BY SANDRA GARCIA
Many video game players anxiously await rumors regarding new gaming consoles, including Sony’s PlayStation 5 or Microsoft’s renovated Xbox. For Nintendo fans, the release of the game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” couldn’t come any sooner. Even the arrival of new characters in video games is highly anticipated, such as Banjo-Kazooie in “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.”
Such widespread interest is not surprising, considering that millions of people around the globe enjoy video games. With state-of-the-art technology and continuously improved graphics, it’s easy to understand how consumers get so invested in these games. They’re enjoyable, entertaining and distracting.
Take the popular massively multiplayer online (MMO) battle arena game “League of Legends,” for example. Free to play and somewhat easy to grasp, the game attracts lots of people and can be considered highly addicting. Its in-game currency, called Riot Points, entices players to spend money to unlock better characters and icons. Riot Points also allows for customization, with buyable icons, skins and emotes that allow for one to feel unique.
With state-of-the-art technology and continuously improved graphics, it’s easy to understand how consumers get so invested in these games.
While all avid video game fans can agree that they play for fun, there’s a small portion of players who derive too much enjoyment from their hobby. Playing for over 16 hours a day, several times a week, these individuals are classified as addicted.
According to the World Health Organization, “For a gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”
Even if 3 to 4% of players struggle with addiction, that’s still millions of people.
What is most commonly misunderstood about video game addictions is why some individuals become addicted. Usually, gamers play to find an escape or to make friends. In the real world, one might be judged based on their past whereas on the internet and in video games, one has the opportunity for a clean slate.
Video game addiction, like any dependency, becomes very difficult to stop once set in motion.
Some individuals struggle with connecting to others in their lives, and as a result, may turn to something like “The Elder Scrolls Online.” In this game, individuals find a party and an accompanying purpose to play for. Dependence on the game and the relationships made in it can arise, an example of video games’ impacts on players’ real-world socialization. While focusing on the internet, a player’s friends and family may even become neglected.
Ignoring the real-world results of video game addiction leads to stark consequences. For students, it’s commonly evident in deteriorating school performance. If students cannot pay attention to their classes due to their game addiction, then it’s very difficult for them to complete their homework, much less do well on exams. Video game addiction, like any dependency, becomes very difficult to stop once set in motion.
Addiction, regardless of whatever form it may manifest in, is something that can be overcome with the right support and mindset. If one spots the early signs of gaming addiction, talking about the issue and the potential causes must not be avoided. Communication could help prevent a downward spiral that is harder to climb out of in the long run. Video games are a creative and fun escape from real life but, without moderation, can quickly become a prison.