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Old 01-14-2013, 10:31 AM
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Helo Helo is offline
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Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
I do think there really is something about video games that makes them more addictive than other hobbies.
I have a problem with the idea of "video game addiction" for a couple of reasons.

First, it's often diagnosed by people with less than zero psych training and who rarely play games themselves. The criteria are set by non-gamers and the label is virtually impossible to get rid of because anything you try to say to dispel it is taken as further indication of addiction.

Second, what about games makes them more addictive than other hobbies? No one, professional or otherwise, has successfully addressed this. They dont directly influence brain or body chemistry beyond what other forms of entertainment or puzzles do, so what specifically makes them more addictive?

Third, the entire concept of addiction absolutely reeks of classism. I know this is going to sound like some crazy rant but its true regardless; addiction is a poor people's disease. If you've got somebody slamming back $50 a bottle scotch every night who can afford to they're not an alcoholic, they're "connoisseurs." Someone who pays for a doctor to prescribe them prescription drugs aren't junkies, they're "pain patients." Take a look at the popular idea of an addict which you can do easily enough by seeing what image comes to mind when you think of the word. "Addict" draws up images of people laying in gutters with needles in their arms or piles of cheap beer cans around them.

I absolutely accept that certain substances can cause a reaction where the body develops a dependency on them and that people can develop a psychological dependence on activities, substances, and objects. However I think most people combine the two under the label of "addiction" without understanding that doing so renders the term absolutely worthless; if you can develop an "addiction" to something as benign as table salt, then ANYTHING is addictive and the term ceases to have any real meaning.

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It's not uncommon for gamers to reject all in-person social interaction in favour of their games. I have the same concern about people who can't go 15 minutes without checking fb or who can't drive past a casino without going in and maxing out their credit cards.
That can be carried over to ANY group of people engaging in almost any activity; you will always have loners who would prefer not to be social. Games do lend themselves to that use better than other pastimes but they are by far not the most socially isolating activity you can engage in and that's becoming even more true with modern games.

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A person can be addicted to anything.
Which, in my view, makes the term "addiction" worthless. Its like trying to describe an object and starting off with "It has mass."

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In general, addictions are harmful. Indeed, whether a certain activity interferes with your day to day life is the deciding factor in something being an addiction rather than a hobby. For me, 4 a.m. is a reasonable bed time (I'm nocturnal by nature), so that in and of itself isn't an indication of addiction. But if you need to be up at 7 a.m. for work and you regularly stay up until 4 a.m. playing your game, then that's probably going to interfere with your ability to function.
This is part of my point; games are targeted specifically because they're not yet truly accepted by the generation that gets to make the rules regarding what is socially acceptable and what isn't as well as being a convenient social scapegoat. People eat food that fucks up your body in countless (and completely measurable) ways and yet most people still scoff at the idea of "fast food addiction." Every time there's a mass shooting in the US, the news coverage soon after the event almost inevitably claims the person was "addicted to violent videogames" and there have been several instances when that claim was made where the person wasn't even a gamer.

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Hobby bakers don't tend to stay up until 4 a.m. baking on a regular basis. They might do it now and then before a big bake sale or for a special project. But they don't tend to compulsively need to finish one last batch of cookies before they'll go to bed, only to find that that batch of cookies leads to a new secret recipe for biscuits. Now they have to bake the biscuits or else they'll spend the whole next day thinking about that biscuit recipe!

At the end of an 18 hole course, you don't typically go back to the first hole and start again. You go back to the clubhouse with your friends, have a beer, and go home. Most people who join $1000 clubs are businessmen, for whom the sport makes more money than it costs. Many important business decisions are made on the golf course, and not participating puts you out of the game. Besides, golf is a sport. It's not much of a sport, granted, but it does involve some physical activity.
My point is that any pastime can be taken to extreme levels of indulgence and games are far and away not alone in this. We tend to focus on that more because, as I said, games are a social scapegoat as well as not yet being truly accepted by our society.

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Video games promote sitting in your chair, eating unhealthy convenience foods because you don't want to take too much time away from your game by cooking a proper meal. So does the internet. So does reading good books.
They do nothing of the sort. A player makes a conscious choice how much and how long to play a game. There's no mind control at work that forces them to stay in the chair any more than there's mind control that forces people to stay in a chair while reading a book.

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Video games are different from baking or reading books in that they're backed by a huge industry whose sole interest is profit. They want to make video games addictive so that you'll buy them, buy the expansion packs, and pay the monthly subscription fees. They're in league with the hardware producers, urging you to upgrade your system every 6 months to keep up with the newest games.
The (US) publishing industry does about $28 billion of business a year and the baked goods industry clocks in at about $30 billion per year. There's billion dollar industries that want repeat business behind EVERY product you pick up.

Claiming they want to make them addictive is fine but I see no indication that they have any basic mechanism in them beyond a book or a movie and I have yet to see any media blowhards screeching about book or movie addiction. The idea sounds plausible but if you run it through its paces, it reveals itself as a ludicrous concept.

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What I'm bashing is gaming addictions. And make no mistake, very many gamers are addicts.
How do you determine that?

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And that, I'm pretty sure, is what most people have a problem with, and not video games themselves. That, and the fact that many children and young people spend much more time inside sitting down than they used to, because of video games, and that it's leading to a generation of sedentary, unhealthy people.
You don't think a massive availability of cheap, high carbohydrate, low nutrient value food combined with far less social emphasis on active play has anything to do with it?

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Many video games are also accused of desensitizing people against violence.
Which is absolute and utter garbage. Firing a gun in real life is as far removed from firing one in a game as its possible to be and still be in this solar system. NOTHING prepares you for actually seeing someone die in front of you. A game cant recreate the smell of the blood or hearing a person's actual cries of pain.

People are so eager to derp onto a reason why someone was able to massacre a bus full of nuns without any empathy and they latch onto videogames as the route for removing one's sensitivity towards violence without stopping to consider that the motherfucker very likely had no empathy to begin with. That's one of the key traits of a sociopath; a total lack of empathy with other human beings.
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