Addiction is a term that has lost a lot of its meaning in our modern society. The word has become desirable, a marketing buzzword and a compliment to give a media product. It’s not enough for something to be enjoyable, it now also needs to consume your life. However, addiction is and has always been a destructive thing. It’s when you let go of your responsibilities and fall into a spiral of neglect that is incredibly hard to break out of. If you’re addicted to dangerous drugs, they can destroy your entire life with almost no effort at all. Addiction is a dangerous thing, not a buzzword that is used on the back of the box.
Obviously, that was overly dramatic. In modern culture, we use it lightly to describe the feeling you get when you can’t rip yourself away from something because it’s so good and feels nice to be entertained by. This is usually innocent and we’ve all done it. I’ve described many of the games I’ve reviewed favourably as addictive and it’s usually the word you use when describing your favourite game to someone else. But gaming addiction is genuinely a thing and it can be harmful to your wellbeing.
The World Health Organisation has classified gaming addiction as a mental disorder and when that happened we were all making jokes about the people claiming to be addicted to games and only playing 20 hours a week and thinking that it’s ridiculous, but there is something there. This happens with incredible frequency and we don’t see it so often because it’s generally well hidden. Outside of some tired eyes, you won’t really be able to tell if someone is addicted to games unless you’re close to that person and can see how they’re neglecting themselves and their life.
I have actually experienced this myself very recently. I’ve been playing the fantastic Warframe for the last few months and I’ve noticed how I was neglecting my other responsibilities just to play this game some more. The thing was, this wasn’t Warframe’s fault. The game is great and it has many elements in it that make you want to keep playing, but doing it in an unhealthy manner was squarely my fault. I used it as a coping mechanism, something to distract me from thinking about the problems in my life. Those problems are complicated and numerous and I won’t divulge them here for fear of this getting way too personal, but the point is that I’ve been having a hard time recently.
I didn’t even realise just how addicted I was. Whenever I got the chance, I would fire up this game and just get lost in it. Barely glancing at whatever is going on around me and neglecting things I had to do because for the extended moments I was playing, I didn’t worry about all the terrible things going on. Running instead of confronting. This is where I realised why people become addicted to games. They want to escape their lives.
That all sounds scary, but games are coping mechanisms. I’ve been telling people all my life that gaming has helped me through the bad times in life and getting lost in these worlds can be therapy for the soul. But when you play the game for 12 hours on a weekday and fully destroying any semblance of a sleeping routine and ruining many aspects of your life, that’s when it becomes too excessive. Everything in moderation, as they say, and when you cross a certain threshold, you can be in danger.
I know all of this is pretty heavy and it’s something we would rather not think about, but it is something that is happening. Are you or have you been addicted to gaming? Can you control your playtime in a healthy manner without it becoming excessive? Do you think there’s any merit in classifying gaming as an addiction or do you think it’s way too overblown? Get down there in the comments and let’s do some group therapy.