There are several reasons why I prefer not to use the word ďaddictionĒ. One reason is that the word has gained a lot of baggage. Itís flung around by sensationalist media to portray MMOs in a particular light. But itís also used casually by gamers as a way of saying how good a game is. Another reason is that as soon as we use the word addiction, some people will argue that addiction can only occur where there is a physical substance causing a physiological response of dependence and withdrawal. Using the word addiction mires us in a debate of reconciling physical addiction theories with non-physical addiction theories.
In other words, people constantly debate whether someone can be addicted to video games, but in the same way that no one will argue that some people eat unhealthy, no one will argue that some people spend too much time playing video games. And of course, this isnít a notion of a threshold of hours played just as some people can eat as much as they want and never gain weight. Itís about how your time spent playing video games impacts the rest of your life. Some people - like college students on vacation or retirees - have all the time in the world to play. Their game-play largely doesnít impact their real life obligations or relationships. Problematic usage is more about how your game-play begins to negatively impact your obligations and responsibilities.
And while thereís a lot of work that deals with defining and trying to measure this problematic usage, there isnít very much work on explaining what it is about video games and the people who play them that leads to problematic usage. After all, it doesnít happen to everyone. In fact, I know a lot of people in real life who think MMORPGs are the most boring video games out there. And that means that whatever is causing problematic usage canít be entirely about these games. Because if that were the case, then either everyone or no one would exhibit problematic usage. In other words, itís got to be something about the people playing them as well.
Thereís another stumbling block when people talk about online gaming addiction. It makes it easy to believe that thereís just one kind of addiction - that thereís a certain way that causes it to happen and that once it happens all the addicts are alike. And that you can avoid addiction if you follow these steps, or that you can resolve your addiction by following these guidelines. This is part of the problem with using the framework of physical addiction because physical addictions have well-known physical causes. It encourages us to think and talk about video games ďaddictionĒ in a certain way. But given the variation in why people play MMORPGs, itís not clear at all that thereís just one underlying reason for problematic usage.
keywords: mmorpg addiction, mmo addiction, addicted to mmorpgs
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