With all the advancements in technology over the years our society has become more and more technologically driven. Cars, phones, personal computers and video games have all become more and more advanced allowing for either more or less immersion in what the task being performed is, depending on the task. Video Games are supposed to suck a person into the world while cars are becoming less and less complicated to work. Eventually cars will be able to drive themselves while video games will form a whole integrative world around us. But his can lead to complications.
Video game companies know that the reason people play them is to escape from their troubles, so they design the games to be as hard to quit as possible. Immersion in one goal, by making their created world better than the real world they create a place that people want to go to get away from their troubles. But that is not the extent of it, they also add in different psychological tricks to keep people playing. Designers make their games into a skinners box, giving reward randomly for doing a monotonous task. This keeps people going in the hopes that this time they’ll receive whatever the reward is. They also set it up on a fixed interval so the players know how much work has to be done to achieve the goal, these two reward schedules will keep players going for a long time. A games researcher for MicroSoft, John Hopson, wrote an article about how game developers do this on purpose. This is why with games like World of WarCraft or EverQuest 2 they can charge monthly fees as well as the standard price for the game. They keep producing more content that the players will work to achieve.
Another way that video games are addicting is that a person’s brain will think of the virtual objects in a game as real items. If the player is doing a quest to achieve a new sword or whatever the brain will want to reach that goal because it makes no distinction between a physical sword or one in the real world. They will continue to do this until they have all the stuff they can get; this is equivalent to a pack rat hoarding all of his possessions in his house despite the fact that most of it is useless junk. This is evidenced by the ruling in South Korea that establishes that real goods and good acquired in a video game both have the same property protections.
The main reason that Video Games can become addicting is that people are often so immersed in their virtual world that they come to be more comfortable there. They prefer to live on the worlds of Azeroth or Norrath or whatever it may be because it is preferable to their actual lives. Stagnation is something that often seeps into life at a certain point, and that alternate world can give some escape from it, often offering the possibility of fame or notoriety at a much lower cost than in the real world. All of these things combine to offer something that is just as addictive and possible dangerous as nicotine or heroin, if in a different way.
While Video Game Addiction is not a recognized diagnosis yet by the American Medical Association, it soon will be. More and more teens as well as older people are falling prey to it, buying massive amounts of games, content and items they can spend thousands of dollars just to farther their virtual lives. They can also ruin themselves socially, completely shutting themselves off from friends and family for a community of voices or words in a chat box while exploring a virtual world that they find more interesting and engaging than their real lives. A study by the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology found that adolescents that were considered addicted played upwards of 20 hours a week or more, and that males are far more likely to become addicted to video games than females. They also found that adolescents who they considered to be addicted were more prone to get into arguments with friends and parents or other authority figures like teachers and that they were more hostile over all. Video Game addiction was also associated in bad grades in self reported grades from the subject pool.
But the addiction is not limited to adolescents. The majority of self professed “Gamers” are between the ages of 25 and 35. But because the adolescents are still living at home with their parents the condition is more likely to be noticed. If Little Johnny spends six hours a night locked in his room battling the Horde on Azeroth then the parents are probably going to be a little concerned. But if he lives alone then there is less of a chance that someone will raise the alarm bells. In reality the problem of gaming addiction is probably more prevalent in the older gamers. They have more of a need to escape from reality, with a job, taxes a mortgage and whatnot they feel that they need the escape offered. Many people base their whole lives around video games, working only to get money to pay for more games, more content, equipment to run the games and all of their other basic necessities. These people live with no social life, physical problems and mental problems that come from only interacting with disembodied voices emitting from a speaker or words appearing in a chat box.
Physical problems can result from almost any activity, but in the case of video game addiction the results are often more shocking and debilitating. Migraines, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, poor hygiene and obesity are only a few of the complications that can arise from dedicating hours a day to sitting in a chair and playing games. These conditions can combine to incredibly detract from a person’s life, causing pain, the inability to move, and causing other people not wanting to be around the gamer. The physical problems can also enhance and in some cases cause the social problems that arise from video game addiction.
People who are addicted to video games are significantly less likely to go out with people in their spare time. They are going to devote themselves to the game rather than take the opportunity to enhance their social life. Not meeting new people, neglecting or ignoring the people they do know, causing significant harm to their marriage, gamers are so devoted to whatever game they are playing that they often fail to notice the signs of the harm they are causing. Like other, more traditional addictions, the addict takes his narcotic of choice over others because of the feeling it gives him. If this occurs in younger people, adolescents or teenagers, there is the chance that it will negatively affect their development of social skills over all, so even if they do kick the habit of video games they are left unable to develop other relationships because they never learned how.
If the threat of Gaming Addiction is curtailed then a whole host of problems that could arise from long term video game addiction can be prevented. Since video games have not been around for long enough for such long term problems to arise it is impossible to predict what they are, however a little imagination give pictures of people so immersed in their game of choice that they begin to experience a blending of reality and their virtual world, until to them there is no difference. This could lead to a higher amount of crimes that reenact events in video games. This is already a problem that comes from younger children playing video games that have events that they are not yet ready to experience, not knowing the difference between real and not real.
Video Game Addiction is one of the fastest spreading psychological disorders, spreading through teens and adults in equal numbers and having life altering consequences for both those afflicted and those in contact with the sufferers. The social and physical consequences for the afflicted should be enough to cause a search for a way to prevent such a thing, but like all addictions that search will probably be long and not easily fulfilled. But if the problem is solved then large percentage of this generation and future generations could be saved from a host of physical effects and of the social awkwardness that is caused by video game addiction. Hopefully the search for such a fix can begin soon with the American Medical association recognizing that Game Addiction is a real disorder with real consequences.