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Games Entertainment Science

Gaming Fanatics Show Hallmarks of Drug Addiction 497

Game_addict writes "There's a story over at New Scientist saying that a new study has found that game addiction has the same effects on people as drug addiction."
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Gaming Fanatics Show Hallmarks of Drug Addiction

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  • So ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by b0r1s ( 170449 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:29AM (#14050322) Homepage
    Where do I sign up for 'disability' payments?
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:29AM (#14050324)
    What makes it tougher is that gamers cannot simply abstain from using computers - they are now an integral part of our lives. In that sense, it has to be approached in the same way as an eating disorder, she suggests.
    From what I've heard, fighting a normal addiction is hard enough, but when you're forced to be in contact with the thing you're addicted to, it's much, much worse.

    That certainly makes me be more careful about this than I otherwise would have been!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You just have to recognize what part of the computer you're addicted to. I was addicted to Counter-Strike. So I recognized that, and instead got read slashdot all the time. Which I'm not addicted to at all. Not at all.
    • I'm lucky. I've got an addiction too, but Hilary Duff won't let me anywhere near her.

    • I've actually tried to get medical help with internet addiction, and the first thing they said is that I'd have to avoid all contact with it.

      Considering that I'm a web programmer, M.Sc. in CS, get all my entertainment on the net, get most of my education and news on the net... That's just not on. So they couldn't help me.

  • by Sfing_ter ( 99478 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:30AM (#14050328) Homepage Journal
    It DOES NOT. In Fact, I can stop playing Quake any time I choose. And when I choose to I will. Just not right now. I have a couple more frags to get... NO Really... anytime I want...
  • by ReformedExCon ( 897248 ) <> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:31AM (#14050329)
    In the same way that you can train a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell, you can train people to react in certain ways to various stimuli. That's not drugs, that's Pavlov.

    Gamers (and, dare I say it, many web surfers) have trained themselves to forego real work and real life in favor of a game. In fact, games are especially conducive to this kind of training. The reward/punishment system is more or less random which increases the players' propensity to keep at it in hopes of success.

    Rats who are fed every time they press a button will only press the button when they are hungry. However rats that are fed sometimes and not fed other times when they press a button will press the button all day long.
    • I still think it's more similar to addiction than Pavlov, because gamers still seek games. Pavlov may play a role in it also of course. The rat theory also fits the actual game play, but you can't really compare how it fits in real life, because in real life we do need food, but we don't need games.

      And of course, the underlying science of Pavlov relies on drugs. This is the reason why pharmacutical and rec drugs can be so addictive; they play right on the systems that can cause addiction.

    • Eh. I've spent probably close to a month playing World of Warcraft since it came out (I can nail for a fact 26 days)...So 1/12th of my time over the last year. That qualifies as addiction by any standard. It's certainly more time than I spent eating.

      In that time, I also got a job, got a raise, bought a house, lost 20 pounds, and kept my sideline freelancing business going.

      I'm not seeing the problem. I was all geared up to play 5 hours of WoW last night, and I got a call at the last minute for some emergency
  • Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:31AM (#14050332) Journal
    Too much of anything seems to have the same effects as a drug addiction. So far we've seen Internet addictions [], other Gaming addictions [], News addictions [], and more [].

    Perhaps it's related to the definition of the word "addiction" []? When somebody enjoys doing something they obviously want to do it more often. The question is just how much do they let that enjoyment interfere with their lives and possibly the lives of others?
    • Re:Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by patonw ( 747304 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:59AM (#14050417)
      I think it's more that nonconformist habits are considered harmful to journalists... whatever they are. Excessive socializing can be addictive (not that any of us here are in danger here). Going to work every morning and getting your paycheck every other week is habit forming... I know many people who want to break the habit and just can't.
    • The question is just how much do they let that enjoyment interfere with their lives and possibly the lives of others?

      I will just put it this way...

      Government will never be the answer to any addiction problems, nor should it ever be.
      I'm tired of these spineless people that want to label everything fun as a "danger" and pose solutions for "our own good". I tell you what, I will hear what you have to say, but TELL me what I fucking can and cannot do with my own life so long as it does not directly effect anoth
    • Re:Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SolitaryMan ( 538416 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:49AM (#14050584) Homepage Journal
      When somebody enjoys doing something they obviously want to do it more often.

      Not that exactly. Addiction is more like a compulsive behaviour: irrationally motivated. It is a complex psychological issue. Game junkies do enjoy gaming, but definitely not THAT much.
      • Tell that to the guy who died at the internet cafe because he was playing some computer game non-stop for over 24 hours. There was even a story on it here, but I can't find it.

        Sure, it's not exactly an epidemic, and not nearly as bad as most drug addictions, but there are quite a few people who really are addicted to games. And in terms of addiction, enjoyment doesn't nessesarily have anything to do with it, anyway.

      • Not that exactly. Addiction is more like a compulsive behaviour: irrationally motivated. It is a complex psychological issue.

        Sounds like a lot of malarky to me. What's the difference between a compulsive behaviour and non-compulsive behaviour? What's "irrationally motivated"? The word addiction used to mean something that was physically addictive, like heroin or nicotine. Now it's taken on this "I want to do thing X a lot" meaning. I call bullshit on that definition.

        Addiction automatically has this neg
    • When somebody enjoys doing something they obviously want to do it more often. The question is just how much do they let that enjoyment interfere with their lives and possibly the lives of others?
      Quite true, but in the case of games, addiction is very real. You only have to take the example of the Chinese guy who killed someone over some sword in a game [].
  • by oGMo ( 379 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:31AM (#14050334)
    "Journalists show hallmarks of sensationalistic idiots."
  • What the article basically says is that hardcore gamers can become fixated on games, and will respond to games as positive stimuli. A gaming "addict", according to TFA, will react with "longing" to still screens of a game they want to play. This is news?

    What this basically boils down to is that games, like every other pleasureable activity in the world, can become psychologically addictive. This isn't exactly new information. And it isn't worth getting worked up over, though doubtlessly gamers will be o
  • Logical pitfall? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by soma_0806 ( 893202 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:33AM (#14050344)

    Seems like they made the mistake of assuming the converse here. Just because drug addicts are similar to game addicts does not mean game addicts are necessarily like drug addicts.

    Drug addiction, being primarily metabolic, may have a more limited set of idenitifying characteristics. Game addiction, being primarily mental (or maybe even social) has more varying charactistics as psyches and social structures have a lot of built-in variance.

    I'd have a much easier time buying the argument that drug addict behavior/characteristics fit in as a subset of the acceptable behaviors/characteristics of gaming culture.

    • by 246o1 ( 914193 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:48AM (#14050581)
      Drug addiction, being primarily metabolic, may have a more limited set of idenitifying characteristics. Game addiction, being primarily mental (or maybe even social) has more varying charactistics as psyches and social structures have a lot of built-in variance.
      An interesting take on it, but I think you're looking at it the wrong way. As drugs have very specific effects on the body, being generally concentrations of one or several potent substances, it is USEFUL, in terms of conveying information, to say that something as broad and varied as gaming can include these effects, and does, statistically. It is not very USEFUL to compare something to gaming this way, because it is a complex set of behaviors with very varied psychological and physiological consequences. For a more intuitive version of this argument consider saying that Liquids share properties with Milk versus Milk has the properties of Liquids. Liquids, being a very narrowly defined set of properties (==the effects of drugs), is useful for describing milk. Milk has many properties(==the effects of gaming), and the first ones that come to mind are not going to be the same for everyone. "Drugs are like gaming" would only convey information to the extent that people assume you mean "Gaming is like drugs." Granted, here i refer to the effects, not the people, which you might find objectionable.
    • Drug addiction, being primarily metabolic, may have a more limited set of idenitifying characteristics. Game addiction, being primarily mental (or maybe even social) has more varying charactistics as psyches and social structures have a lot of built-in variance.

      1)Unless you're a soulist, the mind is a product &reflection of the physical.

      2)'The 'metabolic' aspect is specific to physical dependence. Psychological dependence is a function of psyches and social structures. A select number of heroin addicts
  • by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:34AM (#14050348) Journal
    How about fixing the problem they're running away from (through temporary diversion like illicit drugs or (gasp) game playing?) Of course, knowing our congress critters (for that matter, most government officials on the planet) they do just outlaw "it" and declare the problem fixed.
  • Partially True (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ozymand E. Us ( 931598 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:35AM (#14050349)
    From my own experience, I believe this study to be true, but only for certain games. For instance, I've played and beaten DooM, and walked away. I've beaten D2X, but I still continue to play it. What's the difference? The open-endedness.
    A "beatable" game, like DooM, is largely unaddictive. Once you've trashed it on Nightmare Mode, that's it, game over, endostory. Sure, there are timetrial and such, but they're the exceptiont hat proves the rule.
    However a game like Diablo II, one that you can't truly beat, is addictive. Sure, you could kill Baal on Hell and call it a day, but who does that? Everybody keeps playing, building their characters up more and more and more, until you have a level 93 Hammerdin with all the trimmings- and like addicts, my brother and I kept playing.
    (I should note here that I don't consider gaming with friends that you can see addictive behavior. What makes it less socially acceptible than dropping 10 bucks on a movie?)
    I do have one issue with the study. Who's to say that the gamers had less ocular reaction because they were conditioned to having a sudden surprise from gaming itself? I hardly blink anymore when a baddie comes flying out from nowhere.
    • As another poster pointed out it is the random reward system [] in Diablo 2 and similar games that keep you playing. After you have played Doom once you pretty much know what to expect behind every door. In D2 even after you have beaten the game and maxed out your character there is still the chance of a random unique or set item drop. D2 was also genius with its semi random dungeons and terrain.

      Two buddies and I maxed several characters in D2 and the expansion pack. We held 2, 3 or more online sessions of sev
    • Heh.. D2 Seriously, it go so bad, that I had to uninstall D2, lock it away from myself above the laundry, give away my online accounts (all 8 mule accounts too), and go totally cold turkey. I had dreams.. nightmares even, but I eventually got over it. Twas a shame to give up what I had amassed, but I realized it wasnt worth anywhere near as much once 1.10 came out, so it made things easier to swallow. I never know exactly what became of those cds after I moved out.
    • Re:Partially True (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:28AM (#14050678)
      Eh? Doom beatable?

      In single player mode, perhaps, and even then only if you are a "consumer" (ie, you only play what you can purhase, instead of creating your own add-ons, map builders and map themselves). But if you add in deathmatch, you'll get open-endness that far exceeds Diablo 2.
      And I'm speaking from own experience - ~3000 hours wasted for Doom.

      Still, that's nothing compared with MUDding. 4500 hours on mortal (player) chars and 3000h of coding here. Beat the openness of _that_.

      In the long term, Diablo provides you with nothing more than random drops from a preset list []. The thrill there can last for several months, but it's not really an addiction you can keep for years.

      But hey... note that the average member of the society spends 8-10 hours a day mindlessly watching TV. Collecting uniques and set items is some form of activity, it surely beats staring at the TV set or standing in a gate and guzzling beer.
  • ... so does Slashdot!
  • by bobdotorg ( 598873 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:35AM (#14050353)
    ... that my only addiction is to Duke Nuke'em Forever.
  • I would have posted sooner but I was busy playing WoW. :)
  • This is really an insult to all those who suffer from real addiction problems.

    Oh no! I skipped class to play games!
    Heh, that's minor stuff. Real addiction problems typically end in someone dying.
  • What about TV? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Patrik_AKA_RedX ( 624423 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:41AM (#14050375) Journal
    A whole lot of people spend around 4 to 5h in front of a TV every day of the week, mostly without interruption and that's considered normal. TV addiction is much more widespread than computer game addiction. Yet I haven't heard of a TV user anonymous. IMO most TV viewers have serious issues.
    • Re:What about TV? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:03AM (#14050756)
      A whole lot of people spend around 4 to 5h in front of a TV every day of the week, mostly without interruption and that's considered normal. TV addiction is much more widespread than computer game addiction. Yet I haven't heard of a TV user anonymous. IMO most TV viewers have serious issues.

      It's not really the same at all. Television "addicts" usually have no problem balancing their time - few TV watchers would skip work, stay up until 4am, or watch for 12 hours straight. Sure, there may be some extreme cases, but the vast majority of TV viewers do not show the typical signs of addiction.

      Contrast that with game addicts - many play to the point of exhaustion, start leading extremely unbalanced schedules, become sleep deprived, shun social interaction.

      MMOs seem to be particularly conducive to this kind of behavior. I stopped playing WOW when the dreams started. Vivid, intense dreams that began to interfere with my perception of reality. At one point, I had difficulty determining if I was asleep or awake.

      This kind of hysteria, this kind of addiction - it's just like a drug. At some point, you're not enjoying the game - you are tired and bored, yet there is something that compells you to keep playing. That's addiction.

      Game addiction, particularly with MMOs, is very similar in many ways to gambling addiction. There is the thrill of victory, the excitement of chance, and the constant "rewards".

      One of my friends has 150 days of logged playtime. That's nearly 12 hours a day, every day, a full 66% of his awake time.

      That's addiction.
  • UO is the devil! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anyd ( 625939 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:42AM (#14050376)
    I remember for a couple years in high school I'd be able to log in about 50 hours over the weekend playing UO (there are ~64 playable hours between when school gets out on friday and restarts on monday.) By the time I went off to college I really felt like I had some social catching-up to do. It really did have about the same influence on my life as a drug addiction would have. I cut off most social ties which didn't involve game-playing, my school work went to sh*t, and it caused all kinds of friction between my parents and I.
    Luckly, once I went off to college I started bartending... and it's hard not to make friends or get dates when you get people drunk for a living!
    • Re:UO is the devil! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by madaxe42 ( 690151 )
      I'll second you on that. I found anarchy online (MMORPG) during the summer after my first year at uni. It cost me my girlfriend of 2 years, and also almost my degree.... I managed to kick the game habit when she dumped me (guess it gave me something else to worry about), however I did end up as an alcoholic and with a fierce coke habit. A year of that, and I was fine... Got my degree (2:1 in Physics, huzzah!), and now doing quite nicely tyvm.

      I think it's very much something that people need to 'get out of
  • So? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:43AM (#14050381) Homepage
    Any coping mechanism can easily become addictive (which, iirc, is exactly what the study says).

    Nail biting.


    Reading slashdot at midnight listening to moxy fruvous and lou bega.


    Correcting people's grammar.


    Auto-erotic asphyxiation.

    • Any coping mechanism can easily become addictive (which, iirc, is exactly what the study says).

      Ok, one by one:

      Nail biting. Check

      Sex. Check

      Reading slashdot at midnight listening to moxy fruvous and lou bega.
      Slashdot - check. Midnight - check. Lou Bega - check. (wow!)

      Dominoes Nope. Not me. Even Dominoes pizza sucks.

      Correcting people's grammar. Well, I've been known... the one that bugs me most is "him and me went to the store"... Ask my kids.

      Shopping. Oh Jesus, dear God no. I hate shopping! Maybe I'm
  • Addiction eh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arakon ( 97351 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:46AM (#14050388) Homepage
    Well if you define addictions by what generates a positive response in the brain, just about anything that is fun can/will become an addiction. On the other hand I'd like to quote a line from Bob Sagat in the Movie half-baked.

    "Have you ever sucked cock for pot!? You don't have an addiction."

    ^substitute games for pot. Serious addictions can cause a serious breakdown in self-image to the point where anything is acceptable to get the next fix. When I start seeing offers for people to give the ass-secks and other such non-social openly acceptable behavior then I'll deem "game" addiction as a serious threat to the youth of the world. But honestly I don't think that will happen anytime soon.

    "Hey man I'll give you head for an hour with your Xbox360...."

  • Poor designed study (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frangible ( 881728 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:55AM (#14050409)
    Addictive drugs are typically so because they spike dopamine levels in the shell of the nucelus accumbens. This study does not show this is the case for video games, so to compare the mechanisms is rather ridiculous and is a conclusion they have no data to base upon.

    The psychopathology of compulsive gambling has been studied in great depth and differs significantly from a drug addiction. I really don't see any basis for this group's outlandish claims. What they are describing is hedonism, not an addiction in the same context of drugs. Just because they may share symptoms does not equate them biologically.

    • And you somehow think that gambling isn't based on large spikes of dopamine? What exactly do you think happens when someone makes a huge about of money in a few seconds? A big, phat-ass dopamine rush is what happens.

      Sure, drug addiction is usually sigfinicantly different to other addictions, but this is probably more do with the ammount of chemicals, and the way it's release etc, rather than an actual difference between the underlying mechanisms of addiction.

      Craving and dopamine spikes aren't restricted

  • Slashdot Post Fanatics Show Hallmarks of Drug Addiction!
  • - Concerned familiy members confront you with stacks of empty jewel cases and electronics store receipts.

    - Making promises to yourself you can't keep ("Just one last round...").

    - Tendency to play alone; preference for single-player games over socially-accepted multi-player.

    - Begging the cashier at Best Buy to front you a new title ("C'mon man I'll have the $49.95 by Friday, I swear!").
  • by RisingSon ( 107571 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:57AM (#14050413)
    Outstanding topic for discussion at 1:37 am CST. Yes, we are addicted. I'm nearing 30 and I've been addicted to a lot of things. Video games are near the top of the list.

    Like most things that are sinfully delicous (pr0n, booze, pot) - video games provide so much satisfaction, even though its totally synthetic. Would I get a "high" reading a Tolstoy novel? Yes. Would I get a high getting wasted and watching Robot Chicken? Yes. One takes dicipline and the other is cheap, but they both work.

    Can someone become addicted to any of these things? Absolutely. Anything that is enticing enough to detract from the dicipline of the daily grind can become an addiction (/. anyone?)

    The article talks about "drug memories" - how about my keyboard? Man, it feels so familiar. My PS2 controller? Oh, yeah, totally an extension of my hand.

    A point about video games specifically - does anyone know a casual+ gamer that hasn't gone on an 8 hour binge? I recently introduced my 30-something neighbor to video games (GT4 + logitech wheel). Sure enough, he did an 8pm-4am addict session after only two days and he'd never played video games before.

    If you show me a screenshot of Super Mario Bros or Starcraft...hell yeah, I'm going to want to play that game.

    One last comment - has anyone seen the Marco Brambilla exhibit called Half-Life? Its a room with three screens - the front is a 2x2 display of kids playing counter-strike and the sides are videos from the conter-striker game they're playing. Its done really well - watching their faces hit me like a rocket launcher. I had to sit down and watch it for 15 minutes or so. I almost totally broke down. All those empty souls just wanted a kill. I'm not against video game violence but you can't deny its impact on your inner being.

    Marco Brambilla link #1 []

    Marco Brambilla link #2 []

  • Is it just me, or does this article make you feel like you're already overdosed [] on something?

    Moz on Fedora, the lettering is just all goofed up and quite hard to read...
  • Are they going to build rehab centers for game addicts where patients can only play super mario brothers or galaxia?
  • by mister_llah ( 891540 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:05AM (#14050449) Homepage Journal [] ... like this poor guy!
  • I'm not addicted I just have to play for 8 hours a day. I'm not addicted I tell you. Damn it - you don't understand. The voices in my head tell me to do it. You'll have to pry the game from my cold dead fingers.

  • by daniel422 ( 905483 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:09AM (#14050466) Journal
    And this article doesn't even go near the gateway aspect of videogames. Why I never started drinking and smoking dope until I started playin'. Now it's all been downhill. After that last all-night coke binge playing Sonic the Hedgehog I figured enough was was time to turn my life around. And it all started with a few mushrooms and a crazy guy called Mario....
  • by MCTFB ( 863774 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:17AM (#14050490)
    In the past, just like pretty much most guys involved in the computer related professions have done our fair share of gaming over the years and it is pretty much part of the culture. In fact, it is hard to socialize with fellow programmers unless you have some street credibility in Doom, Starcraft, etc. With computer use becoming as ubiquitous among the younger generation as it has always been with the "geek profession" crowd, I think that gaming addictions will continue to be a bigger and bigger problem in society.

    I myself used to play an insane amount of Starcraft and Warcraft III. Do I regret all the time I spent playing those games? Sometimes yes, but hey those were fun games isn't life about having a good time so long as it is not at the expense of someone else? Then again, I am sure doing crack cocaine is fun the first few times for those who have tried it (just speculating since I have never done crack cocaine personally). Just like with any other addictable drug, gaming can consume your life and nothing else in life seems fun anymore. Before you know it you are depressed and the only thing you look forward to is gaming, but those darn dopamine receptors just won't get fired up like they used to due to the LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS: The greater the thrill, the harder and edgier the thrill will have to be the next time around to seem as exciting.

    Now, I love playing sports, especially soccer, but you can only run around having fun kicking a ball so long before you physically get tired and the pain of sore legs outweighs the pleasure you have dribbling and passing the ball down the field and your brain tells you to stop. Unfortunately, with computer gaming the only thing telling you to stop is a parent, spouse, or your heart as it gives out playing your choice MMORPG several days straight nonstop.

    But what if "gaming addiction" becomes a big enough problem to society that it causes other social problems just like many illegal drugs do when people get hooked on them. Just look at online Poker which was once a simple card game, and now has been bastardized into an internet phenomenon of largely anonymous competition. People play Poker not because they think they will get rich, but because people are addicted to the thrill of besting their neighbor. Simply put, competitive people like myself are addicted to competition and that can manifest itself in both positive and negative ways (I don't gamble BTW, because I feel gambling is a stupidity tax and I don't like being taxed in the first place).

    So what should be done about gaming addiction, especially since it is not easy to just throw out your computer and function in the modern world? I know plenty of people who have thrown out their TV, but the computer? Seriously, get real. One idea is something that worked reasonably well with the arcade games when they were popular when you didn't have the Playstation 2 or the XBOX is a pay per play system. As you play more and more, the quarters you pop into the machine start to become painful after a while as you notice your wallet getting thinner and thinner. Once you are broke, you are forced to go work to get more money to play more games. Also, if you want to play games you have to make a conscious decision to spend money, whereas if you had a monthly rate of unlimited gaming (such as a Wow subscription), then you would probably overindulge in gaming just as fat people generally overindulge at all you can eat buffets.

    So, one easy thing that can be done for any form of online gaming whether it be WoW or Poker or the RTS games I love is to force vendors to charge by the minute and tax that income so as to provide revenue for programs dealing with the social pollution generated from "addictive gaming". Kind of like how we tax many other vices or how we fine companies that pollute the environment under the premise that companies should be held accountable for the negative side effects their business has on society at large.

    I know I will get flamed for suggesting this, but as an ardent gamer myself, I know it does not bode well for society if everyone is spending their time searching for loot in some MMORPG, rather than actually getting a good night's sleep so they can be productive at making loot in their real life.
  • So, playing games shares some physiological properties with taking drugs. But so do probably lots of other activities, like playing a musical instrument, watching television, having sex, participating in sports, running a startup company, etc. I think in order to decide whether we want to call this activity an "addiction", we need a lot more data and we ultimately need to make a judgement that goes beyond just similarity of physiological responses.
  • by IntelliTubbie ( 29947 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:19AM (#14050503)
    From TFA:

    Grüsser says that addictions stem from relying too heavily on one coping strategy, which eventually becomes the only activity that can activate the dopamine system and bring a person relief. "It's the same mechanism in all addicts," she says.

    You mean the brain doesn't have completely separate mechanisms for addictions to video games and drugs (and gambling, and sex ...)? Gee, I wonder how evolution missed that one. In related news, the human body reacts similarly to getting hit by a baseball bat as getting hit by a cricket bat. No kidding ... the same mechanism! :)

  • You are here --> Step 1. Denial But seriously, most any activity can be an addiction, in some sense, if you do it compulsively to the detriment to the well being of the rest of your life.
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:35AM (#14050546)
    Personal experience suggests that the tendency to become addicted to things varies from person to person, and is presumably related to individual variations in brain chemistry. Just as there are certain personality types that will with equal ease make good Catholics, Protestants, communists or fascists - they just need to be part of an authoritarian culture - so there are clearly people who get a bigger reaction from certain repeated activities than the rest of us. I have a very low addictive tendency, but I'm aware the downside is that I don't get the high from these activities that some people do.

    However, if this is right, there may be a very positive side. Does being a game addict mean that you aren't going to become a crack addict and become a huge nuisance to society stealing things to pay for your addiction? Or is there an "intelligence" factor in this, i.e. people who become addicted to drugs do it because they are too stupid to become addicted to something less socially harmful, like chess, computer games, share dealing or politics?

    It would be interesting to know. The traditional solution to heroin addiction was to wean addicts off on methadone - which is not terribly effective. Is the answer to provide some of them with wall to wall games until they find one that makes an addiction substitute?

    Anecdotally, it's interesting how some "reformed" alcoholics seem to go into politics (G W Bush, Alastair Campbell in the UK) suggesting that there is indeed some sort of crossover compensating mechanism.

    I think too we need to make a distinction between the things people do in young adulthood - often very stupid and subsequently embarrassing behaviour - and what they do in later life. Young men in particular may pursue an activity obsessively, but as they grow older it takes a more balanced place in life - whether it be drinking, fishing, or the pursuit of women. Perhaps it's a "normal" addictive phase, in which case again, the less anti-social the effects, the better.

  • Selma: You're not disappointed are you?
    Marge: Oh no, no no...No, I'm just...surprised.
    Homer: Yeah...big surprise. Hey Marge, here's another bomb...I like beer! Ha ha ha ha!

  • by Stick_Fig ( 740331 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:44AM (#14050567) Homepage
    Most people just don't realize how much of a coping mechanism gaming can become. And trust me, I speak from personal experience, as someone who tried to get a family member away from a game, but they wouldn't budge. They'd get up at 10:00 AM and sleep at 4:00 AM, and do basically nothing but play this game.

    Basically, they were dealing with a loss of their own, and that was their way of dealing with it. It took over: Their health and money problems took a toll, and they ended up passing away at a relatively young age.

    You know, I get bitter every time someone comes up with this "personal responsibilty" crap that comes up every time something related to an addiction comes up. THEY TRIED THAT -- THE ADDICTION IS TOO MUCH, AND THEY NEED HELP.

    I'm just angry that our society is molded in such a way that people who need help get laughed at if it's a certain kind of ailment. I just hope your family doesn't have to go through what mine did.

    • by Bob_Villa ( 926342 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:43AM (#14051198)
      It is very serious, I agree. I have two brothers, 25 and 26, and one at least goes out to work for 8 hours a day, but spends 12 hours a day on Everquest Online. My 25 year old brother spends 20-22 hours a day on EO. He only gets off long enough to eat one meal a day and sometimes passes out for an hour or two. They always lived with my mom, and the last two years ignored her completely. When she died at the hospital I was the only one with her, they never visited her while she was there and cried a little when they found out, and then went straight back to their game.

      They are still living in the same house, somehow paying rent, but the 25 year old never leaves the house for any reason and will not get a job, and the 26 year old works and gets groceries, but that is it. I can't get them off for anything. When I come by to visit with my wife and two kids (I'm 27), they just sit down in the basement and ignore us. I finally am just leaving them alone, I visit once every couple of weeks just to see that they are still alive. It is so sad, and I can't get them to realize there is a whole world to explore outside if they would just take the time.

      They have three XBox's (sp?) in the basement, and 3 27" tvs and a dvd player, and a Nintendo DS. I was addicted to Ultima Online for about a year, so I understand a little of what they are going through, but I wish they would somehow realize they have a problem and quit.

      Sadly, I expect one day I'll come by and they'll have killed each other over some mistake one of them made in a game, or they'll just die from lack of personal care. They will scream like 5 year olds at each other for an hour if one of them makes a mistake on Everquest. I wish there was something I could do.
  • by Numen ( 244707 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:56AM (#14050596)
    I spent 6 months in rehad many years ago when I was 18. Any comparison between "gaming addiction" and drug addiction is silly, and moreso insulting. I have lost several friends to overdose and hiv as a result of drug abuse. I have lost no friends to "gaming addiction".... Chemical Dependence run in my family, and has impacted many lives within my family alone. Gaming addiction doesn't.

    In our next article.... Studies Say, Trauma Cause By Paper Cuts Comparable To Road Traffic Accidents.

  • by bluethundr ( 562578 ) * on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:57AM (#14050597) Homepage Journal
    Leo Laporte [] mentioned recently on the excellent podcast TWIT [] (This Week In Tech) in extended discussion with his old chronies from when TechTV's ScreenSavers was in its hayday (in otherwords before G4 TV bought it, moved it from the Bay area, replaced everyone who wasn't telegenic with pretty faces staring stiff and stupid into the camera - in short made it suck donkey ass) observed that Blizzzard's World of Warcraft [] redered one "Only _marginally_ functional as an adult"

    A fact to which my level 31 Mage can readily attest. Apparently Leo has a level *blah* Paladin in that game.

    Also, of note in that same podcast it was mentioned that there are "Latin American sweatshops" where US citizens pay those less of the less fortunate nations to spend the hours on end it takes to "level up" their character so that when they log in "voila"! They can stomp around the land of Azeroth as a Level 60 fill in the blank. Now, I may be an addict, but where the hell is the fun in that? Also, as in other games is the amazing fact that people are selling []characters, equipment and "gold" for umtpeen _hundreds_ to a _thousand_ or more real US 'Mercian DOLLARS!

    The Cyberworld never ceases to shock and amaze...
  • Of course if you show people pictures of games they enjoyed they're going to want to play them. I mean they're stuck in a room being shown pictures of chairs and other boring items, you show them a picture of Super Mario World of course they're going to want to play it.

    If they'd shown a naked picture of Lindsay Lohan would they have concluded that all the subjects were sex addicts because they wanted to have sex with her?
  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:25AM (#14050672)
    Young men find a new excuse for their irresponsible behavior.
  • ObPA (Score:5, Funny)

    by SinaSa ( 709393 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:44AM (#14050714) Homepage
    They say there is a Penny Arcade for every slashdot article. []
  • OCD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TallMatthew ( 919136 )
    It's more accurate to say "gaming fanaticism" and drug addiction both show characteristics of obsessive compulsive disorder. Both exhibit mental preoccupation (obsession) and a repetitive behavior pattern(s) that may or may not be reinforced with a positive stimulus (compulsion). If the individual tries to break the compulsive behavior pattern, he/she is pressed by the obsessive thoughts and becomes uncomfortable. It's as if the brain had imported a subroutine with an ill-placed GOTO loop.

    Any behavior r
  • by DeafByBeheading ( 881815 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:26AM (#14050804) Journal
    ...I find this highly offensive!
  • Don't tell Singapore (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Essef ( 12025 )
    Oh my god! I'm flushing Privateer and Myst down the toilet as I type this (don't ask). Once the Singapore government reads this post we'll all be hanged for sure!
  • An addiction is a very serious thing and even though a total gaming addiction is an unhealthy thing it cant possibly compare to a total hard-drug addiction. Look at a everquest freak and then look at a crackhead ... one's a loser, one's on the verge of death and physically mutated.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.