Gaming Addictions

Gaming Addictions
The Five Habits of Highly Addicted Gamers

Dean Sherwin | 24 Mar 2009 12:10
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When people think about gaming addiction, the first image that usually comes to mind is that of the "sad" gamer who stays in all day to play videogames. Plenty of media outlets have parodied this stereotype, such as the South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft," where a high-level character (who is actually an overweight loser) terrorizes the show's young protagonists in the world of Azeroth; the only way to defeat him is to devote all their time to the game and become overweight losers themselves. But acne and obesity aren't the most universal signs of game addiction, nor are they the most interesting. Certain habits crop up in the minds of many gamers that indicate a high level of obsession, if not always addiction. Some of them are benign and others far, far stranger.

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First, there are the almost subliminally small tendencies with which all gamers are familiar. Some even wear these curious behavioral tics with pride, like battle scars or unlocked achievements. Perhaps the most amusing of these behaviors is the uncontrollable twitching (often in the facial muscles) that indicates intense concentration. The twitch manifests itself in cases like turning the controller as though it's a steering wheel in a racing game, or flicking the controller upwards when Mario jumps. For non - gamers, these behaviors seem curious, even silly. But among gamers, the common perception is that the more weird habits and rituals you have, the more experienced and devoted to gaming you are.

But the truly addicted player develops tendencies that are far stranger than mere controller movements. One example is that of the person who becomes so "sucked in" by a game that he starts to interact with what would is essentially a one-way communication system. This can range from verbally pumping yourself up for a large boss fight to smack-talking the A.I. One example comes from a guy in New York who whispers to his opponents before killing them. He sees a soon-to-be victim crouched behind a wall, the tip of his Kevlar helmet just barely visible. He zooms in for greater accuracy and aligns his crosshairs on the black hemisphere. Finally, he breathlessly caresses the unsuspecting victim with heinous words: "I got you now ... staaaaay ... good girl." Bang!

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