One of points touched on by Bonnie Nardi in her book My Life as a Night Elf Priest is that of video game addiction. This concept interested me and I decided to research the topic and see what other literature exists on the concept. Here is a glimpse at my results.
http://www.video-game-addiction.org/ was predictably the first site I found after a Google search of “video game addiction.” The website contains definitions, links to helpful sources, and a phone number to call for treatment options. A quick perusal of the site resulted in a few main takeaways.
- Video game addiction is not currently recognized as an addition by the American Medical Association but is continually being examined. This does not, however, mean that there are not people whose lives have been adversely affected by excessive video game playing.
- The symptoms may vary from case to case and equally as important as time spent playing is the reason for playing. The most commonly addicted are those who use video games as an escape from the “real world” and play games such as World of Warcraft in which they can create a new identity. These games are particularly dangerous because they can never be “won” and there is always more gaming to be done.
- You are not alone. “Some experts say as many as 10 percent of all people who use the Internet or play video games are addicted to them” says the website (although no citation is given for any quote). Still, this website offers a place for the affected and their loved ones to turn for guidance and support.
My next thought was to check for online communities who have united under the shared topic of video game addiction. I found a online forum that represented a small, close-knit community of video-game addicts who are helping each other and spreading the word trying to help others. There is also a subreddit called StopGaming, which offers another place for people to come in their attempt to limit or eliminate gaming from their lives.
One of the more interesting comparisons was drawn by video-game-addiction.org. On a page of their site, they compare video game addiction to gambling addiction. Much like a gambling addiction, a video game addiction is not based upon a chemical dependency but instead upon a behavioral dependency. The behavior becomes a source of happiness, in many cases outweighing all other activities. I believe this is a good way to view addiction to the internet or video games. Video game dependency affects many people in today’s age, and it is important that we develop the terms and avenues to discuss the problem. As video games continue their integration into society and are no longer the new technology, medicine and psychiatric care will catch up and develop methods for treatment and prevention. Until then, there exists online communities to help those in need of support and guidance.