Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On-Line Gaming and Other Addictions

by Pa Rock
Social Worker

Please allow me to make this clear right off the bat:  I have no personal experience with on-line gaming.  In fact, the only on-screen game that I ever played was back in the early 1980's (way before Al Gore invented the internet) - and it involved using a hand-controller to bat simulated ping-pong balls back-and-forth across the television screen.  It left me with the sense that it was a big waste of time, though my kids enjoyed wasting their time on the mindless activity.

I am not quick enough, smart enough, or possess the time or interest to get invested in on-line gaming.

But while I have no personal experience with regard to this topic, I have worked counseling people who suffer under the yolk of a variety of addictions, and I have seen first hand the types of problems that can arise with social adjustment and life in general when these outside forces take control of a person.

There is a game on the internet called World of Warcraft which seems to be especially addicting for some people.  It is fee-based, though I don't know how the fees work except that players must pay for additions to their on-going games like the purchase of new characters.  Players compete with others on the internet who are involved in the same game.

I had a good friend a few years ago who was hooked on World of Warcraft to the point that he once confided to me that he was playing in excess of forty hours a week.  The man, who was employed in a professional capacity, lamented that his experience with WOW was like having a second full-time job.  His focus on the on-line battlefield was impacting his real job, the one that we was paid to do, as well as placing a strain on his private life.  My friend was clearly addicted to his game, and during our discussions he talked about others he knew who spent even more time gaming in cyberspace - most usually battling through World of Warcraft.

There was an article in the Orange County (California) Register this week about a couple who were addicted to the same game.   Unfortunately, the couple, a man and woman both in their early forties, had "duty of care" over two girls - ages five and ten.  Police raided the home this past May over concerns expressed by a neighbor and found the girls, both extremely dirty and malnourished, being "imprisoned" in an "uninhabitable" mobile home while their caretakers were spending all of their time and resources playing World of Warcraft.

I have no personal experience with on-line gaming or WOW, but I did spend a dozen years working in state child protection and I have seen horrendous neglect caused by parents who were too controlled by their addictions (usually drugs or alcohol) to offer even minimal care to their children.

If there is something in life that has an almost compete control over a person - drugs, alcohol, pornography, sex, food, tobacco, gambling, shopping, or even something as innocuous as an on-line game - well, it might just as well be heroin.   If a person is suffering because of the irresistible compulsion to engage in an activity on an habitual basis, or if the recurring actions of a person are causing others to suffer, it is time to seek help.

Addictions are heavy chains that will limit potential and destroy lives.  There are groups geared to address almost every conceivable addiction.  Find them and use them.

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

My general rule is "moderation in all things, especially excess." Although the grandsons do not engage in online gaming, they spend a lot of time with their electronic toys. The current rage is a game called Mine Craft. The children are given time limits with mandatory breaks. Homework must be completed. Chores may not be ignored. A happy life is a balanced life.