Sunday, January 11, 2009
What is the first thing you think of when someone says "Addiction"? Generally the first few answers you'll receive are smoking, drugs, alcohol, and a variety of narcotics. However there is a growing epidemic (dramatic word) that is increasing drop-outs in school, ruining marriages, ending friendships, and putting people out of a job. What could this mysterious malady be?
While the hype about the effects are recent (Read Massively's article about Chinese game addicts here.), the actual problem has been around since the late 90s. The most notable occurrence was made by SOE's EverQuest. Given rise to such "pet names" such as EverCrack, EverQuest has had a share of stories where the "addiction" caused horrible incidents. A man killing his son because his son interrupted him playing. (You can read about it here.) A woman leaving her two babies in the car while she went inside to "quickly" talk to some guild members. She left them in there for several hours..( You can read about this tragedy here.) The list really goes on for EverQuest alone.
This isn't even counting World of Warcraft, which has a population several times more than EverQuest ever had during it's peak years. Suicide Pranks, Death by Exhaustion, Neglect of Children, and so many other stories. All of these can be linked to a single solitary word.
Now before you go raid SOE and Blizzard, know that these companies are NOT at fault. To blame them, or any type of media, for someones actions is childish and plain stupid. " Does the blame belong to the one who made the gun....or the one who pulled the trigger? " is an analogy I think that fits here. Regardless however of whom you think the blame belongs to, it doesn't change the fact that people let "virtual progression" take over the need to have "real progression". ( I've decided I will try to make Virtual Progression one of those useless words that seem to gain popularity on the Internet. Like Blogosphere or Innovation. Help support the movement!)
What do I mean by virtual progression and real progression? I think PART of the formula that makes MMORPGs so addicting is when we play them, there is a near constant growth with our virtual selves. Constantly improving your standing as you level, gear up, and raid, which is the direct opposite of how "Real Life" treats us in terms of pace. Any type of growth that can be measured and monitored (IE Job promotions, raises, buying a house, etc.) occur over a period of months, even years. However in an MMORPG you can experience "important" achievements at an accelerated rate. I won't go into the possible psychological reasons of why these games are addicting.( In real life I'm just a dork, in Norrath I'm an epic paragon of awesome.) I want to talk about addition itself.
While I wish just saying "Gaming Addiction is bad, m'kay?" would suffice and be the panacea to the problem it won't. The biggest obstacle is simply realizing that you ARE addicted. I found out personally a few years ago that I was addicted. I would avoid hanging out with my friends simply because it took time away from gaming. Movies, social events, work, everything was just a side note in my life's goal. (Which was leet purple gear) I would wake up a few hours early just so I could play without any interruptions.
Sounds bad eh?
I'm not so arrogant to assume that my brain is capable of producing the perfect answer, or any answer really, that would remove this venom from the psyches of others. While my own personal answer worked for me, which was simply realizing what a piece of crap I had become and becoming resolute to reverse the process through Twinkies (The Twinkies part isn't true.), it would more than likely not help everyone else.
I'm going to step down and let you talk. What do you think about gaming addictions? What are the causes and the solutions? You can go as detailed into the psychology of it as you wish or simply give a more personal comment about it. Do you think it's the developers fault? Could part of the addiction come from the simple fact people want to justify their money being shoveled into great vats these companies hold? Could it simply be human nature to be addicted to positive reinforcement? The floor is yours.
- ▼ 01/11 - 01/18 (8)