Top Ten Game Addiction Fallacies

Posted by | October 6, 2009

As video games become a new media of communication and actually make a splash in the modern, global community scares will continue to crop up about their influence on the masses. Just like the emergence of literacy, the novel as a form of writing, the radio, rock and roll, and comic books being blamed for every ill society might have video games are the new emerging art form in the crosshairs and the hysteria runs broad and deep.

As does the misunderstanding and gross fallacies on the subject.

Neils Clark decided to response to the top ten errors made in discussing video game addiction, which are tried-and-true elements of most anti-emerging-media propaganda with some interesting twists. It’s a reply to a column over at Green Pixels. The entire article, Big Trouble In Little Articles: Ten  Game Addiction Fallacies, is worth the read, but here’s a summary of five of the ten points.

  1. Games aren’t drugs. Drugs—those chemicals that people ingest for medicine or pleasure—has become a common comparison, an easy emotional cop-out to connect video games with what is arguably a giant social ill. However, unlike drugs, video games cannot be ingested, they aren’t manufactured in ghetto bathrooms, and myriad other things involved with drugs. However, behaviors like gambling do closely relate to video game addictions, so perhaps instead of improperly plastering “video games are drugs!” people trying to discuss the subject would relate it instead to gambling addictions.
  2. Comorbidity: Which came first—the video game or the addiction? A prominent problem of media reporting of video game addiction as with any behavior is that those reporting and those listening want a cause. The problem here is that the cause and the effect may lie on a spectrum and aren’t a black and white “video games automatically lead to addiction,” and it may not be as simple as alcoholism, “you have the markers to become addicted to video games, therefore by playing you will become addicted.”
  3. Verbiage. The leeway and slosh with the word “addiction” in media usage can be so different between two reports that it is almost meaningless. In some contexts reporters would refer to “addicted” as causing irritability (or other childhood maladies like not wanting to clean the room) giving a huge addiction rate; and others they would narrow it considerably to only cover those people whose lives had been dramatically altered by not being able to leave their computers—creating a one-in-millions effect. This sort of terrible use of jargon leads to a staggering misunderstanding by the public of the possibility of video game addiction and what it might even mean.
  4. Concerned? Get a psychologist. People should really be seeing the help of professionals if they discover one behavior starting to take over their lives.
  5. Good luck and have fun! Stop deliberately ignoring the benefits of responsible gaming in order to make grossly inaccurate diatribes about how dangerous becoming addicted can be. On the same side of the issue, stop telling people to simply “use common sense” when there is no such concept. To actually assist in determining what might be good or bad about video game related activities a greater amount of introspection and community study is needed.

Link, via Neils Clark (via Gamepolitics)

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