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Gaming Addiction: The Dangers of Leveling Up

 An addiction is a dependence on a substance or action. For instance, there are many people who are addicted to cigarettes and alcohol and still others who are addicted to sex.  There is one addiction; however, that does not formally exist in psychological literature, video game addiction. Video game addiction is part of a larger set of compulsive conditions, such as compulsive gambling and compulsive eating. These kinds of conditions are not normal forms of addictions as they don’t rely on substance dependence like the one users get from alcohol and the nicotine in cigarettes. Instead, these users feel like something is wrong if they don’t do the actions, like something is out of place. They don’t do these actions because they make them feel good; they do them because they feel they need to.

 It isn’t an accident that some gamers have become addicted; if you look at some of the biggest games you can see how they appeal to the most basic human instincts. In World of Warcraft, the more stuff you obtain, the better off you are. This simulates the human need to gather food and resources to survive, the more stuff you have, the higher you are in the societal ladder. In WoW, it is nearly impossible to collect every piece of loot and raid every dungeon. The nearly limitless options and quests can leave a gamer wanting more and more. And in this case, more can be a very dangerous thing.

 

 

Video game dependence has not been officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Society; they say that there have not been enough studies to corroborate the claim that a lot of the gaming community is highly addicted to the highly choreographed button presses. In my mind, the evidence is overwhelming. From the man who played Starcraft in a South Korean internet café for 50 hours until he died from cardiac arrest, to the man who left his two 10 month old twins in a bathtub unattended while he went to play his Gameboy Advance, video game addiction is not a trivial matter. The people who are affected deserve the same help that any addict gets, and make no mistake, left alone video game addiction can be just as deadly as any drug.

Here is a checklist for determining if you are a gaming addict. If any of these apply to you, then may be addicted and should consult a physician. (This list is courtesy of www.webmd.com and was reviewed by Louise Chang, MD)

 

  • Playing for increasing amounts of time
  • Thinking about gaming during other activities
  • Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
  • Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming
  • Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming

 

If you do determine that you are an addict, then you have a multitude of resources at your disposal. For starters, you can talk to a psychiatrist or therapist in your area and they should be able to help with a mild addiction.

Here is a brief list of other resources available to you:

Online Gamers Anonymous

Center for Internet Addiction Recovery

Aspen Education Group

Smith and Jones Center

If you feel like you or someone that you know is affected by video game addiction it is important to act immediately, because gaming addiction is just as dangerous as any other addiction; you never know which game could be your last.

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