Students pick video games over social life

Simon Husted

Are video games controlling your life?

Gamers hooked on fellowship

Kent State gamers admit playing

video games can be addictive,

but they said the social interaction

is what keeps players coming back,

not the game itself.

Brian Clark, sophomore computer

information systems major,

typically plays four to five hours a

day. He said the term “video game

addiction” is misleading because

it’s a sensation gained from certain

video games — typically video

games with an engaging online

community that’s addictive.

“There’s been stories about a

lot of people in China, Japan and

other Asian countries who play

video games for social interaction,”

Clark said. “Rather than craving the

game itself, they crave the interaction

they get in the game so rather

than going out and having a real

life social interaction, they’re having

social interactions with other

people on a game.”

Gamers who have anxiety or are

nervous in social settings are also

more likely to thrive on the social

interaction provided by online video

games, Clark said.

“People can’t really be addicted

to video games,” Clark said. “They

can be addicted to a feeling they

get from them, but just classifying

someone with a video game addiction

doesn’t really say what the

problem is.”

Clark said he knows a friend

back home who, if anything, was

addicted to the social interactions

he received when playing the game

“World of Warcraft.”

“World of Warcraft,” or WoW, is

a popular online role-playing game

that allows gamers to hunt for items

or complete quests with other gam-

ers across the globe. Because the

online game is updated often with

new content, WoW is unique in

that it doesn’t necessarily have an

ending and encourages players

to continue playing, earning only

small accomplishments along the

way.

Clark said games and even

online networks similar to the

concept of WoW brought out a

troubling gaming pattern in his

friend.

“He would play some Xbox

games just for the fact of getting

achievement points (on Xbox

LIVE) and feeling like he accomplished

something,” Clark said.

The concept of a person addicted

to video games has met intense

debate in the scientific community.

At the American Medical Association’s

2007 meeting in Chicago,

the AMA considered adding video

game addiction to its “Diagnostic

and Statistical Manual of Mental

Disorders” or DSM – IV.

The proposal was denied so

more studies could be done on

the topic. Analysts suggest, however,

that “video game addiction”

will likely be considered again at

AMA’s next meeting in 2012.

According to the AMA report

proposing the existence of a video

game addiction, anywhere

between 10 to 15 percent of gamers

may have an addiction. The

report classifies an addiction as

someone who has more control

and success over his or her social

relationships in the virtual world

than reality.

A solid number is hard to reach

because currently psychologists,

psychiatrists and social workers

aren’t trained to diagnose or treat

it. Many health insurance companies

do not cover individuals

seeking help to treat their uncontrollable

habits involving video

games either.

Gamers on campus said they

think the AMA should find another

way to help troubled gamers,

instead of attaching an even worse

stigma to video games.

Connor Shivers, a gamer who

typically plays two to four hours

a day, said most video games like

“Final Fantasy” or “Advance

Wars” have stories with one ultimate

reward that either ends the

game immediately or doesn’t

leave enough incentives for the

player to keep playing. But WoW

and games similar to it lack this

type of reward.

“You’re basically doing a second

job, trying to level up your

character, find new equipment,

join a group and do a bunch of

raids,” Shivers said. “It doesn’t

sound fun to an outside perspective

because of all the work you

have to put into it for the relatively

low amount of satisfaction

to get from it.”

“For games that don’t have

an ending credit, it’s very hard

to let it go because you’re always

chasing the next reward,” Shivers

added.

Not all gamers who play WoW

get entirely hooked, however.

Thomas Maisonville, a sophomore

political science major, first began

playing WoW last spring semester.

Maisonville said the reason

he began playing was because his

friend, JD, played the game and

pressured him to buy a subscription

and make his own character.

Although he claims video games

hold little effect on his academics,

Maisonville admits WoW was an

exception and during the spring

semester, distracted him from

more important things.

“Those were dark times,” Maisonville

said.

However once summer break

began and JD didn’t return to

Kent State the next fall, Maisonville

said he was able to give up

WoW pretty casually and move on

to playing more traditional games

like “Street Fighter” and “Call of

Duty: Modern Warfare.”

“Again, it’s that social thing,”

he said. “When I play video

games, a lot of time it’s about

playing with people than playing

by myself.”

Contact safety reporter Simon

Husted at [email protected]