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"Gaming Like Crack Cocaine" Comment Must Be Clarified

This is the kind of story that absolutely must be clarified, because the uninitiated will simply use it as ammunition.

Violent video games is one issue; the addictive nature of video games is something else altogether. I strongly believe that violent media has a significant and even profound impact on people, especially developing individuals (children). However, I have never believed gaming is an addictive hobby; at least, no more so than anything else. It's about as addictive as bicycling, gardening, making model trains, reading, stamp collecting, etc.

However, headlines like this one aren't doing us any favors. The only part of that article that the naysayers will remember is this- "For me gaming was like crack cocaine." The preceding depicts a clear addiction, which resulted in five straight weeks of staying inside, 40-hour gaming sessions, and a serious drop in health. Oh, and it seems he was a law student, too. You know, before video games ruined his life.

At least, that's the message the mainstream reader will get from that article. But it was World of Warcraft. Look, as someone with a Psychology degree and someone who has seen the significant differences between online and single-player gaming, let me explain something:

The only forms of supposed "video game addiction" involve online multiplayer games. I don't believe that's an exaggeration. I don't believe that anybody was ever addicted - and when I say "addicted," I'm using the clinical term - to Super Mario Bros.. I don't believe anyone today was addicted to the Uncharted games or anything like that. Call of Duty multiplayer? Yes. It's online. It's playing with others and it's highly addictive, as is WoW and any other MMO. It wasn't called "Evercrack" for nothing. The games that don't end, that continue to operate under the guise of being "social" by letting you "interact" with others, are dangerous.

That's what I said- dangerous. Of course, this is only true if you have an addictive personality. I'm hardly saying that everyone who plays an MMO is addicted or will become addicted. I don't believe in sweeping generalizations. What I am saying is that the only games that have the capability of inflicting clinical addiction on someone are all online multiplayer titles, and it has to do with the illusion of interaction. They're not social but you keep tricking your brain into thinking they are, and everyone is of a like mind. Just keep pushing forward, leveling, getting loot, and not stopping. I find it intensely boring and to be honest, I'm very glad I do.

It should also be noted that he started playing video games when he was 12.  There was no mention of him being addicted before, correct?  It's a guarantee that it never happened; it only happened when he got involved with WoW.  I've seen things like this happen many times before; someone can play games their whole lives, games of all types and styles. But the instant you give them a MMO of some kind, or get them heavy into online multiplayer, and things can change rapidly. We're simply talking about two very different kinds of entertainment.

That is Internet addiction, not video game addiction. There is a reason why Activision became the biggest game publisher on earth: Call of Duty and World of Warcraft can be and are immensely addictive, at least for those who are predisposed to such a problem. And of course, nobody is getting addicted to the CoD campaign. That ends. And nobody is playing it over and over and over for weeks on end, unable to leave the room. The bottom line is that saying "for me gaming was like crack cocaine" is inaccurate. It isn't fair to the industry. That is Internet addiction, as far as I'm concerned, not game addiction. I'm not sure game addiction even exists.

I think this needed to be said, especially with video games coming under such heavy scrutiny these days.

Tags: video games, video game addiction, game addicts, internet addiction

7/28/2013 9:55:21 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (29 posts)

Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 10:38:21 PM

Interesting point, I've never heard of single player game addiction either. Online interactions give you the illusion that everything you're doing is a new experience time and again. I'm glad I never got into them because I have an immensely addictive personality.

Just started watching this anime Sword Art Online, it's pretty cool, some psycho game developer in the future makes a VR MMO and won't let any of the players leave. You die in the game, you die for reals ya'll, hah.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 12:00:13 AM

That anime is pretty good, it reminded me of a modern .Hack/Sign but at a faster pace with the story and action.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 10:58:05 PM

I like the differentiation with "internet addiction". I think that's probably the best title for it.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 2:08:44 PM

I agree, it's professionalism that way.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 7/29/2013 2:10:01 PM

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Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:09:36 PM

I have a few friends that play online all the time and they tried to get me to buy a pc to play with them. I was trying to be open minded and agreed to check out the games they were playing and I must admit, I was not impressed by any means. League of Legends was one of the games and it was the most boring sh*t I've ever seen.

There must be something going on with the social aspect of online gaming that I'll never be able to get into. I understand that people also play games on pc that can be found on consoles, but not these guys.

I'm not going to spend my money to play what I consider to be the absolute worst that gaming can offer. If there is an addiction, it definitely isn't because of the gameplay.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:14:54 PM

Internet addiction. Technology addiction. Information addiction. Call it whatever you like. It is incorrect to single out video games specifically as a cause.

Anything can become addictive. It is human nature.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:15:11 PM

I believe you can create a dependency on anything, if you so desire. Console rpgs and fps are some of those games that come to mind where you can easily become addicted.

Anything that can take you away from the real world for as long as you play it can be very dangerous to some.

I will be the first to admit I have been addicted to games of all types, playing hours at a time. I can guarantee that Dutka can say the same thing. Final Fantasy Tactics comes to mind. You have to play that game for over 100 hours to get everything, and you can't tell me that is not some sort of addiction if you are playing 3 hours plus a day on it.

End of line.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:24:19 PM

I wouldn't call that an addiction at all unless those 3 hours somehow ended your marriage and made you lose your job and made you lose 50 pounds and caused your grandma to stage an intervention.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:39:44 PM

"Playing hours at a time" is hardly addiction. Look up the definition in a medical manual. People spend 3 hours a day on their hobbies all the time; some spend that much time reading a new book or watching a couple movies or doing some tinkering with their motorcycle or car. How long do you expect people to spend with hobbies? 10 minutes?

No, I've never been addicted to anything, including games. Yes, FFT can take many hours to get and do everything. It takes me at least a month to do that.

Some people really have no idea what "addiction" actually means, obviously.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 7/29/2013 12:54:44 AM

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Comic Shaman
Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 12:01:17 PM

I do have some first-hand experience with this. My father developed a compulsive habit of playing a game called Strategic Conquest on the old Mac (look it up, if you're curious... an obscure old thing). He would go for stretches of 10-12 hours at a time, 5-7 days a week.

Did it cost him his marriage? No, but it came close. My mom ended up self-medicating with prescription drugs, and that addiction nearly killed her.

Did it cost him his job? He was a freelancer at the time, so it certainly cost him work. He stopped searching for new jobs and all his income dried up.

Was it an addiction? I go back and forth on that one. I think he was clinically depressed, and playing the game was an expression of that disease. It certainly became an extreme compulsion.

And yes, it did require an intervention.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:36:22 PM

Single player games can become addictive, but in a very different way. It's impossible to become addicted to any one game, but it is possible to become addicted to gaming in general as a form of escapism. Like FatherSun said, people can become addicted to anything.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:46:27 PM

I was addicted to running in high school. lol. weird, I know. Won some races because of it, but I also would run on a torn ankle or when I supposed to rest to let swelling in my knee go down before an MRI. I would feel sick if I wasn't getting my endorphines.

It's ok now though. I'm nice and hefty and out of shape now. I have video games in part to thank for curing me of addiction.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 7/28/2013 11:46:39 PM

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 1:49:27 AM

With all the heavy fire that gaming and gamers have been taking lately, I think of my 14 yr old daughter. If the 'experts' were to look at her gaming habits, they'd definitely label her an addict and a potentially violent gamer. She loves COD. She spends hours playing and only comes out of her room to eat, go to the bathroom, and shower. From the outside, it looks like an addiction. But what they'd never realize is that she's a normal 14 yr old girl. She does all the things that well-adjusted teens do. She likes to hang with her friends. She watches tons of ridiculous reality shows. And she wouldn't hurt a fly. The experts wouldn't care that she sometimes stays in her room all day reading and/or writing. All they would see is this innocent child who is heavily into scary, scary video games.

It's almost as if they have an agenda to scourge anyone who they feel is contra-mainstream. They don't seem to realize that gaming is a mainstream hobby of sorts.

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Killa Tequilla
Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 1:52:52 AM

I had a huge addiction to CoD4 multiplayer.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 2:20:24 PM

I keep going back to it sometimes.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 2:06:14 AM

Are we talking about addiction or escapism.
I have to say the latter.

I don't think video games are addictive
,maybe some endorphins are released into the brain when you level up a character or find a hidden package but isn't the article above really about a personal choice to live in complete apathy?
Who was paying this guys rent and buying all those pizzas he was feasting on?
Probably mommy and daddy
which enabled him and his lifestyle built around a lack responsibilities and no personal growth.
I don't have any sympathy for people that choose to do nothing then complain when life is passing them by
-much less get an article printed about how worthless they've become.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 4:11:53 AM

i like video games for escapeism sme times for de stressing and such things it's a break from realitey and life. but i wudn'y addicited but yes it is a hobby i really enjoy and i really hated it when my parents thought i was addicted still do i manage my gaming i have other things to do now days finished highschool yeah that explains it's's all just apart of the blame game yea and it is anoiying.

happy gaming =)

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 9:13:14 AM

Well, I have had discussions with a number of friends and colleagues on the difference between addiction and habitual behaviour. Both have dependency aspects to the them.

I have a number of colleagues I would say are addicted to WoW and CoD and the like. Its a big part of their social lives and many of them "have to" get online to play them just about everyday.

I would agree that the social aspect or multiplayer aspect of any game is a major factor here. At least these days. Much of it the competitive nature of those games to be on top above other players and/or friends.

Its not dissimilar to the old arcade and pinball games. When I was a kid I had friend who had "their machine" that they played ALL the time to maintain top score. Its an adrenalin rush and in the end almost an addiction... or obsession.

Like gambling, you get sucked in and need to feel you beet someone, the bank or another player. Yep, I think some, based on their background or genetic makeup MIGHT be more susceptible to it. Its more likely apart of ALL of our dna. Somehow the competitive nature to survive? or dominate?

Its interesting but unfortunately as is suggested could be used pro or con towards gaming.

Point would be that some do get obsessed by it and in the worse case scenario, suffer for it as well as their families if it turns to tragedy. These nothing is completely approached causally or occasionally.

Keep Playing... know you limits.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 9:24:48 AM

I disagree somewhat. I think puzzle games can be addicting too, and they don't involve playing online with others. Look at Candy Crush Saga.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 11:07:09 AM

Nobody is missing school or work and letting their life fall into ruins because of Candy Crush Saga.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 11:55:36 AM

You say single player games cant be addictive? (this only applie sto single player games or single player games with multiplayer modes like CoD or uncharted)Then I ask you this question (since it would also end a debate Ive been having with someone) What about those ppl over 18 who stay at home and refuse to get a job because theyd rather stay at home gaming all day because they know working 40 hours a week would severely limit how much they can get done in game as opposed to having all the time in the world to do it (like platinuming a game and getting all teh trophies theys usually do it in a week and move on to the next game would now take them a month or more if they had a job and they dont wanna take that long).

Or what about ppl who DO work 40 hours a weel but every waking moment of their fre etime that isnt spent eating, sleeping, pooping or at work is spent gaming.

Would you or would you not call teh two examples I gave above an addiction? and if not please explain why. My cousin calls those addictions I personally say theyre not citing that "if someone in example two has the logical sense and reasoning to know not to leave their job to stay home and game because the bills wont pay themselves and without electricity, internet or a house to live in they wont be able to play games, if they have the intelligence to think like that then theyre not addicted" But he says theyre still addicts in that case theyre just "functional addicts"

so since you have the psychology background then you have the experience to tell me which of us is correct, so by all means please do end this conversation for us.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 3:18:24 PM

I can't end the conversation. I don't know what games they're playing, first of all.

I can say this, however-

We are becoming an increasingly sluggish, aimless society. If someone would rather stay at home all week, regardless of what they intend to do with that time, I don't think gaming is the issue. I think "slug disease" is the issue. I think they, like a shocking number of people today, simply don't want to move.

It's an excuse to be lazy. That's all. And we're really good at giving people those excuses, because we cater to and coddle the lazy on a daily basis. It's not games that are the cause of this. It's something much larger, a downward civilization spiral that seems impossible to stop.

Whether or not they're addicted, I don't know. I just know they're choosing to be useless.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013 @ 1:50:44 AM

ok so then according to you teh first example is under lazy (which is the answer i expected you to give actually) but what about the second? choosing to do nothing with your FREE time outside of gaming.. i.e your daily schedule is always eat, sleep, poop, go to work and play video games... no other leisure or outdoor activities aside from gaming, that means no dates, no going to the movies, no walks in the park, no social interaction (outside of work and online in a game) would that fall under addiction?

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 12:13:36 PM

What do you expect Ben? They failed at the violence in video games, So now the braying old asses and the sqwakin' old hens and the bible thumpin' twits have to find another way to attack us gamers. It's very plain to see.

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SirLoin of Beef
Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 1:50:03 PM

A few years back, I was quite hooked on playing World of Warcrack. My guild was one of the tops on the server I was on (which isn't saying much, to be honest, as we were one of the lowest rated servers) and when I wasn't working, I was involved in the various raids and didn't get to bed until 1-2 AM, giving me only a few hours of sleep before work. When I wasn't raiding, I was joined up with friends in my guild running through the dungeons looking for bits and pieces of crap that would improve our characters, thereby improving our raids.

I missed out on a ton of gatherings with local friends and damaged more than a few friendships because of it. Most I've been able to repair now that I play it very sporadically now. Work the next day was pretty awful, too, as I was dead tired.

I won't lie, though. I did have fun playing it. The group of people I ran with were a fun group of people. The cost of having all that fun, though, was almost too high.

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Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 3:11:33 PM

oooh yeah those bastards are quite addictive.
I was totally addicted to a mmorpg for a good three years. It's like an alternative reality, where life simply is not that complicated, and oh so colourful.
It's like a drug, really.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 3:19:26 PM

That's my problem. To me, Activision is a borderline drug pusher. All the evidence I need for that seemingly ludicrous claim is to see their success...such rapid success and obscene flow of money really only exists in the world of drugs, does it not...?

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 7/29/2013 3:19:44 PM

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013 @ 4:43:48 PM

Hehe - good point.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013 @ 10:16:52 AM

I admit I was addicted to WoW about 2 years ago. But I do not agree that only MMO can be addictive, because even if WoW would be single player game I would be sucked in also. I played this game only solo, I didn't raid, didn't PvP. I was drawn by immense world and lore it offered, countless quests and obtaining new gear. ~400 hours has past.
It nearly destroyed my marriage so I quit and deleted my account never to come back again.

Last edited by JackieBoy on 7/30/2013 10:19:20 AM

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