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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Video game addiction a misnomer, more a matter of choice

    This week’s Gamefreak is a response to an article on video game addiction, “Virtual games cause real problems,” published in the Daily Wildcat on Tuesday.

    The article raised an interesting question: Does video game addiction actually exist?

    I can’t in good conscience say it doesn’t happen, but I’m reluctant to admit that video game addiction is a problem worth noting.

    In most cases, the consequences are mild — skipping out on social situations, staying up all night and putting off responsibilities are things we’re all likely to do from time to time. People make those choices every day in favor of many other alternatives, not just video games.

    Ever read a book you didn’t want to put down? I’m willing to bet that if you have, you have also stayed up a couple of extra hours later to read a few more chapters. What about movies? I’m sure there’s been at least one occasion in your life where you put off homework to watch a new film you wanted to see.

    Both of those situations can also result in a solitary night in, which is fine. But for some reason, when these behaviors are attributed to video games, people start calling it an addiction.

    Yes, some people take video games to a whole other level. I myself spent far too much time playing “World of Warcraft” in high school and skipped out on spending time with friends and didn’t do homework that I probably should have.

    Would I call that an addiction though? Absolutely not.

    Instead of blaming these arguably poor life choices on an “addiction,” I took responsibility and said the truth — I just wanted to play video games more than any of those other things. I quit being quite so involved in video games eventually, graduated, and got into a university despite having never finished all of the homework assigned to me in high school.

    I mean, it isn’t as if playing video games is all I do, and there are hardly any cases of people who only game.

    Some might claim I’ve never qualified as a video game addict because gaming never ruined my life. Well, I disagree completely with that. It’s not because gaming never ruined my life, but because it isn’t the games’ fault if your life is ruined. Games don’t have the chemically addictive qualities of drugs or alcohol, gaming “addiction” is much different.

    The gamer is the one making the decision, and choosing to play unhealthy amounts is nothing more than a bad choice. Of course, people can claim there is a chemical addiction all they want but I’ve yet to see a conclusive study proving it.

    In lieu of such evidence, it comes down to poor self-control or other behavior disorders that are simply being enabled by video games.

    Take the 2010 case of Kendall Anderson, a 16-year-old from South Philadelphia who killed his mother with a claw hammer in her sleep because she took away his PlayStation after a heated argument.

    Yes, the PlayStation triggered this act of violence, but I doubt the only reason he committed this heinous crime was because he couldn’t stand the idea of not being able to play it.

    There are nonviolent cases, too, that might support the existence of video game addiction, but there are always other underlying problems.

    Just look at Seungseop Lee, who died in 2005 after playing “StarCraft” for 50 hours in a South Korean Internet café. According to an article on gamespot.com, Lee didn’t frequently go on these marathon gaming stints, like a person who craves, needs and uses a drug they are addicted to. In fact, his marathon gaming event only happened after Lee lost his job and girlfriend.

    While poor self-control is a factor in this case, two very important losses in Lee’s life most likely contributed to his eventual cardiac arrest. I can’t claim to know how he felt, but I can imagine playing video games would be a comfort after what happened to him.

    All speculation aside, what it comes down to is that there isn’t any proof video game addiction exists. Video games are just an easy scapegoat to pin people’s problems on, and claiming addiction is just an easy way to remove responsibility from the gamer.

    Here’s a better phrase for what some gamers suffer from since video game addiction doesn’t exist: video game compulsion. It’s the difference between a physical need and a mental want. Now, whether or not compulsion is a problem is a whole other conversation — one that will have to be saved for another time.

    — Jason Krell is a junior studying creative writing and Italian. He can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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