In light of recent events that have put video games at the pinnacle of a great deal of conflict, Mike Langlois, LICSW, talks about rethinking what gaming addiction can really mean. Breaking the facts, 90% of the US adolescents play video games and more than half of adults in the country play video games regardless of race or income status while recent military studies have shown that video games reduce PTSD symptoms in veterans.
Despite the overwhelming studies of video games to show positive outcomes, many psychotherapists and healthcare providers are reluctant to integrate video games into their work. Hypothetical guesses are that because of age-old mistrust and disdain of technology, many healthy experts are uncertain on how to either incorporate or negotiate learning about technology to create unique and critical ideas of how gaming can actually improve therapeutic outcomes.
Unfortunate events such as the WOW related infanticide, where a Korean couple were playing for so long that they neglected their baby whom was found dead, have caused powerful stigmas that make it that more difficult to either counter positive possibilities for video games. However, the probability of infanticide due to video games is
It’s also arguably compelling to articulate the anti-social behavior within the gaming community is contradictory as video games are considered, now more than ever, a social media. Games bring people face-to-face cyberly or physically online and offline. Games provide a social experience that changes the function of what a game has always been stigmatized to be. Compelling engagement creates opportunities for gamers to multitask and to focus developing skills that are still very much utilized when gamers are not playing games.
When one has the ability to actively focus on one thing, they are actively meditating in the realm of that thing. It creates a phenomenon that can only be experienced but causes a sense of relaxation, concentration, and serenity. When we can get distracted from our everyday lives and focus on something that has no actual affect to our daily lives, its practicing our ability to separate from reality and become involved in something that we are passionate about.
The psychological diversion of video game players represents each of them causing a mental and even a physiological connection with their characters. Gamers are far more personally invested in their characters and may even feel guilty that they haven’t leveled it up. Gamers are actively producing through their characters whether it’s a reputation, title, clothing, armor, food, or social network.
When we speak about addiction, we speak about things that alter life negatively, but what we have seen are aspects of gaming perceived to be negative that actively stimulate, commune, and encourage groups of people to be better aspects of themselves. Drug addictions are labeled as moral avails that don’t transfer with video games. The ways disorders are based in the DSM revolve around terms in which are concrete effects that impact people’s lives. Since there isn’t a defiant model for video game addiction it is difficult to pinpoint these terms without accidently dubbing something that might not apply to all cases. Diagnosing someone with a disorder is a serious situation because people’s lives hang in the balance and there are not enough negative qualities to video games that can honestly impact gamers’ lives, much less identifying them as mentally ill.
If experts believe that people are escaping reality using video games, they have to remember that 80% of the time gamers are failing when they play games. Why would anyone escape to a place that 80% of the time they are feeling like losers? With vast amounts of research it is becoming more and more evident that video games are instilling resiliency within gamers not only to become more skillful, but more aware, more capable of handling problems effectively and more willing to successfully complete a task even if it is meaningless. It is time to recognize that there is no such thing as video game addiction; there are only video game players.
Jennifer “Narz” Vargas is CEO/Founder at Girl Gamer Vogue and Lead Video Game Columnist and Tech Editor at KnickerBocker Ledger.