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Please contact digital-culture umich. The print version of this book is available for sale from the University of Michigan Press. For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy. Having examined theoretical arguments about magic circles, performativity, and so on, this chapter, and the next two, take up broad themes of gaming that are part of academic discourse but also reach into wider arenas of conversation in the mass media and blogs and forums. I begin with the topic of addiction—a perennial favorite of the media and one which seems to crop up often when people ask me about video games.

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Many readers will have encountered the notion of video game addiction in newspaper and magazine s. Some may know players they believe to be addicted.

Players themselves speak of addiction. How exactly should we think about video game addiction? As discussed in chapter 3, Dewey characterized active aesthetic activity as comprised of pleasurable means, successive phases of activity ending in satisfying completion, and collective expression. The final feature Dewey ascribed to aesthetic activity may help us understand why discourse around video gaming includes the term addiction. Dewey argued that aesthetic activity requires balance and proportion— qualities that in some circumstances may readily be lost.

Dewey wrote:. There is an element of passion in all aesthetic [activity]. For these can be present only when.

Aesthetic activity may become overwhelming in circumstances of particular occasions and relations. Obviously, millions of people play video games and are not addicted. We must reach beyond the artifact of the game itself as an explanation for why some people play to excess.

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It is easy to forget this simple logic under the influence of sensationalism in media s that deliver dispatches on the shocking nature of video games: this player sat at his computer too long and keeled over, that one dropped out of school because he could not concentrate on his studies, another abandoned friends and family for the game see Chee and Smith ; Golub and Lingley Rettberg observed, tongue in cheek:. In media s, the video game itself is the malefactor. Societies appear to be subject, every now and then, to periods of moral panic.

A condition, episode, person, or group of persons, emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature World of warcraft lingerie presented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion by the mass media. Socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions. The notion of video game addiction followed this pattern precisely. In addition to stories produced by journalists and promulgated by mass media, credentialed experts came forth to denounce video games. Orzack, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, said that she believed 40 percent of World of Warcraft players were addicted quoted in Grohol Her declaration was widely reported in the media and contributed to the arousal of concern and disquiet about World of Warcraft and other video games.

For now, the AMA has stated that there is insufficient evidence to declare video gaming addictive Addiction However, its members proposed that the American Psychiatric Association assess whether such a diagnosis should be included in the version of the Manual. The authors found that players exhibiting problematic use scored low on measures of self-regulation. They argued that lack of self-regulation precedes problematic use of video games and that games themselves do not cause problematic use.

In a longitudinal survey study of video game users, the authors reported:. This seems to indicate that. This research supports the commonsense notion that problem players bring their problems to the game. As with most things that lead to addiction or problematic use such as alcohol or overeatinggenerally the need precedes the object rather than the object creating the need.

What do players themselves say about addiction?

The term is variably inflected in player discourse. Depending on context, it can be used humorously, to al membership in an in-group of players two related usesor to denote problematic use.

Mark: I have a really good friend in Germany who actually is another guy that I got into the game. This post from the Scarlet Raven website included a joke about playing WoW at work. For players, the term addiction was often used with a positive connotation. If players said they were addicted to WoW, it usually meant they had a deep connection to the game and were members of a group of people who understood its pleasures.

A video gamer could claim to be an addict, deliberately choosing a strong term to connote enjoyment of the game and its separation from ordinary activities. On the other hand, players recognized a pernicious side to excessive game play. They used the term addiction to describe players who spent too much time playing.

But some posters provided insights:. If you make game friends, [playing World of Warcraft ] is an easy way to waste hours. All of the human interaction for very low cost. And everyone looks so attractive and appealing.

Real life is full of faults. Real life is work, plain and simple. Apadwe n. This player offered up the same theory as games researchers who describe multiplayer games as third spaces like tree houses or bars Chee ; Steinkuehler and Williams ; Williams ; Williams et al.

It started with me not having any friends at school, so I got wow because I heard people on there were nice. When I made a bunch of friends I started skipping school to play and eventually failed school. My parents were always drinking and yelling at me and when they were drunk one day I got them to get me broadband.

All I did is play wow and eat but I tried to stop.

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I have also begun drinking alot while I play sometimes passing out at the keyboard. And I really want to get better with my life its just the game is so fun and really hard to quit. I play a male character because guys dont like me and think im ugly.

As with many stereotypes, there is a grain of truth informing the images and vocabulary the stereotype invokes—in this case the young person with huge problems who turns to a game for solace. I interviewed a clinical psychologist, Dr. Jane Kingston, who worked with clients whose use of video games fell into the problematic use category. She reported that problems with video games seem to be triggered by existing problems, as Seay and Kraut found, and that it can be difficult to break the cycle.

She described a wife who came to her for help because her husband brought his laptop computer to the social events they attended and played games. He did not see anything wrong with his actions.

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Kingston said the relationship between the two had been troubled. A high school student played WoW to the point of dropping out of school. Neither of his parents cared that he played WoW or that he had left school shades of the satire. Kingston observed that she was not sure, in this case, whether playing WoW was the worst thing the teen could have done.

He lived in an area in which marijuana was farmed and freely available, but he had not become a doper.

She noted that the lack of services to help the young man, whose parents chose to neglect him, meant that he was at risk for activities potentially more destructive than playing World of Warcraft. Problematic use of video games is sensible only in relation to other competing activities since gaming does not have drastic physical effects.

Addiction occurs when actions that produce a feeling of well-being and can be beneficial or benign under most circumstances drinking alcohol, gambling, exercise, sports supplant or threaten other vital human activities. A Chinese player said:.

When you quit everything for the game. The person gives up other things. If you give up a lot of things for the game, then you are addicted. The husband who took his computer to social outings, the boy who threw the console at his mother, the student who dropped out of school—all were clearly engaged in activities that lacked fitness for the occasion and situation.

Dewey wrote of the relations sustained by an act, denoting its relationship to the larger context of related activities. It is this relation that must be examined in assessing whether a set of actions is aesthetic or has overwhelmed us.

As Dewey theorized, aesthetic activity is potentially dangerous because of the very quality of passion it carries.

How do players manage this danger? I have encountered a few players who, in my opinion, played too much. It is undeniable that for some people World of Warcraft supplanted vital everyday activities. But more often I observed players self-regulating as Seay and Kraut described.

I suspended my last night, since school has reared its ugly head. I have to focus everything on bringing up my grades over the next month or so. Good luck, and hope to see you all around the forums! Kel observed that he was playing too much and it had affected his grades. The self-imposed consequence was suspension of his. He identified reward and punishment: he would suspend the and then reward himself in a month with renewed play if his grades improved.

To expand the notion of self-regulation, let us examine how it emerges in, and is shaped by, social activity. The very fact that Kel publicly posted this explanation of his actions is the first indication that his problems were not an isolated psychological phenomenon but an aspect of a shared community predicament. The community should be informed of, and involved in, his problems.