If You're Addicted To World Of Warcraft, Why Not Get Therapy For It In The Game?

from the I-can-think-of-a-few-reasons-why-that's-a-bad-idea... dept

While we tend to have trouble with the idea that there’s a real “addiction” issue with video gaming, there certainly are some people who have trouble leaving the game. And, there have been plenty of therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists popping up with offerings to help “video game addicts.” But how does one stand out in the space? How about by treating the patients directly in the game itself? Apparently, that’s the plan of one psychiatrists, who wants to start getting other therapists to join the game and treat patients within it. Wonder if they’ll try to convince the offshore “gold farmers” that they need help…

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Comments on “If You're Addicted To World Of Warcraft, Why Not Get Therapy For It In The Game?”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:


“But how does one stand out in the space? How about by treating the patients directly in the game itself?”

Oh yeah, that’s brilliant.

“Show me on the avatar where the bad orc touched you, Johnny.”

What’d be really fun is if we could get this shrinks to diagnose and treat OTHER diseases in the game. Then they could overmedicate us VIRTUALLY the same way we’re overmedicated in life.

Forget gifts of gold. They could hand out gifts of Ritilin. But only to those young orcs that suffer from ADD, ADHD, PTSD, or the one I discovered: FAH-Q.

….I don’t feel good about that rant. See, I just didn’t commit the way I normaly do. Tell you what, I’m going to go pound a pot of coffee, come back, and we’ll do this again.

Kevin says:


I’d like to hear to which side you all adhear to, that “playing video games excessivly” (by itself) is an addiction or is just another on a long list of I do it because I enjoy it aka. hobby, social interest, fun.

IMHO, i think addiction is too strong of a word to describe someones extreme interest in a game. In some cases its used as an escape from reality, just like reading an interesting book can be (just a different medium). From my experience, whether it be a video game, a sport, or some kind of time consuming activity, its used as an escape from real life problems. I’m not saying excessive video gaming isn’t unhealthy, which it is. I am saying putting the label of “addiction” or “a treatable illness” is too extreme.

I’d like to hear some thoughts from others, specifically on opposing side of my opinion.


technomage (profile) says:

Re: Re: Addiction??

Kevin, while I don’t buy the “addiction” angle, saying a virtual game does not alter brain chemicals is also wrong. Depending on the game, the risks involved, the escapism from reality, endorphins will be released based upon certain milestones in the game. Saying a game doesn’t alter brain chemicals is also a very dangerous road.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Addiction??

Endorphins are released as a result of the mental activity/stress in your brian and depending on what type of activity. Adrenaline as well. At least thats what I understand on that part. Which seems to be a natural thing, some call it a natural high.

As oppose to alcohol and drugs (ex. nicotine, cocaine). Which are an external source that physically alters brain chemicals and messes you up.

I think my point is that things external physical sources of addictions(which are consummed, inhaled, injected), should be seperated from these other sources. (not completely unrelated, but placed in to a different category?).

I guess if people think WoW is an addiction, they most likely will think as well that humans (or a country to and individual) has an oil addiction, a car addiction, a job addiction, a sport addiction, a computer addiction, ect. (if you are consistent with your logic). I mean where do you draw the line? Anyways thats my opinion at least.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Addiction??

I dont think either are much of an addiction, but just a self control issue.

Isn’t an addiction what occurs when someone loses the ability to control themselves?

We can debate the semantics of addiction all day. The problem is there are tons of people failing at real life to succeed in the game.

If a therapist is able to help someone get his real life on track by playing the game a little, that’s great. Although, I do think whoever is paying the therapist to “work” in-game might be getting the short end of the stick.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Addiction??

“Isn’t an addiction what occurs when someone loses the ability to control themselves? “

In the strictest sense, addiction is a chemical dependency in the body. But, with the English language being an evolving language, definitions have been added to include things that are more obsession than addiction.

One douse not become addicted to coffee but caffeine. Once the withdraw symptoms start, the “fix” can be achieved from many places, like soda or caffeine tablets. This addiction can affect anyone that uses the drug in those quantities.

Obsession is more subjective. One douse not become “addicted” to games but to one specific game. One cannot get their WOW fix by playing Everquest. And, while one person may become obsessed with one game, another person who plays it the same amount of time may not. For example, I played WOW for probably about 8 hours a day for a week while I was on vacation. At this time, I haven’t played for 2 weeks and don’t feel any cravings for it.

Addiction and Obsession should be separated due to the differences in treatments. Addiction can be treated by going threw detox with medical doctors, but obsession needs to be treated by physiologists who get to the reason behind the obsession.

The reason we complain about the miss-use of the word is because the proper treatment isn’t being applied. WOW players are going threw detox instead of finding out they use it to hide from their abusive parents, for example. If that happens than the WOW player will just find something else to run away to.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Addiction??

Kevin, I’m going to answer both your posts here:

First, addiction is not too strong of a word to describe what some experience. It’s embarassing, but I’ll state that I was once addicted to WoW. I played it constantly, Tuesday downtime was my enemy. I ignored my family, I dropped out of school. I was VERY irritable if I could not play for some reason. These are all classic signs of addiction.

Second, drugs/alcohol alter your mental state, reward your pleasure centers disproportionately to “real life”. Online games like WoW do the same. You feel more powerful, in control, not to mention wanted/desired if you are in a raiding guild.

Having said all of that, I think these therapists are just looking for an excuse to play WoW all day.

Tristin (profile) says:


“Saying a game doesn’t alter brain chemicals is also a very dangerous road.”

Technomage is right; anything that causes endorphins to be released technically alters brain chemistry and can therefore be addicting. Case in point: masturbation/porn. While it isn’t directly tweaking brain chemistry like drugs, it definitely makes you feel good, and it definitely would be a hard habit to kick for a LOT of people.

The real issue isn’t whether a situation deserves a label. It is whether that situation needs to be treated. If you or the people close to you feel your habits are interfering with other, more important aspects of your life, than you should take a serious look at how to change things. This may require getting outside help, regardless of the label.

That being said, treating WoW addicts inside the game is ridiculous and bound to fail. All it does is reinforce to “addicts” that they can assimilate reality into the game, thus giving them even less motivation to ever leave it. And good luck getting insurance to cover that treatment, chump.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think he’s referring more to permanent changes in seratonin levels with excessive use of certain drugs, effectively changing a person. Getting a thrill or excitement high is more easily compared to activities such as competitive sports, watching an exhilarating movie, and as you noted, achieving objectives in a video game.

Drew (profile) says:

Is there a reason why this is really that bad of an idea? I had a roommate in college who was addicted to Everquest (and yes, it can be an addiction). I would go to bed and wake up and he’d still be playing. He missed all his classes for two straight quarters and finally was kicked out of school. We all tried to talk to him but after a few weeks of trying to convince him to pull the plug it became clear that there was nothing we could do for him, because he didn’t want to listen to us and he could just tune out into Everquest. If there had been a psychiatrist operating at reasonable rates that could have signed on and talked to him for a few hours, you can be damn sure we’d have pooled together our money to try and help the guy. And it’s obviously not the entire treatment that would happen online, it’s a first step that leads to more. People who say there is no such thing as MMO addiction need to step back and be sure that they know what they’re talking about. Just because YOU were never addicted doesn’t mean others aren’t. Imagine a drunk who can spend all his time in a bar where there is no “last call” and then you’ll see why going to the bar to treat him might be reasonable.

Kevin says:

Re: Re:

As long as you realize, if it wasn’t “Everquest” It would would replace it.

Sometimes you can’t help people with no ambition or sense of real life prorities. They’ll use whatever makes them happy as an escape from whatever is bothering them in real life. Which is what needs to be addressed, whatever they are escaping, not where they are escaping to.

Drew (profile) says:

Kevin, dude, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. My roommate had plenty of ambition when his Everquest playing was limited. When he was in high school, his parents wouldn’t allow him to play for more than a couple hours a day. 
He was the first in his family to go to college.  He was quite popular in high school.  He worked his ass off to get where he was. And for the first year of college, he worked hard there too. Then he started playing Everquest a lot, and I watched him gradually withdraw from everything he had worked so hard for. He ended up having to go back home to his crappy town and work a crappy job while going to community college and living with his parents again. Of course, they made him cancel his account. He sold off his characters, and with a few clicks, his other life in Everquest that he’d invested years into was gone forever. His friends, his obligations to the guild, his items and stats all gone on top of his REAL life going to crap.  Can you even imagine what that would be like? You obviously don’t know anyone who has gone through this. So don’t try to act like an expert.  

Kevin says:

Re: Re:

I don’t mean to act like an expert, I’m just giving my opinion (though it may be harsh, I know) And, yes I do know someone like this. He’s going through a divorce ad losing custody of his 2 kids he had with his wife for about 6 years now because he choose to play WoW all the time instead of being responsible.

Johnny says:

Warcraft Withdrawl

I’ve been with the game since it first came out, and quit in mid 2009, and I useally don’t think about the game until late at night, sometimes it will wake me out of a good sleep, like a enjoyed memory being relived emotionally longing to play again. Withdrawl sucks but now I’m getting back into collecting things, and hunting(which seceretly besides the ability to travel in the game(I LOVE exploring everything)I loved PvP, but nows it’s time for some PvP IRL the hunter and the prey, me and giant bear in a hand to knif battle! long live sparta 😉

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