Video games such as Minecraft, Everquest, Candy Crush, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft have become very popular for adolescent and adult gamers in our society. Some of these games are played to cure boredom or pass the time. Others play these type of games to escape from reality, numb their problems, feel a sense of achievement and to feel as though they belong; this is when playing video games has turned into a bad habit. After reading numerous articles on video game addiction I would have to say that I believe this disorder to be one hundred percent real. People in our society have given up their lives for the satisfaction of playing video games and the effects are detrimental to the players, their families, and their communities.
Professor Douglas Gentile stated that games are so compelling because they satisfy an “ABC” of human needs; referring to autonomy, belonging, and competence. People in our society like to feel as though they are in control, they belong to a certain group and they are good at something. These factors all live within the video game community and are factors of video games played by well established gamers.( CNN) Professor Gentile also conducted a national study of 3,034 children and adolescents ages 8-18 in order to conclude how much video game play is averaged per week and how this amount effects our youth. The results showed that 65% of our youth report they have felt addicted to video games. The study also concluded that one-fifth of the gamers play video games in order to escape reality or their problems. Lastly, the average game play of children ages 8-18 ranges from 20 to 50 hours per week, in turn yielding a 9% segment of children addicted to video games. (Gentile)
Identifying if a gamer is an addict or just an extreme video game user is the factor that society has trouble pin pointing. Different variables must be present in order to determine that the video game user is actually an addict. Dr.Mark Griffith states that to be a video game addict one must possess six criterion; salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, and relapse. Salience refers to the act of video games being a crucial part of a person’s life, in turn taking over their thought process, and taking place of other activities such as building relationships. Mood modification is the concept of feeling a different type of emotion when playing a video game and not playing a video game. For instance, an addict may feel uneasy or agitated when away from their game rather then feeling relaxed and happy when taking part in said game. Which goes hand and hand with the concept of conflict (Griffith,Essau). When a person is away from their game they often bring about conflict with others due to their agitated feeling. These agitated and uneasy feelings are symptoms of withdrawal that effect all different types of addicts. Which in the end may cause gamers to relapse and sit in front of their game once more.
The six criteria above are common to many addicts not just gamers. The symptoms of salience, withdrawal, mood modification, conflict, and relapse are also common in drug addicts. The reason that drug addicts become just that is because they continuous chase the feeling of their first fix and that is the same for video gamers. Video gamers build a tolerance for the amount of time spent playing their favorite video game. The feeling of pleasure they get from gaining rewards and beating levels throughout a game is the work of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical in your brain that causes you to feel happy. This dopamine after time takes more video game action to be released which causes the tolerance of the addict to rise; in turn the video gamer must play many more hours in order to feel pleasure from the activity.(Drug & Health Blog)
Chasing after this feeling of pleasure is when the situation starts to become dangerous for the individual, their families, and the community. For instance, an American women by the name of Rebecca Christie was sentenced to 25 years in prison after neglecting her child long enough that she starved to death due to the fact that Rebecca was preoccupied playing World of Warcraft. Another sad incident like this occurred in China when a man by the name Xu Yan died after playing an online game non-stop for two weeks (Vice). These individuals are true definitions of video game addicts. Dr. Daniel King made it a point to substitute the concept of harm for conflict within the six criteria of an addictive video gamer. I find this to be more suitable considering the examples used above. When a person starts to substitute their real life duties and activities in order to submerge themselves in a game is when the addiction is real(King, Delfabbro,Griffiths).
Author Ryan G. Van Cleave shares his addictive story in the book “Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction.” He shares that his mind was so caught up in the games that he refused to turn away from that it actually turned him away from everyone else. He considered suicide when his family finally took action and ripped his video games from him. Ryan thought that the only thing that could make him happy in life was his video games, the only one that was ever there for him through thick and thin were his games, and this is why he was so dependent on them (Van Cleave).
People that have become so dependent on video games find themselves choosing the game over their well-being. People who are as dependent on games as Ryan, Rebecca, and Xu were find themselves not eating properly, not getting enough sleep, falling behind on assignments and work, losing touch with family members and friends, and not keeping up with their personal hygiene (What is Video Game Addiction). Video games are all they know and all they want to know at that point.
The symptoms of video game addictions are as identifiable as those of a drug addict. When a person disconnects themselves from everyone else in order to play a video game is when a problem has come about. Putting video games before loved ones, education, work, and life in general is not the way anyone should live.Just like any addict the journey to recovery may be hard and the gamers may relapse multiple times; but after researching addiction in video games I have come across many recovering addicts who say it was worth it.
So, when people say “Oh there just kids” and allow their children to play video games all day and night, understand that they may be allowing the addiction to take over their child’s life. Video game addiction may seem silly to many but it is very true in the eyes of the family members of fallen addicts. Being able to connect with loved ones, find a purpose in life, and have passion for the world around you is a beautiful thing. Life should not be wasted in front of a computer screen living your life vicariously through a fictional avatar who does not have the ability to live a life as fulfilling as the real world.
King, D.L., Delfabbro, P.H., Griffiths, M.D.( 2013). Video Game Addiction. In: Principles of
Addiction: Comprehensive Addictive Behaviors and Disorders. San Diego, CA: Academic Press,
Gentile, D. (2009). Pathological Video-Game Use Among Youth Ages 8 to 18: A National Study
(5th ed., Vol. 20). Sage Publications
Griffiths, M., Essau, C.(2008). Internet and Video-Game Addiction In: Adolescent Addiction; Epidemiology, Assessment, & Treatment. Waltham, Massachusetts: Academic Press,
Van Cleave, R. (2010). Unplugged: My journey into the dark world of video game addiction.
Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications