Video game addiction is hard


Good God. There’s an article that was published on Green Pixels not too long ago that discussed video game addiction. It’s your standard-issue “question” piece, where the writer asks a question—can video games be addictive?—and goes to a variety of experts, be they doctors, industry executives, and whatnot, and tries to ascertain their opinion. What’s insane, however, is this retort (of sorts) by Neils Clark, who co-wrote the book Game Adiction: The Experience and the Effects, which was published in May. He also teaches at Digipen.

The retort—again, of sorts. It’s not as if Clark rubbishes the entire Green Pixels article—lists 10 things to think about before after having read the original article. I just finished reading the whole thing, but unless you’re used to reading the obtuse language of Academia, you may want to just skim it.

Of the 10, I’ll highlight a few here:

• Games aren’t drugs. You cannot necessarily treat (or liken) drug addiction and video game addiction as one in the same; video games aren’t drugs that can be consumed, like alcohol or heroin.

• Addiction is a proper medical condition, though most people tend to throw it around all the time. “I’m addicted to caffeine!” Really? Maybe you really enjoy that cup of coffee in the morning, and at lunch, and at dinnertime, but that doesn’t mean your body is physically addicted to it. People ought really up on actual, legitimate addiction before, say, accusing your kid of being addicted to World of Warcraft.

• Gamers should stop seeing themselves as a “victim” in the crosshairs of media blowhards. Media blowhards—some so-called expert on CNN or Fox News who’s constantly running down video games as being ruinous to out society—exist, and you do not need to “no” every time they say “yes.” Stop seeing yourselves as enemies, and instead use the opportunity to examine yourself (and your friends and family) to make sure that everything is on the up and up. The talking heads may be jerks, but that doesn’t mean that whoever yells loudest is most correct.

• Do you think you have a problem? Like, an actual problem, and you’re not just being a lazybones playing Xbox instead of working? Professional help in the form of a psychologist may not be a bad thing to consider, though it’s always important to recognize that they have a financial incentive to keep you in that chair week in, week out.

• We need more research into “video game addiction.” Essentially, the American Medical Association is open to the idea of exploring video game addiction, but it needs to see more solid research before it can say, “We think this issue merits further research.” Because once the AMA puts its stamp of approval on video game addiction research, then doctors all over the country can approach the money men and say, “See, the AMA says this is a legitimate medical issue, and it’s one my team and I would like to investigate further.”

That is all. Phew!