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