Friday, 18 January 2013

Winterton’s Fridays: A Heartfelt Discussion about Gaming Addiction

by Ben Winterton

Hello, my name’s Ben, and I’m addicted to video games.

As you have probably guessed, I think video games are great. Listen to me gush about “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”, “Bloons Tower Defence” or, hell, even pause screens. But I think they can also have a dark side. They can be horribly addictive. Jak has spoken about how to deal with binge gaming, but I want to talk about my own personal experience of video game addiction.

As flippant as the topic may sound, video game addiction is very real. Whilst it doesn’t quite have the same intensity as alcoholism, drug addiction, or indeed sex addiction (see Chuck Palanuik for more), video game addiction is a manifestation of the same issues; namely, the desperate need for escape.

Not this.

For me, video games have often served as a crutch. Speaking as someone with persistent depression and anxiety problems, video games have often been my only escape from what is in my head. But a reliance on this escape is not at all healthy. In my last article, I talked about how I had got every achievement on “Ninety-Nine Nights” (the use of the word “achievement” is one of the most constantly hilarious ironies of the current gaming generation). What I didn’t say was that I got each and every achievement on “Ninety-Nine Nights” during a 2 week long depressive episode, spent predominantly in dark room, alone and miserable. It was this moment that I realised I was addicted to video games. I wasn’t playing for fun, out of intrigue, with friends, or any of the other reasons people normally play video games. I was playing because I did not know what else to do.

Since this realisation, my relationship with video games has been a troubled one. On the one side, they are a huge part of my life; on the other hand, I am constantly in danger of slipping back into an addictive phase. During these phases, I play games obsessively, not realising my needs to wash, sleep or eat. It comes as no surprise to me that people have died playing videogames.

Last week I could feel myself sliding into one of these phases. I had a huge pile of post-Christmas video games, and I was starting to let other aspects of my life slide. And what saved me? Nothing short of the frustratingly mediocre “Resident Evil 6”. A game that consistently taunts you with promises of a good game, but then breaks your will with innumerable frustrating elements. I rage quit so hard I started going to the gym again.

Better than Prozac?

This blog is dedicated to all the beautiful, funny, stupid, entertaining, enjoyable and pretentious things that there are either in, or around, video games. 103 is enjoying rather modest success at the moment, and I would personally like to thank Jak for letting me write on it, and everyone who reads our articles. This article has been an honest, open discussion of my own feelings. And my conclusion? If you find yourself slipping, play “Resident Evil 6”, and die twenty times to an unfair QTE. Oh, and you should probably speak to a doctor if you are depressed.

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