Video game addiction can be defined as “excessive time playing games, particularly video games” (Struthers, 2014, para 1). This addiction is behavioral, rather than physical, because it primarily affects social responsibilities and interactions (Struthers, 2014). This addiction replaces physical human contact, physical exercise, and risk associated with reality.
Video games are played mostly in order to fulfill psychological needs, and in some instances, these psychological needs becoming fulfilled are what makes them addictive (Babbage, 2014). The most addictive types of games that have been found are Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s), such as World of Warcraft, and
action/shooter games, such as Call of Duty. These types of games allow players to experience an alternative reality, and is addictive due to the rewards that it provides its players.
Symptoms that are commonly attributed with Video game addiction, as reported by William Struthers are, “excessive game-binging, gaming late into the night, a decreased interest in school or occupational pursuits, and anger or frustration when denied access to gaming” (2014, para 6). Struthers also reports that weight gain, lack of personal hygiene, and changes in sleeping habits are also physical signs of video game addiction (2014). These symptoms, being linked to both the physical and psychological well-being of the people suffering, makes the addiction extremely serious.
Males are more likely to become addicted to video games than women are. According to
Campbell, Fabos, and Martin, “this makes sense, given that the most popular games—action shooter games—are heavily geared towards males” (2017, p. 87, para 4). These games specifically are also made to be addictive by the design.
Games that reward players for achievements are found to be more addictive, because they are psychologically rewarding to the players. Rewards are found to be even more rewarding if they are unpredictably given. Ultimately, this depends on the game player and their personality, but games are designed to keep their players playing. Games are also made addictive, and are keeping players engaged longer, by adding exclusive rewards to their games. Games such as Call of Duty offer incentives for playing their older games longer, and reward players for doing this by giving them exclusive offers in their newest released game. For example, the release of Black Ops 3 came with a
Loyalty program, which rewards players if they have reached levels 31 or higher in
Black Ops II, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision Support, 2018). The video game industry is giving incentives for players to play their games even longer, and stay engaged with their games, which as a result is absorbing the time and social lives of the players, thus leading to video game addiction.
There are many dangers to video game addiction that have been proven to affect the social and psychological lives of the people that video games are consuming. Campbell, Fabos, and Martin reported “the more children were addicted, the more prone they were to depression, social phobias, and increased anxiety, which lead to poorer grades in school” (2017, p.87, para 3). Overall, video games, while not a physical substance, can be highly addictive and detrimental to the heath of those that consume them.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III Loyalty Program. (2018) Activision Support. Retrieved from https://support.activision.com/articles/en_US/FAQ/Call-of-Duty-Black-Ops-III-Loyalty-Program
Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Babbage. (2014, February 18). What Makes Video Games Addictive? The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2014/02/electronic-entertainment
Quentin. (2016, August 22). Pixabay [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/xbox-xbox-one-microsoft-joystick-1602822/
Struthers, W. P. (2014). Gaming addiction. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.washcoll.idm.oclc.org/eds/detail/detailvid=3&sid=d1680bd7-51da40d5b529ee2c0935bf1b@sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU=#AN=9441419&db=ers
Image Attribution: The images used in this post is in the Public Domain
Written by Sarah Bentley, 2018.