Do Video Games Hook You Like Nose Candy?

While scanning WebMD to determine whether or not the pain in my thumb was linked to a cancer or rare flesh eating disease, the hypochondriac enabler site suggest that I might be succumbing to a different battle...WebMD believed that I may game addiction.

Like everything I read on the internet, I believed it right away.  How could my body turn on me, like this?  Thinking back on my week, there was a total of 168 hours and only 9 of them at best were devoted to video games.  I reevaluated my pain and decided that I now have scleroderma, which put my mind at ease about video game addiction.  My mind was still stuck on video game addiction, though.  Was this even a real condition?  I closed out all other tabs (even the one that promised a free iPad 3)  and began to sleuth.  My first destination was Korea...

South Korea...where you can get a Masters in Starcraft

Off the bat, I am hit with articles of 'Death by Video Games'.  A South Korean man died after playing over 50 hours of Starcraft at an internet cafe.  In what I can only imagine was the longest Zerg rush of the century, it is noted that the man only left his computer for bathroom breaks and a little bit of sleep.  According to the autopsy, it was heart failure that performed the Fatality onto him.  There are also reports of parents neglecting their children and countless more deaths in Korea that are all caused by video games.  In one instance, a kid even killed his own mother because she thought the video game was too violent. 

So in Korea, where Starcraft is like pro-football, there are some cases where gamers went far beyond their Call of Duty...but in every aspect of life, there are extremists who make normal, average activities awful for the rest of us.  Just like how there are gambling addictions, that does not mean gambling is a drug.  The American Medical Association (AMA) had a meeting in 2007 where this was stated:

"There is nothing here to suggest that this is a complex physiological disease state akin to alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders, and it doesn't get to have the word addiction attached to it," said Dr. Stuart Gitlow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

No longer the face of video game addiction

A game clinic in the Netherlands, whose primary duty was to treat young men and women of video game related problems, has come out to say that video games are not addictive, but rather, there are just underlying issues.  

"...the more we work with these kids the less I believe we can call this addiction. What many of these kids need is their parents and their school teachers - this is a social problem."
"This gaming problem is a result of the society we live in today," Mr Bakker told BBC News. "Eighty per cent of the young people we see have been bullied at school and feel isolated. Many of the symptoms they have can be solved by going back to good old fashioned communication."

If there are underlying issues that are causing children to play Modern Warfare for thrice the normal duration, then the video games become more of a super fun babysitter and not a pile of nose candy like many believe.  Not to say that is a safe outlet, either, but it does help identify the real problem, and not that World of Warcraft hooks you faster than Heroine.  

About to rise to level 61...

With every video game study, I try to see both sides...but on this issue, I feel stronger towards the fact that video games are not addictive, but instead are just an outlet.  With every other addicting substance, if you do it enough, you actually do get addicted.  Take cigarettes.  One puff won't get you hooked, but after a while, you start to crave one.  But I may be very wrong.  There is far more research that needs to be done on the subject to differentiate the reason some decide to sit in front of a PC for weeks on end.  Is it really because they cannot pull themselves away from running the Terran army?  Or is it because entering the real world is the scariest MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) out there? To quote David Wong of, "they're dissatisfied with their lives because they wasted their 20s playing video games, and will escape their dissatisfaction by playing more video games."


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