So, are video games addictive? Whilst you may lean toward one or another perspective on the subject, it is important to remember to be logical about it. The fact is, there’s no simple answer. Even more so if you are a vivid gamer.
The following words that you are about to read are based on some facts, some of which were discovered and confirmed by scientists, but also based on a personal experience and opinion by yours truly.
This time, we’ll cover the side of “yay-sayers”, and as we pass to the next article after this one, it is my hope at the end of both to perhaps have the “nay-sayers” look into themselves more deeply with honesty and openness, and the “yay-sayers” to be less judgemental and see the actual struggle in lives of those who think have this so-called “game addiction”.
Lets dig in, are games addictive?
Indeed, they can be. To really answer this question, we have to ask ourselves, are video games designed to be addictive? The simple answer is – Yes (this is no secret, not even by the industry).
video game addiction facts
While the subject as a whole is still being investigated and tested by scientists worldwide, it is a known fact that playing video games releases a hormone called dopamine – Also known as the happy hormone. Dopamine is also released when we drink alcohol or indulge in other vices that give us happiness.
The release of dopamine may cause a person to become affected by hyperarousal (no, it’s nothing kinky) – a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. The person’s body is being pulled into high alert over a memory of a trauma, even if the body is not in danger at the moment.
Activities that are considered addictive in a similar manner are gambling in casinos, shopping, sex, excessive eating, and constant exercising. Whether these activities, including playing video games, are actual addictions or merely addictive behaviors is yet to be determined, as more research is required.
However, it is my personal opinion, that we tend to go for such behaviors in times of stress-related events or our current crumbled state of mind. In fact, we’ll most often turn to video games or other addictive activities when we’re depressed or when our lives appear to be going nowhere. A cry for help? Well, either that, or everything is fine with us, and we just really want to see where that story of a gun-slinging cattle-stealing renegade leads us next.
We all know someone who’s into video games in one way or another. It could be someone who works in the industry, or maybe you have that one loud neighbor who plays into the night, laughing and screaming from excitement into the microphone, or perhaps we even indulge in video games ourselves (you know then how it feels like). So, whilst we may not understand, or know all of the scientific hullabaloo, what makes video games addictive in the first place?
Video games can be addictive because of how they are designed. For example, your screen lights up when you unlock an achievement – A flashy celebration to let you know how awesome you are for completing it. Or, if you are playing an MMO, outpace everyone and get the strongest gear before everyone else. The competition can make you sink hours upon hours into the virtual world, sometimes forgetting that you have daily responsibilities.
Moreover, video games give us a brief moment to escape from reality and become the hero of the day in the virtual world. Similar to books and movies, games can bring us excitement in a variety of forms. Any person may fall prone to the effects caused by video games. It’s no wonder then, we ask ourselves if video games are addictive.
Cases of people becoming addicted to the point of requiring professional help have been recorded, investigated, and talked about extensively. Researchers found that the patients had an urge to go back to video games, due to a variety of reasons. For example, they were socially uncomfortable and insecure, or even suicidal due to things happening to them in life.
In the end, however, whilst these people sought video games as their outlet, the actual cause has never been the video games themselves. Rather, patients had other traumas and issues and as a result, had trouble coping with events in their lives. That would drive them to overdo and bury themselves in video games. Humans are indeed complex creatures..
Are video games more addictive than drugs?
The simplest answer is – No. Video games may be seen as the cause of problems or problematic behavior to many observers, but it’s only due to a lack of knowledge that this point of view even exists.
In fact, sometimes the observers themselves are the cause for problems with this “problematic addict” in front of the screen. That said, there may be unresolved personal issues between family members and alike.
In the end, video games are no more addictive than any other activity which brings us a dose of joy, such as baking, binging television series, bicycling, and many other activities. And whilst it’s true that there may be other activities which we consider healthier than some, it’s only a question of the actual amount spent, and whether we’re capable of tearing ourselves away from the screen.
As with everything, too much of anything eventually becomes harmful, no matter how healthy it may appear to be in the first place. So how much is too much, and what is considered healthy?
Obviously, the answer is very subjective and may change from person to person. As long as we’re hurting nobody (ourselves included), living our lives to the fullest, giving something good to society, we can take a weekend and knock ourselves out with video games, or whatever else your heart desires. God knows that after an eight-hour five-day work-week basically slaving away, we need something to unwind ourselves with.
How to stop video game addiction?
As someone who is playing video games, finding other activities that bring us joy and having other things in life that we’ll put as priorities should keep anyone away at a healthy balance, even if we do wish to indulge in video games.
As an observer, helping those that don’t see themselves slipping into the endless abyss of being stuck in front of the screen, instead of judging them and pointing out the act as the actual problem, in fact, brings better results, rather than tearing someone away from what brings them a certain amount of joy.
We all just want to be happy in the end, but we don’t really always know the best way to deal with things, and more often than not, we escape reality for a bit when we get to swing swords that shoot magical flaming bullets, whilst we defend mankind from invading synthetic marbles from outer space.
To be on the safe side, you can avoid video game addiction with these 6 easy steps:
- Keep yourself occupied with other daily activities. Exercise, being one, is healthy for everyone and it will lower health issues due to sitting over a long period of time.
- Find something you like doing even more than playing and immersing in video games.
- Set time restrictions on your playing and strive to stay true to them and, thus, to yourself.
- Keep whatever devices you play video games on outside of sleeping quarters in order to not play into the night.
- Set a rule for yourself not to play video games after a certain period of time before going to sleep.
- Take into consideration reactions and comments about you playing video games from those living around you.
Conclusion, Are video games addictive?
My opinion and final thoughts, with the verdict – Are video games addictive or not, are as such; I personally see the following done much too often – We simply shouldn’t put every problem on something we disagree with. In this case, playing video games. If you’re finding people around you worried for your well-being, or just frustrated it’s only up to us as individuals to decide and ask yourself – Is this amount healthy for me? And whether you’re just someone who dislikes video games with a passion, being the immovable object of constant barrage of protests, ask yourself one simple question – Are you maybe a little of a hypocrite? And before you mentally tear my face off, and then press that tempting X in the corner of the browser tab, there had to be at least one game in your life (not necessarily a video games – and yes, video games are just like any other game that’s not related to digital media), that you truly enjoyed experiencing. Whether we’re playing video games in excess, or we understand that it brings joy to someone for a couple of hours every now and then, there’s no simple answer to this, but our actions will affect those around us.