Leveling Up Against the 5 Pillars of Video Game Addiction.
When Simple “Fun” Can Become A Video Game Addiction.
Humans seek self fulfillment naturally and personal enjoyment is a large part of that. A big part of self-fulfillment is “fun” or leisure time. What people do in their free time or leisure time defines a big part of who they are. A lot of people’s personality comes from the activities they indulge in. Creativity, intelligence, and ambition can leak out from the way people spend their time. One popular past time for people nowadays are video games. What can start out as innocent fun can quickly degenerate into a dangerous lifestyle. A lifestyle of video game addiction.
Video games were once a past time for children and the socially challenged. They’ve grown in popularity over the years and more and more people play them. Many play video games to take a break, unwind, or to escape reality. While “junk” entertainment isn’t harmful in small doses, in larger amounts it will put a hamper on people’s ability to be the best they can be.
The reason this becomes an issue is because people start to focus more on escaping reality over making their own reality the best that they can make it. Instead of addressing their life by looking in the mirror and making the appropriate changes, they turn to video game systems to self medicate. The best way to medicate yourself is to focus on making your life better.
Why video games can be addictive.
What makes video games so addictive that people crave them so much? There are many factors. Here are some major reasons that people game in large amounts.
One major appeal of video games is the fact that people use them as a way to relax. The brain sends out endorphins which makes people have a positive feeling. The more people experience this the more they seek out that feeling from gaming. Over time they find themselves “relaxing” more and more and being productive less and less. It’s essentially another form of laziness as the body has started to seek out “relaxing” more than “accomplishing goals” as a means of stimulating itself. Put on some headsets and just turn off the world. The problem is you can’t turn it off forever.
2. Alternate reality.
Video games provide a very immersive experience for people and gaming companies know it. Games more and more nowadays are meant to take up a lot of your time and they do this by giving people an incentive to grind and invest a lot of hours into the game so that it is harder to leave. Many games have reward systems, treasure, loot, and levels as a way of measuring progress and encouraging people to do more and spend more time in the game.
The problem with this is that people tend to focus more on their development in the gaming world and start neglect their own problems in life. I’ve known many people who basically come home or wake up in the morning and immediately go to video games as soon as possible to escape whatever problems they had in their life and those areas suffered more as a result. Their health, social life, and financial life plummeted. They became more depressed and the video games only enhanced the cycle. Hooked On Games talks about this in detail.
Closely tied with the alternate reality aspect is the aspect of coping. People have issues in their own lives and they turn to video games as a way to shut out the pain. If a person is depressed about a relationship for instance they might play video games to take their mind off of the pain. If a person is in trouble with debt they might go out and buy a game to “treat themselves” and make themselves feel better. This is obviously counterproductive. People are going to have issues in their life where they feel down. This is completely normal. However the best way to cope with parts of your life and feel better are to focus on your core parts. Eating properly, socializing with the right people, managing your finances, and things of that nature. Unproductive activities will only make you feel better temporarily but will slow you down in the long run. There are many books designed to help with video game addiction like this one below. Click to learn more.
People love to challenge themselves. I myself am big on self improvement so this part hit home to me. When I did play more video games in the past I liked to push myself to the furthest limits. I tried to maximize my high score, do self-made challenges, and work on my execution. I liked being the guy that did things that most guys didn’t and couldn’t do, and it was enjoyable. The thing is the more you focus on challenging yourself in other areas such as that are more productive, the more you can see results in other parts of your life that make a difference. That high score might be cool to look at, but what does it actually do for you? Does it help you get the girl or guy you want? Did it make you in better shape? Does it put more money in your pocket? Will it help you live the life of your dreams?
Unless you’re becoming a highly paid professional gamer, the answer to these things is a resounding no. Even professional gamers in most cases don’t make more than a person at a typical job and they often have to devote 8-12 hours daily just to stay good at their craft. Only a very small percentage (>1%) play at that level of skill, so it is a long shot. Thankfully I never played to the point where it was a major disruption in my life but it was still a part of my life I didn’t really need to bother with. There are other means to challenge yourself that are more productive.
5. Social Interaction
This one just might be the most major aspect. People can log on to a game and talk and socialize with people like them. It makes them feel like the belong in a world where they might not feel like they do otherwise. Modern gaming has really changed with the way people interact. In the past it was just playing a game on the couch with your friends or brother and now you have people who can talk to you from anywhere on the planet with clear audio. People can now compete against each other or cooperate. Groups can form teams and guilds. Individuals can come up with strategies and share them on forums and now people make YouTube videos and even streams and get donations for them.
While this all sounds great there are many problems here as well. For one the gaming communities are often toxic and have a very negative entitlement mentality. The amount of stupid squabbles and fights I’ve seen over the years amount to thousands and it can often be time consuming sitting and reading the arguments on its own. Many people devote countless hours of their time to these communities focusing on how to be better at a game or just doing nothing. When the latest game dies and something new comes along they just move over to that community and rinse and repeat the same process. Eventually it’s no longer even about the game. It becomes more about just fitting in somewhere than about playing the actual game for some people. I’ve seen people discuss games they’ve stopped playing months ago! The Reddits and other sites show that.
These social interactions could have been spent building relationships in real life. Networking, making new friends, or dating could have been accomplished in the time people spend working on these relationships which are just hollow and often a waste of time. Not to mention the amount of enemies people make over video games which is just silly.
Take control of your real life.
I don’t expect the gamers who read this to quit playing games over night. What I’m suggesting is that you spend more and more time doing productive activities that actually make your life better and focus on being a more well rounded person. The usual arguments against this are things like “Time spent having fun is not time wasted.” This argument is ridiculous because you can enjoy yourself *and* be productive simultaneously. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. These are the kind of people who let life wash over them and then say they were unlucky. Don’t be that person.
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