AngelCityOutlaw

Video Game Addiction

17 posts in this topic

Just randomly saw this video on YouTube, and felt compelled to talk about it

 

 

I've mostly cut games out of my life, expect for the odd binge every now and then. Over the last couple, 3 months I've been playing Rome Total War and it's become my most played game on Steam now...at 30 hours.

I feel ashamed of that, but that's absolutely nothing compared to many people. One of my friends, he's married with a kid and has sunk over 2000 hours into one game in less than a year, yet can't understand why his wife is pissed at him! For me, putting hundreds, let alone thousands of hours into a game is unthinkable as an adult; shit, I don't know that I ever pulled that off as a kid and as a teenager, I never played games for most of those years as I was too obsessed with music and playing guitar.

Curious to hear your thoughts on the whole subject. 

 

 

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2000 hours is over 83 consecutive days, so I'm not thinking he got there in two months.  Perhaps you meant 200 hours, which I'd consider excessive for an adult with a child.  I put in a couple of hours a day at the absolute most; more often than not the number is zero.

There's a reason why they're talking about adding video game addiction to the DSM (not exactly using that word, because they have a very specific definition of what "addition" means, medically).  Gambling "addiction" is called "gambling disorder," for instance.  The term under consideration right now is "internet gaming disorder," which of course misses the point in a lot of ways.  But it's definitely true that video games, designed in certain ways, can hit those reward triggers in the brain.

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1 hour ago, MindWanderer said:

2000 hours is over 83 consecutive days, so I'm not thinking he got there in two months.  Perhaps you meant 200 hours, which I'd consider excessive for an adult with a child.  I put in a couple of hours a day at the absolute most; more often than not the number is zero.

There's a reason why they're talking about adding video game addiction to the DSM (not exactly using that word, because they have a very specific definition of what "addition" means, medically).  Gambling "addiction" is called "gambling disorder," for instance.  The term under consideration right now is "internet gaming disorder," which of course misses the point in a lot of ways.  But it's definitely true that video games, designed in certain ways, can hit those reward triggers in the brain.

Sorry, I double checked and was over-estimating it.

He has 1,115 hours and guess that's in like 3 - 4 months.

That's still insane, all the same. That's over a month of your life just into a game.

 

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I can't absorb myself in long gaming sessions anymore because I start to feel guilty and anxious about not doing other things. Even if I've sat at my desk and worked for 12 hours I find it really hard to relax in the evenings. Part of me thinks it's because I don't actually want to play games as much in my free time, but i'm so used to seeing it as the only option that I feel obligated to do it out of habit. Heck, if i'm honest they feel like work now in a lot of ways. I've been wanting to get back into Terraria for months but every time I open it I feel overwhelmed about the amount of work it would take to build something cool. Same with Skyrim. Additionally, with the speed games are released these days I feel more pressure to play often so I can actually feel that sensation of knowing a game inside out like I did when I was younger, because to me that was the difference between just playing a game and loving a game. It was so much easier when I would get a game maybe once every 6 months and completely master it because of the multiple playthroughs I would have to do. Nowadays it feels more like a race to just finish the games that are being spat out every week.

To remedy things I've started only buying games that I believe will offer me a valuable experience and preferably has a start and an end. I'm putting a serious dampener on games like Fallout that could potentially go on forever, and I've pretty much quit Guild Wars 2, Warframe and anything that has a grind factor like that (though I will get Monster Hunter World because I love the series. To scratch the online competitive itch I play Atlas Reactor, because it's a quick 15-20min game I can play in work breaks on my laptop with little commitment. Forcing myself to reduce the gaming scope has opened up some time for things like reading, which is nice.

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8 hours ago, DarkEco said:

Heck, if i'm honest they feel like work now in a lot of ways. I've been wanting to get back into Terraria for months but every time I open it I feel overwhelmed about the amount of work it would take to build something cool. Same with Skyrim.

When I worked in a game store, I had a colleague who said the same thing about games being like work and I agree.

To use Total War as an example again, I tried getting into Rome II as well, but they got rid of the "short campaign" AND added in each turn being 1 of 4 seasons instead of only 2, multiple victory conditions AND each victory condition has multiple requirements within itself.

You can't just conquer 15 cities and destroy two factions and call it a day anymore; it must be at least 4-6x as long as the full campaign in Rome 1. I just googled, and most people report putting in between 50 and 100 hours into one campaign...

Too much work indeed. No way I'm spending that kind of time in front of a screen and not getting paid for it.

8 hours ago, DarkEco said:

Additionally, with the speed games are released these days I feel more pressure to play often so I can actually feel that sensation of knowing a game inside out like I did when I was younger, because to me that was the difference between just playing a game and loving a game. It was so much easier when I would get a game maybe once every 6 months and completely master it because of the multiple playthroughs I would have to do. Nowadays it feels more like a race to just finish the games that are being spat out every week.

I have about 40 steam games, most purchased for dirt cheap on sale and I've probably played about half that. You think "what a deal!" at the time, but if you're not playing them, it's money wasted.

8 hours ago, DarkEco said:

To remedy things I've started only buying games that I believe will offer me a valuable experience and preferably has a start and an end. I'm putting a serious dampener on games like Fallout that could potentially go on forever, and I've pretty much quit Guild Wars 2, Warframe and anything that has a grind factor like that (though I will get Monster Hunter World because I love the series.

Sounds like a good solution. That's the thing about "open-world" games: they're probably the worst for being a time sink. I've heard people complain that games like Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, etc. are "too short", but I find them just right. I've played through 2008 PoP twice on PC and it totaled 13 hours; same deal with TR and Uncharted.

That's also been my counter when people rip on people on ripping on games for being a "waste of time" because "everyone who says games are a waste of time will spend hours watching Netflix or something". 

For comparison, most serialized TV dramas like GoT, Rome, Battlestar Galactica, Spartacus, etc. are 40 minutes. So 120 minutes is 3 episodes and a quarter of a season. Many, even most, video games 120 minutes might see you past the tutorial levels, and I don't care what anyone says — video game plots still suck and aren't anywhere near as good or intellectually stimulating as even some of the most mindless movies and TV. 

Plus, watching Game of Thrones winds up being a bit more of a social activity in the sense that so many other people you know will watch it too, it gives you some common ground to talk about with a lot of work colleagues, etc.

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I'm not sure what I think about an addiction to gaming being considered a legitimate mental disorder. I feel if I speak against it in any way, then I'm contributing to the same mindset that creates the modern conservatives, alt-right and anti-progressives that have risen up in the wake of the 2016 election to become the human cancer they are today - yet I feel like agreeing with it wholeheartedly is not an honest move on my part either.

Going down the same stream, for over a year now, my daily life has become so many days go by without me playing a video game at all. I can't even get 3 hours of gaming in a lot of weeks. I don't have a child to care for yet, it's practically guaranteed I have less of a real world social life than anyone else posting here, by as many objective terms as I can think of, I should have enough time to clear 20 hours of gaming a week, yet I have to struggle for 10% of that and I've been trying to figure out that for a year. I mention it now because I wonder if it has any relation to this gaming addiction thing that's been making its rounds.

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On 2/21/2018 at 3:37 PM, Meteo Xavier said:

I'm not sure what I think about an addiction to gaming being considered a legitimate mental disorder. I feel if I speak against it in any way, then I'm contributing to the same mindset that creates the modern conservatives, alt-right and anti-progressives that have risen up in the wake of the 2016 election to become the human cancer they are today - yet I feel like agreeing with it wholeheartedly is not an honest move on my part either.

I'm SUPER glad you're not suffering from video game addiction, but please don't assume it isn't a real problem just because you don't have it.  Keep in mind people used to doubt addiction to hard drugs and alcohol in the same way, attributing their addictions to "bad choices" rather than the actual neurophysiological changes that had taken place.  Pretty much anything that produces a dopamine response can be addictive and lead to problems with impulse control as well as being extremely disruptive to motivation and memory circuitry.  An inability to abstain is the feature of addiction, and video games are designed to keep people playing.  This applies so much more strongly to modern games considering developers have had decades to refine their methods, and in a lot of cases modern games are downright predatory in this way (games that combine gambling with gameplay in particular).  Not everyone who plays games will be addicted to gaming just like not everyone who drinks will become an alcoholic, but it IS an extremely fast-growing issue.

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2 hours ago, Phonetic Hero said:

please don't assume it isn't a real problem just because you don't have it.

I didn't say or assume it wasn't a real problem, I just said I'm kinda on the fence about it. I don't yet 100% believe it and I don't yet 100% not believe it. I want to wait for more development on the subject before I can be convinced either way, but I'm not definitely not going to claim it isn't real either.

Some of this is ironic to me as many years ago I could easily have been the poster boy for video game addiction. I've shown a lot of addiction signs to it over the years and, to some degree, I still do. My own personal experiences with that stuff is why I'm on the fence and waiting for more development to occur before I choose to accept it or not.

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As someone who has cycled through several game addictions, I have mixed feelings about this video. Disclaimer: These opinions are based on personal experience and introspection throughout my life. I have very little knowledge in the field of psychology. 

After listening to this video essay, I was left with the implication that video games are the cause and game addiction is the effect. I have personally never felt that a game has been responsible for my addiction. 

I have obsessive compulsive tendencies and I'm attracted to immediate gratification. I'm stubborn and fairly introverted. I have interests in art, stories, music, puzzles, learning/development and friendly competition. Having started to play video games at a moderately young age, it's possible that games helped shape my personality into what it is today. However, I'm more inclined to think that with the multitude of other influences in my life, (parents, siblings, friends, teachers, school, sports, media, etc.) an interest in video games was an effect, not a cause.

 

TF2 introduced me to my first serious and destructive addiction. I was in my late teens and didn't accept or understand that I was addicted. I would spend 200 hours a month playing, and my school, work, and home life suffered. But if I could go back in time, armed with the self-awareness that I have now, would I stop myself from ever installing the game? No.

I would stop myself from playing when the fun was gone. That's literally the only thing I would change. 

When I started playing I was having fun. I enjoyed learning and improving. I enjoyed winning and even losing friendly competition. I enjoyed the community. But eventually I stopped getting better. Eventually, losing became more frustrating than winning was enjoyable. Eventually, I started resenting the same people that I used to enjoy playing with and against. 

I stopped having fun and it started being destructive because I was looking for something in the game that I wasn't getting anymore. I was completely oblivious though, and my illogical response was to play more.

The author of this essay mentions that if he didn't get hooked on games, his life would almost certainly be better. You could say that about pretty well anything in hindsight. I had friends who spent their early adulthood binge drinking and partying. Others spent their downtime watching 2-3 hours of TV a night. If any of those people went back as the mature adults that they are today, they might have made a better future for themselves. As for myself, I doubt much would have changed. I've never been a scholar and my first real job wasn't one that I'd take seriously even today. If I had better managed my video game indulgence, I probably would have spent more time watching youtube videos or pursuing my dead-end hobbies.

It's not as though we're all doomed now though. We've all spent our post-secondary lives in drastically different ways, making different mistakes and learning about the world and ourselves. The future is still out there to be had.

 

I still enjoy playing games frequently today, and I still play more than I should occasionally. Whether it's my competitiveness that draws me to play one more game, or the completionist in me that wants to get that 100% save file. Whether I'm pushing myself to outdo my own time in a speedrun, or simply trying to drive the plot of a story. Over the years I've come to know my demons, and I can usually catch myself faltering and correct the behavior before I ever start feeling bad about myself. I strongly believe that I'm wise enough not to fall victim to my own personality flaws again.

I know today that happiness is the most important thing to me, and I'll continue to allot some of my spare time to video games so long as they continue to bring me enjoyment.

 


TLDR: I appreciate the video for raising awareness - but I don't think that I would have given it any consideration when I was actually addicted. I feel like the presentation of his views could serve to worry parents, and would fall deaf on the ears of those actually at risk.

Depending on the circumstances, I feel the most impactful things I could have told myself are simply "are you even having fun?" or "was it worth it?".

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I think people have raised some good points about what kind of addiction video games can be. While games be just as addicting as many substances (they are both enabled by similar physiological concepts), they're also different. For many substances, the underlying process can be a single overwhelming mechanism, whereas for games there's a much broader array of smaller gratifications that add together to create their powerful effect.

Again, I think that just makes games different, not lower or higher on the totem pole. For example, for something like opioid addiction, if the person is unlucky and has the perfect physiology to get addicted, a small regimen of opioids can immediately create huge cravings and lead to addiction. Some addicts will tell you that it was like a light switch being turned on, and they knew immediately. Personally, I have had opioids for surgery and didn't feel that way, but I have felt that way about other drugs. And it was like a light switch. And in that moment I understood addiction.

In my experience, video games require a larger constellation of smaller cues. BUT, when all those cues do hit, I think video games can be an especially insidious addiction, precisely because it pulls together all those different parts of you. For something like opioids, you can be hopelessly addicted but still be able to think of the addiction as only a part of who you are, like it's still something outside you. For a video game addiction it's almost like "this is part of who I am." They can provide broad fulfillment and meaning that you don't feel in other parts of life. I can remember thinking at one point when I was a teenager that life would never feel as meaningful as some of the games I played. 

(To further flesh out that picture, something like alcoholism is somewhere in between, because it's not just a substance but also a lifestyle that weaves through many aspects of social life. It's both the chemical dependency and part of your identity and history.)

The fact that game addiction relies more on a constellation of cues is important, I think. And it's relevant to the story of the guy in the video, and many other people, who find that young adulthood is an especially vulnerable time for game addiction (and most addictions, for that matter). Young adults are at a time in their lives where they're faced with slowly building that constellation of meaning in their life: a sense of accomplishment, work, education, place, intimacy, friends. If you don't have a critical mass of those things, certain kinds of games can step in and provide little substitutes. And for some people that can grow into something uncontrollable.

I think I've been fortunate enough to build a passable constellation of those things in my 'real' life. So whereas my teenage self couldn't imagine a future where I wasn't playing a lot of games, my almost-30-year-old-self now feels self-conscious when playing games. Not ashamed, per se. But as if the rest of my life is passing me by. I still play games once every few months, but I can only stand games that I can finish in a couple afternoons or evenings. It's been on my wishlist to get around to Breath of the Wild, but every time I had the opportunity recently, I chose to do something else. There was just some other thing outside of games I was more interested in.

I don't play League, but someone I know does. He's like a Diamond II ranking, or something supposedly ridiculous which I don't understand. But he's almost my age and still lives with his parents. He got a college degree but he's never had a job. His family immigrated from Korea when he was maybe 13, so culturally his family is very private, and I'm not sure they know how to handle his situation. He's been stalling for years, retaking the same grad school admission test about four times, claiming to be studying for it each time. Really nice guy, but a sad situation. His parents have sunk tens of thousands of dollars into supporting him and sending him to test prep programs. His last allowable attempt at the test is next month, and I'm interested to see how his family reacts. Most families would have kicked him out years ago, like the guy in the video.

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2 hours ago, Patrick Burns said:

The fact that game addiction relies more on a constellation of cues is important, I think. And it's relevant to the story of the guy in the video, and many other people, who find that young adulthood is an especially vulnerable time for game addiction (and most addictions, for that matter). Young adults are at a time in their lives where they're faced with slowly building that constellation of meaning in their life: a sense of accomplishment, work, education, place, intimacy, friends. If you don't have a critical mass of those things, certain kinds of games can step in and provide little substitutes. And for some people that can grow into something uncontrollable.

An excellent point.

Reminds me of reading steam reviews for the Witcher 3, and there was one comment from a person who had a ton of hours poured into it who said "This game is great, you can do all the things you can't do in real life: Like casting spells or talking to girls."

Of course, most marked that as funny, but I suspect it's not entirely in jest. I mean, there was that one guy about 10 years ago actually who married the chick in his Nintendo DS dating sim! Though I heard that relationship ended in divorce and she took half his shit.

But seriously, when I worked at a game store back when, I definitely met socially awkward "incel" type guys in their 20s who definitely filled that void with anime girls to the point of pure cringe. I still hear horror stories, like apparently this one guy who was a regular customer has his debit card decked out in half-naked anime girls (with no shame) and apparently his room at his parents house is wallpapered from floor to ceiling with the same kind of imagery.

and then there's the whole sex robot takeover people are worried about.

Some people definitely let fantasy takeover where reality is lacking and because games put you in the driver's seat, it makes sense it would be easy to get pulled in too deep.

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Skyrim, Witcher 3, Okami, and Grim Dawn are my most played games 

Grim Dawn is 337 hours

Skyrim is 122 hours, and that's without modding

Witcher 3 is 54 hours

Okami HD is 42 hours 

 

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14 hours ago, TheChargingRhino said:

Grim Dawn is 337 hours

Lightweight.  I'm up to 550 hours.  Granted I don't think that's anywhere near accurate because it clocks any time I just walk away from the game and leave it running, which is very often.  So I figure the true number is half or a third of that.  Still though, it's like an MMO addiction without the monthly fee.

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Videogames make a great escape from reality too.  Also.  A wise man once told me that stress be the seductress, not the addiction.  In other words, one needs to find other outlets to reduce said stress or even make a big life change.  Le sigh.  Happiness and self actualization are the hardest goals in life to achieve in a world full of distractions and easy short-term fixes lol.

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I saw this thread a while back and felt like sharing my story, but I never got around to it and figured it was too late to do so. But seeing how it keeps popping up in the recent topics list I figure I'd jump in anyway.
I didn't watch the video by the way, but I read through most of the comments and can kind of figure out what it is about.

My story

Video games have been a part of my life for a long time before I became a Christian 'for realz' (2008/2009). I suppose I fit the description of a typical gamer: introverted, not very popular with the girls, wears glasses and listens to electronic music. I only got my first console (SNES) when I turned 11 or something, but I got exposed to Atari, Sega and Nintendo through friends and classmates before that time. I always found myself attracted to what I saw. Seeing the first SNES commercials with DKC just blew my mind! When my nephew got those I was just amazed and got all these creative impulses that made me want to draw fantasy worlds and design games myself.
Over the years I invested more and more money into Nintendo consoles and eventually got Playstation 2 because the Wii was a serious letdown to me. I had always put in many hours into my games, but that wasn't a problem at first. It became a problem when I went to trade school. By that time gaming was the ultimate escape for me, as @HoboKa mentioned. For a long time I have been depressed, lonely and overwhelmed with school work. Gaming provided the distraction that I thought I needed.
Sometimes I would take really bad care of myself and would skip meals or sleep. I wouldn't learn from mistakes either. I had a particularly low point where I got so frustrated with Star Ocean 3 that I trashed the console. Yet the game wouldn't let me go so I caved in under pressure and bought a new console just so I could finish it.

After my conversion to Christianity God started working on my conscience. I started to realize I could no longer subject myself to games, particularly because of content (a separate issue). I was able to put my beloved consoles away and focus on more important matters. When I finally moved out of my father's house to start my independent life I decided not to bring my consoles with me. At the office where I worked I would however be confronted with games again and found myself going through a particular pattern, resembling the A.I.D.A model:

  1. A game grabs my attention
  2. I resist
  3. I drop the resistance and start looking for information about the game
  4. I check game play video's on YouTube
  5. I see if I can get a hold of the game
  6. I start playing the game in secret
  7. I notice the game starts to control my thought life and I'm neglecting my other duties
  8. I get seriously stuck playing. I have to do it or I get stressed. Even when the fun part is already over and the "hard work" begins
  9. Weeks pass by. I eventually confess the whole thing to my wife. I repent and turn back to God and get rid of the game altogether.
  10. Peace returns and everything is back to normal. No more cravings for the game.

My boss introduced me to a new type of game which got me instantly hooked. Someone in my family is also heavily into gaming (also using it as an escape I suspect) so when I visit him I risk getting exposed to games which will start the process. Since I'm married my gaming habits no longer just effect me, they effect my wife too. Her first experience with a display of my addiction was pretty bad for her, and ever since that time she gets very nervous when I'm snooping around games again. The worst cases post conversion and post marriage where with Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and later Star Trek Timelines. I don't even like Star Trek all that much, but the game had exactly the right components that will ensnare me (RPG elements, easy rewards, plenty of things to do, collectables). At another low point I had literally spent 40 days in a row (not non-stop) playing and paying no attention to God, prayer or Bible reading. It involved searing my conscience and keeping secrets from my wife (not a healthy thing either). With Star Trek I ruined my birthday by getting out of bed the night before to try a new update and unlock Darth Vader at last.

I learned that I cannot possibly be satisfied with just an hour a week or something. It is all or nothing with me. Games will take control of my life and so it is best for me to shield myself against them completely. Kind of like the recovering alcoholic who is still vulnerable to the drinks but is okay as long as he avoids them altogether. It sucks, but it is a vulnerability I have to accept and deal with.

As for cause and effect... I'm not sure where it begins with this addiction. I suppose I have a vulnerability inside of me or at least I developed a certain way to make me unable to really control myself. I could easily do a whole day of Bible study too (which would be a good thing) and suffer the effects of that (a bad thing). I do everything to excess if I'm not careful.
One thing I do know is that there is a fundamental difference between the games I played when I was young and modern games like Star Trek Timelines and Angry Birds Epic. The latter seem to be designed to be addictive (lots of rewards in the beginning, free stuff, gambling elements, sounds on every button and event, daily login prizes etc.)


To end on a light note: it is probably my being cheap that prevented me from succumbing to the lures of premium content. I never once spent real money on such games and could not be enticed into doing so. :D Otherwise I could have easily brought more problems into my marriage.
 

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:<

For me:

 

I used to spend a lot (and I mean  a lot) of time on video games. In the past I averaged around (8 - 15 hours a day playing video games) well up into a few years ago when I took a drastic dip. Primarily due to real life obligations. (2007 - 2010 on video games) during that time I would spend around (2 - 4 hours a day on video games). After 2010 I would increase that a little bit (4 - 8 hours a day on video games).

 

Spoiler

 

It is true. Before 2007, I was a video game addict. My whole life was consumed by Nintendo and Steam.

 

As I age, so do my video game habits. With nothing to peak my interest, gaming played a big part of my life. I still play video games daily, just not as often as I used to. Some call that a "burn-out" but I just call it "transitional-speed-bump". Reason I call it that is because I am transitioning from a hardcore gamer to a more casual one.

 

When I take up another interest, I feel gaming might continue to decrease less and less until it is gone from interests completely. Because sometimes I feel like I am transitioning out of gaming because I am growing older and games are growing younger. 

 

 

 

 

I used to be a video game addict, and it took a lot of time to break that addiction.

 

:<

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