This article is intended to give background on video games addiction, gaming and its industry, and show you how you or your loved one may become addicted to gaming. At the same time, I would like to explain some of the terminology used in the industry in hopes that it will help you understand what goes on behind the scenes of the gaming industry. It may also shed some light onto what your loved ones are going through and how confusing it might be.
It is not only scary and confusing for the people around the addict, but also to the people with video game addictions. How can something so entertaining and seemingly harmless also be so destructive?
On the other hand, this article by no means is a comprehensive source on video games addiction or the multi-billion dollar gaming industry behind it. I do have a lot of first-hand knowledge on the matter. Although I will refrain from using “troll” language and try to stick with language that everyone can understand, I feel that I must at least inform you of proper terms that will allow you to better understand and be understood by your loved ones. After all, it is not called playing video games, but gaming; and as far as a video games addiction, that is infamously titled “hardcore” gaming.
The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar business, and like any business, game developers and manufacturers of gaming consoles are only concerned with one thing: profit. In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to compare it to the Tobacco and Alcohol industries. You might think this is far off, however like both of those markets, games also carry health warnings written in the smallest font possible: “Warning, some people may have a seizure playing this game! Do not play more than XX hours!” Unfortunately, however, only few games contain warnings regarding video games addiction.
Playing video games is fun and entertaining, even in some cases educational. It can be a hobby, and for some people it is actually a profession. It can also increase reactive skills, creativity and force gamers to think outside the box. However it can also be destructively addictive. Someone with an addiction to video games feels unable to stop themselves from playing video games, regardless of the physical and psychological consequences it has on them and their loved ones. It involves an obsession to play and a loss of control while playing. Unfortunately, it is readily available to anyone with credit card or access to a credit card. Did you know there are almost as many games for cell phones than consoles? And many of them are free, for that matter.
It is a cut throat business, and business gets better with not just new gamers, but turning those gamers into “hardcore” gamers. Hardcore gamers think gaming is awesome, not destructive. If you need evidence of that, simply search the internet for videos of gamers - there will be videos that are hours long with gamers proving their skills of beating the games over and over at hardcore difficulty. Years ago this was frowned upon as being anti-social by parents. Low and behold, developers and manufacturers have listened to parents' complaints. Now there are games, services and gadgets that allow gamers to play with millions of people worldwide! Surely one cannot be any more social than that. Many people are hesitant to label someone as having a computer addiction or a game addiction, but if it is that destructive to some people's lives, is it really any different from any other kind of addiction?
It simply comes down to the fact that developers and manufacturers are trying to make the games even more accessible to all ages and backgrounds. It almost seems like they are trying to make it so one cannot escape from it once they are addicted. Today, it's not just about playing the game. You also belong to a community that is evolving rapidly in speeds unimaginable. To attract gamers these companies do all sorts of things: “Do you love Twilight? Here is a playstation Twilight edition! What does that have to do with playing games? Who cares! Its just awesome!” The people creating these games aren't doing so with game addictions in mind; they are creating these games with profit in mind.
Surely, it sounds like I am putting all of the blame gaming industry; yes and no. Addiction is a disease, whether it's an addiction to drugs or a video games addiction. Some people are more susceptible to becoming addicted to certain things, but the industry sure makes it easy for gamers to become addicted. Sponsoring and paying huge sums of money to a 16 year old to play Starcraft strategy game while wearing your company logo might seem like a great career. But when does this cross over into addiction? Is it okay to play video games for 16 hours straight if it's your job? Can't anything be destructive if it's used too much, including video games? The fact that video game addictions and computer addiction aren't in the DSM-IV doesn't prove that these addictions don't exist. In my mind, that just means that the DSM hasn't caught up with technology and the impact it is having on the world.
To the gaming community, video games addiction, or rather hardcore gaming, is often considered okay, even normal . As you read this article, millions of teens have been playing a game for over 5-6 hours straight, half of them drinking energy drinks and eating protein bars to improve their focus and reaction times to get more head shots. Some locking themselves in their room with their sound proof headphones so their loved ones, or rather “real-life,” cannot disrupt their game time. Sounds like addiction to me.