We've heard often about the dangers of videogame addiction, defined by WebMD as a "clinical impulse control order" similar to gambling, drug addiction, or masturbation. Fortunately, some game publishers are joining forces to do something about it, including Nintendo, Activision, and Blizzard. As Larry Probst of Electronic Arts puts it, "We're fed up with viewing children and thirty-something year old men merely as markets to be ruthlessly exploited. Instead, we wish to leverage our resources to promote prosperity, justice, and goodwill." But what's the plan? It's a simple but cunning plan that might just work: design videogames that will themselves help treat and potentially cure videogame addiction.
I have been thinking about addictive behaviors lately. It seems almost everyone is addicted to something, whether coffee, cigarettes, food, alcohol, sex, shopping—you name it, and someone is addicted to it. Videogames are no exception, and as we all know, gaming is often blamed by the popular media for causing violence, deviant behaviors, obesity, and a host of other undesirable effects. A recent study published in Pediatrics by Iowa State University researchers that examined a little over 3000 schoolchildren in Singapore found that “Greater amounts of gaming, lower social competence, and greater impulsivity seemed to act as risk factors for becoming pathological gamers, whereas depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance seemed to act as outcomes of pathological gaming.” They note that their findings add to the discussion on whether gaming addiction is the same as other addictions.
Oh, boohoo. Hubby would rather play Call of Duty than snuggle with honeybear. And I'm supposed to care why? You guessed it. It's another silly survey making the rounds: "Could computer games spell the death of your relationship?" (considering that most gamers can't spell anything, much less "deth" and "realashionship," I guess the answer to that question is "hellz naw.")