For quite a few of us, video game addiction is something that has crossed our mind a few times, if not several times. Whether it was a friend, family member, or even us that were actually addicted is left to be divulged. In fact, if you were the one that was addicted, the only reason it crossed your mind is likely because you had friends and family trying to perform interventions, some of which may have succeeded, others which probably did not. For those of us who cannot spot addiction, this article is basically going to be seven easy (but not scientific by any means) ways to tell if you, or someone you know, is addicted to a video game.
7 - Dreaming about the game in your sleep.
Now, it's not to say this is actually a bad thing. In fact it is technically the lowest on my list, but if you play a game a lot, then you're bound to dream about it at some point. A lot of us do have memorable dreams, not only about a game we enjoy, but a game we're addicted to. Sometimes the dreams become so realistic that we wake up thinking that it actually happened.
Example: Your guild got really close to downing the new heroic raid in WoW, so close that it was only within a few percent of dying. You go to bed and have a dream that you actually did beat it. Not only did you beat it, but you won the rare mount that drops off the boss. The dream was vivid and exciting. When you wake up, you check your inventory to notice that the mount is not there, and that you did not down the boss. Aw, shucks...
6 – Setting alarms to wake up at odd hours of the night.
This doesn't have to be a bad thing, but often times it is. See, it's not bad if it is on the weekend and you wake yourself up at 3am to do a late night raid on an enemy city in the new browser-based RTS game that you enjoy. However, this becomes an issue when you have responsibilities like school, work, and family. Not only that, but it can also tend to mess up your sleep schedule, which can throw off your whole day and will eventually affect your health.
5 - Spending more money than you can afford.
You may have the urge to buy that brand new, awesome game that just released (like Assassin's Creed). You may even have the urge to indulge in a ton of steam sales. Hell, maybe you just really, really want that new champion with the awesome fire skin in League of Legends, but can you afford it? Chances are the answer is yes, but there are quite a few people who would sacrifice to pay for games or gaming equipment over certain other necessities in life.
Maybe you pay for new champions instead of getting food, maybe you buy new games instead paying the electric bill, or maybe you buy the new Nvidia graphics card and rack up the debt on your credit card that is almost maxed. Not that indulging from time to time is a bad thing. It's not if done in moderation. But the debt and turmoil that can come from shirking responsibilities will take its toll in the long haul.
4 - Having extreme mood changes.
This is something that I will definitely admit to. I'm not as bad as most, but I do have mood swings ON OCCASSION (cough – PVP – cough). See, it's normal to get a little upset or uneasy when you fail at something or lose something, whether it is in a game or not. It's not normal to get so upset or uneasy that it actually affects the way you talk to others, to the point of actually making people upset at you. I think this is something a lot of us can vouch for having done one time or another.
Example: We lose a really important match against the best team on the server (not a tournament with money involved). If we had beaten them, it would have put us at number one for the first time in months, if ever. We barely lose and the one mistake that was made? The healer didn't line-of-site like he should have, costing the match. You go off in a blind rage, to the point the healer logs off and doesn't return to the game for weeks. The other DPS is so distraught that he runs to his room and cries himself to sleep.
In my opinion, that's bad. I can admit to having blindly raged at people, and I'd like to think that over the years I've gotten a lot better at controlling my anger. I can now see that losing my temper over a video game isn't necessary and usually hurts others way more than I intend. The only way this gets worse is when you let it not only affect you in-game, but in your real life as well (see #2).
3 - Losing your job / Failing school.
Some of us probably know someone that has lost their job due to video games. Whether it was getting caught playing on the job, or missing work because of a game, we know these people. I mean, quite a few people will take off work in advance if a huge new game or expansion is about to release. That's responsible enough, letting your job know that you want those days off. It's when we don't do this that it becomes a problem and in today's world it's not so easy getting a job, especially after getting fired from one for something like playing a videogame on duty.
I've never shirked work to play a game, but I can say I’ve missed school. Freshman year of college, to be exact. It ended up hurting me and well, I learned my lesson quickly. Due to that, I had to play catch up the rest of my college career. I had to take a full schedule in the winter and summer and pretty much make straight A’s if I wanted to get my GPA back to as close to a 4.0 as I could. I did manage to do this, but there were at least two solid years where I played absolutely no games at all. It wasn't easy, nor was it fun, but I knew it was necessary to catch up due to my own failure and turn it back into a success.
2 - Losing your friends and family.
This happens more than any of us would care to admit, quite honestly. It's a sad thing to witness and even sadder to go through. I've known people that have lost friends and family because of their addiction to a game or gaming in general. Wives that divorce their husbands, and vice-versa. It's not always due to the fact of how much they play, but sometimes how they treat their friends and spouses while they play, or how they interact with others that they play with (e-romances while married).
In some instances I feel that games are an escape for people who are unhappy. Unhappy with their jobs, living situations, going through a bad time in their marriage, etc... And I think people turn to games to find happiness. They want to find a happiness that is usually short-lived and often makes the unhappiness in our real lives only worse over time. This sort of leads into sign number one.
1 - Losing touch with reality.
I've placed this at number 1 for many different reasons, but mainly because two through seven combined can all fit into number one. This is usually the final stage of addiction and maybe be the cry for help that you can only hope friends and family are still around long enough to be there for. Losing touch with reality can mean many different things.
Games become your reality. No longer do you realize that your addiction is not only affecting the way your treat and interact with others "in real life", but you're also living vicariously through a game that you've let become your own version of the real world. For some, this can be extremely harmful, especially if the game comes to an end (like many of the MMORPGs in recent years). This could possibly have detrimental effects on you, even to the point of harming yourself or others. There have been plenty of cases of people committing suicide or killing others over a game.
I guess all this is my way of saying that I think video game addiction does exist and that perhaps some of us suffer from it to a minor or severe degree. Either way, the best thing we can do is take a look into our lives to see where exactly we stand, get it under control, and play video games as a fun pastime and to not let it become our second life.
Hillary "Pokket" Nicole
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