrow I could never play another game I’d be pretty depressed about it. I hope I wouldn’t go into withdrawal. But what if someone told me I could never read another book? That would be totally unacceptable and I’d rage against it. Am I addicted to books?
This is similar to what I was thinking. WoW is probably my largest time sink for games. The time doesn’t really come at the expense of anything else. I don’t blow off work or social engagements to play. But, if I am lazing around the house without much needing done, and I feel like playing a game, I don’t feel bad about the time expense. I’m going to spend the time fucking off in some way anyway.
Like you said, some people binge watch Netflix. Or are workout fiends. A lot of “I spend x amount of time doing y” almost comes as “film at 11: people like spending time doing fun things.”
That said, games like WoW can present problems. The persistent world, with the social aspect, presents a gaming world that is easy to get sucked into.
Yeah, you always read those stories about people keeling over dead in computer cafe’s from playing three days straight (or something) of some game. Or mothers who have ignored their infants and then some terrible thing happens. The challenge is to identify yourself as having a problem before you meet some horrible end.
I’m stuck on a stupid mobile match-3 game for 2 hours a day. I don’t understand it but I can’t stop because I’ve already sunk so much time and money into it. I should really be playing 2 hours of Destiny 2 or the new shiny but there I go.
Only time a game caused true addiction for me was Dark Age of Camelot. I would play from the time I got home from work at 7 until midnight, and on the weekends I was on all day, many times. Like from morning to morning. I remember being on late night relic raids for 12 hours straight…sleeping for 6 and getting back on. And I had a wife and kids and was dabbling in music at the time. Neglected all of that for some time.
When I was ay work or away from home I spent my time on forums or on character build spreadsheets.
It was a sickness and I am so glad I have never been addicted in that way again. Now, no matter how much I am enjoying a game, I have no problem ignoring it for days at a time due to other more important things taking up my time or simply because I just feel like it.
It traumatised me to the point where I don’t even dare play another MMORPG. Then again I played Warhammer Online for a few months and it didn’t have the same affect.