Video Game Addiction Center Realizes That Compulsive Gamers Aren't Addicts

from the well,-duh dept

We’ve discussed in the past how ridiculous it is to call video gaming an “addiction” when almost all of the evidence suggests that compulsive video gamers are usually retreating to video games as a result of some other issue. In other words, rather than an addiction, compulsive video gaming is often a symptom of something else, and the treatment should focus on that other thing, rather than trying to “detox” someone from video games. It seemed like almost everyone who was screaming for video games to be declared an official addiction stood to benefit from such a classification (thankfully, the AMA refused to make it an official addiction).

Now, even those who would benefit from it being called an addiction are admitting that it’s not. A clinic in Europe that was designed to treat video game addicts is now admitting that compulsive video gamers are not addicts, and shouldn’t be treated with traditional “abstinence-based treatments” that are commonly used in dealing with various addictions. Instead, just as plenty of others have noted in the past, the trick is not to worry about the video gaming, but to actually figure out the root causes that made the person retreat to video games. Not surprisingly, it’s often social issues, where kids feel isolated and haven’t learned to communicate socially with their peers, leading to trouble at school. It’s great to see that even those who were making money off of the false “addiction” claim are finally admitting that it’s time to rethink how compulsive video gaming is diagnosed and treated.

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Comments on “Video Game Addiction Center Realizes That Compulsive Gamers Aren't Addicts”

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me,myself and i says:

no game blame

this is not mine but a friends
No video game blame
For many years video games have been blamed for sex drug use and mass murder. But there have been no reasons for such accusations parents and the government blames music and video games for a lot of thing. Such as the columbine high school massacre and the Virginia tech massacre but there have been no proven links between sex, drugs use and murder. Video games have also been studied for links to addiction and violent behavior. Some studies have found that video games do not contribute to these problems Recently several groups have argued that there are few if any scientifically proven studies to backup such claims, and that the video game industry has become a scapegoat for the media to blame for various social ills. Furthermore, numerous researchers have proposed potential positive effects of video games on aspects of development and for psychological well-being.

A common argument used by advocates of videogames is that the majority of gamers are adults. Statistics show that between 40 – 50% of computer game players are women, and that the average age of players is increasing – currently standing at mid to late 20s. Most of the critics of videogames however, agree that it is the large portion of children playing that is the issue. One of the most common criticisms of video games is that they allegedly increase violent tendencies among youth. Several major studies by groups such as The Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health. The Journal of Adolescent Health and The British Medical Journal have shown no conclusive link between video game usage and violent activity. One of the first widely accepted controversial video games was developer Exidy’s 1976 title Death Race.

In which players controlled cars that ran over pixilated representations of gremlins. The game caused such an outcry that it was pulled from store shelves and profiled on 60 Minutes. PTA president Ronnie Lamm pushed for legislation in the early 1980s to place restrictions on how close video game arcades could be to schools, asserting that they caused children to fight. Portrayals of violence allegedly became more realistic with time, and so politicians such as U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman conducted hearings during the 1990s regarding what he referred to as “violent video games” which, in his opinion, included such games as Mortal Kombat. His sentiments have been echoed by certain researchers, such as Dr. Craig A. Anderson who testified before the Senate, “Some studies have yielded no significant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer”.

An example of videogame controversy Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came under similar criticism, also for implying allegedly racist hate crimes: The game, taking place in “Vice City” (a fictional Miami) in 1986, involves a gang war between Haitians and Cuban refugees, and the player often serves both gangs to plot against one another. Haitian and Cuban anti-defamation groups highly criticized the game for these actions, including using phrases such as “kill the Haitian dickheads” (a phrase used in the game, actually referring to the Haitian gang with which the character is having a shoot-out). After the threat of being sued by the Haitian-American Coalition, Rock star removed the word “Haitians” from this phrase in the game’s subtitles. These concerns have led to voluntary rating systems adopted by the industry, such as the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating system in the United States and the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) rating system in Europe, that are aimed at informing parents about the types of games their children are playing (or are asking to play). Certain game publishers’ decision to have controversial games rated seems to show that they are not targeted at young children. They are ESRB rated as “Mature” or “Adults Only” in the US, or given BBFC ratings of 15 or 18 in the UK. The packaging notes that these games should not be sold to children. In the US, ESRB ratings are not legally binding, but many retailers take it upon themselves to refuse the sale of these games to minors. In the UK, the BBFC ratings are backed up by law, so it is actually illegal to sell the game to anyone under the indicated age, and many UK retailers go beyond that and also enforce the PEGI ratings, which are not backed up by law.

Parents have come to hate or become angry at the video games they are outraged at the video game makers. I think it is because they are just looking for a reason to blame some one else other than them self’s but it is in some way their fault to even if they might not know they have done some thing wrong. Maybe they did not try to find out what was going on with their kid when he/she came home crying or depressed. Maybe even did some thing weird that they normally would not do but I’m not saying it is their fault. I’m saying that maybe if they tried they could have prevented this or help stop it but they are blaming some thing that they are not even sure is the problem music and games doing not kill people. People kill people if fact out of all the cases that have been recorded that were blamed for video game and music only 5 of them are really related.

But in all but one of those the person was extremely mentally disturbed and tried to become the main character and hurting and/or killing the main bad guy. Those games were roles playing fantasy in witch ask the player to act and/or think like the main character. The other ones was a when two people had a fight online and then one of them found were he lived via MySpace hunt down them and them hurt them very badly trying to kill them luckily the police stopped them before he killed him. So there is no proof and there is no reason why games should be blamed and attacked the way they are but they are any ways.

There might not be any way to stop it but I can hope that people will stop and think about this subject. The worst part is that they not only attack the games that are violent but the e rated game as well. Some people think that they don’t even care about the game or what’s in it but are trying to get rid of them all together. This is only fueling the fire that is fueling this fire you ask none other Jack Thompson a man that makes me shutter at the evil thing this man says. Jack Thompson for you that don’t know who he is a Florida attorney and fervent critic the of video game industry. He is the first one attacking the games some of you might remember him he was the evil man that said and I quote “These are real lives. These are real people that are in the ground now because of this game. I have no doubt about it,” this guy is so full of him self. When Jack Thompson gets worked up, he refers to gamers as “knuckleheads.” He calls video games “mental masturbation.” When he’s talking about himself and his crusade against violent games, he calls himself an “educator.” He likes to use the word “pioneer.” On those rare occasions when a student opens fire on a school campus, Thompson is frequently the first and the loudest to declare games responsible. In recent years he’s blamed games such as “Counter-Strike,” “Doom” and “Grand Theft Auto III” for school shootings in Littleton, Colo., Red Lake, Minn. and Paducah, Ky. He’s blamed them for shootings beyond school grounds as well. In an attempt to hold game developers and publishers responsible for these spasms of violence, Thompson has launched several unsuccessful lawsuits.

It appears that others are now picking up on this tactic. Adam Thierer points us to a recent case where a lawyer isn’t arguing that his client, a 24-year-old, didn’t commit a murder. He’s arguing that the guy thought he was playing a video game. This is a really weak way to try to get someone acquitted of murder — and says quite a bit about the lawyers who would use this sort of defense. As the article notes, the actual evidence suggests that video games had nothing to do with the murder, and that it was an old-fashioned robbery attempt.

Hilary C says:

Parsing Words

You must have gone to the Bill Clinton School of Law. The parsing of the word “addiction” is like my fat old hubby asking what the definition of “is” is.

Drinking in excess is a compulsive action, and it is called an addiction. We laugh when we hear of someone who is addicted to sex, but lives have been ruined by this addiction. Video games can be addictive, particularly games like “WoW” where many many people have spent endless hours online playing. What defines an addiction? How many hours spent playing defines addiction?

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Parsing Words

An addiction is defined by a chemical dependency in the body. Like an alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction, caffeine addiction. Anyone can become addicted to those chemicals if used long enough, but this so called addiction is not universal. I can play games for hours a day for weeks and then just stop.

One can become an “adrenaline junkey” and become addicted to that chemical, like the so called gambling addicts and gaming addicts, but the underlying problem will still remain after treatment. And even if we accept the fact that one can become addicted to the adrenaline and endorphins produced during the activity, one who plays games all the time is not necessarily addicted. Possibly, they are just trying to hide.

MIke L says:

Re: Parsing Words

Uh even alcoholism is not technically an “addiction” what this is is people trying to shake blame for their own personality defects. I worked for the Salvation Army while in college I can say without reserve that it is pandering to peoples lack of self control to call it an addiction. People need to take responsibility for their actions instead of shifting the blame. Also see “natural selection”

MIke L says:

Re: Parsing Words

Uh even alcoholism is not technically an “addiction” what this is is people trying to shake blame for their own personality defects. I worked for the Salvation Army while in college I can say without reserve that it is pandering to peoples lack of self control to call it an addiction. People need to take responsibility for their actions instead of shifting the blame. Also see “natural selection”

ITEric says:

Re: Re: Parsing Words

Alcoholism not an “addiction”? Granted, lack of self control may be how a person becomes an alcoholic, but anyone who says an alcoholic is not an addict has apparently never seen one going through detox.

That said, there is a definite distinction between being addicted and habituated. The so-called video game “addicts” may be better referred to as habitual video gamers.

TheObamanator says:

Re: Parsing Words

Will all due respect Hil, if time defines addiction, than the majority of Americans are addicted to work. Not just getting up and going to a job, but work in general. We are addicted to watching television. Addiction assumes an inability to stop, whether one wishes to or not. WoW and other such games do take a long time to play, no question. But just because some choose to play a game with their time rather than another leisurely activity does not deem them addictive. We each have a definition of productivity and neither you nor I can say what that should be to others. If online gamers wish to spend their time there, and it makes them happy, more power to them. They harm no one and apparently aggitate people like you for no apparant reason. To draw an analogy between sexual addiction, drugs, alcohol, and video games vastly undermines the seriousness of the previous. Those afflictions are serious and I challenge you to find the video gamers who have ruined lives and destroyed families. I’m sure they exist, but we’ll pit the numbers against the former afflictions and see which one comes out the greater.

Without question this was the right decision. Video games do release natural chemicals in your brain that trigger ‘highs’ similar to a drug, but so does exercise. (Although with vastly different physical outcomes, lol.) These arguments have been played out over and over. My conclusion, stop plopping kids in front of a video game as a babysitter. Be a responsible parent and spend time with them yourself. Watch them play outside with other kids. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo may be good entertainment companies, but they make lousey parents.

Not a pshycologist says:

All addictions have some kind of underlying problem. Whether it is game/drug/sex/work/shop addiction, they are all the same stemming from an underlying psychological problem. Obviously the drawbacks from drug addiction are more difficult to deal with as there are withdrawal symptoms, much less so for game/shop addiction. However I think any activity that is obsessive should be classified as an addiction regardless of method to rid the psychological problem.

Anonymous Coward says:


Addiction can be defined as continuing to do something that has serious negative life consequences despite a desire to stop doing it. Thus if you eat until you throw up, need to vacuum the floors so much you lose your job, or are compelled to ballroom dance until you get shin splints, and can’t stop, then that is addiction.
It doesn’t have to be 50 drinks on the weekend that make you too “sick” to go in to work on Monday; it could be just one drink that makes you point a gun at a cop and be arrested every Wednesday.
So, if the game becomes too attractive that you can’t leave it to work, if the love of your life leaves, or if you fail to get up to relieve yourself and damage your kidneys, it doesn’t matter if it is a few hours or a lot of hours. If on the other hand your life is in good order, and you spend all the time you might have spent cooking, watching TV, reading, going out, and the like, in the game, then it is simply a choice of how you apportion your time.

But here is another possibility. First Puzzle Pirates (the gateway mmo) and then World of Warcraft were for me a life saver when I was profoundly depressed and my doctors were not able to help me. The pleasure of measured accomplishment, the social circles, the activities that focused my attention and kept me interested when before I was unable to even get out of bed for a meal, the return of pleasure when I was able to enjoy the art and music, the good humor in those games, and a reason to wake up each morning, if only to make the cloth on the timer were the rescue I needed from what was a medical emergency. I am alive, happy and productive today because I had the opportunity to immerse myself in those fantasy worlds and enjoy the company of strangers.

So when someone spends what you might call “too much” time on a game, perhaps looks at their life and see if it is their way of coping with a situation that is not good for them. Are they hiding from bullying, from feeling inadequate because there isn’t meaningful work for them, from a world that is kicking them in the teeth?
Are they finding a way, just as building train layouts or collecting stamps might, to feel they have accomplished something when the job that pays their bills seems meaningless?
Is the housewife feeling satisfaction in accumulating achievements, armor, ratings, or skills (Puzzle Pirates requires the player have the skill, not the character) to compensate for Sisyphean housework that when done is immediately undone?
Is the kiddy who is being dumped on by arbitrary teachers or parents satisfying his need for a world that obeys rules?

It isn’t enough to observe that their life is a mess. If the game messed up their life, then maybe it is an addiction. If their life is improved by it, then the game is therapeutic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Self-medication

Addiction can be defined as continuing to do something that has serious negative life consequences despite a desire to stop doing it.

That’s a pretty screwy definition you came up with there. By that definition the heroin junkie who doesn’t want to quit isn’t an addict and the epileptic who wants to quit having seizures but can’t is.

alanward says:

addiction in general

people retreat into video games as a result of other problems? isn’t that the nature of addiction people drink because of their problems they gamble because of their problems they overeat have sex with people they shouldnt etc. etc. it’s a mental disorder in the sense that someone is retreating from and is unable to deal with real life. teh human spirit is strong enough to over come any physical addiction (not easily mind you) but if the spirit is weakened we may need help. addiction is never really the problem it’s an attempt at a cure a counterfeit medication for pain loneliness or insecurity

Gabriel Deliz says:

I need help im 16 years old, i hate my mother.

She says video games are addicting and on this chrismas she and i both made a promised that if i study for my final exame she will get me my PlayStation 3. She said she dosent want to give me that cause i didnt studied thats is bull, i studied 9 hours a day. Thats the last time ill study i dont even care if i dont go to college is boring, Jesus. And my father says its not addicting is just i have social problems and hes right hes a doctor for Crist Sake. My mother is a good @#$% house keeper. I dont know i have keeped my promise she didnt i say the one who is to blame is not the video game is the life that you have i mean come on i have a lot of friends and i had 5 girlfriends wtf is the problem. Ill explain is not the parents, well my moms a @#$% but never mind that, is just that theres nothing more fun than video games. I mean seriusly what will you perfer video games or study. The imbecil who say studie obviusly has a boring life. (if i miss spelled some words im sorry im from Puerto Rico I speak spanish not inglish) Peace.

Nevada Drug Rehab (user link) says:

Nevada Drug Rehab

If you are seeking a Nevada drug rehab center for your friend or family member who has a substance abuse problem you should do plenty of research on the subject of drug addiction and get the right information. This site was created to provide you with the information necessary to make the right choices. It contains the brief information about the all the rehab centers, which is listed according to states of US.

jamesshackleford (user link) says:


While addiction can be physical at some point in the over doing of something, being your body is actually addicted. There was something that set you off in the first place. Narconon gave me a chance to figure out what was wrong with me before I started down the road to addiction (drugs not video games) and they were wight. It wasn’t the drugs that were the problem it was the issues that caused me to use drugs in the first place. Once I figured out my initial problems I had no problem staying clear of my addiction.

TechAddiction (user link) says:

Root causes arguement

Not sure that the root causes argument necessarily disqualifies something from being an addiction. Yes, retreating into an online world can be a symptom of another psychological or emotional problem (depression, anxiety, poor social relationships). But, the same can also be said of excessive alcohol use and few would disagree that this can be an addiction. This is not to say that videogame addiction is as serious as drug or alcohol addiction. But, is it not possible that certain underlying difficulties can make one more likely to initially turn to online games, and that this subsequently takes on a life of its own and becomes an addiction on top of the already existing problems?


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