Video Games; is it really an Addiction?
There are many addictions out there among us in the world and each addiction has been known to cause problems. The definition of addiction can be many things, but in this particular research paper I am going to discuss Video game Addictions. Specifically World of Warcraft gaming addictions and what this addiction does to the gamer’s life. Such as not socializing outside of the game and also people who let this addiction get so bad that it interferes with relationships and even their marriages. Video game addiction is an excessive use of computer video games in which one lets the addiction interfere with normal daily life. In this research paper I will use my own experiences along with facts of this addiction and what the effects on real life of a World of Warcraft player. I will also have a one on one interview with someone I believe to be a World of Warcraft addict.
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WOW (World of Warcraft) is a (MMORPG) or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Millions of people from all over the world play together and create groups and quest thru the game to get the best gear and to just be the best in game. This game is setup with monthly subscription fees whether you play or not you get billed. WOW also has a game card system which allows gamers to buy time in advance. The only downfall to this is you pay you play otherwise money is being wasted when you’re not playing
Many gamers continually play and play to keep up with their online friends and when I say keep up I am referring to levels of one’s character or achievements in-game. The dazzling effects of the water look so real and graphical details of terrain and characters are magnificent. Gamers do not want to be left behind; I know I never wanted to be left behind. I played for hours on end trying to keep up with everyone and eventually I realized this has to end. Problems were on the horizon and I seen them coming. I can write even more about why people are drawn to play WOW for hours on end but I want to know how this addiction is affecting their lives outside of WOW.
Who is Addicted?
I have read many articles on this particular topic and find that this is not only common with young youth but also with adults. Gender is also not an issue. Do people realize they are spending too much time involved in a fantasy world? Do people who play see no problems at all? It’s all about self control and setting priorities first, but unfortunately gamers usually do not have anything prioritized. While over time this excessive misuse can lead to bigger problems down the road. Also keep in mind that World of Warcraft has 11,000,000 million monthly subscribers that pay to play this game as much as they can.
Most people believe that it’s normal for kids to play video games, but not all day every day. Excessive gaming in kids can lead to many social problems from disobedience with parents to kids actually withdrawing themselves with the real world to play in a fantasy one. Adults are also addicts when it comes to video games. Their ages range from 18-50 years old who actively play this game on a daily basis, while older players keep their video gaming a secret from others.
Why do people get addicted?
There are many, many articles and journals on this particular topic that talk about WOW addicts and there consequences. What I fail to see in my research are questions such as: Why are people addicted to these games? Is it really an addiction? Is it because real life is somewhat stressful and playing this game places one in a fantasy world free of stress? Or do people play to just pass the time? When I played, I did feel less stressful in-game. I sometimes felt like I was a completely different person, someone who I wanted to be fictitiously. Maybe there are others out there that feel the same way as I once did.
Many will agree that it’s the thrill of the game or the next big raid where forty online players will battle a boss all at the same time with strategic force. One theory of addictions says Turner (2008) is that people become addicted to things/activities that are either positively reinforcing (receive rewards) or negatively reinforcing (escape from something aversive). Video games offer the potential for both.
Wood’s (2008) study said people identified as having a video game addiction often use the games to cope with stress. However, using games to relax and escape from reality is not necessarily a problem. If people choose to play video games instead of dealing with problems or responsibilities, this is a symptom of their problems, not a cause.
There are many other reasons why people reach for the fantasy world. Children and teens that play excessively have social problems and cannot seem to communicate with their peers. Some even get bullied in school. So in turn go home and play this game where no one bullies them and makes socializing easier when it’s not face to face communication. This may not be true for most youth but the ones that are addicted use it as an escape. Maybe people get addicted just because they want to play.
The consequences of this addiction
Adults also have been known to become addicted to WOW with serious consequences. Yes the game is fun to play but the fact of the matter is adults have responsibilities such as work, their relationship with their spouse and kids. People spend up to 16 hours a day if not more playing this online game knowing that there is school or work tomorrow. There also was a kid that played 36 hours straight and collapsed from dehydration that I read awhile back online.
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Marriages have ended due to this addiction. Spouses who devote their entire extra spare time playing WOW in the mean time the other spouse is feeling neglected. The WOW player is so involved within the game that he/she does not realize how bad this addiction is getting. Why does it come down to this? Are video game addictions like another form of narcotics such as crack? Can one be rehabilitated and be able to live a normal life in the real world instead of a fantasy one.
There are many self help programs out there for people who feel that they cannot control this obsessive behavior over video games. Sven Rollenhagen (2009) said “There is no known medical diagnosis of conditions brought on by excessive game-playing, but it is clear they have a very powerful addictive hold over many people who use them.” Many psychologists do not believe that video game addictions are real but then again some do. There need to be more studies done on this topic. Griffiths (2008) said “the fact that several studies overestimate the prevalence of video game addiction does not mean that it does not exist”. There are also groups of psychologist willing to go as far as playing WOW to see its addictive traits first hand to get a better grasp on the matter. This means they become the gamer who is addicted to understand more fully what goes on in the minds of addicts.
Interview with a gamer
I setup an interview with an associate of mine to get a few answers and opinions on his addiction to World of Warcraft. His name is Matt and works everyday as head chef for a fine Restaurant. Matt said “I play World of Warcraft whenever I am not working, it is something to do.” I mentioned to him that many people spend hours playing the game to be the best knowing that there are priorities to be done. How do you handle these priorities’? Matt said without hesitation, “What priorities? I work and I play need I do anymore?” Then I went on to ask what about relationships, dating of the sort. Matt declined to answer my question other than to say “She left me a long time ago and I am happy without her” (M. Walzcak, personal communication, November 11, 2009).
These are the things happening to many people around the world not just Matt. The game takes over in their minds speaking for them, not knowing that this may affect things later on. Just small signs of what’s to come for Matt. Or maybe he will realize that priorities and relationships whether their your friends or spouse should come first and foremost considering the game will still be there and your friends may not.
We find out that there may be many different reasons why these games can be addictive. Some would play to pass time while others play it because it is all they think about, even though there excessive play time is ruining marriages, relationships and friendships along with their jobs. Is there hope for an video game addict, many say yes while others disagree entirely saying it is not a mental disorder in need of treatment.
Wood (2008) said it is concluded that the most likely reasons that people play video games excessively are due to either ineffective time management skills, or as a symptomatic response to other underlying problems that they are escaping from, rather than any inherent addictive properties of the actual games.
In conclusion, I feel this answers most of the questions we have been pondering on throughout this paper. I may have not got all the info needed to perform an in-depth analysis but this is definitely a great start. The more I research the more I figure out why I am sometimes addicted to the newest game out there and so to for others.
- Griffiths, M. (2008). Video game addiction: Further thoughts and observations. International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 6, 182 – 185.
- R, Sven. (2009, February 27). World of Warcraft more addictive then cocaine. Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/4863325/World-of-Warcraft-more-addictive-than-cocaine.html
- Turner, N. (2008). A comment on “Problems with the concept of video game “addiction”: Some case study examples.” International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 6, 186 – 190.
- Wood, R. (2008). Problems with the concept of video game “addiction”: Some case study examples. International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 6, 169 – 178.
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