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Compulsive Video Gaming: Addiction or Vice?

July 11th, 2007

NPR has a great short segment available online about video game addiction.

America has become obsessed with labeling and classifying all human characteristics.
It is no surprise that with the rise of the gaming culture along comes bullshit organizations like the American Psychiatric Association who wish to immediately classify anything they don’t fully understand as an addiction. Don’t get me wrong, there are some gamers who may game to the point that it effects their jobs, or social life, however one needs to approach the subject of video game addiction from a viewpoint of a new social phenomenon. World of Warcraft tends to get the most flack, because players may game for hours and hours on end, however this is also due to the fact that World of Warcraft is also a social atmosphere where one can socialize with other characters. I think as these older doctors talk about digital/virtual experiences they forget that these things are just babies. One wouldn’t chastise a person obsessed with other hobbies which are repetitive and somewhat obsessive as well as rewarding. Take playing the piano for instance. A pianist sits at a chair and uses his fingers (and feet) in order to create music. Concert pianists practice hours and hours a day for years on end, most started playing when they were very young. Now, gamers obviously don’t “give back” as much to the community, but there are cultures where gamers are becoming as popular as Sports players. Ironically the NPR segment below is followed by a story about an umpire who’s been calling baseball for 37 years. Another example of a generation completely out of touch with the 21st century, and more evidence that there needs to be more scholars researching virtual environments so they don’t get labeled and pigeon holed by some hack who writes the DSMIV.

Addiction is most often associated with alcohol, drugs and cigarettes — but what about compulsive eating, gambling, or video gaming? According to the American Psychiatric Association, compulsive gambling meets the criteria for addiction, but compulsive video gaming does not.
Link (Via NPR)

Michael D. Lemonick’s is a guest during this segment and has recently written “How We Get Addicted” for Time magazine.

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