Before We Go

As this campaign draws to a close I want to encourage people to look deeper into the issue.

Game “addiction” may soon find its way into the DSM, centers for addiction are already opening there doors to treat people.
So I encourage you all to ponder the fundamental issue here…Why

Why do I retreat to games.
This should be the first question of anyone who has ever found themselves awake at 5am grinding that ‘one last level.’
It should also be in the mind of anyone seeking to ‘cure’ video game addiction. If we focus on what makes our past time take over then we can learn to use this wonderful medium in a health ad constructive way.
But first we need to come together, as a community, and make changes to the way we tackle this issue.
Flaming anyone outside the community who dares challenge our habits is often the first response of many players. It is also the response they expect, further feeding the image of an overweight basement dwelling monster they think we will all become. We must break out of this loop. We must be the change makers as we cannot let our community fall victim to people who think games are inherently evil.
At the same time we must not shy away from the reality that many of us struggle with a compulsion to play and to escape. In this we must support each other and ensure we treat our struggling amigo’s with as much support as a fed Sona stacking cool-down reduction and spamming heals.

If we can’t show skeptics that we know our own issues then we can’t expect them to leave it to us.

Thanks for stopping by.

I’m going to try a grind my MMR back to reasonable level, I may be some time.
Hit me up
@Gamecompulsion

What game are you heading to?

The Addicts Game of Choice

Much of the discussion around video game addiction, or what we should call compulsion stems from a discussion of games like World of Warcraft (WoW). Almost every article I’ve read these past few weeks has used this game as part of their case. I know, as a gamer and a big fan of massively multilayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), these kinds of games are incredibly engaging. Media attention however suggest this game creates addicts and encourages addictive play. This is what i disagree with. I’ve played WoW as well as many similar online and offline games. One particularly good example is Never Winter Nights. Between the first one, its many expansions and the squeal I’ve spent hundreds of hours roaming through dungeons and castles in search of evil and the biggest sword to smite it with. In all the hours I never even delved into the player vs player (PVP) side of the games, it never interested me. Yet on more than one occasion I played into and even through the night, engaged with the story unfolding before me.

So if I can be just as engaged with the offline world as the online why does WoW gather so much negative attention.

Extremes. The media loves extremes, it loves to talk about the 24 hour stints that result in people passing out from exhaustion. This is hardly the norm, nor is it encouraged by game mechanics.  So what brings it about?

The online gaming environment is ruthlessly competitive and requires dedication and thick skin to get anywhere. Games that thrive of PVP require and often generate extreme player behavior. To add to this, the older the game, the more extreme the upper sections of the PVP ladder will be. Want your clan to be the best at Call of Duty, its gonna take hours, months, maybe years. Want to rise to the top of PVP Warcraft….its gonna take years if not closer to a decade. WoW itself has been around since 2004 with the world and game mechanics its based off existing through the Warcraft franchise since 1994.

Its not the game the natively demands this kind of play. Sure there are some moments where it is impossible to leave an online game but they are never longer than a few hours. Games just wouldn’t work if they forced players to have extreme behavior, it simply wouldn’t be popular. However the competitive nature and sheer engagement that games like WoW offer is what drives people towards extreme behavior.

Is this ‘extreme’ behavior a bad thing? Well that’s up to you.
What do you think?

Marathon

Most outside sources speaking about game addiction focus around the signs and warnings someone you know might be addicted.
One of the major signs is so called ‘marathon sessions’, times where players spend a whole day playing.

I know as someone who passionately enjoys games that i can spend an entire day playing. Provided I’m free of assignments i probably will.

Think about it like this,
If i was to spend all day at the skate park would that be a bad thing? Would people consider it to be one?
What about people like my dad who spend hours running every second day, is that addiction? Of course not.

But it is compulsion, the missing stage of normality that seems to elude the minds of concerned parents and members of the public. Sometimes I feel like people have forgotten there are many stages between playing all Saturday and playing three days straight till you have a heart attack.  In the last few days I’ve been busy with assignments and my gaming has adjusted to suit.
Largely my normal two to three hours has been pulled right back to zero to one. The more I avoid games, the more i want to play.

Do you feel the same?

WebMD would consider than withdrawal symptoms, but is it?
Surely I can’t simply miss a favored pass time?

Apparently not.

Any of you had a similar experience?
Hit me up on Twitter
@GameCompulsion

The Player or The Game

In my time around the gaming community I’ve seen article after article on the topic of addiction.
The addiction topic unfortunately isn’t usually brought up by gamers and is often the subject of criticism from beyond the community.

This type of critique is often in a small whirlwind around the latest title to feature persistent online play or a recent incident of extreme addiction. The discussion often turns to what is addictive about the game itself, what external force can be blamed or can be attributed to an increased risk factor.

The biggest problems with this is, the community itself doesn’t really put the effort into tackling the issue. Instead, spiteful at the intrusion of outsiders, we tend to lash out in hate at critique of our medium.

This isn’t a good think.

I am all for defending games, rarely can a game be blamed for the bad decisions of a player but we cannot tell people that through hate.
behaving that way, flaming and carrying on only cements negative stereotypes that these outlets can circulate.

It’s an unfortunate reality of such a large and passionate community. Sometimes i think we need a little bit of self assessment. Addiction should be a topic we deal with. That way we can show the world, its not the game its the player that needs change.

Don’t you agree?

Stress

More than anything else stress makes me work, but it also makes me want to game.
This impossible situation leads to a closely matched mental battle that boils away as I try to stay focused.

Usually when i feel myself distracted by something i just need to remove it, or myself to a  more secluded environment where I can study uninterrupted. The problem is, like most university students my work centers around my computer and my gaming is also centered on my PC.
It the one distraction i cant escape.

Sometimes I think i might uninstall my favorite games as a way of avoiding them but i can never bring myself to do it. So i think, I’ll create a separate account on my PC that can only access the stuff i need to study…but then i never log into it. For me what it comes down to is wants and requirements.

When I want to do a assessment i never find myself troubled by distractions. But that assignment becomes on in itself. I can avoid doing the work I don’t like by doing the work i do. Then i reward myself, for doing my work, with a few rounds of League of Legends and I feel like I’ve had a good day.

The problem is i haven’t done the work I need to do which is always they work that takes the longest, takes the most research and requires more academia than I can handle.

Do you ever get into this cycle? Are games the biggest distraction to your work?

More Than A Game

To some extent the buzz around mobile games is validated by the huge user base these games seem to draw.

Candy Crush is a classic example of what is basically Bejeweled with a creative twist and solid plan to pull money from people.
I recently read a blog detailing a lady’s complete addiction to candy crush.
I found the description of her addiction, or rather compulsion rather interesting.

The author doesn’t consider herself a gamer yet additively plays video games. It is indeed interesting to me that many people don’t consider mobile games in the  same light as they consider console gaming. I wonder if these people consider portable consoles in the same light?

I know that i get weird glances playing my Gameboy on the buss but i certainly don’t feel that way when i smash out a few rounds of doddle jump on my phone. Regardless I think it raises an interesting issue within our little world. Its funny to see how “Video Games” seem to be defined.

Do you think mobile and social games are belong under the same banner as video games?

Before you answer let me give you my 10c. I’m not a big mobile or social gamer. Facebook games really aren’t my cup of tea and most mobile games are similar. I do however enjoy many portable games for the DS and my old Gameboy Colour.
To me, regardless of my opinions on the games, i believe they are all games.  I think this view is shared by many of my gamer friends.

Maybe I’m wrong?
Let me know what you think.

Compulsion/addiction

When you search ‘game compulsion’ into Google very little comes up.
Search for ‘game addiction’ however and the results are very different.

In an article for WebMD (here) Keith Bakker, director of Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants in Amsterdam says “It’s a clinical impulse control disorder,”. The article then continues to compare it to problem gambling. Nothing more than an addiction to the excellent reward systems games are built on.

But is it that simple?

In the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) online game addiction has made it to the list of new disorders needing more research. An article for Psychology Today writes  “Internet Gaming Disorder has been included among the conditions being considered for future study and possible addition to later DSM editions. At this time, however, video game addiction (GA) is not considered to be a mental disorder.” The article then continues to say, “The motivation for playing also seems to be a factor in addiction.   People who game for fun or socializing are less likely to become addicted than people who are caught up in the need for status or simply to escape from the problems in their lives.  If you’re dealing with real-life failure, escaping from that stress by playing games that give you a sense of victory or control over your life can be a helpful way of coping.   Spending too much time online or “shutting out” the real world with intense gaming can be a different story, though.”

So, with psychology catching up to the addiction issue why is it many gamers, including myself prefer to use the word compulsion?

Compulsion -

Noun
  1. The action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.
  2. An irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, esp. against one’s conscious wishes.

Addiction -

Noun

The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

You decide, let me know what you think.