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The Real Story Behind Gaming Addiction 300

Posted by Soulskill
from the spotlight-on-black-tar-warcraft dept.
Gamespot is running a feature looking into the facts behind gaming addiction: what it is, whether it exists, and why the need still exists for objective research into the issue. Quoting: "[Richard M. Ryan, a psychologist and professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education at the University of Rochester in New York] thinks the lack of quality research into video game overuse will be rectified with time as games become more sophisticated in the ways they satisfy people's psychological needs. 'We have a lot of people, some in the media and some in the sciences, who are too ready to make very strong claims about video games, whether we are talking about aggression, addiction, or cultural estrangement, based on very little evidence. I think that is especially how the media often sells stories. Some commentators exaggerate risks, and on the other hand there are defenders of games who deny any and all problems and attack any perceived bad news. Games are relatively new in our culture, and such vacillation between hysteria and denial I suspect often greets any new phenomenon, from hip-hop to the Internet to video games. Both sides usually have some part of the truth, but it may be a while before at least we as scientists, much less as a society, have a coherent understanding.'"
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The Real Story Behind Gaming Addiction

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  • media (Score:5, Insightful)

    by polar red (215081) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:14AM (#27595447)

    based on very little evidence. I think that is especially how the media often sells stories.

    Really ?? I can't believe my eyes. /sarcasm.

    • Re:media (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak@ei r c o m .net> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @07:10AM (#27595885) Homepage Journal

      Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently called the Internet a "cesspool" of false information. I think he was wrong. I think that the disinformation present on the internet is merely a reflection of the disinformation, poor reporting and outright lies which have become pervasive throughout the media industry.

      My firm belief is that in an organisation, industry or society, the rot starts and the top and works its way down. When it comes to information and sensationalism, the national newspapers are the ones to blame for allowing standards to slip as far as they have. In their effort to fish for eyeballs they can sell to advertisers, they have allowed stories to be come more emotional, sensationalist and exaggerated, all while allowing accuracy, fact checking and the honest truth to fall by the wayside.

      When it comes to video games or any other activity seen as "fringe", it's easy for newspapers to spin up a story demonising the games and the people who play them. They want eyeballs, and if associating video games with addictive substances like crack cocaine can get them some, then that is exactly what journalists and editors will do.

      Keep in mind that most journalists nowadays, in the 20-35 age bracket, will probably have a games console and HD-TV in their home. They probably have a laptop and grab all the latest music, tv show and movie torrents. They probably (almost certainly) go clubbing, sleep around, drink heavily and take illegal drugs. Yet these very same people write stories and reports that demonise, sensationalise, vilify, and condemn every last one of these activities. They do this because it pays the money they need to fund the very lifestyles they are decrying.

      This rot has started at the top. With the newspaper industry. We have allowed them, time and again, to publish rot such as "video game addiction" and get away with it, with not a pip of objection from anyone. The game industry has bent over backwards, creating highly conservative [slashdot.org] rating agencies like the ESRB to self censor its produce. While violence is par for the course,(albiet towards aliens, Nazis or zombies) swear words in video games remain unusual to this day; "Fuck" is still reserved for only a handful of titles, and I cannot recall a single instance of the word "cunt" in any title I have ever played. Sex in video games, simply does not happen. Even Rockstar cut out the Hot Coffee content.

      But it's not enough. The media will never be satisfied. They will never acknowledge the extraordinary efforts which the video game industry has gone to to mainstream its content. To the media, video games represent an easy target, the attacking of which will produce enough of a spectacle to attract the eyeballs they need. Video games, and the people who play them, will never be given a break by a media industry that has become, in effect, a established and tyrannical bully, preying on those who cannot defend themselves for its own gain.

      In short, newspapers are rotten. Stop reading them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by somersault (912633)

        Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently called the Internet a "cesspool" of false information. I think he was wrong. I think that the disinformation present on the internet is merely a reflection of the disinformation, poor reporting and outright lies which have become pervasive throughout the media industry.

        That doesn't mean he was wrong - it just means that everything else is a cesspool of false info too!

        I cannot recall a single instance of the word "cunt" in any title I have ever played

        I'm pretty sure The Darkness has it.

        I don't see the big deal about all of this anyway. Some people are easily addicted/obsessed by things. I've spent periods in my life where I'd play Counter-Strike or MUD every night til 6AM. I think my Counter-Strike obsession was overtaken by a photography obsession, and strangely enough the 3 times in my life that I was addicted to MUDding, I ended up with a girlfriend a

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)
        Wow, very insightful, particularly the paragraph about no sex in games and the rarity of swearwords.

        It used to be the same with TV I suppose, I mean the first gay kiss on British TV happened decades after the first television broadcast, and swearing used to be a lot rarer than it is these days. Like some of the poster's above have said, whatever the next big thing is it'll probably take the focus off games and allow a whole new generation of sensationalist media reports to flourish. I can see it now:

        "
      • Re:media (Score:5, Funny)

        by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @08:51AM (#27596891) Homepage

        "Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently called the Internet a "cesspool" of false information. I think he was wrong."

        Clearly, you have never heard of Slashdot.

      • there is no such thing as a fount of absolutely impartial, absolutely trustworthy information. so go ahead and watch fox news... then listen to the bbc. then pravda. then read a chinese news site. then a venezuelan one. then an iranian one. finish it off with pbs

        in this way, by being exposed to as many different half truths as possible, from as many different sources, do you begin to actually see the real truth

        meanwhile, your prescription to stop exposing yourself to the media actually makes you more vulnerable to propaganda, because you have nothing to judge against what little slivers of info that do reach you

        this is the value of a free press: let anyone publish any goddamn lie they want. the truth will bubble up the surface, atop a rotting festering pit of lies. this is only possible with a free press. in countries without a free press, you are breeding weak flabby partisan minds who can not know the truth

        a free press, sleazebuckets of media (which is the way its always been, by the way, there was no glorious past of impartial media), is really the only way it can ever be. because there is no such thing as an absolutely impartial and trustworhty news source. they all pander to our lower instincts. and only through repeated exposure to this bullshit do you develop a healthy bullshit meter. and we all need that, badly

        so bring on the lies, the half truths, the propaganda, the demagoguery from all ideological sides. atop that festering pile of bullshit we will sit, with a good lock on the real truth. its the only way to discover thr truth, the only way media can work. the more free it is, the more festering lies out there, the better for your understanding of the truth. paradoxical, but true

  • by Shrike82 (1471633) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:15AM (#27595451)
    In TFA it mentions examples that have (or probably have) been used in the past to demonise computer games - the Chinese kid who killed for game money and that special American family who's son murdered his parents for taking Halo 3 away from him. The article (thankfully) mentions the probable underlying mental illnesses that contribute to these sorts of crimes, whereas the Jack Thompsons of the world see games as the cause of crime, rather than as a changeable variable that could have been television, film, a newspaper, food, a car, a curfew, and so on.

    I'm extremely pleased to see increasing research in games and their effect on our minds. It would be naive to suggets that they don't have any affect on us at all, and I for one am interested in seeing some (hopefully) independent research with meaningful results.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      ''The article (thankfully) mentions the probable underlying mental illnesses that contribute to these sorts of crimes, whereas the Jack Thompsons of the world see games as the cause of crime, rather than as a changeable variable that could have been television, film, a newspaper, food, a car, a curfew, and so on.'' The changeable variable could be PEANUT BUTTER! In every criminal residence you may find games, but you will find peanut butter!
    • by plover (150551) *

      Given that Jack Thompson himself is evidently suffering from several mental disorders, and at least one of those precludes his forming a coherent, logical argument, I would no longer refer to his position in an argument except as the subject.

      Besides, with him likely getting kicked out of Utah any day now, and nobody else willing to tolerate him, we'll soon need a new representative of the face of anti-gaming. Any slashdotters know of the next rising star in the "Focus on Fucking Up Other People's Lives"

    • whereas the Jack Thompsons of the world see games as the cause of crime

      I thought he saw games as an opportunity for a paycheck in reward for his lobbying efforts to save the children. I'm confused now.

  • Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:19AM (#27595465)
    People have played games for thousands of years. The only difference now is they've got more sophisticated. Even more recently, I remember people who were seriously addicted to RPGs in the 70's from Tunnels and Trolls through D&D to Traveller. People were muttering about video game addiction in the late 70's too and there's been a ton of research on it since then. I can't help but thnk this is just another case of someone really not being aware of the history of their pet subject.
    • Re:Not new (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cjfs (1253208) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:34AM (#27595515) Homepage Journal

      People have played games for thousands of years. The only difference now is they've got more sophisticated.

      Sophisticated is one way of putting it. Another would be to point out they didn't spend thousands of hours grinding pawns so they could finally take down that bishop.

      • >Another would be to point out they didn't spend thousands of hours grinding pawns so they
        > could finally take down that bishop.
        Oh I don't know, there must have been some reason Atari was named after the Go equivelent of Checkmate. Those little stones must have taken some serious polishing.
      • by Aladrin (926209)

        No, but they did spend thousands of hours playing the games and reading books about it so they could beat other people... And that's just about the same thing.

        People like to talk about how chess teaches you strategy. How much more does WoW teach you, then? It's quite a bit more complex and you are forced to interact with others and cannot perfectly control their actions. Hell, even Counter Strike has a lot of tactics.

      • by TaoPhoenix (980487)

        I don't know what mod your post deserves, so I'll post a Whoosh comment, but at least one that's not sarcastic.

        We spend thousands of hours grinding *moves*, which includes pawns.

        • by cjfs (1253208)

          I don't know what mod your post deserves, so I'll post a Whoosh comment, but at least one that's not sarcastic.

          We spend thousands of hours grinding *moves*, which includes pawns.

          But would you be content taking a pawn, resetting the game one step back, and then repeating the move for hours on end? Would it provide the same false sense of progress?

          No whoosh here :)

          • But would you be content taking a pawn, resetting the game one step back, and then repeating the move for hours on end? Would it provide the same false sense of progress?

            Well, maybe if it improved my ELO rating...

      • I do know chess players who have spent thousands of hours practicing. Not sure what the difference is...

      • by AioKits (1235070)

        Sophisticated is one way of putting it. Another would be to point out they didn't spend thousands of hours grinding pawns so they could finally take down that bishop.

        But the cheating bastard only moves diagonally! Nerf bishops! Pawns need love too!

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)

      People were muttering about video game addiction in the late 70's too and there's been a ton of research on it since then.

      I can't seem to find much actual "research" on it though. Sure, there's a lot of newspaper reports about fat kids playing MMORPGs to the point of having no real life, and lots of articles with anecdotes and hearsay.

      What we need is actual quantitative results in terms of changes in the brain, body chemistry, behaviour, routine, sleep patterns, social activities etc.

      • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @07:05AM (#27595857) Journal

        I think we need a little common sense. An obsession about anything is bad. If you spend hours and hours of your time _______ (gaming, watching TCM, taping music off the radio, drinking alcohol, polishing your car, playing cards, watching the stock market, ...) to the point where you end-up damaging your _____ (job, marriage, grades), then you have a problem.

        At one point or another I've been addicted to most of the stuff in my list. The item I was obsessed with was the symptom, not the problem. The problem was me and lack-of-self control. Everything should be done in moderation.

        • by localman (111171)

          I do everything in moderation.

          Help me! I'm addicted to moderation!

          But seriously, excellent post. Whenever I have found myself obsessed over something it was usually because I was trying to avoid something else.

          Cheers.

        • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @09:26AM (#27597409) Homepage Journal

          The item I was obsessed with was the symptom, not the problem. The problem was me and lack-of-self control.

          I can't speak for anyone else, of course... but I've found that every time I've become engrossed in something like that to the exclusion of all else, it was escapism. I was trying to avoid fixing something broken in my life. I would say this was true even as a child playing video games for hours; I could relate more easily to the computer than to other people because of my [lack of] upbringing. If you're ignoring your girlfriend to play a video game, you probably need a new girlfriend. Et cetera.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sammy baby (14909)

            I can't speak for anyone else, of course... but I've found that every time I've become engrossed in something like that to the exclusion of all else, it was escapism. I was trying to avoid fixing something broken in my life.

            Likewise, and well put.

            This gets to be a particular problem for me sometimes because of two additional factors - I have a daughter who is not allowed to watch me play (she's 4), and when tired I have a tendency to feel depressed. So I wait for her to go to bed, then start playing, which

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        Sure, there's a lot of newspaper reports about fat kids playing MMORPGs to the point of having no real life

        "Sure, there's a lot of newspaper reports about fat people having no real life"

        There, fixed it for you.

        Even better:

        "Sure, there's a lot of newspaper reports about people having no real life"

        Try to argue against either one ... they're both just as accurate/inaccurate/stupid/nonsense/insightful/trollish/whatever. Newspapers say anything that sells, because if they didn't they'd go out of business even quicker.

        When's the last time you saw a newspaper that reported the truth on the mortgage crisis i

  • Well (Score:3, Funny)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:33AM (#27595511) Journal

    I could tell you the real story behind gaming addiction but I need to lvl up my human mage to lvl 80.

    • by cjfs (1253208)

      I could tell you the real story behind gaming addiction but I need to lvl up my human mage to lvl 80.

      Unless it's your sixth+ alt, your implied addiction has been rejected ;-)

  • Absurd (Score:5, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:39AM (#27595533)
    That's PEW PEW ridiculous. I can PEW PEW PEW stop PEW PEW whenever I want PEW PEW PEW to.
  • by YouDoNotWantToKnow (1516235) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:48AM (#27595567)
    My view on gaming addiction is that, just like any other form of escapism, it is merely a symptom caused by various physical, psychological and social factors. In many cases, the subject would be addicted to something (possibly more harmful like drugs or gambling) anyways so the addiction is actually "good for him" in a certain sense. You can just grow up from gaming, unlike booze or crack.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by socrplayr813 (1372733)

      I really wish I had mod points for you. I think this hits the nail on the head. I used to use games to hide from my problems, so I do have an idea what it's like. Now that I have my life together, it's not such an issue.

      Everyone I've known who's had an addiction had some sort of stress that led them to it. We need to address those original problems first, then deal with the games. Though, I suspect a good number of those people will work it out naturally with the outside stress under control.

    • Just a second. I want to address the social diagnosis of addiction (i.e. that done by non-professionals). I've heard plenty of people throw the accusation that someone is addicted to video games because they spend a large chunk of time playing them. They want to think their diagnosis is correct but by itself time spent playing cannot be a good indication of addiction. You might ask why not? Obviously if someone is as much time playing video games than working something is wrong, correct? Well the aver
  • by line-bundle (235965) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:51AM (#27595581) Homepage Journal

    I find it very curious how addiction studies focus mainly on male dominated activities. I am sure if females did it it would not be called an addiction.

    Shoe fetishism is rarely called an addiction but I have seen women who spend their whole selves looking for the ugliest shoes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Swizec (978239)
      Damn if only I could mod you insightful.

      Instead I'll say you're being sexist! Don't you realise women are perfect and deserve special treatment? Stop living in a hole you anti-feminisim dirty pig!
      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @07:14AM (#27595923) Journal

        >>>Don't you realise women are perfect and deserve special treatment?

        Actually you're not far from the truth. Women are "perfect" in the eyes of the mega-corporations because they spend a lot of money shopping. Therefore a shoe addiction is not advertised as an addiction, but as a hobby or "pleasure" or "fashionable" on the morning talk shows and other corporate sources.

        • by Brandee07 (964634) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @07:31AM (#27596043)

          But a girl who spends 18 hours a day playing WoW is even more anomalous than a guy doing the same. A guy who does that is "just a nerd," where a girl doing that has "serious problems" and needs help, asap. Dorm RAs will try to intervene and get the girl involved in the dorm bake sale next week, but completely ignore the guys in the next room who haven't stopped playing Halo (or showered) in three days.

          Also, god damn it's hard to find a pair of regular, black, work-appropriate shoes that don't have 4 inch heels or are ugly as sin. Few things infuriate me more than shoe shopping.

          /female

    • Shopaholic? (Score:3, Interesting)

      Compulsive shopping is most certainly regonized as an adiction. As for OCD, that is often called a woman's disease.

      And gaming hasn't been male dominated for a long time. According to some survey's there are even more female gamers then male gamers.

      Certainly in the MMO I play voicechat seems to be female roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Considering that some females might be reluctant to reveal their are females online and the percentage of females playing Lotro might be as high as half the population if not m

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tygerstripes (832644)

        Yeah but, come on... it's voice chat. Of course it'll be dominated by women.

        (Kidding!! Sorry honey...)

      • >>>Stop being such a sexist prick.

        I enjoyed reading your post until I reached this part. It wasn't necessary to use the insult to make your point. ----- So you say 1/3 to 1/2 of all gamers are women? All the women I've talked to have little interest in games and look at me as if I'm strange (about the same look when I discuss Star Trek). Just from observation, it appears the videogaming is dominated by 95% men with just a few gals scattered here-and-there... like it's always been.

        • All the women I've talked to have little interest in games and look at me as if I'm strange (about the same look when I discuss Star Trek). Just from observation, it appears the videogaming is dominated by 95% men with just a few gals scattered here-and-there... like it's always been.

          Surveys of your friends does not make accurate data. I'm a girl gamer and all of my female friends play games, but I don't go around saying 100% of women in general play games. Though I doubt it could just be that I happen to only be friends w/ the "5%" - someone has to be buying all those Hannah Montana and nintendogs ripoffs on DS, and I doubt it's men/boys.

          There's been a number of studies over years showing that women gamers are a sizable group and growing. Here's one example: Women Gamers Outnumber M [gamedaily.com]

    • Try Facebook. Seriously. Not just women, mind you, but more than play CS.
    • if you look at a PET scan of a male mind, its a few bright spots, the rest mostly dark. if you look at a PET scan of a female mind, the whole thing is lit up in a low warm glow. in other words, the female mind is very balanced, while the male mind is highly focused. this results in all sorts of sexual differences in psychology, but when it comes to addiction, which is a sort of highly focused feedback loop to begin with, it means the male mind is in some ways more predisposed

      for example, you mention shoe sh

  • People with opinions at the extreme ends of the spectrum might not be right, and the truth lies somewhere in between? Please, give me more of this brilliant analysis.

    • Yes, but it's good to see that a reasonable and level-headed position is being entertained on Gamespot. If the gaming community as a whole can grow up a little (I know, I know, but bear with me here) and present itself as the reasonable party in this debate, it may do wonders for the credibility of their argument of "it's just another medium; stop scape-goating".

      Personally I'm very pleased to see this article published. I think it'll be a moot point in 10 years or so anyway, as more people grow up with roo

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:21AM (#27595665)

    So far, everything that our youth had a fascination with and was hardly, if at all, understood by parents has been demonized and blamed for all sorts of problems.

    Think back (ok, read up in your history books) about so called "bad books". Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn twisted and warped young minds in ways that are all too similar to what is now attributed to games. They set bad examples, they make kids act out what they read, they have no moral, show no ill effects of bad behaviour... then the kids that read those books grew up and, lo and behold, they didn't turn out to be maniacs and generally unfit to lead a normal life. The hype dwindled down, and now it's part of "America's cultural heritage".

    Fast forwards to radio. It was new, it was exciting, kids (and even some adults) spent hours in front of the box listening. When Wells' "War of the Worlds" was broadcast, people went into hysteria. And promptly, the radio was the source of all evil. It would cause us to be unable to discriminate between fiction and fact, it would twist our poor minds and warp us... guess what, the radio generation grew up, they didn't turn out to be morons, and the hype went away.

    TV was next. The picture boxes that ruined our eyes (ok, those old ones maybe did), that showed us braindead stories and turned us all into zombies. The TV generation grew up...

    D&D. Anyone remember Patricia Pulling [wikipedia.org], the Jack Thompson of the 80s? Yet D&D gamers grew up and they don't run amok in our streets fighting imaginary orcs and dragons.

    Now it's games. And the gamers will grow up and we'll find out that it's not so bad... in other words, just give it time. In 10 years, nobody's gonna talk about it anymore. But don't worry. We'll find a new scapegoat when our kids go nuts due to poor parenting and mobbing in schools.

    • by Swizec (978239)
      And interestingly enough, whether it's correlation or causation, the human populace has grown stupider and stupider (in general) with every generation ever since just before the first newspaper generation.

      Mass media - it will make you stupid, no matter what form it takes.
    • On the other hand, name a subject where mainstream public discourse is thoughtful and reasonable... It's not just the new and scary things, it seems like people just pick opinions on everything based on what their gut feeling and social circles tell them they should feel like about it and "discussion" in the media is several people like this beating each other over the head. There's no give and take, the issues don't even matter, it's proving the other guy wrong that's important.
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:58AM (#27595825)

        Unfortunately, "discussion" changed its meaning. Earlier it was "evaluating the other side's arguments, offering counterarguments, finding a common ground and something both sides can work with". Today it's "show them idiots that I AM RIGHT!"

        And I'm not only talking about afternoon talkshows and newsgroup flamewars. I even see it in scientific communities where I used to have very insightful discussions that actually ran along the original meaning. Both sides offered arguments that the other side could understand, both sides evaluated the other side's arguments, some were good, some were bad, some were better than mine, some were something I could accept as a compromise... and in the end, we walked away with something that both sides could accept.

        Today, even in circles that you'd expect to be a wee bit more sophisticated than the guest lineup of the average Springer show, you are faced with people that want to impress you with their (often enough false) use of technical terms and jargon to show you just how stupid you are that you can't simply accept their point of view as the only truth.

        It kinda saddens me. When did "being able to compromise" become "being too soft to get it your way"?

    • by plover (150551) *

      ..."bad books"...

      ...radio...

      TV was next. The picture boxes that ruined our eyes (ok, those old ones maybe did), that showed us braindead stories and turned us all into zombies. The TV generation grew up...

      ...and now the planet is overrun with complete idiots. I think you just broke your own argument.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It all comes back to control.

      Some people, for whatever reason, think they have a moral obligation to tell us how we should live our lives (don't watch tv, don't play D&D, don't smoke marijuana, don't drink beer, don't have sex). I'm sick of their bullshit, and I think we should viciously lash them as petit-tyrants trying to take-away liberty.

      • True, and I wonder where that urge comes from. Why do people feel the need to tell me (or whoever) how to live my life? Because their self imposed morals or religion tells them that doing what I want to do is wrong and they're jealous that they aren't allowed to do it?

        Umm... how about dumping your moral code if that's what bothers you? Basically, if you are jealous of me doing what you would like to do but are not allowed to because of a moral code that you put upon yourself, the moral code is what is the p

    • by iamhigh (1252742)

      Yet D&D gamers grew up and they don't run amok in our streets fighting imaginary orcs and dragons

      Wrong. The nerds actually do do this, only it usually happens in city parks (but you have to go to the "secret ravine" to see them). I saw an ad for some repo show and the guy showed up when they were playing "wizards" or whatever the hell you call it. One lady kept trying to cast a spell on the repo guy... I didn't catch the show, but I am sure it didn't work. BTW, it was a prius he was repoing; I thought that was fitting.

  • Funny thing ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krou (1027572) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:36AM (#27595735)

    If I was a kid, and ended up practising and playing tennis or golf for the majority of my day, got really good, was able to compete and win tournaments and make money, I would be considered a natural, a child prodigy with a promising future.

    Likewise, if I played chess every day for as long as possible, got really good and started competing and winning tournaments internationally, making money etc. I would be seen as a great example of skill etc.

    If I live and breathe business, every hour of every day, driving myself to make a fortune, to become wealthy and successful, I would be applauded.

    Hey, be addicted to real drugs and write incredible novels, poetry, or music, and you'll be applauded for it.

    So, if a kid spent the majority of his waking day playing games, gets exceptionally good at it, and was able to enter tournaments, win prize money, travel the world etc., would we then talk about his addiction, or would we be talking about his achievement?

    It seems to me that what really matters is the result of your "addiction", and the public's perception in terms of its "worth", not the fact that you're addicted. These stories about "game addiction" look at the worst examples and apply them to all, and that makes as much sense as looking at a sports star who burns himself out as an example of what sport does to you.

    Most of this is likely spurred by the opinion that gaming is simply a waste of time. When the value of gaming (in terms of wealth generation, improving mental ability, skill etc.) increases/becomes more well known, the less we'll hear about the evils of game addiction. So, bring on more studies to look at gaming's benefits, and bring on more investment into pro-gaming.

    • Re:Funny thing ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @07:08AM (#27595879) Homepage

      I think that many of these "addictions" you list can be considered harmful, actually. There are far more child prodigy instrumentalists out there than there are job openings for them. For every one that is lauded for his achievements, seen as a great example of skill etc. there are ten people who have spent an extreme amount of effort for very little return. This is why it's cruel to try to lead your child down that path.

      Music is the crown example. But it's very much the case with chess, sports, novels, etc.

      I think people would be happier if the ideals of Amateurism made a comeback. We might even get better art in some ways.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Shrike82 (1471633)

        I think people would be happier if the ideals of Amateurism made a comeback.

        Particularly in the field of pornography. I'm sick of paying inflated prices for rubbish movies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by socrplayr813 (1372733)

      The problem with that, though, is that not everyone has the ability to be a professional, be it tennis, chess, or videogames. Think of all the college athletes who were the star in high school, did well in college, then fell into a job selling cars or whatever. As Vintermann said, there are only so many slots open for professional players. It's fine to practice and be good at things, but not to the detriment of other aspects of your life.

      Also, keep in mind that games are much more accessible than the oth

    • in all of the endeavours you mention, 99% of people don't make any success in the field

      and this bit is especially ridiculous:

      "Hey, be addicted to real drugs and write incredible novels, poetry, or music, and you'll be applauded for it."

      nobody takes drugs and makes great art. rather, some great artists, after already having great talent, enter a stage of self-destructive hubris, and start wasting their talent on drugs. classic correlation!=causation

      your understanding of the relationship between art and drugs is kind of like the cargo cults of the south pacific: that if you build bamboo control towers and bamboo radar arrays, airplanes full of cargo will magically appear out of the sky. saying that taking drugs will let you make art is exactly the same sort if foolishness

      • by krou (1027572)

        Really? Tell that to Hunter S. Thompson ;)

        Joking aside, I do get your point. Don't think I worded it correctly. The assumption is not that the drug gave them great art. The point is that the fact that their output or "end result" made the question of addiction far less important and/or emphasised. It was simply not an issue because there was some form of value attached to the addictive behaviour.

        • yeah but (Score:4, Insightful)

          by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @08:58AM (#27596977) Homepage Journal

          there are millions of hunter s thompsons in regards to self-destructive behavior. thats nothing rare or unique. hunter s thompson, meanwhile, IS rare and unique, but not because of his self-destructive behavior, but because of his communicative skills, on top of his self-destructive behavior

          but people glorify his self-destructive behavior, when thats not what makes him a great artist

          my whole point is that the glorification of the self-destruction is wrong

          if you want to be a great artist, you'll create art. anything you snort along the way is baggage, not some intrinsic part of your art form... which is exactly what you said. i'm just trying to do away with the glorification of self-destruction

  • Games vs TV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:49AM (#27595781)

    I suspect this may come across as slightly trollish, but hear me out:

    The principle difference between gaming and TV is interaction - a higher level of engagement or involvement, and thus immersion, that a passive medium like TV can't surpass.

    When discussing addiction, I think it's worth noting that - according to the criteria used by most detractors - TV is also addictive. However, it is not considered harmful enough to be of equivalent concern. You're not likely to die from all-night sessions of Battlestar Galactica or whatever.

    I think the real issue is about more than just addiction though. I think it's down to the level of passivity or activity required to engage with the medium, and the control over the experience.
    TV viewing, by its very nature, trains us to passively accept whatever is fed to us. It's in the nature for society to accept and promote whatever maintains the status-quo - a survival trait, if you will - and something which encourages passivity is ultimately a benefit to that. There are also mechanisms for controlling the viewer's experience - you can't choose to change the ending to a film, for example.
    Gaming, on the other hand, requires engagement, activity, evaluation and decision-making, even in its more basic forms. It also trains people not to let things be, but to strive to overcome obstacles and improve their environment. Whether this encourages socially positive or negative actions depends on the type of game in which the person engages, which in turn is influenced by their social predisposition. It enhances rather than suppresses their psychological traits. There is also less opportunity for control over the medium - the way in which a person experiences the game - and so it could be a threat to social and societal stability.

    (I invite you to don your tin-foil hat in response to the above paragraph, but I've tried to avoid making a conspiratorial point.)

    It's no surprise that gaming has a highly addictive potential to those who are thus predisposed. The question is; would such an addiction be a problem? Where TV addiction is generally harmless to others, I think games serve to enhance the strengths and weaknesses already imbued in individuals by our society. The root causes of game-influenced behaviour are therefore much more fundamental than the game itself, and blaming games for the actions of individuals who are already thinking far outside the accepted norms of morality is a bit short-sighted.

  • Before we start blaming the latest Scapegoat Flavor of the Month (games, television, comics, that devil invention radio, the interwebs, those swinging rock n' roller Elvis hips) we need to ask ourselves this: when someone becomes addicted to [something], is there something missing in their lives that this addiction happens to be artificially replacing? If the cause of the addiction is not explored, treating the symptoms becomes that much harder - if not impossible. Now excuse me while I go farm more gold fo
  • you know that video game addiction exists

    i don't know if it's just a certain kind of mentality that can't escape this sort of absorbing foray into micromanagement, but for me, it was basically an experience of "just one more turn"... i look down, the sun is setting... i look up, and the sun is coming up

    how the hell did that happen?

    i had to destroy the cd the game came on, if i wanted to keep a relationship and a job

  • The fact is that a few psychologists had patients with a problem, and suddenly a large number of them were expertly qualified to treat this problem. They've done the same for years with internet use, arcade games, hacking, and a problem of the year going back decades. They act as if the thing is addictive and the person is a victim of a disease. They make big money treating people with whatever happens to be their favorite technique whether or not it works. They can't know whether it does or not because the

  • I can quit playing solitaire any time.

            mark "verbiage carefully chosen"

  • Once I got my ADD sorted out, video games became much less addictive. In my case all I needed to do is remove artificials from my diet:

    The Lancet: Food additives and hyperactive behaviour [thelancet.com]

    For many people it's more complicated but it's a great place to start.

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