Wednesday, 12 August 2015

"I'm addicted to video games" or perhaps not

We all know that feeling. You know, the one where you get that new game that you’ve been waiting months for. You load it up, get out your Doritos and bucket of Mountain Dew sit back and play through as much of it as possible before your friends and family become worried and start planning your intervention. But after that initial binge you go back to your life, job and disgruntled partner and back to regulating how much you play. At least that’s what usually happens. However some people don’t do this, they continue to play that game, continue to play until it starts to affect other aspects of their life and then that intervention isn’t just some snarky comment made by a uni student.
Said university student also says that ‘video game addiction’ isn’t as bad as the media says it is. Anyone can properly say they’ve heard the stories about people dying from spending too much time playing video games and then it seems like video game addiction is a rabid dog attacking the youth of our world.  However looking at causes of death per year in America, more people die each year from vending machines than they do video games. In saying that though, video game addiction (in its most base form) is an actual thing and should be taken seriously. But again calling it an addiction to video games isn’t right either. In order form something to be called an Addiction (from a medical view) it must check out the following criteria
1.      Tolerance (using or doing more over time)
2.      Withdrawal
3.      Having limited control over using or doing
4.      Continued use after significant negative consequences
5.      Neglecting of other activates
6.      Significant time/money spent on using or doing   
7.      Experiencing a need to cut down
These criteria are taken from the DSM-IV and the ICD-10 (1) and are what health professionals look to when diagnosing someone with addiction and while a lot of these things can apply to someone experiencing ‘video game addiction’ saying the addiction is to the actual video game is what doesn’t sit right. It’s also worth noting that while video games can affect our brains, it can’t affect it in the same way as traditional addictive acts can (drugs, alcohol and sex being the most obvious) that is, on a biological-chemical level, and unlike other acts video games take a long time to take this affect or don’t leave a long lasting affect to change the chemicals in our brain so that we become addicted.  In fact, video game addiction is not a recognized disorder and that’s because it’s not an addiction to video games. Let me elaborate on this point, while what people experience when they have ‘video game addiction’ is addiction the underlying reasons as to why they play so much is what the real addiction is. These reasons are usually connected to social and socio-economic issues in that person’s life and these issues aren’t just linked to this idea of video game addiction. In Japan, this form of addiction has been going on for years in the form of people becoming ‘Otaku’. The word (unlike its western adaption) actually refers to someone whom doesn’t have a job, doesn’t socialize and rarely leaves their own home, more often than not these people also engage the cultural entertainment of Anime/Manga. People who become an ‘Otaku’ in Japan have the same underlying problems as those who experience ‘video game addiction’.
The point of all this is to show that when talking about ‘video game addiction’ it’s important to not blame all on video games themselves, if video games didn’t exist that person would still become ‘addicted’ to something else as long as it filled the void of what he underling issues left.  So rather than someone being addicted to video games, a broader look at their life and own personal problems needs to be taken into account, for the best hope of living a happy and healthy life. 

Again, Extra Credits has a good video on this topic
Some games are designed to be addictive

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