Interesting article on Slashdot at the moment concerning game addiction. The comments in particular are quite insightful. I’ll paste some of my favorites here, because I know most of you are lazy.
Where are the parents in all of this?
His parents were frightened of him because, weighing more than 130kg, he was too strong for them to confront. Eventually they threatened to kick him out unless he enrolled for a month of therapy.
You’re the parents, you make the rules. Pull the plug, take the computer away, do something, anything. You’d probably hit the roof if you caught your kid with a joint, but when he wants to wrap himself up in computer games you just fucking sit there and let it happen. That shit pisses me off. I hope this clinic is working with parents too to make sure they can control their child’s behavior.”
Re: Where are the parents in all of this?
“Maybe when someone is deciding how to handle a problem with their own child, doing anything isn’t good enough? Maybe they want to do the right thing
It’s odd to me that some Slashdotters take “the parents should be responsible” to mean “the parents should do all parenting alone”. Parents are responsible for the behavior of their children, but if the behavior surpasses the parents ability to moderate/fix/heal, then why on earth should we mock the parents for seeking specialist help? Are we going to make fun of all youth counselors and child psychologists now because “You’re the parent, you make the rule?” Part of holding parents responsible for their own children should be allowing them access to the tools they need to do that job right.”
“Most people hooked on, say, heroin are forced to keep taking it for more reasons than mere lack of willpower. Chemical addiction carries signifigant withdrawl side effects, some of which can be life threatening. Trust me, if you’ve ever known a real addict, you wouldn’t just sum up their addiction as “lack of willpower”.
People hooked on things that don’t carry an external chemical componant, or are only very mildly chemically addictive, don’t have that problem. Yes, addiction can be purely neurochemical, with nothing added to the system, but that isn’t anywhere near as signifigant. People can get hooked on gaming, gambling, sex, religion, TV, violence or minimally addictive food or drugs like caffine or marjuana. Their problem is lack of willpower. Other addicts have the far more serious issue of major chemical dependancy, breaking away from which really does require a detox clinic, or support groups, or any number of other external sources of intervention.
I’m not saying that psychological addiction isn’t real. It is. It’s just not on par with what a serious addict has to deal with. Saying “Real addiction is all about lack of willpower” lumps cokeheads into the same category as people hooked on poker. And the people running this clinic are essentially lumping game addiction into the same category as drug addiction; this isn’t fair to either the hooked gamers or the drug addicts.”
[on a side note, I love this guy’s sig – “Erotic is when you use a feather, exotic is when you use the whole chicken.”]
“Eight years ago, my father had a brain aneurysm and stroke and I am his sole caregiver. I was 21 when it happened. I’ve mostly been stuck at home taking care of him for my entire 20s while I watched friends finish school, get married, have kids, etc. Between the area where I live and the limited ability I have to go out to enjoy life with my friends, I really started losing touch with society and became depressed.
In 2003, my best friend bought EQ at the urging of one of his co-workers. After two months of him nagging me incessantly to try it, against my better judgement, I did. Everything started out fine, him and I would log on for 2-3 hours a night to play together and that was it. About two months into it, him and I were asked to become officers in our guild. At the point you become an officer, you suddenly feel a whole lot more responsibility and you feel like you’re important – everyone in your guild counts on you. Not long after, I became our raid leader and, given the absence of the guild leader for a long period of time, people began to see me as the guild leader as well. Eight months in, I was tagged with the guild leadership officially. I now had seven officers and in the neighborhood of 120 guild members counting on me to be there. By now, I wasn’t playing 2-3 hours a day, I was playing 8-12 hours a day. It wasn’t reality, but it felt real enough – I was important to people and interacting with “society.” Along the way, I met a girl from the other side of the US and we had a fairly turbulent relationship(mostly due to her being bipolar), but we were in love and planned to get married. I knew that EQ was taking up my entire life, but my girlfriend was there and that’s how we spent time together from 3k miles apart and I was the engine the drove hundreds of cogs. At our peak, we had 1039 tagged toons.
This spring, my relationship of two years ended with her and at the same time, the officers staged a coup as the pressures from EQ’s death throes were mounting (yeah, EQ is dying, netcraft, server consolidations and mmogchart confirm it). About a month after I left the girl and my guild, I realized that I no longer had a reason to play and I simply logged off one night never to return again. That was three months ago last weekend.
For me, it wasn’t a game I was addicted to, it was all the social interaction, feeling important and spending time with my gf. After years of being depressed, it was nice to be somebody even if it didn’t mean anything in real life. After the way things ended, my biggest regret is that the things that helped me break that addiction didn’t happen earlier. Oddly enough, despite becoming “nothing” again, I haven’t been depressed and I find myself enjoying the mundane things in life that I neglected for 2.5 years. I still frequently think about EQ and some of the fun times I had in it, but I have no urge to play it anymore… and I deliberately avoid anything that might suck me into a similar situation again. In the meantime, I’m trying to rebuild my life even though I feel that I’m fighting an uphill struggle now at 29.
Our brains are an electro-chemical system and I would argue that the stimuli that make you feel important and good about yourself can be just as addicting as putting that cigarette up to your lips, especially when you and the rest of the world appear to have given up on each other. At 21, when you still have pretty much everything going for you and life hasn’t completely knocked every one of your plans for the future out of whack, it’s pretty easy to think idealistically about how everyone should be able to feel/be/do exactly like you.”
Why is your experience not ‘real life’?
“Why do people think it’s ‘not real’ if it’s conducted primarily on a computer?
Before Everquest existed, I ‘was somebody’ online – ran a guild on a MUD (although not as big as yours), and eventually even ended up running the MUD itself. There were definitely some stretches where I’d often spend 16 hours a day on the computer.
But I’ve also ‘been somebody’ in real life too. I have a real job with real responsibilities and most of the people I work with I have met once, or no times at all, and interact with almost entirely via computer. I’m also the president of one national non-profit organization with a few thousand members I never see, and run another business with 30,000 customers I don’t see either.
And I find that I often spend 16 hours a day on the computer.
Now, most people would consider my job, my non-profit, and my business to be ‘real life’, and I enjoy them. So why are people who enjoy spending 16 hours a day doing something else on the computer not doing ‘real life’? I really can’t think of anything that’s much different between the 16 hours a day I spend playing networked computer games and the 16 hours a day I spend doing various forms of (enjoyable) work. And while you may have felt compelled to play more everquest because people were depending on you, how is that any different than me feeling compelled to go to work for the same reason?
Computer games are certainly no less productive than the time I’ve spent shooting pool at the bar. But somehow going out and shooting pool at the bar is OK while playing games at home is not – why? Also, why is someone who spends 16 hours a day reading books and/or watching TV considered to be doing ‘real life’? All you’re trading is a networked screen with a non-networked screen or page.
Playing on the computer a lot, in and of itself, isn’t an addiction. It’s only natural that you’re going to do the things you enjoy doing as much as you can, and playing computer games isn’t any different than reading or anything else, except people who do those other activities want to pretend their life is more meaningful than computer gamers I guess.
People need to understand what an addiction really is. If you are COMPELLED to do something so much that it interferes with your ability to pay your rent, feed yourself, or maintain relationships that are important to you, that’s an addiction. If it consumes all of your free time, that’s just recreation. And I think it’s a tragedy to try and label someone an ‘addict’ just because of their prefered form of recreation.
Anyway, the time you spend on EQ was real life. And it wasn’t because you were ‘addicted’, it’s because you enjoyed it. Not playing anymore wasn’t an addiction-ending event; you just stopped enjoying playing so you stopped playing. Simple as that.”
“I think for the most part it’s a result of overreactive parents, combined with what I like to call “baby sitter syndrome” (“Why won’t the public school teach my kids morals?!?! Why won’t the gov’t baby sit my kids?!?! Oh my, my kids are playing video games all the time, and I can’t turn it off because they cry and scream and make a scene! I need a Gaming Clinic/Baby sitter to fix my kids for me!”)
Disclaimer: I don’t have kids of my own so the above is probably warped by views of other people who don’t have kids of their own, not to mention stereotypes are rarely all-encompassing. Don’t take it too personally. I was, however, at one point a kid, and I did have parents (who restricted my video gaming and computer time) so I think I still have some things to say on the matter.
Gaming for me was a phase. I always have enjoyed a good game, but it’s not the same as it was when I was a kid. I would play games for hours on end, but now it seems my standards are higher or my attention span lower, because games don’t tend to “hook” me as often as they used to.
I still enjoy a good game of course, but I think I’m still largely “gamed out” from when I was a kid.”
Being a normal teenager is not a crime or a…
“Medical condition. Before the self obsessed BabyBoomers started raising children the majority of young boys didn’t have A.D.D.. This is all just one more “What about me!” from the BabyBoomer generation. “My kids aren’t perfect! Fix them!” This is coming from the people who invented, “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.” “Free love” and your classic 1960’s 1970’s do it if it feels good self absorbed generation. As my hero George Carlin put it, “From cocaine to rogain”. “”These are perfectly decent kids whose lives have been taken over by an addiction,” said Mr Bakker, a former drug addict. “Some have given up school so they can play games. They have no friends. They don’t speak to their parents.”” Giving up school? Normal. No friends? Normal. Who didn’t feel isolated in high school? Not speaking to parents? Normal. Sounds like the kids aren’t watching TV all hours of the day and night and the new technology is frightening mummy.”
“We used to call this neurosis. The actual neurotic behavior isn’t really all that important. What is important is addressing the underlying causes, which often have little or nothing to do with the resulting behavior. This guy obviously has a problem, but obsessive gaming is just the symptom. He could equally well be compulsively plucking his eyebrows or watching TV.”