On online (game) addiction

I stumbled over this little news-article, that a viatnamese youth had robbed a gold shop and killed the owners. The reason for this crime: he needed money for keeping on playing an online game. (the article was on a german news site, I randomly googled for an english article and got this one).

This got me thinking again about the popularity and addiction of online-games (or the internet in general – hellooo facebook!). In the last years Ive seen more and more articles about excessive players, even the death of players who neglected themselfs and about people totally dissociated with their environment. Homepages about internet-addiction are popping up. Already ambulant aid-stations exsist (and I mean offline). Words like ‘new epidemic’ are repeatedly used in the media and tv-documentaries already  have been made.

I think online games – or the internet in total – can be quite dangerous.Some people are more likely the fall to such an addiction, the  reinforcing factors, like no social contacts, are known, and I guess (nearly) the same as with any other addiciton. Even some governments are already taking active steps (like in Vietnam “In March, the government attempted to ban online gaming from 10pm to 8am but many internet cafes continue business behind closed doors“.)

This issue is quite important and interesting to follow for me, because I played some mmorpg’s and I played them too much. All in all, I played like 6 years. Sometimes more, sometimes less. From time to times not at all. I think I wasnt totally addicted yet, but perhaps at the brink of an addiction. I quit online playing because of a mix of reasons, but most of all because I realized how much time I spent there, a loosing of interest and most of all because other things, like university, didnt leave me a lot of time for online-gaming.

You can slip very easy in such an addiction. you can spend hours and hours in front of the desktop, reapeating all the same stuff over and over again. For people who have never played, it must sound quite strange. I had always a social life, had obligations (like studying) which I didnt put behind this gaming (why I didnt got completly addicted, I think), but for quite some of my online-guild-friends the game was a priority in their life. I was a little bit shocked, when I chatted with one of them, asking:

me: But how much do you play usually?

he: Well, I switch the computer on when I come home, and then…till I go to sleep. Like normal, you know?

This friend of mine lived between his job and the gaming. Some I knew who had no job, they spent all their time online. One was a single-mother of two little children who was almost aways online. There were no social activities. They put an alarm clock at around 3 am so they could capture special animals, who would appear only at that time in the game. Another one dropped out of university because of his online-gaming.

The picture of a life just passing by in front of me jumps into my head when I think about those people. The fact, that these are not only ‘some’ but quite a lot makes me shocked and sad at the same time. I ask myself about all the youths who are spending so much time with games/internet: arent their parents interested how their children are spending their time? (my mother would have simply pulled the plug -.-) I read in some articles about how helpless they are, but please! cancel internet! dont give them money for games! make restrictions! Such a reasoning is just ridiculous.

I want to make clear, that I dont judge (online) games/ internet per se. I still enjoy playing offline games. Im online quite a lot (not with games though). If you have no problem to log off after an hour – hey great! enjoy your time! But a lot of people cant. I remember coming home from some shopping, my boyfriend sitting in front of the screen who couldnt even stand up and welcome me because he was on a raid – since two hours (hey, it was a big dungeon!). And it is this social component that  is so very dangerous – because if youre in a group of 6 people playing, you just CANT go offline, because the whole party would die – and you dont want that responsibilty on you – do you?

Im asking myself about the future development of this trend. Few hundreds years from now – will we all be plugged in like some computer-zombies, matrix-style? Except the clever few ones, the zuckerbergs of this world, who laughingly are pulling the strings, earning themselfs a fortune? Im quite undecided, it could go either way.

What do you think, how will the issue  progress in the future?

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~ by recklessraccoon on January 10, 2012.

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