Yeah, video games get a bad rap. From being causing violence to causing sexism, the video game industry gets their fair share of hate. But what about Video Game Addiction? Is it another low shot at the gamer community, or could there actually be something here?
To start off, let’s learn about neuroscience. When you play a game and earn an achievement, like beating a boss, your brain sends dopamine out through your neurotransmitters. These Dopamine ions hit your Dopamine receptors and make you feel excited, or happy. The issue with this is whether or not one can categorize an over abundance of this as an addiction, or a life-long hobby. Workaholics, researchers, and writers can be considered having a form of “addiction” by this narrative as well. In relation, Reading Addiction is usually seen as a positive trait in people.
There does seem to be an advent of kids who run to play video games as soon as they enter the house, or else spend all day gaming while getting absolutely nothing else accomplished. This is a trait I believe should be built upon, instead of suppressed. But the main reason that videogames get bashed for being played too much is because it is seen by many as a non-productive medium, and therefore does not in the eyes of many produce a viable way to establish a career. Which is why many parents would rather you interact with people while walking around in a mall talking about fashion trends and weather than having you sitting in front of a TV playing a game, even if you talk to people in-game.
Games are used as a form of escape from reality. A way to deal with stress, anxiety, and depression through more constructive ways. So it is of no surprise when many people dive deeply into video games to retreat from one thing or another in real life for most of every day. This is not true for most gamers though, gamers in general only spend on average 6 hours a week playing games . Core Gamers (gamers who play 5 hours or more) play on average 22 hours a week.
However, there has indeed been deaths noted from overt gaming. This is believed that high cortisol levels and poor circulation over a huge period of time can result in death (primarily heart attack) for a very, very small number of cases of gamers. But this is due to adrenalin levels being spiked and staying spiked for long periods of time, and also influenced by extremely long periods without sleep. Although some studies have suggested that prolonged sitting can cause increased mortality by itself, many have found that videos played in the typical amounts of most gamers is actually beneficial to everything from hand-eye coordination to a lowering of depression in casual gamers
But in terms of expert knowledge, most psychologists have not found any indication that Video game Addiction exists. According to a recent debate by the American Psyciatrist Association, the APA did not find any conclusive evidence that would regard this as a real mental disorder, and suggested that further research be done.
So could Video Game Addiction exist? It’s possible that one can become hooked on games as a form of adrenaline rush and dopamine high (Game Theory has made two videos talking about this), but to label it as a full medical addiction seems to be something that even psychology experts find hard to swallow. But in a relationship no different than a hobby we spend a lot of time on, like crafting, research, or book collecting, it makes perfect sense. It might not be anymore an addiction than reading books, or any other job.