Game Addiction – I: Myths About Gaming’s Impact on Health – Extra Credits

Game Addiction – I: Myths About Gaming’s Impact on Health – Extra Credits

Hello again, everyone. We’ve got a pretty sizable topic for you today. Please join me in welcoming this week’s guest artist, Hyunwoo Mac Ko. You can just call him Mac. He’s worked in games a while, he runs a webcomic called Iris the VG Gal, and he’ll be helping us out with this two-part series on game addiction. Let’s get right into it. Whenever we talk publicly about the good games can do or about their nature as an emerging tool for exploring who we are, we’re frequently confronted by people asking one question, “Well, what about all those people whose lives have been ruined by being addicted to gaming?” Buried within this often hostile statement is actually a very important question. One that we as a community should probably be exploring more than we do. The tragedy of modern gaming is that all the hype and the hysteria around “game addiction” distracts from real underlying issues; issues that need dealing with, because they’re seriously affecting the lives of members of our community. But as much as I’d love to jump right to that part of the discussion, we’re gonna have to save most of it for next week. Before we can get to the stuff that really matters, we have to address that hype, because it comes up a lot, and without clearing the air of all the scare mongering that surrounds the issue, it usually just ends up with everyone drawing lines in the sand. #1: There is no epidemic of people dying from playing too many video games. There’s been a lot of sensationalist journalism around people dying at their computer screens having played games until their hearts gave out. They usually paint this phenomenon as an epidemic which threatens to engulf a generation. And that is simply not true. In fact, it is so not true to the point of actually being ridiculous. Most of the examples cited come out of South Korea. But, there are more fatalities ascribed to fan death in South Korea every year than are penned on game addiction. In the United States, more people have died from water intoxication in the last decade than from game addiction. And, hey, It’s been said before, but high school sports hospitalizes more than 30,000 kids in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC. But none of those things are considered epidemics. In almost every case involving game related death, or violence surrounding the interruption of play, the broader mental health of the individuals involved has either been demonstrably impaired or severely called into question during proceedings. The epidemic of gaming deaths is not a real issue. It’s a sensationalist smokescreen to get ratings and to demonize games. There is no way to squeeze a meaningful dialogue out of that conversation. And that leads us to #2: gaming is not addictive Addiction refers to the fundamental altering of brain chemistry; something that games have never been shown to do. No, what gaming is, is compelling and this may seem like a semantic point, but it fundamentally changes both how we think about game compulsion, and how we address it. #3: Gaming compulsion can exist and still not make games an evil thing. This one’s something that I feel like needs to be addressed within our community. We generally tend to be very defensive about games and often rightly so I mean they’re getting unfairly criticized all the time. Games aren’t as bad as they’re often made out to be; but, if we’re being totally honest with ourselves It doesn’t mean that everything about gaming is perfect either. And, more importantly, it doesn’t mean that everything about gaming has to be perfect for it to still be a good thing. I mean, the invention of the automobile has done our society all kinds of good but that doesn’t mean cars haven’t caused a few problems too. Things don’t have to be perfect to be good. Now sometimes you can’t go talking about all the faults to people who are already determined to demonize gaming. I understand. But we’ve got to at least be able to admit them to ourselves. If we don’t take the higher road and accept some of the negative aspects of gaming, we’re never going to be able to fix them. And like I said, that’s the kind of thing we’re going to focus more on in part two #4: Game compulsion doesn’t exist in isolation. Next week’s discussion will be largely focused on teens and adults, but, before we wrap up today We should talk about game compulsion as it applies to children. Often in the news you’ll hear about how the newest generations growing up addicted to games, how they spend eight to ten hours a day in front of a screen, how they’re losing touch with the world at large. And while the addiction term may be a bit sensationalist, the rest is kind of true. It may not be true to the terrifying extent the news would have you believe, but it is very much a real issue. But this form of game compulsion doesn’t exist in isolation. You can’t just blame all this on games. I mean we hear the same complaint level against television all the time. The problem doesn’t stem inherently from these media. It’s a larger societal issue. Blaming games or TV for kids leading a life focused entirely around these forms of media, is simply a way of dodging responsibility. Look there’s no other way to say it, if a kid’s spending nine hours a day in front of a screen, there’s some serious bad parenting going on. Games are an easy babysitter. They’re interactive, they’re something a child can engage with when they don’t get to engage with another human being, and, unfortunately, that’s how they’re often being used by busy or lazy parents every day. But that’s not how they should be used. Now, we often hear all this television demagoguery about taking away children’s access to video games and just force them to go outside; but, from my perspective that never seems to work. What you want, is for your kids to have a healthy relationship with games. Play games with them, share that part of their lives. Even without actually playing, a parent just sitting on the couch, talking to a child, encouraging them and cheering them on while they play, can convert an alienating isolating experience into a bonding one that the child will carry with them. And, while sharing the medium with the child, a parent can also teach how to get the most out of it, how to approach it responsibly, and how to learn from it. We just have to be willing to find the time to raise our children, rather than leaving them for the machines to nurture. Most of the claims surrounding game addiction are grossly exaggerated. Even the term itself is a misnomer. But, behind all that, there are serious issues which we’ll have to tackle. The first is that of raising children in a world pervaded by games and accepting the responsibility to play those games with our children, rather than simply using them as a digital babysitter. And you know who’s gonna have to step up and do this first? The gaming community. We’ve got to start figuring out how to engage with our kids when they play, and demonstrating that better parenting makes games a positive elements in the lives of our kids. And I’m not saying that because it’s somehow our responsibility to take that first noble step, I’m just saying, I mean, in all the world, who’s better equipped to do this than we are? After all who’s going to connect better than people who already love games? I think we are uniquely qualified to solve this problem. Now, there’s one last issue to tackle. Game compulsion in adults. We’re going to try to follow this up next week with our thoughts on those who have abandoned their lives in the real world, for an existence focused on the virtual realm. It’s a hugely complex topic and requires a great deal more space than we have left here. And we want to make sure we do it justice. So until next week. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you then Outro Music


  1. I remember when I was younger my dad teaching me how to play Mario kart and telling me about oversteering and stuff and that hooked me on cars for a long time. Now I’m teaching him how to pay Spider-Man (with limited success) and I like to think I’m in some way giving back what he taught to me

  2. well I been severely addicted to video games because I had severe clinical depression, witch game addiction (like all addictions) is a symptom, not an illness of itself

  3. To give an example: m father loved to play colin mcrea and gran turismo….. I spent my elementary school years beeng the "navigator while he drove the car, and as a child was cool XD he also teached me that ikea furniture are the hardcore version of lego blocks, but thats sn other story XD

  4. I don't know about gameing, but there are a lot of evidence that pornography is adictive. Sure, it does not alter your brain directly, but the high reward of dopamine in brain, do to porn, can makes you adicted to it, maybe games can do something similar. And even thought there is no quimical depence linked to it, would exist such as social-adiction? I don't, but seems not so easy. Over all I enjoied the video, keep up with the great work!

  5. love this topic! This also applies to cartoon and anime, too. when i watched my favorite shows as a kid, some adults just went on and told me that it's bad and bad and such, alienate newer media just because they seem odd and unfamiliar to them. Of course I played video games, watch cartoons, but I also played outside, too! All I can think about those negative comments from said adults are "this is not how you bond with a child!"

  6. I had problems socially at school related to video games. It wasn't because I played video games, it was because of the games I played. FTS was basically the rage and all the gamers in my age group were buying the latest CoD and such. I preferred 4 and WoW for my Call of Duty experience and I didn't play them often.
    At home my parents were completely fine with video games, my home had been used to gaming long before I came along so as long as I got my money's worth out of the games there was no issue, (and did homework, hobbies and all the stuff I enjoyed.) besides what kind of hypocrite would an parent that grew up on Space Invaders and Pac-Man be if they did not allow their own children to play games?

  7. Someone show this chanell to my parents (they are very anti-vidiogames. Well at least with me cause they let my brother play Roblox whenever he wants and i can't even play pokemon Black during the weekends and holydays.)

  8. you play too much games read a book
    gives really sucky book
    but this book sucks

  9. ok everything can be addicting, games,movies,substance(food drink drugs etc) addiction is not you playing like 2 hours a day addiction is you playing 12 hours a days all im saying to much of something is not good if i drank to much water ill drown if i look at the sun for too long my eyes will hurt if i ate to much ill get overweight

  10. Don't play video games with your friends, play outside with them. They live in a different country? Too bad.

    You have asthma and can't play sports? Too bad.

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