Where it’s at

June 9, 2006 by Tim

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about this Video Game Rehab clinic opening up over in Europe. Mostly I’m hearing people laughing at it, talking about how ridiculous it is. I don’t agree. I think it’s a pretty good idea.

I think some people are so much on the defensive because of Jack Thompson’s over-the-top blame-shifting, that when they hear anything negative about video games, they scoff outright. Video games don’t cause addiction any more than they cause violence.

However, there are people out there with addictive personalities, just as there are people out there with violent tendencies. I know it may sound funny to you “Hah, who needs to detox from video game? Pfft!”. As a non-alcoholic, sometimes it’s hard for me to grasp the struggle that an alchoholic goes through. To not be able to take a single drink for fear of backsliding. “But it’s so easy to just stop drinking when you’ve had enough” I think to myself. But for an alcoholic it’s not easy.

I have to admit that I have been addicted to certain video games from time to time. It’s never taken over my life, I’ve never shirked my responsibilities or my health just to play, but I can certainly see how a serious, detrimental addiction is possible. Especially in MMO’s.

Video games can be an escape, in the same way that drugs and alcohol can be, but without the chemical dependency. For someone with depression issues, or no self-control, video games can becomes just as much a problem. We occasionally hear about people who played so much they didn’t eat or sleep, and died as a result. Or someone who killed themselves because they didn’t get the in-game item they wanted.

Video games don’t cause addiction and they don’t cause violence. If they did, we’d have near a 1:1 player/psychotic ratio, and we’re nowhere close. As with any large community of people, there will always be a handful with some issues. Billions of people drink alcohol, but only a handful are alcoholics. Billions of people play sports, but only a handful use steroids. Billions of people play video games, but only a handful have ever murdered someone. It is the individual that brings the issue to the activity, not the activity that brings the issue to the individual.

However, on our crusade to educate people that video games are not the cause of our problems, it’s important not to dismiss the members of the community that do have a problem, and do need help. I’d sooner see a video game rehab clinic, than read about some poor soul who couldn’t control his playing habits, and had nowhere to turn for help. I’m surprised the first clinic didn’t open up here in America, where over-indulgence is practically a lifestyle for most people.

Admitting that there are gamers out there that need help is not the same as admitting that video games are the cause violence or addiction.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this out there for you to consider. A bit political for a Friday afternoon post, I know, but c’est la vie.

We’re having a Battlefield 2 GameDay tomorrow. I’ll post details tomorrow afternoon. Hope to see you there!

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