I Don't Have an Addiction! Reality Just Sucks


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             So this is my last entry related to gaming. I feel it is important to cover the negative aspects of gaming as I am sure most of you will be quick to point those out in my other blog entries. Like everything else gaming can lead to horrible outcomes. The web is littered with articles talking about killings, child negligence, self-negligence, and psychological disorders.

            While there isn't much or any reliable scientific evidence to confirm if gaming drives people to kill there is plenty of data on health effects. This is where I will focus most of my blog since this is a science class after all!

            So what are these ominous health problems? Well for starters there are several documented cases of people starving to death, dying of sleep deprivation, dehydration, blood clots, and obesity.

            In 2007 Joshua Smyth conducted a randomized trial study of college students looking at the effects playing online games had. He found that the students playing these games were more likely to develop health problems, erratic sleep, less likely to socialize in real life, as well as academic work taking a significant plummet. While the study only had 100 volunteers I tend to agree with the data. I once went on a six month gaming binge after high school. With no prospects of college I was stagnant and filled most of my days with gaming. At the time I was competitively World of Warcraft where I was in a top 10 world guild as well as number three on the player versus player ladder in the US. I can attest that excessive playing will in fact put you at death's door. Playing over 16 hours a day, sleeping 3-4 hours, I had little time for much else. I started to look like the stay puff marshmallow man from "Ghost Busters". What fed my denial of my unhealthy lifestyle was I had in fact actually lost weight. This of course was due to my nonexistent diet and lack of any physical activity. Eventually I realized my problem and did what any normal person would do. I joined the United States Air Force, but not before logging 124 days played on my Paladin between April 2005-December 2005.

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             So what drives people into such an unhealthy lifestyle? Well in the study it was noted that the social aspect had a significant influence on keeping people tied to their computers. Playing with other people in a high stress environment for hours kept adrenaline pumping and in turn kept appetites low. When players did eat it usually was something entirely unhealthy and quick. I can tell you that ramen and PB&J were my go to foods.

            Other significant health risks were noted as well. People who sat in hard chairs for significant periods of time developed blood clots. There was also one instance where a student deprived himself of so much sleep that he suffered heart trouble. Psychological risks were noted in a few other articles I found. A few of those were parents that let their newborn baby starve to death because of their FarmVille addiction. The told police that they had lost track of time and did not realize that they had let so much time pass between normal feedings.

            Time loss is something I feel that is glossed over in the gaming world. It has become something of joke to most of us that play video games. Even now at my age I still can get lost in a good game. It is in no way on the scale that I used to play, but my wife can attest to my statements of "I will only play for 30 minutes" only to realize that two hours had passed.

            Like all things though I feel this is a shortcoming of the individual. I do not blame my binge on the gaming industry, society, or anything else for that matter. Just like gambling, alcohol consumption, and other addicting activities/substances it is the users job to recognize when they are going to far. Research does show that certain parts of the brain that show addictive tendencies do light up when players are engaging in these activities, but I do not feel gaming is horrible. If done in moderation there is a lot of good that can come from it. Things like special analysis, mathematical understand, language understanding, cultural understanding, economic understanding, etc. Good does far outweigh the bad, but we as a society need to acknowledge that moderation is good and pursing a good thing to where it affects other aspects of our lives is not a good thing.

 

What do you all think? Feel free to message me if you want to talk more on any of these subjects. AAS5446


Sources:

Game Related Deaths

Spike's Top 10 Gaming Deaths

Effects of Social Gaming

Negative Effects to Children

E-How Article


2 Comments

This was an interesting article! I do understand this addiction, I have a brother who used to also play for hours, usually staying up all night just playing one game. I actually come from a country where video games are all the rage..we actually have a national team for the popular game League of Legends. Since I'm a girl, I'm not really interested in playing video games, but I've experienced similar addictions in the social network known as Facebook. The social aspects is what makes it addicting, knowing that there's always going to be someone online to instant message with makes us stay up for long hours of the night just talking via these social tools. Because we're so used to using Facebook or in your case, video games, we just do it automatically. Like everyday, I automatically log on to Facebook without even giving it a second thought. Our bodies are used to doing this so we feel uncomfortable not doing it. Actually, this is exactly what all sorts of addiction is: we feel uncomfortable not doing what we're addicted to. This article describes the origin of addictions. In our brains we have a natural reward system located in the central neural structures. We are motivated to do what we're addicted to, to have that feeling of reward. This is why abusive drugs target this reward system, you feel reinforced when you use them.

Great post. I would never really consider myself to be a "gamer," however I know that there were times during my childhood/adolescence where certain games would feel really addicting... like you said, you would "play for a half hour" when actually 2 hours had passed! For me, I loved The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon. Those were my go-to games during the summer time when I was bored.

While I personally agree with your blog post, I was able to find a study on the National Institute of Health's site that talks about the other side of your argument. This study discusses the health BENEFITS of gaming (strange, right?). Check it out, it's worth a read. One of the things they talk about is the idea that playing video games can work as a psychological distraction from one's pain.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC558687/

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