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FAQ: The Good and The Bad

I was recently interviewed over email over some issues centered on game-play and game addiction. I decided to include them here as they answer some of the questions I am most frequently asked about.

What evidence suggests video games and online role playing games are addictive?

60% of MMORPG players surveyed have played the game for 10 hours continuously or more.
44% of MMORPG players surveyed would consider themselves to be addicted to the game they are playing.
13% of MMORPG players surveyed have tried to quit the game but failed.

About 5% of MMORPG players surveyed strongly agree that playing the game:
- makes them feel guilty
- has caused them financial or relationship problems in real-life
- they become irritable and angry if they canít play the game.
- has caused their social life to suffer.
- arguments have arisen at home because of their game-play

Are there positive factors to playing these games?

Yes there are, and I wish people focused on these more often:

Learning Leadership Skills
Learning Relationship / Communication Skills
Helping Teenagers Deal with Identity / Gender Issues
Helping Individuals Gain Confidence and Self-Esteem
How Playing Helps Romantic Couples who Play Together
How Playing Helps Parents and Children who Play Together:
Using MMORPGs as Therapeutic Spaces
Educational Uses of MMORPGs

What are the primary negative factors?

MMORPGs are designed to encourage time investment and are more addictive than other less complex games. For a more detailed analysis, read through The Skinner Box.

If they are addictive, why is that so?

One theory of addiction is that people become dependent on a substance/action because it ultimately empowers them as it destroys them. For example, individuals who feel they have no control over their lives might binge eat or shop because in those moments, they can at least feel they are in control. One reason why MMORPGs might be so addictive is because they help individuals deal with a host of very common issues they might be dealing in real-life. For example:

- People with low self-esteem can become a knight or a princess and feel they can achieve something in this virtual world.
- People with poor self-image can become as beautiful and agile as they want.
- People who feel they have no control over anything in life can exert control in a virtual environment where they have super-human abilities.
- People who feel unneeded or under-valued can make a difference.
- People who have trouble sustaining relationships in real life find it easier to do so in the simplified world of MMORPGs.
- People who are stressed and burdened with problems in real life can use MMORPGs as an escape.

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Posted on September 3, 2003 | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)

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