The Addictive Nature of Games in Two News Items

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Steve Anderson
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The Addictive Nature of Games in Two News Items

Normally I don't talk about topics like this, but the juxtaposition of two news items when I went looking for game news just jumped right out at me.

Finding game news isn't always easy, particularly when you've got E3 coming up in another three weeks. So sometimes it takes a bit of looking, and what you find can be downright strange.

The first bit was a piece two days ago from ABC News and, detailing how a Michigan gamer who skipped school to play video games went through a treatment program. The young man in question built his own gaming computer at a young age, announcing to his parents that he was dropping out at 14. He ended up in a treatment program that put him in the wilderness for several weeks.

The second bit, which was almost shockingly contradictory, detailed an Alaskan gamer who landed a scholarship for his gaming, joining a collegiate e-sports team. A League of Legends jungler by trade, this young man landed three separate scholarship offers and ultimately selected Southwest Baptist University in Missouri. He too built his own gaming computer at a young age, and turned it into a focus on a particular game to produce some impressive skill.

No, seriously; the one was right next to the other. One kid's basically going through detox because he's hooked on games like they're heroin, and immediately next to that is another kid who basically got free money for college because he played enough games to get good enough at them to draw the attention of a comparatively new esports team.

Interestingly, there's difference between the two cases, though both play a lot of video games. The young man with the scholarship offers had some outside interests, including choral signing. The Southwest Baptist esports training routine actually includes physical training--actual exercise--three days a week.

Is the true measure of a gaming addict, therefore, not in the hours played, but rather in the hours not played? Both played large amounts of games, but the first left out everything else for the sake of the game, while the second had other interests besides gaming to occupy his time. Being able to break away from games like that could be a key point to preventing addiction regardless of the total time spent.

Gaming can be a great way to have fun in one's off hours, or it can be a disaster that takes away one's life in a pattern of addiction. Could the difference between one and the other not be total time spent gaming, but total time spent away from gaming? A young man with a scholarship for gaming certainly suggests that that's the case. The nature of addiction is difficult to understand at best, but looking at two fairly similar young men's differences does offer some insight.

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