Addiction has become a bit of a dirty word, synonymous with dead-eyed stares in smoke-filled bookies, or secreting a hip flask for regular top-ups of whisky. But ultimately we all have our vices, and I doubt there’s anyone in the world who isn’t at least addicted to something, be it something as harmless as knitting, as lethal as heroin, or as omnipresent as gaming. We’re all addicted to something, it’s just a question of what form that addiction takes, or indeed whether you classify it as an addiction at all.
Here on GD I suspect most users play video games more than the average person. We’re all guilty of spending the odd sleepless night taking just one more turn or getting to the end of that all-important raid. But have you ever wondered when it’s turned from casual fun to something perhaps a bit more harmful?
I’ve often wondered over the years whether I’m actually addicted to games, and I suppose the answer is that I am. Not necessarily to the games themselves, but to elements within them. I crave competition, and I love a feeling of a progression, both dopamine-laden brain responses that are catered to by games in their bucketloads. Seldom a day goes past where I don’t hop on for just a quick game of Rocket League, hunting for that win which I feel like I need.
It’s doesn’t help that I’m also a bit of a completionist. Duty bound to finish pretty much any game I begin, giving me two separate angles (competition vs people & competition vs the game) to feed the addiction. At times it’s easy for this to overflow, and I’ve made some stupid decisions because at the time I tell myself I’d rather just sit around and play games. Missing out on potential once-in-a-lifetime moments in order to do something else which I can do just about any evening or weekend.
Read through the list of signs of video game addiction and you can quickly assume you’re some sort of dying-in-an-internet-cafe-marathon-sociopath, however, I think it’s dangerous to pinpoint these signs as any indicator of an actually dangerous addiction. After all, we can all enjoy games and play them regularly, but that doesn’t mean we’re addicted. I realise as well this falls directly into the “Downplaying the impact of the excessive habits” symptoms category.
A recent study by The Guardian opened up some debate on the subject, with psychologist Patrick Markey explaining that gaming is no more addiction than gardening. “Anything that makes a person have a good time, a person could overdo.” We can all be addicted then, but the number of people for whom it actually becomes destructive is a tiny percentage.
So while I know it’s a tricky subject to broach, but do you ever feel like you may have a gaming addiction? And if you do, what steps do you take the limit the impact playing games may have on your day to day life?