Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Games Entertainment

Fighting the Scourge of Gaming Addiction 614

speby writes: "With the growing popularity of LAN parties and other such channels to game (which the article at Wired doesn't mention) is it possible that gaming has become a real addiction? How can a person become addicted? And why?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Fighting the Scourge of Gaming Addiction

Comments Filter:
  • No kidding (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by RedOregon ( 161027 )
    Of course you can become addicted... just as you can become addicted to smokes, or scratching your nose, or giggling in an irritating way. What's the news flash here... I just don't get it.
    • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:51PM (#2661861) Homepage
      Looking at the actual Everquest Widows board, I noticed two things: first, that most of the people their blamed their partners for their addictive behaviors, not the game itself (and thus were not calling for anything resembling regulation, just to preempt that thread), and that second and more interestingly, some gamers themselves noted that the game was particularly addicting because it took so long and so much time and effort to actually accomplish anything in Everquest.

      That's what is interesting about this question. Most games have some sort of "payoff" device that is implicit when you play it. When you get that payoff, whether it is the final goal or some sort of intermediary plateau, you take a breather and appreciate your accomplishment. If a game defers that payoff and continues to promise it, it will become more and more of a time-sink. THis fairly much appeals to the natural structure of human motivation - it's *designed* to generate obsessive behavior.

      • There's also the mission phenominon.

        Take STarcraft. You fight like hell to accomplish the mission. You do, eventually, but then you're DYING to see what the setup for the NEXT mission is. You think, 'just a few minutes. Let's see what they're throwin' at me.' and it's all over.

      • it's *designed* to generate obsessive behavior.

        I'll agree that it sounds that way (the last MMORPG played was "The Island of Kesmai" and if anyone out there was a TAG feel free to say "HI!"). I wonder if the fact that it was designed to be addictive (and seems to be), might open it up to a potential lawsuit that games have so far avoided.

        Obviously games aren't designed to cause people to shoot others (ie. the "connection" so many pop psychs try to claim between violent games and violent people), however if a game is designed to be addictive and is, you'd think it should at least come with a warning label :) (not that I really believe that)

        A quick note on this BTW, Master of Orion III is in development, and one of the screenshots that was leaked (not on the official site), had a screen where you can set a timer to go off and remind you to quit after X minutes/hours/days. Very cute design feature :)
      • hurmph. I wonder if it could almost be a good thing. Used as a teaching tool. It used to be there were complaints. OH you get 3 lives. That's not realistic. Well with these MMORPG you get that little payoff but you want more and more. Kinda like real life. Ya want to go to college. Then you want to live off campus. Then your own apartment and a job. And your own car. And well ya saved enough, why not a house. Well that's as far as I've gotten in this curve. But I've seen more 'I want a raise.' 'A better car.' etc. So games are doing this more incrementaly. Kids _may_ realize that they'll never be completely satisfied and there's always something better out there. Ok enough rambling.
      • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:22PM (#2662076) Homepage Journal
        Most games have some sort of "payoff" device that is implicit when you play it. When you get that payoff, whether it is the final goal or some sort of intermediary plateau, you take a breather and appreciate your accomplishment. If a game defers that payoff and continues to promise it, it will become more and more of a time-sink. This fairly much appeals to the natural structure of human motivation - it's *designed* to generate obsessive behavior.
        Oh, for moderator points; this is so on the money.

        Behaviorism is a sinkhole of controversy (at best), but some of the results tell us a lot about (animal and human) learning: Anything that's rewarded immediately and regularly is reinforced quickly but can fade quickly. Anything that's rewarded infrequently and unreliably is reinforced slowly but is hard to "unlearn".

        There seems to be a family of disorders here. Single player game addiction -- I remember a SimCity session where I stayed up too late to go to bed :-| -- is one thing. Anything involving other people in real time, whether it's MMORPGs, chat rooms, or even online card games [unitedmedia.com], is probably even worse.

        God help us all when Star Wars Galaxies [sony.com] comes out!
      • That's what is interesting about this question. Most games have some sort of "payoff" device that is implicit when you play it. When you get that payoff, whether it is the final goal or some sort of intermediary plateau, you take a breather and appreciate your accomplishment.

        Many of the more addictive games have several simultaneous and independent payoff devices, so when you complete one goal, you are that close to completing the goal on a different axis. Party based RPGs have this, with each member having a different experience amount. The MOO/Civ type games have events happening all over the map, so you are likely to have several strategies being played out at once.
    • No doubt (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ArcSecond ( 534786 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:44PM (#2662198)
      Let's face it: most of us have engaged in self-destructive, obsessive, and generally dumb behaviour. Playing games more than half of the time is all of these things. I myself have issues with Counter-Strike, and there have been more than a few games that I've "played 'til my eyes bled". I have many friends who have become "addicted" to games, recognized it, and recovered. It's not exactly unusual behaviour for geeks.

      But because it's "normal" doesn't mean it's good. Someone else posted that somebody who spends all their time working as a lawyer would be praised as a "hard worker". Well, (disregarding the obvious jokes about the value of lawyering) anything that takes you over and locks you into a specific set of behaviours is bad. The great thing about being alive and human is the potential for doing new things. Doing the same exact thing for hours, days, months, years... that doesn't just make you an addict, it makes you uninteresting.

      Whether you're an alcoholic, a crackhead, an obsessive EQ'er, or Bill Gates, it just isn't healthy to devote every waking moment to something that diminishes your capacity to be an interesting human. Obviously, whatever behaviours these types of people engage in give them some short-lived boost to their self-esteem, but at the expense of their lovability.

      Do you want to be loved? Stop being so damn boring then, and take a fscking walk. Read a book. Hell, write a book... just do something different! Try to find a little balance in your life.

      That goes for you, too, Gates.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am testing the network bandwidth
  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:39PM (#2661738) Homepage
    but I have to get back to unreal tournament...
    • That's exactly what those educators were doing who commented near the end of the wired artice: "No way is gaming addictive". They had to pump something out for the reporter so they could get back to their online world.

      What scares me most is that many are either ignoring the topic - brushing it off as just another step in the technology vs. humans debate -or so completely immersed in the technology that they don't see it themselves.

      I used to have a serious liking to Starcraft, so much that in my youthful ignorance I created a *shudder* starcraft clan. It's not just exhilarating to kick someone's butt in the game, the instant acceptance from thousands of people online is like a hit of ecstacy right after your crack. You rock and everyone loves you :(

      Best fix for this: dump your gaming system for a p300 with windows 98 and office XP. The system can't do anything but work applications now, even solitaire is chunky.

    • you're "in a harry" to get back to unreal tournament.
  • because you had a hard day at work and you need to blow off some steam. so you load up HL or Q or URT and start killing people..it is very good at releaving stress.

    the best one though is GTA3....I realy hope that the PC version is multiplayer.
  • by scott1853 ( 194884 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:41PM (#2661756)
    Before it was called an "addiction" is was called a "hobby".
    • by GospelHead821 ( 466923 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:50PM (#2661844)
      Did you read the article? A hobby does not cause one to fail to attend school for a semester in order to play EverQuest. A hobby does not lead one to play Civilization for seven straight years. Yes, this is an addiction. A hobby is a healthy way of spending one's free time. When it reaches the point where the hobby begins demanding more than than you have free and you gladly feed it that time, then it is an addiction.
      • by denshi ( 173594 ) <toddg@math.utexas.edu> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:54PM (#2661879) Homepage Journal
        Did I miss an expansion pack? Where is the 'play for seven years' map in Civilization? What's the time scale on that mission?

        It's like The Sims, only someone is playing you...

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Nonsense. A guy once had a hobby - as a break from his day job as an Oxford professor and world authority on Beowulf, he made up a fantasy world populated by imaginary beings. There's $270 million worth of movies starting about it on December 19th.

        Another guy had a hobby - he wrote a version of a high level computer language for a hobbyist's computer. He's now the number one hate figure around here - not unconnected to his multi-billion fortune.

        A third guy had a hobby: he liked dicking around with a silly tin-pot version of a commercial OS. Now he's got a horde of slavering fanboys, and he's the only serious contender to the guy I mentioned just now.

        The point is this: your hobby can cause you to shut down the rest of your life. It's no bad thing: sometimes your hobby produces something better, longer lasting, more worthwhile than your day job. Day jobs - or being a student - can be soul-crushing, mind-numbing and ultimately unimportant (do we really need another accountant?) It becomes an addiction only when you want to stop and can't - not when it demands more free time than society dictates that you have.
        • Poor analogies (Score:5, Interesting)

          by matty ( 3385 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:07PM (#2661978) Homepage
          The 3 analogies you mention just don't work, since they all involve people creating something. The people playing Everquest aren't creating anything, they're just playing a game.

          And just because it's profitable doesn't mean it isn't an addiction. We've all heard the stories of people losing their wives, friends or their minds through an over-zealous commitment to their work.
      • Considering the overall decrease in free time that we have experienced in the last few decades, I'd say that sounds like a bad definition of 'addiction'. After all, there's no way in hell I'd have enough free time to build a detailed model train set.
      • I read most of the article.

        I considered programming a hobby at first. I failed a few classes every year throughout high school because I devoted more time to programming that those classes. Now I do it for a living.

        I wouldn't call myself addicted. It's something I like to do. I would do it 24 hours a day if I could, but that damn human need to sleep thing gets in the way. If it burns me out, I'll find something else I like to do.
    • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:16PM (#2662038) Homepage Journal
      Addiction is where a hobby becomes compulsive, even obsessive.

      Signs of addiction:

      Late, frequently, because one can't pull oneself away from the same activity.

      Broke or deeply in debt, because all one's capital goes into support of the activity.

      Deceptive, distorting truth or outright lying to cover signs others observe and ask questions about.

      Denial, all of the above are evident, but failing to accept that it's a problem.

      It's not an invention of psychologists. It's real and addiction to games, as much as drugs, alcohol, or any of a thousand other interests or passtimes has ruined lives.

      • It would be very very interesting to see what would happen if piracy were hypothetically made impossible for all games.

        Would we see not only college dropouts, but starved families of working men spending all their money on games?
  • I hope so (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:41PM (#2661760)
    As a 'pusher' (game developer), I hope they never find a cure. :)
  • by MoNsTeR ( 4403 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:42PM (#2661765)
    I only have 5 game consoles, and I only upgrade my computer once every 6 months! I mean, it's not like I have more games than books or anything...

    I'm in control, I can quit whenever I want! Y.. You don't think I have a problem, right?
  • Umm Hello? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rveno1 ( 470619 )
    How about a thread commenting our addiction to slashdot?
  • It's very simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:42PM (#2661768) Journal
    People with 'addictive personalities' can become addicted to ANYTHING.

    Period. End of story.
    • Even people without addictive personalities can get addicted to games. For me the addiction was Moria, Angband, CivII, and I think Star Craft. I ended my addiction by stop playing the games.
      I have hear talk radio shows about this and have heard all types of people call in to complain about their gaming addiction--even cops.
      Now, to figure out a safe withdrawl from my slashdot addiction. :)
    • by hansk ( 107187 )

      Like Slashdotters that are constantly adding comments hoping to build up Karma.

    • Not entirely true. Most anyone will become addicted to cigarettes after some exposure. I know of no one who is addicted to brussel sprouts. Humans are structured in such a way that they have exploitable weaknesses, and games are designed in such a way as to be as obsessing as possible. Some games are structurally more addictive than others - I know a lot more people who play Civilization obsessively than who play Freecell obsessively.
      • Yes, but certain people are more pron to addiction. For instance I smoke about 3 or 4 cigaretts a day for the last 4 years, never having the desire to smoke anything near a pack a day, and generally can not smoke anything for a week and not even care. But I smoke because I enjoy it, if I cough to much I'll quit for a month or so without much bother. Then start back because I simply enjoy them. Now by ex gf for example started smoking and immediently started smoking a pack a day. And when I got a computer for the apartment we shared she immediantly became addicted to chatting, and would pay no attention to me. I recently broke up over that. And I just don't understand the addiction, but it seems to be certain people, who are most prone. Though I'll admit at one time I was addictecd to minesweeper -grin- seriously.
        • Re:It's very simple (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Night Goat ( 18437 )
          I'm going to go totally off-topic here, but it's nice to see someone else who smokes, but isn't addicted. I tell people that I control when i do and don't smoke. They're always like, "Sure, pal, whatever." But then I don't smoke for a few months, and therefore break what is commonly known as cigarette addiction. Thanks for adding to my theory.
        • by Chester K ( 145560 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:23PM (#2662079) Homepage
          Yes, but certain people are more pron to addiction.

          I am not addicted to pron! I can stop looking at it anytime I want!

          ...oh? ... nevermind... nothing to see here...
      • I know of no one who is addicted to brussel sprouts.

        That's because brussel sprouts are unpleasant. People only get addicted to enjoyable things :)

    • Re:It's very simple (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil.angela@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:58PM (#2661915) Journal
      THANK YOU.

      It's not the game that's addicting. It's the enjoyment that the person gets out of it that's the addiction, and that can come from ANYTHING - computer games, video games, role playing, M:TG - anything that gives them enjoyment.

      I guess it's that if you find your games the most enjoyable, you get addicted to them. If you find your job the most enjoyable, then you're just being a hard worker. A lawyer that spends 80 hours a week working because she likes it is a good lawyer. A person that spends 40 hours a week gaming because she likes it is "addicted" and has problems. (that's how they try and paint it)

      It could be worse - some people turn to alcohol, drugs, or gambling, all much, much, MUCH more destructive than games or work. (except for maybe M:TG - that can do a number on your bank account that can match many drugs)
      • Re:It's very simple (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mad Marlin ( 96929 )
        It could be worse - some people turn to alcohol, drugs, or gambling, all much, much, MUCH more destructive than games or work. (except for maybe M:TG - that can do a number on your bank account that can match many drugs)

        Atually, drugs are a lot cheaper than most people think. A hit of LSD is usually US$3-6, about the same price as a movie ticket. Where a movie usually lasts 90 minutes, your trip will last 6-12 hours, sometimes longer. It's generally a lot more entertaining than the latest crap from Hollywood too. As for video games, they are usually $49.95 plus the cost of a brand new ultra-mega-hyper-voodoo 9000 video card w/10gb of onboard ram, a new Pentium9 666GHz, etc. so the graphics won't suck, making them a lot more expensive than drugs.

    • What is addiction? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:47PM (#2662229) Homepage Journal
      I think the term addiction is being misused in this case. Addiction used to be a meaningful medical term. Some substances are addictive because they build a physiological tolerance, requiring greater use for the same effect, and which, if use is stopped, turns around into physiological withdrawal symptoms. What you're calling an addictive personality is really an obsessive-compulsive personality. The obsession is the inability to get away from the whatever mentally, the compulsion is to engage in the behavior the obsession leads to. It's significant because addiction means bad and it is used to vilify all sorts of things that are really value neutral. Plenty of OCD types clean obsessively but you don't see anyone talking about "Cleaning Addiction" or suggesting that cleaning is intrinsically bad. No functional difference between that behavior and playing Everquest all night.
    • Law as an addiction (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hawk ( 1151 ) <hawk@eyry.org> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:51PM (#2662253) Journal
      I refer to myself as a "recovering lawyer," and that I've been clean for over seven years (since I last suied someone). However, it's not that far from the truth. Before I left for graduate school, I started asking other lawyers if they'd go back to law school if they had it to do again. My sample is skewed, because most of the lawyers I knew were either sole practitioners or in small firms, but 90% said no. Of the rest, almost all cited money as a reason--they had no other ways to earn a comparable amount.

      I was literally stopped in the middle of the street jaywalking by another lawyer who wanted to tell me I was his hero for finding a way out. They want out; they just can't face the pay cut. Grad school was a 90% cut from what I would have made the next year--and worth every penny. (I also had to give up the 35 hour work week . . .).

      I razzed another lawyer, a litigator, about eating the fish rather than the red meat at our 20 year reunion. He can't *digest* it, it makes him ill due to his stress. So why does he continue? He can't give up the money and lifestyle.

      A great many lawyers are caught in a living hell. They give up everything to stay in--family, health, sanity (yes, I know at least one who just plain cracked). And for what?

      Yes, I am still a lawyer, and have kept my licenses. I'll take antitrust issues and other matters which really want an economist with a law license. But I'll dig ditches before I return to general practice.

      hawk, esq.

  • by quartz ( 64169 ) <shadowman@mylaptop.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:42PM (#2661772) Homepage

    The last game I played was Metal Gear Solid 2. Nice game, but my wife got addicted to watching it because of the stupid long movies. When I finished it, she asked me to play it on a higher difficulty level so she can watch it again. :-/

  • I'm a addicted to gambling... and believe me, when you got $100 riding on a Q3 tournament, it's addictive!
  • by tcc ( 140386 )
    The Net alone is a real addiction, Gaming is just one branch of the tree.
  • Maybe it's indirect. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MulluskO ( 305219 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:44PM (#2661784) Journal
    Maybe it's not the games at all, but rather some substance or situation commonly encountered by gaming.

    CRT radiation - maybe this is why nobody wants to play games on LCD screens.

    Caffeine - Consumed in great quantities at LAN parties.

    It's also possible that the chemicals in a brain without sleep could be addicting.

    I'm sure Ive left something out (I've only listed three because I need to get back to Civ3) anyone else with some other thoughts?
  • Not that i would agree with doing thi, but I wonder if there have ever been any cases of suing a game company for creating an addicting game and ruining the gamer's life. I doubt that anyone could win such a case considering they can't even remotely try to pin 'violent tendencies' on 3D shooter manufacturers
  • But the good thing about it is that it is self limiting- you play the game, you reach the top, or you get bored and you stop.

    The bad thing about EQ is that it was deliberately engineered to play slowly- it can take person-months to get to the highest levels- most normal games are about a man-week (30+ hours). I found it boring; too slow to level and arbitrary, but I have a friend who was really into it.

    I think he's kicked his habit more or less now; but many people have had the habit for a year or so. I doubt that the same MMRPG idea will work with these eversmack heads a second time around nearly so well.

    Real drugs don't get people habituated in the same way- people end up using more and more of the drug- with games this isn't so possible, although people may play it very intensively for a while; but eventually it won't be enough and they get bored.
  • endorphuns (sp?). If you do it and you like it, your brain is likely releasing them. After that, you likely miss them and want more.
    • You want a real endorphine (correct spelling) rush? Get off your computer/video game console and go out and do something. Ride a bike down a mountain. Take your car to the race track. Pierce your nipples. Have sex. The adrenaline and endorphine rush you get from those kinds of activities FAR outweighs anything you'll get from a video game, no matter how good that game is. I do agree that such a rush is addictive, however. Just not in the amounts you'd get from playing a game.

  • the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:46PM (#2661810)
    I think the important point was in the last paragraph:

    In the final analysis, almost anything can be called an addiction if it routinely interrupts life's basic components, including school, work and relationships, he said. The important thing is balance.

    I doubt very much that gaming is physically addicting. But I don't doubt at all that -- for some people, in some contexts -- it can be psychologically addicting. That's not unique to gaming, of course, but it's certainly worth being aware of.

  • by Rev.LoveJoy ( 136856 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:46PM (#2661812) Homepage Journal
    It all started a few years ago when my girlfriend started collecting those beenie babies. She would pour over her computer screen for hours and hours surfing America's Garage Sale ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^ E-bay.

    I didn't know what to do with all the time on my hands. So I picked up a copy of Diablo. I don't remember exactly when she left me, but I know I had at least 3 battle.net characters that could fucking own on hell level!

    After I got bored with Diablo, I thought it was over, but things only got worse. My next girlfriend became an ICQ whore. Chatting with all types all over the world until god only knows how early in the morning. I found this great thing called EverQuest and I haven't really seen her, or my shoes, since.

    The downhill slide having begun, I was hooked. My CS skills are feared far and wide at LAN parties and my tollerance is so high that I can stare at a CRT for hours without blinking. Even those old ones with the 72 mHz refresh rates.

    These days, it's just get up, stumble to the fridge in the morning. The whole time I'm thinking about what the proper Civ3 build order is for a city on my cultural boundry. I lay awake at night thinking about optimal artillary placement in Empire Earth.

    If only Betty Ford had a program that suited me ... with phat net access and flat screens.
    -- RLJ

  • This "Slashdot" is far from my native land. When I click, no rocket fires. When I push my arrow keys, I do not sidestep.

    Longing to frag, I wait.

  • I'd say online games are far more dangerous than singleplayer games. If you're playing Quake for instance, you first play for fun, but once you get 'hooked' and get to know more people, you're beginning competition. For some, being the best becomes everything - It's 16 hours a day training some moves or improving your aim in Quake/UT/CS, collecting items and gaining experience in EQ/Diablo 2 and so on.

    Once you get admired by others, it's just a bigger incentive to train/collect more intensively to become even more popular. Even if you're not popular, trying to become it may develop into some kind of addiction.
  • I'd love to post (Score:2, Redundant)

    by anacron ( 85469 )
    I'd love to offer up my opinion, but I'm too busy playing return to wolf. I plan on taking a break in 10 mins, but I want to get a quick game of tribes 2 in. Maybe sometime tonight after my clan's quake 3 match, although my friend just gave me a copy of Civ 3 and I really wanted to check it out.

    Perhaps tomorrow I'll post after my 16-way Halo LAN. The folks that are coming over said they may want to play a little UT, so perhaps after that I'll offer up my opinion on how rediciulous gaming addiction is.
  • Sure you can (Score:2, Insightful)

    become...er.. addicted (for lack of a better term).

    If your gaming causes you to ignore loved ones to the point whe it affects the relationship in a dangerous way, ....
    causes a you to stop doing something that is required (IE go to work, pay bills... etc)....
    or it becomes an excuse for not doing what you KNOW you should be doing (i.e. I should be studying for a exam... but I NEED to show off my l337 counter strike skillz..


    Hey, all of us gamers (myself included) go off on a bender every now and then, but when gaming becomes your life rather than just a part of it.. then.. well

    get a life.

  • by M_Talon ( 135587 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:49PM (#2661840) Homepage
    When I was in college, I "lost" several of my friends for a few weeks because they discovered a MUD (Multi User Dungeon for the uniformed). They spent every waking hour down in the computer labs, only coming up for food when the delivery boy came. They neglected class, sleep, and basic hygeine, all so they could power up these non-existant characters which they would eventually no longer use years down the road. It was a pretty pathetic scene, and a couple of them actually dropped out of school because of it.

    There's a difference between playing a game all night once in a while and completely cutting off friends and family. In terms of mental disorders, it becomes a problem when you cause distress to yourself and those around you. I learned early on to walk away from the computer once in a while, and I completely avoid MUDs and MMORPGs because of their potential to addict. It's fun to escape once in a while, but when the escape becomes your life you need help.
    • I'm a long term mudder. I started in the 7th grade, did it a lot 9th-11th, and dropped off more in the 12th. I'm now a college freshman and don't mud at all.

      Here's what I can say. First off, Everquest and all the assorted rip offs just seem to me like muds with a few pretty pictures and a monthly fee. No thanks, I'll keep the text. Secondly, yes muds are extremely addictive. Yes, you can lose your life to them. But it is possible to mud "healthily" so to speak. I probably bordered on unhealthy for a period, but I never neglected my "real life" committments. I did half-ass jobs a lot, but I think I likely would have done that with or without muds.

      Essentially, I don't think muds are the addictive life-killers some people make them out to be. They *are*, but only to some people. As the insightful post up towards the top of this article said, "people with addictive personalities can be addicted to anything". The reason it didn't destroy my life is because I always have a drive to complete things I finish and do all that is required of me. I never miss assignments or exams. I procrastinate to no end and finish them at 4am, but I *finish* them.

      So yes, muds are addictive. But as long as you "mud responsibly", you should be fine.
    • MUD (Multi User Dungeon for the uniformed).

      Are you implying that our armed forces are ignorant?!?!

      As a recovering MUDaholic, I have to say "w,n,n,e,s,u", and I should add "pub".

    • This reminds me of an old roommate of mine in college. He had this little portable CP/M like contraption with a 2400 baud modem which he would dial into our basic school account (92 or so) and telnet out from there to MUD. Anyhow, this is what happened.
      He because SO addicted that he would be awake for 20 hours at a time playing (but actually making it to class) then sleep a few hours (6-8). So the time he was awake actually rotated around the clock, which occasional disruptions caused by actually having to make it to class.
      This burned him out in about a year and he went back to where his family lives.

      I had a problem for a few months, but was able to shake it off quickly, but not before racking up a new character to level 50 in 36 hours of straight play on "Silly Mud" (which was the last time I really played on a MUD)
    • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:23PM (#2662080) Homepage
      Wow, this sounds framiliar. I actually lost friends to MUDs. Actual memorable exchange from my freshman year:

      Me: "Hey, it's Friday and we're going to get a pizza and play some air hockey, wanna come?"
      Him: "No, I've got to attend a towne meeting in Midgar to figure out how to handle this whole issue of that newbie constantly breaking character, and THEN we still have to deal with the Orc invasion."

      I'd always figured that most people who really lived in the MUDs just didn't have the social skills or friends in the real world and were compensating, but that wasn't really so in this guy's case. We'd invite him to go do stuff, while it wasn't mind-blowingly entertaining (movies, bowling, pool -- this was Wisconsin so we needed to stay mostly indoors during the winter), but he just couldn't drag himself away. I guess playing skee-ball with your friends just doesn't compete with slaying dragons in a telnet session.

      I think college really, really aggrivates the whole situation -- you're alone with no supervision for the first time in your life, oftentimes separated from your HS friends and without set responsibilites (you can skip class with no repercussions until the end of the semester, after all). Hell, in some majors, you can skip a majority of your classes and still C- your way though each semester.

      My SuperSenior year I knew a guy who was so addicted to EverQuest that he could not quit. He'd even cancel his account, only to reactivate it at 3 AM some day a week later and play for two days straight -- it was seriously like watching an alcoholic fall off the wagon. So, yeah, while gaming addiction sounds pretty funny at first blush, it actually is a major problem for some people.

      What to do about it? Got me. Hey, a 12-step program might sound bizarely overboard, but I'll bet it'd do some people some real good just to have the support there from people who don't just think it's funny.

  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:50PM (#2661849) Homepage
    From the article:
    The "EQ Wids" commiserate over tales of woe (one husband insisted on playing the game in the delivery room while his wife gave birth) and offer each other encouragement and company.

    In my honest opinion, if you can't stop playing a video game to assist/be with your wife during labor, then chances are you have several other problems that are much deeper-rooted than your addiction to video games!! ;)

    Seriously though, as much as I love video games, they don't come before my family, friends, or my health. If you can't pull yourself away from a game for the things that really matter in life, then you do need to get help.
  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:51PM (#2661862) Homepage Journal
    Game addiction is real and sad. I knew more than a few folks who dropped out of school because of an obsession with olde fashionede Role Playing Games, and have seen good, creative people get sucked into MUDs and never do a damn thing in the real world again.

    I've been pretty successful at keeping a Civilization-like-game addiction under control. When I fall off the wagon (Masters of Orion II, Civilization III) I spend a few weeks playing until 1:00 am and obsessing about the game during the day. Then I get embarassed and ashamed at the time I'm wasting on a persuit that leads nowhere. I'm a writer for cripes sake; I've been published in lots of places and I could produce and sell more if I put my mind to it. The time I spend in front of a computer gaming could be productive as well as enjoyable.


    • Then I get embarassed and ashamed at the time I'm wasting on a persuit that leads nowhere.

      So what, you plan to work 24 hours a day now? No wasted time to achieve optimum efficiency?

      As another poster pointed out, gaming can become an addiction, just like anything else can, if you have an addictive personality. But I fail to see why wasting some time playing a computer game is any worse than wasting some time watching television, hanging out at the mall, or any number of other activities that aren't exactly "productive".
  • Address the issues (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ixohoxi ( 170656 )
    Of course, there is no problem with letting off steam, as long as nobody is getting hurt. But isn't that the hidden "catch" in most addictions? You aren't hurting anyone else... until the "problem" becomes a problem.

    Someone who plays games here and there, to have fun, is not addicted. But someone who thinks all day about playing their favorite game when they get home from work, school, etc. and then spends the majority of their evening playing that game, has a problem.

    If nothing else, they are locking themselves out of society, because they choose to stay alone or with a select group of people so often. People who have 16 hour gaming binges are not addicts, but when they have them every weekend, and have 8 hour binges throughout the week, those people are addicted to gaming.

    Again, it isn't a big problem for those of us who are not addicted to gaming, but when the number of game-aholics starts increasing, the number of able-minded contributors to society decreases accordingly. Eventually, as with any "popular" addiction (nicotine, alcohol, gambling, sex) once the number of addicts reaches "critical mass" the society as a whole becomes affected.
  • Addiction is right! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FreakyGeeky ( 23009 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:53PM (#2661877)

    I've been running Counter-Strike servers for a couple years now. One thing I've always done is provide nightly player statistics for the previous 30 days. I've seen people hit over 14 solid days of gameplay in a given 30-day period!

    Assuming that these people sleep every once in a while suggests that they're playing CS nearly every waking minute. Currently, the "worst" player on my biggest server has logged seven days in the last thirty.

    One guy's longest single session was 9 hours! Wow.

  • by thelenm ( 213782 ) <mthelen@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:56PM (#2661896) Homepage Journal
    "It's really destroyed a lot of marriages," said Tony, whose wife had an affair with her make-believe husband.

    Man, this is a sentence I wouldn't expect to see anywhere but The Onion.
  • ...but I know quite a few people who are addicted to MMORPGs, Everquest and UO in particular.

    Addiction is something that, for the most part, exists on a chemical and/or psychological level. From what I understand, the general opinion amongst people who study these things is that a chemical addiction (lets say, nicotine) is easier to break and eventually beat than a psychological addiction (lets say, your average sexual fetish). In my opinion, gaming as a whole is neither a psychological or chemical addiction because, I believe, for the most part gamers can and do go for extended periods of time without gaming. Be it a holiday away from home, final exams, whatever. I consider myself an avid gamer and, quite frankly, there are times when I simply can't be bothered to game.

    But, I have friends and family that are players of UO and Everquest and I believe they fit the profile of people who are psychologically addicted to the experience. Their personalities change, sometimes drastically when they do not get their fix. The amount of money they are willing to spend, not just in monthly fees but in expansion packs, strategy guides, virtual items on eBay, etc seems almost silly when your realize the money spent goes towards existence in a virtual society. To top it all off, these players are not only often doing very little in the way of "having fun" in the game, they spend a great deal of time downright unhappy with the whole ordeal. I know no less than five Everquest players who have sworn it off out of anger and frustration, only to sit right back down in front of the PC and play some more. If the EQ message boards are any indication, the number of people in the same mindset numbers in the tens of thousands.

    It becomes an addiction when you no longer feel that you want to play, but you need to play.

  • There's a fine line between an addiction and a hobby. Gaming generally is on the "addiction" side, but if approached correctly, can be found on the other side of the street.

    Of course, classic gaming has been stigmatized, and those who practice such often find themselves in the warez camps. But the intention is pure. Finding a hack to get that old commodore game to run on your AIX box with sound is a modest accomplishment. Also, browsing garage sales and auctions in search of archaic hardware now could be your own personal goldmine 50 years from now, when such stuff is harder to find. Surely being an expert in such matters is admirable.

    And, many games teach you about life. For me, it's roller-coaster tycoon. Others are brought in by the extremely popular civ set. Making quick decisions and taking calculated risks are skills that are marketable in today's type of work force.

    Lastly, there's those people who using gaming to become better at there career. Race-car drivers, Air Force pilots, and the like have more training resources available to them because of the gaming industry. Those of us unlucky enough to not have such careers, can become more well-rounded by using these games to learn.

    Of course, you can find just as many negatives as positives. I'll leave that argument to someone else. I've got to finish my work so I can go home and play my playstation 2.
  • Perhaps the best test as to whether you're addicted to a game is whether you still enjoy it.

    If you honestly enjoy playing a game into the wee hours of the morning, you're doing fine. If you do this 30 days in a row, and you're still having lots of fun (and you still have your job) - you've got yourself a happy life (and what game is this?). I wish I had a hobby like that.

    If you stay up because you feel like you have to level up one more time, you're addicted - quit playing.
  • And I'm addicted to gaming. It's not just me. In the game I play (Asheron's Call) most of the people I play with, play at least 8 hours a day. This is above and beyond the 8 hours of work most of us put in. Add it all up, and that means 8 hours to sleep, eat, be social, and drive to and fro. Do I have a problem ... of course. Do I want to change it? No!
  • Why it happens... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Da VinMan ( 7669 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:59PM (#2661922)
    This is all so true. I have found myself regularly addicted to various pursuits since I was a kid. I have found that the games to avoid are the ones with more long-term goals/payoffs. For instance, I'm not really addicted to UT or Q3. On some particular night, I may find it hard to tear myself away from "just one more" deathmatch, but that's it. Eventually I go to bed and I may not play again for 2 months.

    But then there are games where that's not possible. We all know the examples (usually RPGs, quest style, or puzzle games in general).

    Basically, here's what to avoid (I'm not a shrink, but this works!): Any game or activity with a non-determinate payoff pattern. In other words, avoid random (or semi-random) reward systems. UT doesn't fit in this category because I generally know how long a match will play and I usually have a good idea of who's going to school who. Zelda? Forget it. You never know when you're going to find the very next quest item.

    This is basically the same problem as an addiction to gambling. Don't subject yourself to the overall patterns, and you should be ok.

    Oh, and to everyone who thinks this isn't a real problem, good for you. It just means you haven't been bit yet. Good luck ignoring the problem though.
    • Oh, and to everyone who thinks this isn't a real problem, good for you. It just means you haven't been bit yet. Good luck ignoring the problem though

      You have to hand it to modern psychologists/psychiatrists and our victim-based society: we sure are convinced that everything else is the problem these days. Not addicted to booze yet? You will be. Never spent your life savings gambling? You will soon. These evils are SO powerful and SO irresistable, that no matter how smart, how responsible, how lucky you are, in the end, they will get you too.

      Or is it the easy transfer of blame factor that works so often in 'addictions'?

      (For the record, this is coming from a 10-year pack-a-day smoker who just quit 5 months ago. I just stopped one day, because I decided that I didn't want to smoke anymore. And in 5 months I reallY haven't wanted to since.)

    • Re:Why it happens... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MulluskO ( 305219 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @02:27AM (#2663876) Journal
      That's right, it's called operant conditioning, (let me get my PSY111 notes...) and games like Zelda and hobbies like gambling operate upon the second-most permenant schudule of reward, variable-ratio . That's just Skinner's way of saying the subject doesn't know how many more times it has to perform behavior X, but it knows that a reward will come after an unknown but finite number of tries. Smash Brothers is one of the most addicting games amoung my friends, this is probably due to it's unique knock-out system, which is an almost perfect example of variable ratio , unique in a fighting game.

      Incidentally, the most permanant schedule of reward is variable-interval , the basis of human relationships.

      Other examples of periodic reinforcement schedules...
      fixed-ratio -
      Burger Time, make X burgers get next level reward, the number of brugers that need to be made are known.
      Duck Hunt, shoot X ducks, progress to next level.

      fixed-interval -
      All examples elude me.

      Incidentally, behaviors learned through continuous reward schedules are supposedly more inclined towards extinction than any other, apparently the subject often quits the bahavior after only a few trials without reward. Zoop was frustrating game probably because you always begin with continuous reward, and then recieve no reinforcement, and no second chances, after you lose in the higher levels. A steady stream of reward just gets suddenly cut off. Ouch.
  • This happened to me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Triv ( 181010 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @05:59PM (#2661924) Journal
    Gather round, and let me tell you a tale. I take you way back to the fall of 1999. I was a music major at UMass. I loved the school, hated the department. I scrounged up some cash and picked up a copy of starcraft.

    Whoops. I became so enthralled I would ditch my friends, play till 4am, say, 'well, I might as well stay up all night and then go to class', stay up till dawn, and finally crash just as I should have head out of the dorm. I had no social life (I used to leave parties to play) and was flunking out, but because, I reasoned, no one liked me (probably because I hardly ever left my room, if then only to meet the delivery guy)so I might as well sit and play. It's a catch-22 if ever I heard one.

    This story doesn't have a fairy-tale ending. I lasted 2 semesters and got kicked out, eventually coming enough out of the hole to apply at the New School in New York City and get a job. It's like being an alcoholic. Yes, I still play games, but spend a good portion of the time trying to avoid sitting in front of my computer. Every once in awhile I regress, stay up all night with Deus Ex or what have you, and seriously regret it in the morning.

    I don't have an 'addictive personality,' simply because, as someone said, I don't find everything addictive. Cigarettes and computer games. That's it.

    All I'm saying is, this is real. Take my word for it.

  • The fellow who submitted this must be in denial. "is it possible that gaming has become a real addiction?" Well, yes, and if you read the article it puts it in pretty certain terms.

    In the final analysis, almost anything can be called an addiction if it routinely interrupts life's basic components, including school, work and relationships, he said. The important thing is balance. So align your chakras -- and remember, it's just a game.

    So, I'm guessing the submitter is looking for affirmation from fellow gamers that it's not an addiction, etc. My advice, if you find yourself playing games for hours on end, leaving work or school early to play games (this includes playing them while you work), or spending more time playing a game than interacting with people you probably have some sort of addiction.

    Find something else to do for a couple hours out of the day. Maybe exercise. Maybe read a book. Hell, take up drinking and go to a bar. Leave the game alone a while just to make sure that there's not something else out there you're missing.

    Gaming seems to be a rather unfulfilling addiction. Sure, it doesn't physcially harm you (except for maybe RSI), but there's not the added chemical side-effects of the additiction you get from alcohol, nicotine, or narcotics. If I'm going to sink time and money into an addiction... I had better get a buzz.
  • by ian stevens ( 5465 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:02PM (#2661938) Homepage

    gaming has become a real addiction
    Where have you been for the past fifteen or twenty years? Computer gaming addiction has probably around ever since there were computer games to which one could become addicted. Talk to anyone who played computer games when the best releases were only available in arcades, and I am sure they will regale you with stories of countless wasted hours (and quarters) while hunched over an early-eighties arcade machine.

    While I didn't play on many arcade machines when I was younger, I spent countless hours on my C=64, and then on my XT, playing games. True, my case was mild as I wasn't able to monopolise either the TV or the computer, but I am sure there were others who had problems with severe addiction.

    One of my favourite episodes of News Radio [geocities.com] is when a "Stargate Defender" arcade machine is brought in to the office and Dave recalls the time when his SAT scores suffered because he stayed up all night playing that game. It's funny because it's true.


  • by scott1853 ( 194884 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:03PM (#2661944)
    Some people get bored with everything eventually. I went through a stage where I was "addicted" to sex. About 3 times a day with my girlfriend for several months. The novelty wore off and I moved on to other activities. Once you run out of things you want to do in the real world, then all that's left is fantasy worlds. Games provide that. Or they at least provide us with a safe way to perform tasks that we really wouldn't want to do in real life.

    The article refers to 1000 EQ Widows. Let me rant for a minute about this. They must be spending too much time online themselves in order to find sites like that. Also, I'm so damn sick of every girl thinking that we need to spend every minute together in order to have a relationship. Hell, the poor guys probably got sick of cuddling for hours on end while watching Titanic.

    So why cares about this besides some overprotective soccer mom concerned about how she's going to look in front of her parenting commitees when they find out her kid would rather playing "games" instead of taking part in wholesome activities like football, where the object is to run face first into a member of the opposing team in order to knock him down.

    Why must it be that all 6 billion people are expected to be exactly the same when viewed through the eyes of a psychologist. These are people who make their living by judging others by their own standards instead of any scientifically proven formulas. They're the same ones that will contradict themselves by saying that you have a "syndrome" if you aren't the same as other's in your peer group, but turn around and criticize you for doing whatever your friends do. Fuck em.

    Wow, I need to go let some steam of in a good game of GTA.
  • Dopamine (Score:2, Informative)

    by Malc ( 1751 )
    We've had this out on Slashdot several times before in the last few years: apparently playing video games dumps a load of dopamine into the brain. This effects men in particular. Dopamine is an extremely addictive drug. A quick search on Google for "dopamine video games" returns lots of links to many reputable web sites.

    I know from own experiences on and off since I was a teenager how bad this addiction can be. It degenerates to the point where you have to have a "quick fix" of a game so that you can get on with other things. Without playing, you completely lose your ability to concentrate on other things. I remember when Quake2 was popular at the office: as the day wore on, the people involved became less and less productive as they waited for 5pm to roll around and the games could begin. Some people were so bad that they couldn't even come to work without first having a game on heat.net (RIP).
  • by Nindalf ( 526257 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:08PM (#2661983)
    ...not that the label helps anything. I mean, there's no really clear line between "addiction" and "bad habit."

    Multiplayer RPGs are the worst in this way. They give you little rewards every once in a while, for staying on longer, and they tend to be open-ended. In that way, they are designed just like gambling machines: designed to give you random rewards that condition you to want to keep playing. Also, hardcore players, rather than being ridiculed, are respected for the in-game power they develop, so there's social pressure to play more, rather than to play moderately.

    I experienced that sort of weirdness when I was developing Beng the Battle Engine [boswa.com], a chat-room RPG battle engine. I thought the sheer repetitiveness of the gameplay (and total lack of graphics, story, or setting) would make it at best a side toy for people to play with when the conversation slowed down, or while waiting for someone they wanted to talk to to show up. Imagine my surprise when a few people basically moved in and spent 8 hours per day or more.

    They'd level up past the point I thought anyone would ever get to in just days. I was disturbed. I mean, I was proud they enjoyed it, but I didn't think that much play was healthy. Of course, they didn't continue like that forever. It's just not that good a game, after a hundred hours or so, you've seen everything you could ever see, and then the novelty of being the toughest guy in a game with only a couple dozen players wears off pretty quickly. Some wandered off, and some picked up the source code and started hacking on it, which gave me a lot better feeling about the whole thing.

    But it makes me worry about better games. If a cheesy IRC-based micro-MUD can suck away hundreds of hours like that, how far off can the name "EverCrack" be? And there's better stuff coming out all the time!
    • ... how far off can the name "EverCrack" be?
      That's how my friends refer to their 16-year-old's favorite game. He once told them he had to stay on line for 24 hours to camp in front of an abandoned house.

      On the other hand, the EQ account is in Dad's name and Dad's credit card. The ultimate disciplinary threat is, "No EverCrack for a month!"
  • Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Yes, Civ almost killed me (weeks of no sleep, cans of tuna for the one meal of the day, etc.). But at the time I was also single with a crappy job and a crappy apartment, and very little desire to live my own life (like the guy in the article, I also had to destroy the disk to stop).

    Now I'm married, with a great job, a great apartment, etc. I got Civ3 and I really love it, but it hasn't killed me, ruined my marriage, etc. My point is that the Substance of Choice is usually not the key problem in addictions. The problem is usually something in the abusers character or circumstances.

  • by Zen Mastuh ( 456254 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:12PM (#2662015)
    --Austin, TX
    July 1, 2024

    Republican Presidential candidate Jenna Bush finally responded to the controversy surrounding her supposed gaming habit in the early 2000's. Unnamed sources, all claiming to be former college friends, have stated that Ms. Bush was an all-night gamer, playing Quake III, Tribes, and other games popular among the youth at the time. Since then, gaming has become strictly prohibited and all users, manufacturers, and distributors of these games have faced enormous fines and prison sentences.

    While not explicitly confessing to game use during her college years, Bush said "when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible".

    Miguel Jesus deNaranja, currently serving a 75-year sentence for game distribution at Microsoft Maximum Security Detention Center near Austin, expressed outrage towards this statement by the President--his former classmate and supposed gaming partner. "I can't believe she is being such a hypocrite about this. She used to frag my brown ass all night long back in the day." Bush denies deNaranja's statements and claims to have never met him.

  • Riiiiggghht!

    And let's help out those poor souls in the stadiums and sports bars obviously addicted to football. Nor should we forget those addicted to model railroading. Oh, and TV, too! And reading certain websites. Yes sir, anything you do on a regular basis is an addiction and you should seek help.

    Now I just have find a way to break this addiction to my job, and I'll be set!

  • First it was money, then it was power, then it was sex, then it was alcohol, then drugs, then books, then sports, then MST3k, now games. None of these things are necessarily bad in and of themselves, it's just that people are prone to addiction. My parents are both recovering alcoholics, so genetically, i've got loaded dice. I've noticed many addictive tendancies in myself, and tried EXTREMELY hard to moderate them. I'm doing pretty well. It's the people who don't see their own tendancies that are in danger, with ANY of the above. They start, and can't stop, and feel like the rest of the world is against them when really it's that they've gone in too deep to have any real perspective. Gaming is no different, and no worse. There is no reason games can't be used, even heavily, without any major problems. Like with booze, a major binge every now and again within a pattern of responsible use is fine as long as it doesn't screw up your life or the life of anyone you care about. Offtopic. . .MADD==Mothers Agains Dungeons and Dragons. . .
  • by albamuth ( 166801 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:13PM (#2662024) Homepage
    I used to be quite a gamaing addict. And an IRC addict. And a porn addict. And a alchohol addict (hmm, isn't there a special term for that?). All of these things are forms of escapism, duh. Anyone could have told you that. What most people can't tell you is how to break those addictions.

    The truth is, the world is pretty fucked up [disinfo.com]. And we get into our little inward worlds to try and ignore that. Some of us are workaholics, others watch TV incessantly, etc. Every different thing has it's angle. Video games are addictive especially to the technophile crowd because face it, we geeks like flashy stuff (no rhyme intended). We want feedback, interactivity (another "duh"), eye-candy, excitement, etc. But when it comes down to it, these are just desires that get filled the same way as anyone else fulfills them: abuse. I would argue that 70% of Americans are television addicts.

    The point I'm getting at here is that we are a nation of hedonists because we don't need to worry about the consequences of our consumerism, apathy, etc. (bear with me as I get a bit political) Not to induce a guilt trip here, but I don't think anyone in Somalia has a problem with buying too much crap, watching too much TV, or spending too much time jerking their thumbs in front of CRT's. But they have all their own problems to worry about: AIDS, drug warlords, starvation, etc. What do you do in a situation devoid of all pleasure? It probably would involve heavy, heavy drugs. I, for one, would not be able to sit through 6 hours of Metal Gear Solid while two gangs have a firefight next door.

    My point is, people find outlets for their frustrated desires everywhere. Very seldomly do they have the courage to actually seek out the root causes of those desires. Here in the States, I think most of people's anxieties are caused by:

    - working too much and taking it too seriously (ie. "miserable-ism" as termed by the Situationists)
    - depending on others to make decisions for them ("pathological fascism" as called by Deleuze & Guattari)
    - rampant commercialism driving down our self-esteem (and driving up demand)

    To relieve this we watch: movies/shows about cops, criminals, rich people, sexy people, futuristic people, fantastic people, etc. (I'm talking mainstream, here, not "Clerks"-style stuff). All these movies/shows whatever romanticize these roles that only a few of us get to ever do. Since we're NOT those people, we feel more like a piece of shit, thus leaving us vulnerable to subconsicious suggestions that Diet Coke will instantly bestow us the sex appeal of Victoria Secret models.

    So of course we want to feel like heroes, or drive ultrafast cars, or be the super-killer-soldier with the most frags: video games fulfill those vicarious pleasures because the media industry has successfully planted all those desires in us already!

    So naturally, the best way to break a video game addiction is to withdraw from Hollywood/Viacom/AOLTimeWarner/Disney in every conceivable form. Or at least develop enough of a cynical veneer to be able to look someone in the eye and say, "The Matrix was good...for a Hollywood film."

    • So naturally, the best way to break a video game addiction is to withdraw from Hollywood/Viacom/AOLTimeWarner/Disney in every conceivable form. Or at least develop enough of a cynical veneer to be able to look someone in the eye and say, "The Matrix was good...for a Hollywood film."
      This being our society, explain how not being a part of the society in which we live is better for us in the long run than being a part of it?

      I know that I've been much happier since I decided to break my addiction to rebellion and see just what was so great about all this mass market stuff that people seem to obsess so much about, both fot and against. I discovered that it is actually fun to be part of a group and I felt like I belonged. I began to have things in common with people, which meant that I could actually hold conversations. I could get dates, like all these 'mainstream losers' could.

      Why do I feel better? Is it because I'm brainwashed to think that all this stuff is better? No, because I know it's not. In my private life I'm a total iconoclast. There is a fundamental joy in being part of something. It's Maslow Level 2, Safety and Security. I know that because I can communicate as part of American Consumer Society, that I am someone my neighbors can relate to.

      This sounds chilling. It sounds like Orwell. But it's not just me, either. Nobody in the USA has a higher purpose anymore. It could be argued that they didn't before, but the freedom to choose not to enter the military/go to church/work at menial labor has taken away our exposure to suffering. I grew up in a very poverty-stricken part of the country. I blow the minds of my upper-middle-class-raised coworkers when I tell them about my friends and relatives that didn't have running water or gas heat. I appreciate what I have, which is belonging.

      The intellectual side of me wishes I didn't need this. The emotional side takes whatever it can get.
  • Slot machine addiction: put money, time in, get reward (money, but you can proove that you'll never win was much as you spend .. casinos wouldn't exist if you could)

    Video game addiction: put time, (maybe money) in, get reward (cool graphics, bragging, whatever)

    You can be addicted to ANYTHING ... social addictions ARE physical addictions .. you simply develop a dependance on the way those chemicals in question fire off in your brain while you are indulging in your addiction. Plain and simple.
  • Ever wondered about the difference between the successful guys and your rather pathetic self. Ever wished you could get off your butt and accomplish the things you want to do? I certainly have, and it has occurred to me many times that the difference is willpower.

    I completed a masters degree on my own, mostly at home unsupervised. Now I'm trying to do some work on open source projects but I mainly surf the internet and play Empire Earth when I'm on the computer. I don't really have any less motivation - just less willpower.

    I do need to do those things - you have to relax now and again. The difference is, when I come home from work I start playing and don't stop until I have to go to bed. When I have the willpower, I can just say right, now I'm going to stop and do some real work.

    The trouble is, I don't know what makes the difference - some days I can do it, some I'm a slob. Two things come to mind. Sometimes I'll stop gaming to lie down and relax, meditate a bit, that definately helps. The other thing that helps is Linux. No I'm not talk about how good it is - the simple fact is, once I boot into Linux I can't play those fancy games. And of course, once I get stuck into something useful it's just as "addictive" as the gaming - ever tried to stop coding when you've only got one bug to go?

  • I'm not addicted... I can quit Diablo2 anytime I want. I just don't want to.
  • by anomaly ( 15035 ) <tom.cooper3NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:25PM (#2662099)
    It frustrates me greatly that people try to claim victim status when they are victimized only by their choices.

    According to the listed standard, I think I could be described as sleep addicted, food addicted, air addicted, and for that matter addicted to converstations with my wife and playing with my kids!

    I enjoy computer games. I know what it's like to drag my butt in to the office and lack productvity all day because I was up until the wee hours of the morning playing video games.

    My point is this. We make many choices which reflect a person's values and priorities. When I watch the movie or stay up late playing RTCW, I pay the consequences. As a result, I choose not to do that very often! When I choose to do that, I blame myself, not some psychological condition.

    Choosing to value the wrong things is simply a lack of discipline. Lack of discipline is a character problem, not an addiction over which the person has no control.

    The problem is a lack of will, and the consequences are simply the results of bad choices.

    Take control of your life by taking responsibility for your choices, values and character! Choose to put down the controller, or even to get rid of the console.

    Get involved with people. It's harder, and hurts more, but is far more rewarding than having the perfect score in Pitfall!
  • s/Gaming/Surfing/ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebby ( 11637 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @06:27PM (#2662104) Homepage
    Yes, gaming addiction is real. So is information addiction. It's pathetic the amount of time I spent sucking down worthless piles of information on the net.

    Fark, /., k5, Drudge, Shack, .5e, x-e, penny arcade, SA, POTD, Filthy, The Atlantic, TNR, HowStuffWorks, Ars, Onion, Blogdex, CNN, check e-mail, rinse, repeat until dead.

    The 2 hour morning web surf through my first two classes and before the shower is probably the most depressing after its over.

    The only thing worse than having a day go by in front of the computer is having that day go by with the end result being that you got farther in a game or read a bunch of meaningless drivel by some web admin or forum-goers. See, I'm doing it right now!

    The only way I feel like I'm using the computer effectively is when I'm doing homework or coding a personal project. Everything else is worthless, except maybe a regular check of the daily news (since I have no TV.)

    I spend days, hell, weeks sometimes, away from the web and realize how stupid it is and what a waste of time it is. Too bad I never learn.

    Don't even ask about what happened when Quake 3 fit itself into this routine two years ago. I finally got over that one this semester when my cable provider decided to suck. I should be thankful.
  • Usually, game addiction is most prevelent in people who have no previously existing social context in an area other than thru gaming.

    One of the reasons I first became a game developer, in the 80s, was that I had become addicted to gaming (RPGs mostly).

    So we see it pop up more in people who gain socialization thru LAN parties, and especially when they go to a new High School or College where they have few friends who are not in the gaming community.

    However, it's not an addiction that's easy to kick. Usually it can be solved by other more powerful drives (getting into a long-term relationship is one of the best), but in practice you may need to move away and not socialize with other game addicts and take up other interests if you wish to break the cycle.

    My favorite view of it is what happens in The Sims at a LAN party ... burning down the house!

  • Thankfully I'm not as bad as some people in the article, but I get rather obsessive about games. It was worse a couple of years ago.
    My drug of choice was quake2. I dreamed about it when I was sleeping. I watched and analyzed demos of the masters playing.

    And when I wasn't playing, I was thinking about it. Whenever I had to go outside, for instance, I would look at my immediate surroundings and try to find the quickest/best route through based on quake2 physics and its anomolies. (double jump, bunny hop, etc) It was affecting my life.

    But then, something marvelous happened that cured me of quake2. I got a girlfriend. :) It really pulled me back into the real world. I still played games casually though.

    But my personality makes it easy for me to fall into this sort of thing. For instance about a week ago, I discovered my roommate had brought gotten a copy of Super Mario 64 from somewhere. I just finished getting all 120 stars. For those that aren't familiar with the game, this is a major undertaking in such a short time. And as a result my life over the past week has gotten shittier. I have no clean clothes, there's garbage all over, etc.

    After reading this article and the responses, I have decided that I can't play games casually. Any time I pick up a game, I'm in danger of losing control. I've decided that it's in my best interests to stay away from games for the forseeable future.
  • Its just the games that have changed. Everquest is no more addictive than Quake, which is no more addictive than Civilization, which is no more addictive than Nethack, which is nore more addictive than Zork, which is no more addictive than TinyMud, which is no more addictive than pac man, which is no more addictive than space invaders, which is no more addictive than combat, which is no more addictive than pong. Each had their addicts that had the journals, the "Wired"s of their day, all claiming we'd all end up "game-heads" by the end of the century...

    well, the century is over, the games are still around, and so is society. Unfortunately, so is Wired.

    And its not so much a psychological "mystery" as so many have tried to paint it as. If it was, then Psychology Today would still be arguing about it like they did over the Pac Man fascination.

    Yes, a gamer can be in a "zone" where nothing but the game matters during that time, but that "zone" as an ASC is the same kind of zone that anybody gets when concentration on a single topic is at a high (literally and figuratively). Its the same zone that hackers get (see "Peopleware"), its the same zone a musician gets when the music takes over his body and spirit, its the same zone an author gets. Sometimes the zone is productive, sometimes its an escape. But the zone is the same.

    Basically its like this. Reality sucks. Its hard. Its painful. Its a fucking bitch at times. For geek guys, its full of bitches. Games are fun. Games have rules that don't change. Games have NPCs whose behaviour can be relied on.

    So play games 'cause its easier than reality. People suck 'cause they and their expectations are always different from one day to the next. Games don't change. 'til you download a new update. when YOU want to, not when "they" do it.

    And you keep playing games because games stay fun and reality never improves. (now mind you, the fact that you never do anything to change your reality because your always playing games doesn't help, of course, but when you're playing games, you can't see that).

    And they knew this 25 years ago when Pong hit the streets. Hell, you think Thompson and Ritchie would have gone to so much fucking trouble making an O/S for an empty computer to play Space War was done for the "intellectual excercise of it"? Hell no. They were addicts who needed a fix. They just managed to get better and keep up with reality as well, as most of us do. Usually its because you finally get bored with games, and you keep thinking "the new games suck...they aren't nearly as good as the games I used to play".

    Irrellevant Postscript: Back in "the day", I was a moria addict...'til i got a D in English 102. I saved the graveyard scene (you could do that, at least on vax-moria), and modified it so that it said "Rest In Peace : My English Grade" in the tombstone.
  • by ivar ( 31153 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @07:58PM (#2662562)
    The psychology that motivates gamers has been thoroughly studied, as basically the more addicitive a game is, the more successful it is. Gamasutra has an a related article on Behavioral Game Design [gamasutra.com] which is a high level overview of how to think in order to effectively lure in your audience.

    I've wasted a good half a year on an old school text based MUD, and as such stay completely away from EverCrack et al. as I just can't afford to devote my time to virtual characters.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354