Friday, 6 July 2012

The Payne Of Redemption: A Look at Videogame Addiction

Article first published as The Payne Of Redemption: A Look at Videogame Addiction on Blogcritics

The videogame industry plays an important role within a person’s life. This isn't something that can be generalised or stereotyped. A hardcore gamer may even consider it an insult, if I was to say; “…plays an important role within a child/teen’s life.”

In the videogame world, every player gets infinite chances of coming back from the dead. A mistake can easily be undone each time the reset button is pressed or the game is restarted from the last checkpoint. If only the same philosophy applied to life! Let's take some time to uncover the darker element to videogaming. 

Videogames open the vortex to another world; have another atmosphere, one that encourages an escape from reality. Of course, these days it’s no surprise, videogames look ridiculously realistic as they use the latest animation technology and the graphics engine of game platforms.

The latest technology leaves a plethora of opportunities for game developers — add a captivating storyline, and boom! You have yourself a game that can’t be put down! Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft has been used as a classic example of addiction in the past. To be honest, I don’t see the attraction myself, but that's neither here nor there. Today, games such as Rockstar GamesMax Payne 3, and Naughty Dogs’ Uncharted franchise alongside others, deliver an excellence sense of realism, as well as movie magic.
Douglas Gentile, a professor of videogaming addiction, and media violence. His latest thesis alongside three other experts in the area--Edward L. Swing, Choon G. Lim, and Angeline Khoo-- appears in the piece, "Video Game Playing, Attention Problems & Impulsiveness: Evidence Of Bi-Casualty."  For the piece, Gentile and his team, carried out a study involving a large number of children where it was discovered that those who dedicate a majority of their time to videogame play are more likely to experience attention problems and impulsiveness.  It was found that excessive gameplay is associated with some attention problems; however, it's still important to consider that age, sex, and race can also lead to the same road.
Have you ever wondered why a person becomes an addict of anything? It’s an escape from reality! Even so, it’s not an excuse to give in, and let the game (in this case) play you. A young adult might say, “It helps to relieve stress while playing a first or third person shooter," and it does as it helps them escape, and the research bears this out.
Psychologist, author of many titles including Aggression & Violent Behaviour (2007), as well as an assistant professor at Texas A&M International University, Christopher J. Ferguson, echoes the theory. In my interview with Ferguson, he states  “…We see four main motives why kids play, and adults are probably not too different: Simply to have fun, to relieve stress, as a social activity with others, and as something to do to kill time when they’re bored. The social motive is particularly interesting given the stereotype of gaming as a solitary activity, but it’s becoming increasingly clear most people use games as a social activity.” 
Videogaming addiction has yet to be labeled as a formal diagnosis in the medical industry. However, Ferguson brings a brand new Monopoly game to your table — he primarily blames the interference game play causes in the average person’s life; school, work, quality family time, and other fundamental responsibilities. It’s almost as if excessive gaming can lead to a person completely forgetting about the natural foundation of life.
“Videogame addiction is not 'yet' a formal diagnosis. However, as a more general rule, to the extent that video game playing interferes with other life responsibilities, (work, school, family, health, etc.) We’d probably say that the gaming behaviours have become pathological…do you persist in excessive game playing despite the rather obvious costs (failing grades, crumbling marriage, whatever) of that game play,” says Ferguson.
Speaking of addiction, can gameplay detect drug use? Again according to Ferguson, and other sources videogame addiction helps medical experts detect drug abuse.  “…Some individuals are probably prone to addiction in general, so I’d expect to see at least some small correlations.”
Ferguson believes videogames reveal a sense of achievement, and offer the opportunity for own to become their own hero within their own lives. This is a burning factor within all of this, which cleverly shows not only, why gamers play, but also offers the suggestion that game play doesn’t have to be an addiction if you don’t want it to be. It’s down to you, and your perception on life.
Videogaming has its perks, it’s a window to another aspect of your life, the stress free version, of course. Just like Christopher Ferguson said “It’s really fun!” It also can benefit a person’s visual perception.
Don’t be afraid to play the game, just control yourself and not just Max Payne, Nathan Drake, or Lara Croft. That’s the remedy to knockout this potential addiction!