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:
• Preoccation 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.