Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Digital Crack: Video Games, Addictive?

Chicago Tribune has gone ahead and posted a piece online about video game addiction. It follows a study that shows 8.5 percent of kids show signs of addiction with video game play. Why is this considered breaking news? Ten years ago when Everquest launched I remember it picking up the nicknames Evercrack and The Widow Maker — after causing numerous couples to split — within a few months.

Before that I remember many people maxing out the timer on Final Fantasy VII on multiple saved games before long. I have logged at least 24 hours on every Final Fantasy game to come out. My record was nearly 400 played days on Final Fantasy XI.

When you hear of someone die from a speed overdose to play longer, or having their children taken away, that is addiction. Enjoying playing a game over sitting in class is not addiction. That means the class is either being taught by someone who teaches for a job rather than someone who wants to excite children, or geometry isn’t your thing. Does addiction exist? Yes, that is why addiction centers started recognizing it years ago. But these studies should really put it against other addictions — don’t see a lot about 8.5 percent of heroin users being addicted.

Reports like this create a stir for a while, parents will take a kid’s games away and they will get pissed and unhappy. Then the parents will assume it is because their kid is addicted and set rules to how much they can play. And the kid will do worse in school and the parent will think that only time will change it. Guess what, the kid is pissed because the parent took away his hobby, he is doing worse in school because he is unhappy, and time will fix it because he will move on eventually.

When did having a hobby you love turn to addiction because you are unhappy when you are kept from it? I know people who are like that when they can’t go for a jog. Last I checked, people aren’t publishing stories about “running addictions”.

Take a deep breath Jonathan, not all that bad, maybe the Trib is publishing anything to bring in the customers now. Cheers.



  1. Wow, this article hits so close to home... I blog about this type of thing all the time over at my page http://wrathofnino.wordpress.com!

    I am a recovering Wowaholic (yes, video games ARE an addiction), played for 2 years and almost lost my job, family and wife over my obsession. It was all I could think about, it dominated every waking moment of my conscious, (and unconscious at night) mind.

    After years of emotional neglect, my family had finally had enough... I was grossly overweight, unhealthy, and a pain to deal with on a daily basis. I quick one night after things had finally hit rock bottom... gave away all my stuff, said goodbye to my online "friends" and signed off... been 6 months now and I am so happy! I have lost over 85lbs, my health is back and my relationship with my wife and daughter has never been stronger.

    Yes, online gaming addiction DOES exist... and for a long time "gamers" have ignored it because they feel attacked... still don't believe me, check out this website too http://www.wowdetox.com... sad testimony to something so devastating and so misunderstood.


  2. Addiction is addiction is addiction. If you have the addict gene there is a bio-chemical 'switch' in the brain that gets hit when some activity causes a release of happy chemicals into the brain, and the brain likes being happy so you want to do it again.
    But the answer is still the same no matter if your kid's 'switch' is set or not. All things in moderation, including moderation. A well-balanced life is much easier to attain if we are taught it at an early age.
    Like I was.
    -sips can of monster-