Alright, part three, here we go. There’s probably more stats that I could share with you, but I think something that’s just as important are the stories of individuals who actually have dealt with compulsive behavior when it comes to playing games.
Bryan Hall, at his blog JohnnyBGamer actually began talking about the idea of game addiction at the same time I did. He dedicated one post to sharing an analysis of the term “addiction” to see if it really applied to videogames. In his second post, however, he shared candidly about a season he now refers to as a “lost summer,” where he did almost nothing but play World of Warcraft for several months straight. So what happened as a result? In his words, “My personal relationships began to suffer during this time. I drove my parents nuts, almost lost my girlfriend, and did nothing to grow myself physically/ spiritually.”
Drew Dixon’s first article for Relevant actually had something to do with the subject too. It’s entitled “Beating The Video Game Fixation.” He candidly shares the way he struggles with maintaining composure while playing competitive video games online. The article is not as much about having a lifestyle built around compulsive playing, but it still illustrates the incredible power that games can have over our behavior, and that you don’t necessarily need to reach the depths of a destructive lifestyle that will be described in the next example for games to negatively influence your life.
This, now is the story that inspired the entire series. James Portnow is the writer of a show called Extra Credits. In addition to being professionally involved in the gaming industry he also writes regularly for numerous online journals. In fact he wrote the script of the video that I shared last week. If you would watch this video you’ll see that he meant to write a script dealing further with the idea of game addiction, but the idea of it just hit too close to home and he was compelled instead to sit down in front of a webcam and share his story of dealing with game compulsion in his own life.
My favorite quote of his has to be “Life always welcome you back.” I was reminded while watching this video of the parable Jesus told about the son who had abandoned his home, lost his inheritance in wild living, and returned home, full of shame, only to be welcome in by his father with open arms. I was reminded of my own story of abandoning God, wasting my life on pointless living, driven on by my own shame. It wasn’t ever that I was afraid to come back to God, it was just that I thought I was too far gone, had made too many mistakes. But God always welcomes you back, and he can redeem even wasted time.
James’ story inspired me to tell my own. It inspired me to put together the talk that I’m going to start presenting at local churches on this very subject. (My first opportunity is coming up soon, on the 28th. Pray that I would have courage and wisdom to say what i need to say!) I’m also going to type up some of that story in the next day or two. Thank you, everyone who has read this, for all your encouraging feedback. We’re definitely on to something here.
Yesterday we introduced the topic of the week, video game addiction. I said that it was not as controversial as the ongoing discussion about video game violence, but the more I think about it, the more it seems that the issue of gaming “Addiction” may actually hit closer to home for many people. While stories of people committing acts of violence because of games are few and far between, it seems almost everyone knows someone who plays an unhealthy amount of video games.
The statistics in yesterdays infographic painted a fairly dark picture of what it must be like to be a gamer. That’s why I wanted to follow it up with this interesting little video, made by the team at Extra Credits, which does a fantastic job of approaching the issue from a gamer’s perspective.
If you don’t have time to sit and watch the 6-ish minute video, here’s the “too long; didn’t watch” version:
FIRST: Most of the hysteria around “game addiction” distracts from real, important issues.
1. There is no epidemic of people dying from game addiction, despite sensationalist stories.
2. Gaming is not “Addictive” in that it doesn’t alter your brain chemistry, but it can be very “Compulsive.”
3. Gaming compulsion does exist, but that doesn’t make games evil.
Games (like everything else) don’t need to be perfect to be good.
On the flipside, we need to be able to recognize the problems in order to solve them.
4. Game compulsion doesn’t exist in isolation. ie: games are never the only problem.
FINALLY: Games can be compulsive, especially among children. Parents can’t just blame games for society’s ills, they need to recognize that games are a part of our society and learn how to raise healthy children within that society. The best tip is not to just “make them go outside,” but to actually play with them and teach them firsthand how to have healthy playing habits.
Tomorrow we’re diving into a firsthand account of just how powerful a gaming habit can be. Feel free to sound off in the comments- Have you ever known anyone who struggled with this? Have you yourself?
We’ve already established that the most controversial issue surrounding video games is how violent they can be. But there is another issue that always seems to come up: Game Addiction. This is an especially prevalent discussion in regards to the “Massively Multiplayer Online” genre, which combines the already-compulsive nature of incentivized play with the alluring comfort of community and the ability to build real relationships in cyberspace.
In 1999 the game Everquest was released and set a new standard for just how habit forming games could be. It was fondly referred to as “Never-rest” or ”Evercrack.” Later, World of Warcraft made the wordplay even easier, becoming “World of Warcrack.” The reputations of games and their similarities to drugs was cemented as various clinics began launching rehab programs for “Game Addiction.”
This is an issue that hits close to home for me. I considered myself a gaming addict in high school. A major theme of the book I’m working on will be an exploration of the feelings that accompanied that season.
I’m going to be sharing some really interesting stuff over the next few days, but this is something to get you started, an infographic on the topic. Obviously when getting into an issue like this where there any sort of socio-political ramifications, there is always going to be a bias, so take all the numbers with a grain of salt. However, this is a good starting point.
So yes, quite depressing. But I’m walking proof that there’s a way out. Keep engaged as we dive deeper into this issue through the rest of the week. Share this on Facebook with anyone who may be interested, and re-tweet to let the world know. Also, if you haven’t already, please “Like” the Facebook page. It’s as easy as clicking the button on the right side of the page. Thanks everyone!