Snare of gaming can be tough to beat

Gamers

Most of us know how it feels to come home after a long, hard day.Maybe everything went wrong at work; maybe you got dumped by your significant other; maybe you spent hours and hours doing homework. In any case, you reach home, and you’re burned-out. You want to unwind. Some people watch a movie. Some people hang out with their friends. For some, the most enjoyable way to unwind is with a video game. But, as with anything, this form of recreation can get out of hand.

“Gaming has shown elements of being a compulsive behavior, with players feeling addicted, experiencing a strong impulse to play the games, and finding it hard to resist the games,” according to a 2007 scholarly article by Helena Cole, B.Sc. and Mark D. Griffiths, Ph.D., titled, “Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers.”

Obviously, the problem is not universal — enjoyment of a game does not necessitate addiction to it.

Brandon Fegenbush, a senior studying communication, said that he enjoys playing video games occasionally, but doesn’t play as often as he used to.

“I usually just play with people,” he said. “I know that sometimes, I’ll play an old school game just for fun, but then I get bored of it real quick.”

According to Cole and Griffiths, a survey of 912 gamers showed that the average time they spent playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) was 22.85 hours per week.

That’s an average of approximately 3.26 hours per day.

According to www.addictionrecov.org, symptoms of video game addiction include:

• Preoccupation with the game. (Thoughts about previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session.)

• Increasing game use in order to achieve satisfaction.

• Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop game use.

• Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the game.

• Gaming longer than originally intended.

• Jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of game use.

• Lies to family members, friends, therapists or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the game.

• Use of the game as a way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood.  (such as feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety and depression).

Fegenbush, who used to play World of Warcraft, a popular MMORPG, said that sometimes people use games to avoid responsibility.

“I did notice it got to the point where I’d rather play a game than take care of my own responsibilities. … A lot of times, what happens is people let those things take precedence,” he said. “I did recognize at times, instead of doing something that was productive or meaningful, I would just fill the time, or try to avoid reality, like escaping into a virtual reality.” Fegenbush said.

Fegenbush said he became less interested in playing video games after he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Before my mission, I just played a ton. When I got back, I started playing, … [but] after experiencing fulfilling your time with things that are worthwhile … I realized how empty that is,” Fegenbush said.

Fegenbush also said he feels that there are better alternatives to video games.

“No amount of success in a video game is ever going to equate to the feeling [I have] when I’m with my girlfriend, you know?” Fegenbush said. “The opportunity to build a relationship with someone far outweighs reading a book, watching movies, or any other form of entertainment.”

Fegenbush said that if he could say anything to people who were addicted to video games, he would tell them to think about why they play.

“People have just got to look honestly at why they do it, to really feel if it’s helping or hurting them and to adjust accordingly — to balance their life out. … There’s no punishment for playing too little of a video game: there’s only a punishment for playing too much of it. And you only punished yourself, really. … You’re the one that loses out the most. And life has no reset button.”

Students who feel they are struggling with an addiction can contact the BYU-I Counseling Center at 208-496-9370.

The Church also provides materials for overcoming addiction at addictionrecovery.lds.org.

8 Responses

  1. I like how this article address’ the problem with gaming. I enjoy playing games myself, but not by myself. Its funny how when playing a game, time can just fly by. Many people who are sucked into a game find there days gone in what feels like minutes. Its happened to me before, and I find myself just depressed that I didn’t do anything. Getting out and away from the computer is the only cure I think, or being productive by doing something creative. For me, I love making songs or videos on my free time. Being sucked into that all day makes me feel great.

    I agree that a girlfriend is a better alternative to video games. In fact everyone would agree to that, I know tons of gamers that stopped playing games as much after getting a girlfriend, but once they lose her, they usually go right back. Some even hide their gaming habits until it becomes a problem in their future with that person. Im not saying that Fegenbush is lying when he says, “no amount of success in a video game is ever going to equate to the feeling [I have] when I’m with my girlfriend.” But coming from a college kid whose not been married for a certain amount of years hasn’t yet experienced the hardships a relationship can bring. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, perhaps when he’s married he’ll find one bad day that a game or something else can get him away from his wife.

  2. Jessica Tews says:

    I find it interesting how often people play video games, and how much time it can take away from what I feel are more important things. Growing up, my parents never allowed us to buy a Nintendo or PlayStation. They told us (my brothers and I) that it was a “waste of time”, and that we should “do something productive” instead. I never resented this decision on my parent’s part, but I know my brothers had a little bit of a hard time with it for a while. As we grew up I think my brothers and I began to understand the value in my parent’s decision to not allow gaming in our home. We were more productive with our time, we were involved in many extracurricular activities, and we spent quality time together as a family. I also think that we were able to hold better conversations with adults at a younger age because we had spent more time interacting with real people instead of manipulating virtual people.
    I do not think that gaming is bad or wrong if it is done in moderation; however, I recognize and appreciate the affect that not having games in my home has had on my life.

  3. Jacob Jensen says:

    Its not a waste of time if you enjoy doing it right? what about some studies that show that people who play video games tend to be more creative and better problem solvers? True there is a line where it can be addictive, but what about the fact that for some it can be very helpful?

  4. Tory Parson says:

    I agree with Jacob, I feel like all the articles posted about video games are always negative, why not try some positive facts like Jacob mentioned.

    I feel like the issue of addiction is far more prevalent in “MMORPG’s” like World of Warcraft, which I do not play, but people always lump gaming and “MMORPG’s” together. In my opinion, they are two very different beasts, with the latter being far more addictive.

    In the 90’s people talked about the addiction to television and becoming a couch potato, but guess what you don’t hear about that anymore. We need to focus more on positives and about not going overboard on anything.

  5. Tory Parson says:

    Oh, and that statistic of an average gamer playing games 22.85 hours a week is for players of “MMORPG’s” not regular gamers. That is very misleading.

  6. 22.85 hours a week is a lot of time! Thats crazy! However I do believe that those that play WOW spend more time than other people that play video games. I had a friend that spent his life on WOW as opposed to me that would play a sports game occasionally. Like Tory said I think there are two different target groups to look at.

  7. I agree with the other comments that there needs to be a differentiation in these studies between mmorpg’s such as WOW and other games. I like to play video games some times but I would much rather be with other people, whereas i have had roommates who did nothing but play WOW. I really do think there is a difference between these types of games and it needs to be recognized.

  8. Gabe Davis says:

    Tory Parson:
    To clarify, we got the graphic wrong. But what the original source says is that the MMORPG players surveyed played MMORPGs for 22.85 hours per week. Therefore, it is entirely possible that those people played other games for a longer amount of time.

    My personal opinion is that video games, while enjoyable, tend not to be good for me. It is far too easy for me to get addicted to them or use them as a form of escape.
    That being said, I think games like “Portal” and “Braid” are awesome. Puzzle games that are also lots of fun are really cool. But I can still see myself using even those to escape.
    I can see that the article was missing some key distinctions between several types of games and their potential benefits, but:
    1. The room that we used for publication was all that I had to work with,
    2. Within the time I had, I could not find any sources that talked about other types of games and that were credible.
    and
    3. This was supposed to be an article that discussed addictions to — and other problems related to — video games.
    Perhaps I could, however, have made it more clear at the beginning that addiction was a possibility, not an inevitability. But I did say that, as with everything, that form of recreation could get out of hand.

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