Yesterday’s episode of “Emergency” (I don’t have a meter-box installed on my TV, and nobody paid me to watch it) focused on “game addiction.” The problem is that most gamers would either deny the existence of game addiction, or would say that they are not addicts.
I have to agree in part with some gamers: “addiction” is an extreme situation. It’s easier, if not more accurate, to call it “game dependence” than “game addiction.” However, it cannot be denied that extreme dependencies on computer games exist, that there is such a thing as “game addiction.” There are cases in South Korea, for example, where marathon gamers either suffer heart attacks, lapse into comatose states, or in more than a few cases, die.
The problem with the term “addiction,” though, is that it is usually used to represent not only the extreme that the term was meant for, but also for the mildest cases of game dependence. It’s just like being called a “caffeine addict” if you drink coffee every day, or that you’re a “drug addict” if you catch a whiff of marijuana.
Make no mistake about it: gaming is dangerous. That’s from the perspective of a computer game player: while games are harmless, it is the drive to play games that is harmful. That drive, I think, is what should be addressed when it comes to “game addiction,” not the content of the games themselves. Almost all games have similar effects on the brain’s pleasure centers, creating a drive that satisfies pleasure. Dependence – and even addiction – comes from “overdrive:” when people stay up for days on end playing games, when kids commit petty thefts to pay for computer rentals, when interpersonal relationships fall into disrepair.
As a gamer myself, I acknowledge the dangers of computer gaming: to me, it is the drive to play games that is much more dangerous than the actual content of games. While the responsibility of preventing – not controlling – game addiction falls to families, the government, and to gamers themselves, some of the responsibility should go to computer game companies. Like cigarette packs and liquor bottles, the dangers of computer gaming should be explicit in their products. It will cost a lot, but in the long run, it is beneficial not only to them, but also to their clients.