Video Games and Pleasure: Can It Become an Addiction?


How do our minds make sex, alcohol, gambling and drugs feel so good? Neurobiologist David J. Linden researches this in his latest work The Compass of Pleasure. In this manuscript, Linden researches the reasons as to why we as humans become addicted to tangible things as well as the intangible, like gambling and other compulsions. These “compulsions” he speaks of varies and just like any other addiction, activate the pleasure circuit in our minds where it succumbs to the possibility of intrinsic rewards. The question he proposes is “if video games can activate the dopamine pleasure circuit, does that mean that one can become addicted to them?” (Linden 147)

Linden gives a Neurobiological explanation to how our minds function when we play video games and in terms to how our brains react to gambling, one can become addicted to video games. Technically our minds carry the same reactors when we gamble or play video games. In fact, Linden explains that there is already an entire sector dedicated to the treatment of video game and Internet addiction, however adds that “the best indication are that most video game addicts recover without intervention” (Linden, 147).

What was most interesting about this research, however, was that though they were in search of answering the question “Are video games addictive?” what they found, according to the results of our brain function when playing video games was “while both men and women showed activation in these regions during game trials, the effect was significantly stronger in men” (Linden, 144). Linden continues to elaborate on this and states how interesting this is, and I don’t take him for a gamer by any means, considering he’s a well-known and equipped Neurobiologist who questions, “Is there something general about video games that makes them more pleasurable for men?” (Linden 146). However, I suppose his concern with the difference between the results of the male and female subjects was because the games used for these test trials were territory based. He takes notice that these games were “male-focused” causing the dopamine receptors in the minds of men to activate more than that of a woman’s.

Looking over the illustrations and numbers drawn up from these cases, I wondered if scientists and researchers alike assume that video games must be strictly “gaining territory” based or some other male-focused drive that are ideal to this audience in particular. Linden recognizes that these cases don’t really prove much about gamers in general and gaming addictions per say and that his “own suspicion is that the answer lies in the particular details of the game” he explains, “If they repeated this study with a combined pattern recognition and reflex games like Tetris, the gender difference would likely disappear” (Linden 147). Well said, Linden!

MsSpiceGrr, aka Mildred, is editor-in-chief at GGVogue and a  freelance writer at KnickerLedger.

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