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Online Gaming and Addiction


  • Online Gaming and Addiction

    This is video lecture by Dr. Strangelove, of the University of Ottawa, (a.k.a. [TG] E-Male) on pathological and non-pathological online gaming. I performed the monologue while simultaneously playing Bad Company 2. Thus the video lecture captures the ironic position of myself, addicted to the Internet and online gaming, analyzing the subject while engaged in the subject. How very pomo.


    Here is a link to the paper by John P. Charlton and Ian D.W. Danforth, "Distinguishing addiction and high engagement in the context of online game playing," Computers in Human Behavior, (2005).

    • redneck_fgf
      redneck_fgf commented
      Editing a comment
      To start, I would like to quote Xu Leiting, a psychologist speaking to the rappid growth of internet addiction in china:
      "Then they escape to the virtual world to seek achievements, importance and satisfaction, or a sense of belonging."

      Sounds like what we have here...

      “There is a considerable amount of research directed at the inadequacies of the DSM's current definition of addiction”

      You are correct, the DSM-V has addressed this with breaking addiction into more categories (from press releases) and I really hope they do. Even with its “inadequacies” it still is the best base line for formulating a diagnosis and sadly we need to label for both medical treatment and insurance reimbursement. This is a sad because addiction is a comorbid condition, and you have to bill for their presenting issue not the underlying issue that they are medicating.
      And the term ‘addiction’, it was excluded from the DSM-IV and replaced with the terms ‘dependence’ and ‘Impulse Control Disorders’ A list of diagnoses codes can be found here.

      “We do not know who is most at risk for developing pathological patterns of play, what the time course of developing pathological patterns is, how long the problems persist, what percentage of pathological gamers need help, what types of help might be most effective, or even whether pathological videogame use is a distinct problem or part of a broader spectrum of disorders." (Gentile).”
      Ok before we start, substance abuse can be interchanged with gaming addiction. We must remember that addiction is addiction be it to coke or gaming

      There are indictor’s of pathological addiction; some of us are “biologically loaded" or "genetically predisposed" to have high potential for abuse issues. From a "nature" perspective University of California San Francisco (UCSF 2000), family studies on alcoholism and genetics researchers have discovered that families with first degree relatives of substance abusers are 3-4 times likely to have an addiction than first degree relatives of non-substance abuse family’s. They also learned that 20-25% of sons and brothers of substance abusers become substance abusers, and finally, that 5% of daughters and sisters of substance abusers become substance abusers (UCSF, 2000).

      Other research shows that identical twins are more likely to be similar in having substance abuse problems than fraternal twins. Studies from UCSF and other sources speak to the “biologically loaded" or "genetically predisposed" argument. Studies have shown that show that children who were adopted and are the child of substance abusers, and were adopted by parents without a history of substance abuse still are 3 times more likely to have a substance abuse problem than children of non-addictive parents adopted by non-addictive parents.
      So there are ways to predict who is has a high level of risk for the development of pathological addictive problem. If you read the work of Nora Volkow (she has a great voice), you can see a there is a pattern of the biological and environmental factors that contribute to the development and progression of the disease called addiction.

      And will respond to your last statement when I have more time, But just to start, Young stared addressing Computer Addiction: obsessive computer game playing back in 1996, in fact Young saw five areas of concern in the new world of the internet:
      Cybersexual Addiction: compulsive use of adult websites for cybersex and cyberporn
      Cyber-relationship Addiction: over-involvement in online relationships

      Net Compulsions: obsessive online gambling, shopping, or day-trading

      Information Overload: compulsive web surfing or database searches

      It's good reading:
      Young, K. (1996). Internet addiction: the emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 3, 237-244.

    • E-Male
      E-Male commented
      Editing a comment
      Interesting points, redneck, although I am not sure what exactly it is that you are contesting, vis a vis the issues raised in the video lecture.

      As to the notion of addiction as a disease, you appear to overstate the consensus on the nature of addiction as a disease. The disease model remains subject to considerable dispute among researchers.

      The disease model of addiction is not the only model available, and acts a power-discourse with considerable implications. Consider Craig Reinarman on this: "Addiction-as-disease has been continuously redefined, mostly in the direction of conceptual elasticity, such that it now yields an embarrassment of riches: a growing range of allegedly addictive phenomena which do not involve drugs."

      Addiction is perhaps, first and foremost, a cultural concept that is used within power relations to reinforce institutional claims on public poilcy. So we need to be wary of accepting the dominant discourse on addiction as unproblematic. As Staton Peele argues, the notion of addiction as disease has considerable potential for doing harm.

    • BigGaayAl
      BigGaayAl commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Online Gaming and Addiction

      Originally posted by E-Male
      Once again, thank you for "reading" me.

      FB: "Wouldn't it be interesting to discover that what we do here and our sense of community keeps people who might otherwise develop that addiction from falling down the dark path."

      Interesting suggestion, Ferris.

      It would require surveys and such, but it is an interesting research question. As TG promotes a sense of community, and community reduces the experience of isolation and depression (some of leading causes of addiction), to what extent does TG help reduce pathological addiction in the gaming community. There is a research grant in there somewhere!

      Keep in mind that many of the TG regulars (myself included) are quite likely non-pathologically addicted to gaming (or caught in "high engagement" as the authors also call it).

      Also keep in mind that the definition of addiction itself is subject to considerable disagreement among scholars.
      I wish to respond on the matter raised by Ferris here. I have not watched the lecture since I'm at work and not allowed to. However, I know a thing or two about addiction.

      First I would like to point out that addiction can be tied to basically any object or concept in our culture. I usually give the example of the special section of a big psychiatric hospital in Brussels where they treat 'water addiction'. All the toilet seats have locks on them to prevent the addicts from indulging their urges head first.

      Secondly I'd like to state my opinion on the question whether TG specifically counters addiction.

      1) I think most definitely not. It is clear to me that no one would ever say to another one in TG "hey man you're perhaps gaming to much since you clocked x hours on y game this week". In fact, I believe this to be a clear taboo in the community. Sure addiction comes up in the sandbox and other places here and there, but for TG to counter addiction, there should be this element of social control equivalent to "hey man wouldn't you better go home instead of having anoher drink". Instead I see Taboo.

      2) I would like replace the idea of TG 'countering' addiction, with the idea of TG 'mitigating' the damage done by and the severity of gaming addiction. The way I see it the social elements of TG certainly do this to considerable extent.
      -Social skills: Many young people especially actually learn many social skills on TG that they would not otherwise learn, or not as fast. Because 14-18yr olds want to play in this community, they have to quickly pick up social discipline and restraint. I believe the context of gaming makes it much easier for them to be open to these life lessons as it is connected to something they love doing instead of at school.

      -These social skills then counter one of the worst aspects of problematic addiction.
      The isolation is mitigated by at first the community itself; there is always a TG-er who can help you with advice on whatever problem you may have. There is always someone to talk to and keep you company. But in a more important way I think the social skills learnt online translate significantly to real life I would suspect.

      So you have the first element of an immediate social support group, and a second element of skills learnt that can aid you after a difficult period when venturing out into the real world again after a period of intensified gaming.

      I fact I have been thinking about this more and more as my job entails educating people that are often the same age as new players on the server. The key problem of educating these children with problematic backgrounds, is finding a way for them to stop fighting the system (at school, institution, ...) and accept the idea of authority in society, the idea of rules and laws VS unlimited selfishness of their own will, their own pleasure. Once these kids make that switch, you see them improve by leaps and bounds at school, and in the glint in their eyes, the joy in their smile.

      I would say, this is exactly the same as a new 14yr old player joining the server, getting kicked/banned several times, until he realizes that if he wants to play it is in his own interests to accept the need for law/authority/rules.

      In fact lately I have become more and more convinced, that TG is in several ways: an institution and of great value to society. Just like sports clubs can save people from ganglife, TG can save petulant little ADHD rage-nerds, from themselves, and perhaps even, from their virginity! (/nerdjokes)
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