Most of us know Felicia Day from her web series The Guild and the Geek and Sundry Network on YouTube. Over the summer Ms Day released a memoir called You’re Never Weird on the Internet and in it she talks about the life of The Guild, how she formed Geek and Sundry, what it was like growing up in a household where her education was almost entirely self-directed via homeschooling and–surprisingly–her video game addiction.
The video game in question likely won’t surprise a single one of our readers: World of Warcraft. Who among us hasn’t fallen for the siren song of WoW?
There are some out there who insist that video games cannot and should not be considered addictive substances because of the lack of financial stakes and material losses involved when a player spends too much time gaming. However, there are others, like American Addiction Centers, who are addressing the issue by citing studies that suggest video game addiction is similar to an impulse control disorder.
This seems more on point. After all, how often have we avoided social engagements and even ruined relationships because our dedication to gaming became so intense? Even if World of Warcraft isn’t your game of choice, there are others that can be equally addictive. Destiny, Witcher, even games that have finite game play like Dragon Age, appeal to our need for instant gratification.
It’s also worth noting that these games are designed to encourage you to keep playing. Save points are strategically placed instead of constantly available, and with many MMORPGs big events are scheduled out so that you have to arrange your life around them instead of completing the mission/raid/whatever at a time that works best for you. For a while, World of Warcraft even required players to keep playing lest they lose all of the rankings, achievements, etc. they’d managed to acquire.
So how do you know when your video gaming habit has transformed from hobby to addiction? It turns out the signs of a video game addiction are much like those of any other addictive substance or activity.
Do you feel like you have to play instead of wanting to play? When you can’t simply choose to not play and play even when you don’t really want to, or if you feel like you can’t put down your controller after you’ve picked it up, this is a sign that you’re losing control over your gaming hobby.
Do you lose track of how much or how often you’re playing? Games are designed to draw us in and make us lose track of the world around us. Even so, if you play all day without realizing it, and this happens regularly, this is a sign you might need some help.
Are your friends and loved ones concerned about the amount of time you spend playing? It’s true that we often form relationships within the worlds of the games we play–especially MMORPGs. Even so, if the people outside of the game are concerned about the amount of time you’re spending locked into your screen and headset, they might not just be boring. They might have real cause to worry.
Thankfully, for most of us, detoxing from video games is physically easier than withdrawal from a controlled or illegal substance. Even so, many players find that they need extra help overcoming their addiction to their games of choice. In this respect, video game addiction is much like a gambling addiction.
Remember: in spite of what others might tell you, the game is not life! Luckily, there is help out there for you if you feel like the game is controlling you instead of you controlling it. All you have to do is ask for it.