Video Game Addiction - Article

By Tom Hunt, July 25, 2012
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This article is the work of an individual writer, and does not necessarily represent the thoughts and/or opinions of gamrReview as a whole.

My main problem with the term Video Game Addiction is that it feels like an expression brought on by the media. Gaming is still new as a form of entertainment and, like cave men looking upon fire, the media is terrified by gaming. They will spit out notations like playing games will rot your brain or turn you into a nonsensical monster that beats people to a bloody pulp. I have always believed that gaming is more beneficial than television because it’s an interactive experience. Even with the most mindless shooters you have to problem solve, while with television you simply stare at the screen, letting the colours and sounds wash over you like waves on a beach until there’s no shore left.

The very idea that people who spend their free time playing games will invariably amount to nothing is ridiculous. Obviously if someone didn’t achieve any form of qualifications and spent the large majority of time playing Street Fighter, they’re probably not going to become a doctor. However, if little Billy spent all day watching television, he’s not going to be attending Oxford any time soon either. Unfortunately the media likes to scare people, mostly parents, by talking about their children’s future in doom-laden terms. Nevertheless, to those who question the professionalism of the gaming industry, it's interesting to note that the gaming market has overtaken cinema and DVD market combined, and is now a hugely successful industry, which has opened up countless new job opportunities. An entry-level junior game designer, with only a few years' experience can make around $46,000 per year on average (Animation Arena 2008).


Granted, it’s hard to disregard stories of people dying of exhaustion, or individuals recreating scenes from Manhunt by stabbing someone to death. But these cases, like many outrages, only comprise a miniscule number of those people who have engaged in our hobby. The mainstream media knows that these examples are frightening because it gives the illusion that games turn everyday people into psychopaths. The sober reality is that these people tend to have an underlying condition that would have been exacerbated by any form of medium (note, for example, the recent tragic shooting in Colorado). So would the answer be to not let people with psychiatric conditions play games? Of course not, everyone has the right to enjoy their own liberty, but if say, your child suffers from a serious psychiatric condition, it’s probably best you don't let them play games like Manhunt. If these individuals can’t separate fiction from reality, then they are going to have a hard time understanding you shouldn’t drive thought a crowded area firing a shotgun.

The issue of banning videogames begins when a disturbed individual is linked to a particularly violent game. Let’s say, for argument's sake, that I shot a school full of children and it was subsequently discovered that I partook in a few hours of Grand Theft Auto. News outlets would latch onto that like a koala. They’d report that the game itself persuaded me to murder innocent children, as if it held some omnipotent power over me. It would be a completely different story if I was an avid player of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, for example; the game wouldn't even be mentioned, and the media would probably blame the shooting on my pathological hatred of children.


I spent a little time looking up some of the filthiest games out there (purely for research purposes, you understand) to find out if indeed there is a game I would veto. Of all the games I found (most by small developers or individual programmers) perhaps the worst was Rapelay, by Illusion Soft, where the premise is to rape a mother and two daughters. It's a controversial and highly detailed rape simulator (with terrible controls and absolutely no story ark, incidentally). Should this Japanese (surprise) release be banned? It all depends on what you class as ‘freedom of speech’; should people with extreme views and prejudices, like those who endorse rape or Nazism, have a voice in today’s world? I for one hate Dappy from N-Dubz with a white hot rage and wish he and all those who enjoy his music could be thrown into a lake of fire. However, in all seriousness, I wouldn't entertain the idea of banning his music; what right do I have to control what Dappy says?

I have been playing games most of my life. It’s something I somewhat enjoy and if that makes me a Video Game Addict then start injecting binary straight into my veins and I’ll spend my days in euphoria.   

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