Online Gaming – An Addiction

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Gaming is a thriving industry and has profits in it for anyone who provides great ideas. However, like every other big business, it has its disadvantages for the consumers. Gaming itself, be it in any form whatsoever, has become an addiction for many people. We find examples of gamers setting records by playing consecutively for days on end, and there have been instances where the gamers haven’t left their house for years. Mental health professionals comment that they have witnessed addicted gamers ruining their lives, careers and health in general.

Gaming can put a stop to making a living, to building a career, to working hard towards a degree, and even to one’s life. When one checks trends of the last few years, there has been exponential growth in everything related to gaming, however distantly. This list may include commercial gaming zones, the technology present in gaming consoles, the sophistication of graphics, the number of titles available online and on discs; each of these has seen a large increase over the last few years. While all this may sound great for everyone developing games and enjoying them, it has the darker side of the picture that shows its dangers to its consumers.

The term “heroineware” has been in vogue for certain titles like EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot and many others that prove extremely hard to resist for many gamers. The folks at McLean Hospital say that the symptoms of addiction to gaming include:

– An obsession with a particular title
– The inability to stop, despite it being the need of the hour
– Neglect of everything else, like family, work, studies and proper nutrition
– Vision-related and other health problems including sleep disturbances as well as muscular ones

It is becoming extremely necessary to pinpoint causes of this addiction. It is, of course, up to everyone individually to sort out priorities, but once gaming becomes an obsession and nothing else remains important, intervention is required for the person’s own sake. It has been found that for lonely people, gaming proves to be an outlet that lets them interact with other gamers online, and therefore becomes irresistible. People who fail to interact with others in person take refuge in gaming. Moreover, some maintain that people who’re undermined in the real world may become professionals at gaming, causing them to start relishing their glory in the virtual world, which in turn can compel them to ignore the real world. Others simply blame the near-real graphics for making modern games irresistible, especially for young minds.

The addiction has been on the rise in many countries and led them to take measures against it. China has set up a clinic in Beijing for those suffering from the addiction to gaming. Such people are treated with sports, acupuncture, and medication. The director tells that people who come to the clinic suffer from issues like numb fingers, depression, nervousness, fear, a lack of confidence leading to interaction problems, panic, agitation and muscular as well as sleep disorders. Another country that has been facing this addiction is Korea. It has been reported that 2% of Korea’s entire population is addicted to gaming, and this has compelled the government to take steps like requesting game developers to include advice in their games telling the users dangers of excess gaming.

As far as treatment is concerned, the most difficult part, like with every other problem, is to get the patient to acknowledge the problem, as many refuse to do it. It’s impossible for them to quit giving all their time to their favorite characters in games, and the emotional attachment that develops can make them go to any lengths to avoid being pulled away from the screens of their computers or televisions. However, treatments being suggested and employed by clinics all over the world, which include prescription drugs, behavioral therapy and anti-depressants to ease the nervousness, fear and depression that many gamers suffer from, are reportedly showing encouraging results. There is much more left to do in this case, if gaming addiction is to be stopped from becoming a global epidemic.

However, there are second opinions here too. Not all agree that gaming is addictive. MIT’s Games-to-Teach project manager opines that games sharpen critical thinking, improve social skills, and increase empathy. Many others do agree that games inspire imagination, creativity, and team work. Their point of view, however, holds true when gaming is done in controlled conditions, and for a certain amount of time daily.

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