Posted on June 23, 2007, William Video Game Addiction?
Six years ago, Liz Woolley mourned the loss of her son to a self-inflicted gunshot wound and blamed the online computer game that had consumed the final months of his life.
Her 21-year-old son had spent as much as 12 hours per a day playing a fantasy computer game alone in his apartment in Hudson, Wis., and appeared to be playing just minutes before his death in fall 2001.
“This isn’t just an online game. It’s dangerous,” Woolley said in a 2002 interview. “I believe if he hadn’t been playing that game, he’d be alive today.”
It was a lone opinion then, but it may soon become accepted medical policy.
I’m saddened by the loss of life myself, but it’s just an easy route to pick one item such as video games to place the blame on. Just like my stance on video games and violence, I think the media is intentionally avoiding hundreds and even thousands of factors that led to these behaviors. One thing people have to keep in mind is that some people are naturally at risk for addictions of some kind. If this lady’s son didn’t have video games, he more than likely would have found another addiction. Many recovering drug addicts simply replace their addiction to drug use with a lesser addiction. My point here is that it’s not the video games that are the problem. The problem is with the individuals and their need to be addicted to something. If it’s not games, they would find movies, books, drugs or simply whatever they can.
Up to 90 percent of American youngsters play video games, and as many as 15 percent of them – more than 5 million kids – may be addicted, according to data cited in the AMA council’s report.
To be honest with you, I also feel in many ways like we all need an addiction of some kind to cope with the fast world we live in. This isn’t the old days where you go to college, get a degree and your life is set. Times in our current world are very hectic and demanding. People need an escape. I’m definitely addicted to gaming myself, but I don’t see that as a problematic addiction. I am still able to live a full life outside gaming. I have simply learned to manage my time. Perhaps instead of trying to treat people for addictions to gaming, we should simply help them find ways to play games and still be contributing members to society. I would hate to force someone out of gaming just to see them pick up a far worse addiction.
The official scientific definition of “addiction” follows and you are free to come out of it with whatever opinion you may have.
Addiction: A chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. Addiction is the same irrespective of whether the drug is alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or nicotine. Every addictive substance induces pleasant states or relieves distress. Continued use of the addictive substance induces adaptive changes in the brain that lead to tolerance, physical dependence, uncontrollable craving and, all too often, relapse. Dependence is at such a point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions from withdrawal. The risk of addiction is in part inherited. Genetic factors, for example, account for about 40% of the risk of alcoholism. The genetic factors predisposing to addiction are not yet fully understood.
In other words, the media contnues to pass judgement on a condition that is not even fully understood.