I read this article about video game addiction at GameSpot with great interest, seeing as how the article discussed two interests of mine: psychology, which I studied at university, and video games, my favorite down-time pursuit, and an industry that I’d love to work in. The article is long (runs into four pages) and unless you’re as rabidly interested in both spheres under discussion as I am, I doubt you’ll read the entire thing. (Incidentally, if you DO happen, by some strange quirk of the universe, to read the entire article, I’d be interested to hear your comments!)
tl;dr: how to define and quantify the concept of “video game addiction” as a psychologically valid term that can be listed in the next edition of the DSM. In other words, what criteria can we use to say “yep, this guy has a problem”.
The article goes into describing the obvious cases such as the chap who died after several days of non-stop Starcraft. The focus is on the word “addiction”, and if a person has an addiction problem, then playing games will affect other parts of their lives that aren’t generally spent playing games, such as social, marital, work, etc.
So after discussing this issue with The Darling Wife, I asked her if she thinks I have an addiction issue. To put things in perspective, there’s very little time that I’m not either actively playing games (I have a 360, a Wii, and a DS, and a computer provides endless opportunities for gaming), thinking about games, talking about games, or on the odd occasion, dreaming about games. The first 8 or 10 blogs in my feed reader are all gaming blogs, but my counter-argument is that those are the sum total gaming blogs I read out of about 50 or so feeds. Personally, I don’t think I have a gaming addiction problem.
So I proposed an experiment: I’d give up gaming for a week, from Sunday to Sunday, and document how removing a core part of what I do affects me, if at all. I’m not allowed to read gaming blogs, talk about games, play games, and I have to actively try to avoid thinking about games if I can. Now I know that will annoy some of the other authors of this blog, since Friday night is the time that everyone gets together to play multiplayer online Gears of War 2. So surely that’s already HELPING my social life, since it’s impossible to interact with my friends IRL, right?
To make things interesting, The Darling Wife has come up, Top Gear style, with a few challenges to keep my documenting of my week interesting. I’m not sure if I should be dreading or looking forward to it. Watch this space!