Online Gaming Addiction: Recreational Hobby or Dangerous Addiction?
Is online gaming addiction a real thing? It depends on who you ask!
How many hours are appropriate for someone to play a video game? Some people would say a few hours per week is plenty. Others would say that 6 to 8 hours per day is barely enough.
Hard to imagine someone sitting in front of a computer playing a game for 8 hours at a time? Don’t be surprised…it’s way more common that you might expect. In fact, many so-called hard core games regularly play 10 or more hours every single day.
“Why would someone devote that much time to a game?”, you might ask.
Well, the answers are varied, depending upon whom you ask. Gamers may say that such a time commitment is necessary in order to remain in the upper echelon of certain games. Others, including a growing group of people who have lost spouses and children to games, contend that this is nothing short of an addiction.
The Games That Are Most Likely To Contribute To Online Gaming Addiction
While it’s possible to get addicted to any game, the highest incidents of online gaming addiction seem to be in the category of Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs).
What is it about these games that makes them so “addictive”? In a word…design. Yes, these games were designed to keep people engaged for long periods of time. While the content of games varies widely, the more addictive ones have a few characteristics in common. They are all…
- Graphically Rich
- Have Immersive Content
- Are Very Social in Nature
Am I saying that game makers intend for their subscribers to get hooked? I would never say something like that any more than I would say distilleries want their customers to become alcoholics.
Either way, a certain percentage of the population seems to be unable to use these products “responsibly”.
Is Online Gaming Addiction Really Addiction?
Clearly, the vast majority of players restrict their play time and enjoy gaming as a diversion or hobby. However, those who become addicted suffer many of the same troubles as drug or alcohol addicts. For instance, these online gaming addicts isolate themselves, allowing relationships to suffer. They become fixated on the game, thinking about it obsessively when not playing. They may develop physical problems such as back and wrist trouble or even damage their eyes.
Online communities such as On-line Gamers Anonymous highlight the problem. The stories shared on this site, and others like it, show that people are failing out of college, losing their spouses, losing their children and getting fired from their jobs.
Does that sound familiar? Sure does to me!
The Impact of Online Gaming Addiction
The popularity of these games has exploded in the last few years. Some game makers boast a customer base in the tens of millions, with new players signing on every day.
The number of people who are actually suffering from online gaming addiction is debatable. The percentage estimates vary widely, ranging from 2 or 3 percent to as high as 30 percent. The real number is, undoubtedly, somewhere in the middle.
Even at the lower ranges, the numbers of addicted players would be in the high hundreds of thousands…representing significant suffering.
The Psychology of Online Gaming Addiction
Online gaming addiction is currently not considered a mental disorder like it’s chemical cousins, drugs and alcohol. In fact, it has been proposed and rejected for the next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). That may, or may not, change in the future.
Meanwhile those of us who suffer from online gaming addiction will continue to do the best we can. We will abstain from games and rely on our fellow sufferers and God for support.
For many of us, a fascinating and engaging hobby crossed the line and some point and became a perilous obsession.