Articles

Gaming addiction isn’t.

In Uncategorized on 2008-12-01 by Kyle Maxwell

What many of us believed but either couldn’t properly articulate or couldn’t convince others now appears to have gained key support.

“Gaming addiction” doesn’t exist, according to Keith Bakker, who runs the foremost clinic dedicated to helping folks with that problem. Instead, spending unhealthily obscene amounts of time playing games, particularly online, usually reflects other problems. And in fact, as the long-time truism “correlation does not equal causation” reminds us, we shouldn’t assume that gaming causes the problems.

Instead, these people seem to retreat into gaming and their online personas as an escape from problems socializing in ‘meatspace’.  This means the problem still needs treatment, but that the treatment needs to focus on the person’s social issues rather than “addiction” per se. Bakker blames parents for child patients, as he well should, but adult patients (“overgamers”?) have made a choice.

This latter bit likely holds some truth, but that blanket statements like that cover layers and layers of complexity. As someone who’s struggled with related problems and my own social issues, I definitely feel like gaming didn’t cause my problems. Possibly it exacerbated them, but in reality it provided a way for me to reach out and feel some sense of accomplishment and connection. When I got out of balance, though, my problems worsened. Rather than react appropriately, I withdrew more.

In my case, through the help of family, friends, my congregation, and (yes) a great deal of medical support, I’ve managed to reach some balance. My problems stemmed from other things entirely, and so now I can enjoy my hobby without sacrificing more important things.

In other words, I’ve learned to look at it like chocolate cake: great once in a while, but it’ll make you sick if that’s all you eat. It provides spice and taste to my life, but not my core nutrition.

Hat tips to Terra Nova, Massively, Geeks Are Sexy, and Raph Koster.

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