Addiction is a rather widespread subject nowadays, and, inevitably, has touched also the gaming industry. But before going deep into this matter, let’s define what addiction is: with a quick search on Google, I’ve found this definition to be quite satisfactory ‒ a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble).
A strong and harmful need to regularly do something. This is where gaming can be framed and called an addiction by the very quick tag-shooters out there, and I agree. Although games, in my opinion, are the purest embodiment of personal and group entertainment, having fun is something everyone wants to get as much as possible ‒ the whole endorphin rush is bliss.
Searching the internetz for this article, I’ve come across a website that aims to help people that are addicted to gaming ‒ www.video-game-addiction.org ‒ and I’ve found a page titled Top 5 Signs You Need Help With Gaming or Internet Addiction. I’ll start answering them from my personal gaming experience:
You feel really happy when you’re online or when you’re playing games, but as soon as you have to stop, you get angry or upset.
- When I’m constantly losing I do. What can I do, I’m a sour loser.
You think about going online or playing when you are supposed to be focusing on other things, like doing school work or having dinner with your family.
- It all depends on the entertainment level. School work was almost never entertaining for me so, sure, who wants to do work instead of playing? Duh. My family is OK and I do need to eat, so I’d take a break. But I can’t blame someone who has that crappy family where everyone can’t stand everyone.
You spend more time with your keyboard or controller than physically hanging out with your friends.
- Yes. Because all my friends are doing the same thing. I live in an addicted neighborhood, what can I do. I need to belong somewhere.
Your friends or parents ask what you spend all your time doing, and you lie about it or laugh it off, but inside you know they may have a point.
- Of course it’s better working hard and achieving something great, but again, who would choose work instead of entertainment when they can? And when someone asks me that, they usually do it online ‒ oh, the irony!
You get up in the middle of the night to check your e-mail or your MySpace comments because you’re having a hard time sleeping.
- First of all, MySpace is deserted. Second, what should I do at 4 A.M. when my neighbor’s dog is barking like a cretin? Shoot it? I could, but that’s against the law. Surfing the internet isn’t. I’m a good citizen.
Although my answers can seem a little ‘trollish’, or I might seem that I don’t take these questions seriously, this was my teenager situation back in the day when I was punching 100 hours/week playing video games. It was fun, it was rewarding and I had a ton of friends with which I discussed a whole lot of cool things, besides games. Medically, was I addicted? Yes I was! But in time, games became not so rewarding, other opportunities opened in my life that I found challenging and more entertaining than games and so they fell in my entertainment top constantly from then on.
This is what every teenager or grown-up should do ‒ find another hobby. Entertainment is something that should be a constant in our lives, and indeed, video games are a quick and easy source of it, especially for a teenager with lots of time on his/her hands. But they are also very limited, and usually don’t offer the whole deal. It took me a bit of time to realize this in my teens, but chatting with some people online is nothing compared to actually meeting them and going out to a bar to speak about your favorite games. Working hard for those levels is great, but it doesn’t beat the respect you get from your parents for doing something they can appreciate.
The only tip I could give for anyone who wants to pause the gaming a bit and take on other activities is that games have the smallest amount of entertainment you could achieve in your life. Don’t be afraid to try new things, daring things and also always invite your friends out instead of chatting with them online ‒ that will throw them off their guard!
I sometimes think what lousy grandparents my generation will be, with all the ‘when I was your age, I played this awesome game called DOOM’. Try to be more like your grandparents: ‘do you see that? I made it while trying to impress your grandmother’. Video game stories might be great, but life stories it’s all what we’re here about!