A Syringe Full of Video Games
(…helps the social skills go down)
“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” –Dr. Seuss
Video Games ensnare the escapists, the lonely, and the introverted like a cult, which in turn becomes the scapegoat to society’s problems and ruining the family unit. I agree that several years ago the video game industry began designing them to keep a player locked in for several hours at a time. However, I believe that when you hear about a man or woman leaving their family for a virtual elf across the country which they’ve never met, or some kid stealing a car because he was emulating a game, there has to be some pre-existing problem present beforehand.
What started out to be designed as a hobby, and outlet for stress, has turned into an obsession for some, as well as a profession for others. For a minor percent of the gamer community, it has also become an object of self-destruction, and a deadly passion. In August of 2005, a man in South Korea died from heart failure which stemmed from exhaustion after a 50 hour marathon of Starcraft (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4137782.strr). In January of 2009, a 6-year-old boy stole the family car after missing the morning bus to school and claimed that he had learned how to drive from playing Grand Theft Auto, a game that introduced rampant car theft to the gaming industry (www.g4tv.com/thefeed).
These are some of the more extreme examples of how gaming can be taken too far, but they raise some questions about the individuals responsible. What sort of home life did the Korean man have that he needed to play for so long without taking hardly any breaks to eat or sleep? Why did a 6-year-have permission to play a game that is rated for adults only, and made its name through violence and disregard for human life?
My personal involvement with gaming addiction allows me to easily identify underlying causes for this sort of behavior. I didn’t start out addicted to gaming, and the video games themselves contributed very little to my very long relationship with my condition. I had always enjoyed a good console game, and played several genres ranging from strategy games (i.e. Gobliiins) to RPG’s (role-playing games; i.e. the Final Fantasy series), and platform games (i.e. Super Mario Bros.) to fighting games (i.e. Mortal Kombat). In fact, I merely used them as a social tool to spend time with friends and family, or to wind down from a long day at school.
As I got older, and my teenage years came around, my home life became very chaotic. Depression began to sink in, and the more it did, the less time I spent with actual people. I turned to the virtual world for escape, and immersed myself completely after being introduced to the MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game) world of Everquest. Here was a game that not only allowed me to interact socially with people all over the world, but everything in the game was designed to take several hours at a time. With each accomplished mission, there came another after it that took longer and more people to achieve, making it easy for me to come up with excuses to neglect my day-to-day personal needs. Basic requirements, such as sleeping, eating, bathing and going to school, became prioritized according to how long it would take my parents to start complaining about them.
I stopped playing after moving out. I got married, had a daughter, and then went through my first divorce after suffering domestic abuse. Tragedy struck me hard when my daughter died in an accidental drowning. Once again, I found myself glued to my gaming console, albeit to a different MMORPG called Final Fantasy XI, even more reclusive than before. With the new game, came new graphics and state-of-the-art effects. Each time as I sat down to play, I marveled at the virtual world