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#1

The Escapist's resident clinical psychologist is ready to answer your gaming-related questions.

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Good to see someone come out and finally make the distinction about addiction being anything that can be pleasurable. To this end, I would assume even something as seemingly healthy as working out can be addictive, as it gives your body a naturally pleasing reaction (releasing endorphins into the brain, etc.).

I'm not entirely sure if I could classify myself as "addicted" to a single game. Am I addicted to the Internet and video games as a whole? Maybe, but it would take time for me to quantify those experiences and explain them logically.

Thanks for the article.

Really, really intresting article. I like the detail you go into when it coems to outlining what addition and pleasure is.

Thank you for your article, I certainly would be intrested in future articles!

I'm still not sure about the use of the word addiction here. From my understanding, the signs of addiction are not just a propensity to use the substance, but also propensity to utilise the substance in favour of more pleasurable activities and to store "stashes" of that substance for usage when you can't get to the main source.

Now, if I'm a poet, or a designer, or a writer; I can easily fulfil three of those criteria with my "vice" but there's no such thing as an addiction to those substances.

Gaming can fulfil the former two criteria, but unless you're counting the use of mobile phones, which would seem a stretch, the third is almost impossible. And would be covered under normal behaviour.

Any pleasurable substance can lead to OCD around that, but that's not necessarily an addiction, rather an outlet for a mental state that's already there.

There's also the social aspect where substance abusers rarely tend to act altruistically towards other users as the addiction takes hold. This is overthrown in smokers (for instance) who commonly band together, held up in drinkers (who take to drinking alone due to their aggression), but fails completely in gaming where the social aspect (even when ganking) tends to be paramount. It's only in the OCD cases where the ganker tends towards solo efforts, most game "addicts" revel in the praise of others.

In other words - Can gaming really be classed as an addiction if it fulfils the aspects of a "normal" life to some, for by classing it as an addicition, you're offering the hope of curing it and returning the victim to a "normal" life. The life they already rejected to become a gamer.

Most gamers I have met are a little socially awkward but couldn't you say the same about any passtime/job that regularly places them in situations where they deal with wondrous/terrible things? Could you not view Teaching, Nursing or even Psychiatry as a form of addiction? Because each of those groups will tend to play through their job in normal circumstances.

Is that so different from a gamer running forward crying "LEEEEROY JENKINS!"?

Perhaps the "Gamer" just seeks his catharsis among people who can understand him? Cops socialise together, why shouldn't we?

Great article, I loved reading this, it was very interesting. Looking foward to more of these.

An interesting read.

I truly believe anything pleasurable can become an addiction. For a long time I used books, all kinds of books, to make life bearable. I did keep a stash. If the stash ran out, I got edgy and upset until I scored a new baggie of novels from the library. I read instead of socializing and instead of doing homework or chores. Instead of sleeping, too. Even when life wasn't too bad, I still chose reading over most other activities. It took therapy to make me face life and get control of my reading habit.

Great article, I look forward to reading anything else you post.

That was kind of interesting. For almost every three or four things on the news proposing that negatives of video gaming, no one mentions the eight or nine great things that come from it. I'm definitely hoping to read more.

A fab read, Dr Kline. I can barely wait for your next article. :)

*Edited* I spelt your name wrong. How embarrassing!

A thoroughly entertaining read I'll look out for it in future!

I really enjoyed the original article. I'm looking forward to more of this column.

Great article, look forward to more :3 I love this meld of science and games...

Thank you for this great article, seems I missed your previous epic one, reading it right now and bookmarked.

Your first article was good, glad to see someone here noticed and asked for more.
And I especially like how you took the time to get in touch with me regarding my views, I think you'll find a warm welcome here, and definitely from me at least.

Whats your stances on videogame violence? Am I to believe what the Politicians say that they cause more kids to be more violent? or the studies that these types of games either have little or no affect at all?

Curious to know what a psychologist think about the issue. :D

I say this is a unique aspect when it comes to the very controversial subject when combining video games and psychology. Something you really don't expect out of video game journalism as much as the latest psychology report suggesting that video games are "good" or "bad" for society. Good to see things brought down to a personal level that focuses more on the issue with the nuance.

For me, gaming is a huge stress relief, and now that I'm single, one of the only things I can do that work in such a fashion.

That's not what I want to type about, however. See, I have this issue that I know other people have because (cue Lewis Black Angry Snap) I've seen it! When I'm playing a game... publicly and online at least, it's nearly impossible to derive any sort of enjoyment from it unless I'm, not only doing good, but am the best player on my team or close to it. When I got a new mouse and my aim sucked, the frustration that ensued whenever I tried to play something skill based was enormous. Of course, this is a problem, because, yeah, it inhibits my ability to have fun in a game unless nobody is looking or I'm doing awesome without worrying about it.

I think this is an extreme extent of a lack of self-esteem, or even simply the fact I care much about what others think of me (my skill). I don't know a real way around it, really, even knowing the psychology behind it. Maybe when I hit 21 and gain the sudden wisdom that it doesn't matter, thing's will work out, but I doubt it. My dad has the same issues that are only minutely toned down.

Ways I've used to escape this issue include, of course, getting better, but that's boring. The most notable thing I've done to escape was the opposite of success. I used a sniper rifle in close quarter battle in a game that was very movement heavy (S4), thereby exempting me from all things related to score and kill/death ratio. It also improved my aim drastically until my mouse died.

So, there's how much of a fuckup I am, and I hope it can be mentioned in the next article, because it's an interesting and sadistic issue that messes up games for anyone with it. It's also a side effect of adolescence to an extent.

That's a great idea, bringing a professional to answer questions, since I'm pretty sure this will become one of the more interesting article series on the site.

Is it weird that the first thought that came into my head when I saw this article (particularily Mark's portrait!) was: "MEDIC!!"

Funny thing is, I don't even play Team Fortress 2 very much.

I thought this was a really good read. :) I am/was a 4 year WoW player. I can relate to the guy's story about his family but mine wasn't bad. I used it the same way for moving a lot, college and moving again when I graduated. It meant I didn't have a lot of local friends but I could go anywhere and have my friends that played online. Now that I've settled into my job and lived in the area for a year or so, I've stopped playing WoW and have been looking for people in my area. I still talk with my WoW friend. They're some of my closest friends, even if we haven't met in person.

I look forward to seeing more of this article and how much of it I can relate to my life. I've been playing video games since I was 3 years old and it's not going to stop. It's just more about balance now.

RetroVortex:
Is it weird that the first thought that came into my head when I saw this article (particularily Mark's portrait!) was: "MEDIC!!"

Funny thing is, I don't even play Team Fortress 2 very much.

Hang on...

image

Yep. I do see the resemblance.

I do look forward to seeing more of these articles though.

Ralvuimego:

RetroVortex:
Is it weird that the first thought that came into my head when I saw this article (particularily Mark's portrait!) was: "MEDIC!!"

Funny thing is, I don't even play Team Fortress 2 very much.

Hang on...

image

Yep. I do see the resemblance.

I do look forward to seeing more of these articles though.

DOCTOR!! <3

First let me say I am an ex wow-er. And pretty heavy. In the first 4 years of it's release, I had put ~7000 hours into it. That means that of the 4 or 4 1/2 years I had an active account, about 1/4 of my time was spent on WoW.

I think the fact that WoW is a very good game, along with the fact that it essentially has no ending, is the problem. Maybe I worded that wrong. The game isn't the problem, but the fact that addictive personalities (like me) have no automatic release. For instance, I loved Mass Effect 2 a lot. I played through it twice and pretty much neglected all other parts of my personal and partially my professional life to complete it the first time. But then it was over, and I blabbled about the game to my friends for a while, and then it got swept under the carpet. For someone like me who has potential to be self destructive, WoW is pretty much kryptonite. It's a great game, with a lot of interesting things to learn, a good community (sometimes lol), and a world that evolves at a fairly fast pace.

I've played other MMOs and currently am playing one (Global Agenda) but no other has had the effect that WoW had on me. Single player games yes, but like I said, they have a definite ending.

I think addiction is an accurate word. I know people who would play Halo 2 online always. They would cancel our hockey games, or not come out to a concert, or pretty much avoided anything that wasn't Halo 2. Similar to me, if I was home I would be online. If I was not online I wished I was. I thought about it all the time, always preoccupied. My hygiene suffered, my health suffered, my social life suffered, my relationships suffered. Regardless of all the negatives I would always have the disposition of "oh well, I'll just play more Warcraft". I haven't played it in a long time but I feel like I kicked a habit. If I see my friend playing it, I start to get what I can not explain other than a craving. The same way some ex-smokers can't be around someone smoking. I have an inexplicable urge to redownload all the content and load up, but luckily I have the self-control these days to say "no"

Anyways really interesting article, I liked both the first piece about your personal experience and this one.

Very insightful. I come from a dysfunctional home myself (lots of spousal conflict), and I've found I became an avid gamer in much the same way. Even as the stress in my home life has lessened, though, I've found that my interest in gaming has not. I wouldn't consider myself an addict, though.

I hope you continue with this column. Some of the greatest insights to be made in the gaming world are psychological.

Heavy Weapons Guy:

Ralvuimego:

RetroVortex:
-Le Snip-

Hang on...

image

Yep. I do see the resemblance.

I do look forward to seeing more of these articles though.

DOCTOR!! <3

I think your first post contains an amount of win that cannot be described. :D

Anyhow: an interesting read. It's refreshing to see that not every psychologist views video games as the spawn of all evil that often seems to be a general consensus... hell, I wish you were my psychologist! xD

... also, in attempting to write out some sort of heartfelt note or explanation as to why I'm a gamer, "videogames" could be replaced with "crack" and nothing would have been changed whatsoever. That's slightly alarming.

For me, when I play videogames they may conflict with my schoolwork (I am in an advanced program so we get lots of homework every night) but I would not consider myself an addict, rather a "lover of videogames" (I got this from a reading about a guy who changed his name to "Amor de Cosmos"). I certainly do not neglect up to the point of near-failing, and am prepared for tests and exams, but I could do better in terms of homework and marks.

However, as the quoted comment in your article touches on, this is not because of videogames that this happens but rather because of my personality in association with arts. If there were no videogames, I would instead be calling myself "lover of movies" or "lover of books."

Dr. can you please tell me what part of someone's brain fails to function whenever a new MMO is coming out and the first thing the poor sap can say is.. "It's WoW with capes." "It's WoW with horses." "It's WoW with rocket boots." "It's WoW with kissing."

Too bad they said the TF2 Doctor thing already.

Good and interesting article (especially "Physician Gank Thyself"), I like that you are not precisely a person that grew up worshiping games but you where willing, open-minded and professional enough to give them an honest opportunity.

I bet your patient's attention/respect spikes if you tell them your gaming experience.

Hmmm...

It's a good point that just because some people don't get addicted it doesn't mean something isn't addicted. Most people aren't addicted to alcohol or gambling or sex even though they've experienced it. But some people are. It's all in the dopamins, dude.

The problem probably lies in trying to classify videogames as good or bad. They aren't, they are a million different experience which affect different people in different ways. And even one game can feel different to different people depending on what is their suit. We, gamers, have made an habit out of acting as if games are the most awesome thing on earth out of defence for the people who say it's a devilish thing out to destroy our psyches. It's a lie we've come to believe in.

It's too bad that Dr. Kline has only played WoW. I haven't, and the only online game I keep coming back to is Kingdom of Loathing. I personally think any MMO cannot stand on its two legs without at least an amount of grinding and I just have no time for grinding any more. (Because I'm trying to get to level 30 on KoL, possibly.) I wish the doc had more experience on other videogames for a more complete view.

Gaming is a delicious mix of catharsis, art, fantasy, and escapism. As much as it is heralded as addictive and wrong, I still hold it as medicine. I for one find it a way to deal with my own transgenderism and the anxiety I receive from it.

9NineBreaker9:

Heavy Weapons Guy:

Ralvuimego:

RetroVortex:
-Le Snip-

Hang on...

image

Yep. I do see the resemblance.

I do look forward to seeing more of these articles though.

DOCTOR!! <3

I think your first post contains an amount of win that cannot be described. :D

Anyhow: an interesting read. It's refreshing to see that not every psychologist views video games as the spawn of all evil that often seems to be a general consensus... hell, I wish you were my psychologist! xD

... also, in attempting to write out some sort of heartfelt note or explanation as to why I'm a gamer, "videogames" could be replaced with "crack" and nothing would have been changed whatsoever. That's slightly alarming.

THE OFFICIAL MEDIC IS HERE!!! [bows down and offers money]

This column really offers something new to the escapist. I'll definitely read it next week when you get some real questions.

I didn't mean to hijack the thread with my picture... but I return this time with a question.

After reading the first two articles, I've got questions about what the scope of this series of articles is. The two articles I can get information from deal primarily in gaming addiction. I mean there is the ever present topic of violence in video games... but beyond that, I think it all depends on your experience with games as well as psychology.

Either way, I'm still intrigued with where this article can go. Sorry if I sounded a little too critical.

"I stopped playing WoW, not because I was addicted and needed an intervention, but because I became bored with the game. Do heroine addicts get bored of shooting up? Do crackheads get bored of smoking crack? No."

This is probably one of my favorite arguments for why gaming is not an addiction, for the most part that is.

I would rather use the word "Obsession" on psychological addictions, since that is more or less what it is.

Although as I am writing this a friend of mine pointed out that you get some kind of kick out of leveling or gaining new gear, so it might be that there is a sense of addiction going on.

I don't know what to think, but I personally feel "addiction" is a too strong word, when it is tossed as a lable on anyone that plays MMOs, regardless of their mental state.

Great article, keen to see more.

Only MMORPG I really got into was Runescape back in the day, mostly because school was so boring, needed something to suck up time. But I stopped that before long when i realized I didn't actually enjoy playing the game, was just farming resources for some potential enjoyment in the future...

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