Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Video Game Addiction

A while back I talked about how I detested the game Diablo and how it is such a pet peeve of mine that people are turning their backs on other people just to play video games. Today I read this article that only reinforces what I was talking about. Yes, video game addiction is an addiction just like any other.

I find it funny how most people don't think you can get addicted to something unless there is a physical substance interacting with your body. For example, almost everyone knows that you can get addicted to alcohol, drugs, painkillers, caffeine, and things of that nature, but most people won't recognize the fact that you can also become psychologically addicted to things, such as the internet, sex, or as this article points out, video games.

To be fair, I'm sure that this article is skewed a little bit to make video game addiction look worse than it actually is, but it is a problem. I've known more than my fair share of people that suffer from what is described in the article.

For example, one of my old college roommates was a gameaholic. He must have easily put in 5 or more hours a day on his computer playing video games. What really was odd about it, however, is that he wasn't playing cutting edge video games or anything we even usually think of as modern gaming. No, he was playing MUDs. For hours on end he would sit there and type away into a text box while reading the colored writing that scrolled up the screen.

It was so odd seeing him as entranced by his monitor as he was. Many times I'd be talking to him only to later realize, when he didn't respond, that he was so engrossed that he had tuned me out. It eventually got to the point where he'd stop coming out to play ultimate frisbee with the club team (he was actually the guy that got me started in the sport) in order to stay in and bang on his keyboard. Maybe there were other reasons for him to quick playing, but from what I could see, it seemed very strongly that video games were the reason he was staying in.

Another one of my roommates I think only had a mild addiction, but it was one that definitely affected his life and grades. He would occasionally play video games for fun, as most male college students do, but when he'd come across a game that he was really intrigued by, he wouldn't quit playing it until he had finished it completely. The first game I saw him do this with was Metal Gear Solid. He ended up playing it straight through a couple of times (in order to get everything in the game) in the span of like two weeks. He'd skip classes, not do his homework, and only would leave the couch to eat and sleep.

Later, when Grand Theft Auto III came out, it really hit the fan with him. Since the game is pretty open-ended, he would play it for hours and hours and hours on end. It was his heroin. He did anything to get his next GTA hit. Again he skipped classes and let his grades plummet. He even had to drop one of his classes because it was impossible for him to get a passing grade since he hadn't done anything for the class, let alone show up very much.

The kicker was that when he was in one of his video game kicks, he wouldn't even clean up after himself. When he'd get nachos, he'd leave the cheese container and chip bag strewn on the floor. If he had pizza, you could expect a chunk of it sitting on the couch next to him (one piece stayed next to his spot for a little under a week). It would just be an utter crap-sty around him. I can feel my skin start to crawl just thinking about it again.

I've known, and still do know, some people that definitely suffer from a psychological addiction to games. It's really quite sad to see how it affects people, but when I've tried to bring it to their attention or change their ways I am only chastised or told that I am wrong. I think every gamer should at least attempt to step back and examine his or her gaming patterns. People usually don't know they're addicted until someone tells them, so if I tell you to lay of the games, please do!

Oh yeah, and Diablo is the worst game ever created. The end.

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