Let’s face it…computer-based games are a part of our lives. From the Mom who spends an hour per week playing Candy Crush to the high school student who would rather play World of Warcraft than eat…games are everywhere.
But what is the difference between games as a harmless way to pass the time and a clinically significant problem?
Here are a few questions you might want to ask about your gaming habits (or those of someone in your life).
1. Are the majority of your friends those with whom you play games?
We are social creatures who are not intended to exist in a vacuum. We need other people for companionship, security, and other reasons. It’s natural for us to seek out companionship both online and off.
Those of us who are heavily into playing online games can sometimes let our “real life” relationships take a back seat to our more exciting, less stressful online ones.
2. Do you try to find ways of playing your online game when you are not at home?
Once upon a time in the computer gaming world, a specialized machine with accelerated graphics and extra memory was required to be a gamer. With the evolution of both computer hardware and gaming software, more and more modest devices are able to easily handle the requirements of a game.
As a society, we become increasingly mobile every month. Most smart phones have more computing power than a room full of early desktops.
Combining increased computing power and mobility means that we can carry our games with us wherever we go. For gamers who take things too far, this can be a recipe for disaster.
3. Are you unable to predict time spent gaming?
Some gamers talk about the “time warp” of gaming. They report that they plan to “just log on for a few minutes and see what is going on,” then suddenly realize that they have been logged on for several hours.
If this happens to you, don’t feel bad. These games are designed with this effect in mind. They call it “immersive content”.
4. Do you deny addiction to a MMORPG, but somehow still feel the need to play?
The word “addiction” carries endless implications. Nobody wants to be called an addict…especially if it’s true. And, to be fair, the line between heavy use and addiction is a fine one.
For simplicity, a heavy user can quit playing at will with no adverse effects. An addict will find quitting difficult. In fact, he may not be able to quit when he tries.
So, if you feel compelled to play, but deny an addiction…you may need to take a closer look at your situation.
5. Do you feel preoccupied with gaming (do you think about previous gaming activity or anticipate your next session)?
“Tomorrow is raid night! We are taking on the final boss and I can’t wait!” Have you ever said anything like that?
Moderate gamers do not spend time and emotions anticipating upcoming in-game events. This is a behavior reserved for excessive, addicted gamers.
Like everything else in life, moderation is the key. If you consume gaming content moderately (and those around you who know about your playing habits think so as well) then you probably have a harmless hobby.
However, if you answered “YES” to any two of the above questions, look out. You may be developing a dangerous habit. If so, moderating or quitting entirely may be wise for you. If you have trouble quitting (or have questions about gaming habits) reach out to me. I’ll be happy to help!