By William Kitner
(KTRN Exclusive) Video game addiction is a serious problem. Don’t laugh, some people spend eight hours a day in front of their computers, pretending to be mighty warriors or wizards in fantasy on-line computer games every day. The problem has gotten so bad in South Korea that the government there has had to step in to create laws keeping underage gamers from playing too long. In July of 2011, a 21-year-old online-gaming addict was found dead in his home in Inchon, South Korea. He would play virtually non-stop, and rarely slept or even left his room. Two months prior to his death, he started complaining of difficulty in breathing but refused to seek help. This isn’t the only case either. In 2005, a 28-year-old man died from organ failure after playing for 50 hours straight. He even lost his job because of his online-gaming habit. But the sickest case has to do with a married couple from Suwon who let their baby starve to death after they were unable to get away from the game. In the US, the problem is getting just as bad. Author Ryan Van Cleave wrote a book called Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction. In the book, Ryan discusses his serious problem with on-line gaming. He lost his job, family, and his life due to the World of Warcraft. He even contemplated suicide one night as he stood on a bridge. Quitting the game was not easy either ; he had legitimate withdrawal systems like shaking, cold sweats, anxiety, and sleepless nights. When he called Blizzard Entertainment (the company that owns WOW), he pleaded with them to delete his characters forever. But Blizzard refused – even after Cleave told them about his attempted suicide. Apparently, making $15 a month from a man suffering is more important than helping him. Blizzard’s excuse was that deleting the characters permanently was virtually impossible with the massive back-up system they have in place (sounds fishy).
Have you ever played one of these on-line games? It’s easy to get sucked into a virtual world where you get to run around as a powerful paladin – fighting for honor and justice, saving the day while making virtual gold and gaining in strength and power. I personally had a slight problem with Warcraft too. I often found myself playing six hours a day and not even realizing how much time I was spending on it – and for what? At the end of the day, what is the reward? What is the ultimate goal? The kicker is that you don’t (and can’t) win these games. They are always changing, evolving, and growing – there is no way to win them – you just keep playing and playing and playing. Before you know it, you’ve lost your friends, wife, job, family, and kids. You haven’t showered in three days and you never leave the house. At this point, it’s no longer a game. However, World of Warcraft isn’t the only culprit out there. Many other games suck people in all the time – even cheesy ones like Farmville on Facebook. It’s easy to get addicted to these games – don’t fall into the same trap as Ryan Van Cleave. Once my account was hacked, I decided to no longer play the game. It was turning into work. It wasn’t fun. Every time I logged on, I would look at the list of quests I had to complete and felt overwhelmed at all of the stuff I had to do – it was like going to work. So I gave it up. Don’t think for a second though that I haven’t thought of playing again – it’s crossed my mind from time to time but I know it’s just not worth it.
While video game addiction is a real problem, the people in charge love it. It keeps the citizen’s minds away from the real issues. If you play video games for six to eight hours a day, you won’t have time to focus on issues of the world, you won’t stand up to protest the NDAA, and chances are you won’t follow the news or even care about the issues. Your main focus will be earning more fake gold and gaining experience points. These games dumb you down. It keeps you docile, unfocused, and unmotivated. It makes you even a bigger sheep than you already are. In other words, playing video games all the time makes you stupid. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the occasional video game. But if you’re not careful, it can easily spin out of control. Why not gather a group of friends together to play Clue, or poker, or Monopoly instead? It’s much more fun and you get to interact with human beings face to face. Moderation is key – even when playing video games.
Why not play classic arcade games instead? It’s pretty impossible to get addicted to Ms. Pac man. Plus, the only thing you’ll lose playing Donkey Kong is a quarter.
January 24th, 2011
By: Honey Birk
Although most kids don’t become addicted to video games, you may still want to keep a sharp eye on your child’s gaming habits.
A study released this week in the journal Pediatrics followed more than 3,000 elementary and middle school kids in Singapore over a two-year period, looking at the problem of obsessive, or pathological gaming, and identifing the risk factors and personal characteristics involved.
Overall, kids who become pathological gamers tend to be more impulsive, have lower social competence, are less empathic and are less able to regulate their emotions, according to the authors.
Once players became pathological gamers, their grades suffered, as did their relationships with their parents. In addition, they also began to be exposed to more violent video games, which the authors say, is a concern in light of previous studies that have linked short-term and long-term effects of violent games on aggression.
In fact, the study finds kids who began playing more violent games began to have more aggressive fantasies and engaged in more aggressive behaviors. They also were more likely to be victims of aggression, the authors say.
This study is the first to show that gaming predicts other mental health disorders and is not just associated with them. So, although kids who are depressed may retreat into gaming, the gaming increases their depression and vice versa, the authors report.
“Although children do use games as a coping mechanism, it is not simply a symptom of other problems,” the researchers write. “Youths who became pathological gamers ended up with increased levels of depression, anxiety and social phobia.”
Yet, those who stopped their pathological gaming ended up with lower levels of depression, anxiety and social phobia than did those who remained pathological gamers, according to the findings.
The researchers also note that most pathological gamers in the study were still pathological gamers after two years, which suggests pathological gaming is not just a “phase” kids go through.
Kids who become pathological gamers started out playing for an average of 31 hours per week, compared with 19 hours for those who did not. However, the amount of gaming alone was not enough to define pathological gaming, the authors note.