Most my life, I’ve been surrounded by negative news pieces about Video Games and how it “Cause violence!” or how “the addiction ruined my life!”
As an intelligent person, I can obviously see through the shock pieces most news outlets have done on games, but can have become frustrated with the onslaught of bad press we gamers have gotten. Being blamed for mass shootings, obesity, and all around abandonment of social lives over and over, and over, gets pretty fucking tiring after a certain point. While I can’t say that any of these claims doesn’t have some hint at validity, I’m just saying there are scientific studies out there that haven’t been able to verify the correlations between the two that people just throw around.
However, one of those truly does exist, and I know for a fact that it can be found in video gamers all around the world. The saddest truth to it all, is I’m also a victim of it, as I noticed recently, and that my fellow gamers and gamettes, is addiction.
Just One More Level
How many times have you told your mom, dad, girlfriend, best friend, or wife that you’d be done in just a minute? You just have to get to that save point, or you just have to beat this area so you can move on or you’ll lose your spot. Hell, what about online games that don’t have a pause feature so you really can’t just quit?
That is the first sign of an engrossing narrative or design when it comes to games, but it’s also a sign of you not being able to pull yourself away from the game. While not always a bad sign, it’s kind of a compliment to the men and women who made the game, but it is a symptom of a much larger problem.
Pushing off responsibilities, personal time with family/loved ones, staying up all hours of the night when you know you have to be up at 5 the next morning just so you can grind your characters up another 5 levels is a sure sign of addiction. And recently I realized I am addicted to video games in some form or another.
I didn’t realize it for the 20 something years I’ve been gaming, maybe I had an idea but knew how to manage it. Keep things in moderation while getting to enjoy my favorite pastime. Whatever the case maybe, the past week or so, (sorry for not posting btw), I found myself jumping into a game my manager at work had been talking about since I started there. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. Now I love me a good Final Fantasy game, although I haven’t played the most recent one and I feel ashamed for that, so I jumped on and tried it out.
Immediately I found myself grinding levels, doing side quests, spending in game money to level up my characters. It took less than a week to start beefing up my main Party, though with a bit of luck I managed to snag some of the better characters right off the bat (to my managers ire). So here I am, zoned into the phone, auto running battles while I’m supposed to be researching article topics or while my kids play in the backyard, or while I’m waiting to clock in at work.
It consumed me.
Though the worst thing it’s made me do is be a little less focused. I mean that is still bad, but I could be sinking real world money and not sleeping at all because of it. But addiction is still addiction. I have it, and while I’m starting to manage this new level of addiction better, I am coming to realize that gamers have a high chance to get addicted to any game, for better or worse. I love video games, and I love FFBE but I know there is a time and a place, I know that people in my life deserve my attention as much as the fiction heroes in my games do. I just wished it addiction wasn’t a damning word for the video game industry.
So, most of you must be thinking right now “You can’t have it both ways, dumbass. If it’s bad, then the whole industry is bad. You basically just said that” and to a degree, you’re right. We can’t always have our cake and eat it too, we can’t just want something to be good if the inherent bad things are not outweighed.
Which is where I believe I can turn this “addiction is caused by video games, so it must be evil” mentality on its head.
Go Google the definition of Addiction. Go On, I’ll wait…
Wait you don’t feel like doing work, okay well here it is:
- the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.“he committed the theft to finance his drug addiction”
synonyms: dependency, dependence, habit, problem More
In that definition, we can obviously see that drugs are not the only thing that can be addictive. Hell we all know gambling is illegal, and even though Loot Crates are basically gambling (I’ll save that for another discussion), gaming in and of itself can also be seen as an additive thing.
But look closer at the synonyms at the bottom. The word habit is included, which kind of threw me off for a minute but after I thinking about this article most the week, I realized it belongs there. The simplest way I can put it is this:
We form habits in our lives all the time, from childhood we got brushing our teeth, showers, deodorant, taking out the trash, saying thank you and yes ma’am. These are all habits that formed from the things we’ve done over and over, and over again. All the ones listed above are all positive, while there are negatives as well. Nose picking, butt scratching, leaving your trash all over the place. These are all done by repetition. Not all of them done from addictions (some people I swear are addicted to picking their noses…) but they have formed over time and become positive/negative staples in our everyday lives.
Why can’t video games be the same thing?
The answer is they can be. This past month or so, I’ve started to train my brain back to my former intellectual level with Brain Age for the DS. My friend had told me he was doing it to keep sharp and after remembering my wife had a copy, I stated to do the same. The simple training game that throws math, memory concepts, and words at you keeps you sharp while also making sure you show up every day to stay fresh.
The not so subtle “Doctor” pats you on the back when you show up days in a row, while he gets incredibly sad when you miss a day. He is reinforcing the habit of coming back to the game to play it again, and again. The habit, which could also be seen as an addiction to those who see how much time you put into all other games, has helped you in this case. I can already seen the improvement in my writing style, my functionality at work, and how I talk with others around me. I’m getting my brain back on the level it used to be at.
All with a very beneficial addiction.
The Bad Ending
While I am trying to say that not all addictions can be bad, sometimes the addictions lead to habit that help you, that stick with you for life, it’s not saying that I’m condoning addictions in general.
I know that drug addictions are a shitty thing to have and are most the time fatal if not life shattering. The same can be said about gaming addiction, which I started to talk about at the beginning. When I said it takes away from your personal life, your loved ones, and even your money, I also know that it has taken away lives.
I wanted to take this time to extend my sympathies to those families who have lost a loved one to a gaming addiction, hell any addiction, because I know it’s horrible to leave home one day, seeing your son or daughter playing before you leave for work, and coming back home after to find they didn’t move all day, causing blood clots that killed them. Or days of no sleep take its toll and they collapse from exhaustion and potentially die.
I know it can be horrible, I know the addiction can cause anyone’s life to disappear completely, but I also know that addictions can potentially lead to better habits, if monitored and managed. So my wish to you guys, if you or someone you know has an addiction, help them manage it. Help them do something positive, help them limit their time on Final Fantasy and more time on Brain Age. Help them keep their life from ending to soon.
Some of you may have noticed my absence the past week, I have been sick, as well as constantly working. Another reason was I was deciding if I should bite the bullet and buy a new play from WordPress. As some of you notice the changes on my page, you’ll guess (correctly) I finally made my choice.
You’ll also notice the name change, I’ve been shifting away from Jay Prodigy for a while and Reedicus has been a long while coming. So please, let me know what you think of, well, everything in the comments or once again follow me on twitter at @ReedicusRex and tweet at me.