Videogames has become a big part of our society today. People use it as entertainment, while they are unaware of how hooked they actually are. Of course not everyone who tries a videogame gets addicted, but stunningly 8.5 percent of the youth living in the U.S. today are addicted to videogames (Griffin McElroy, 2009). Why does videogames have such a big affect on us, compared to books and movies?
Lets take the game “Civilization” as an example. You only get one task: Create your own civilization. It seems simple in the beginning. But suddenly, you are the master. You are responsible for the outcome of all the cities that you made, if they go to war, if they starve or if they are happy. You can even build your own Taj Mahal. Everything is possible, inside this screen of yours. You feel the sense of accomplishment because of the progress you are making. A lot of games are actually made so you will not know when you are getting your next reward, because the player will be less motivated to play when they know it’s a long time to their next accomplishment. In Civilization 4 there is always a new goal to acchieve at every turn: Discovery of a new technology, the building of a new city or even opening a new foreign trade route.
Games have a lot different qualities that make them so addictive. Compared to books and movies you can choose what happens next in videogames, this satisfies the human need for control. Of course every human being is different, with different varieties of desire for control. This is one of the reasons why certain people are more exposed to addiction of all sorts, especially videogame-addiction.
Non-pathological gamers between 8 and 18 spends nearly 15 hours a week on videogames, and studies made by US National Library of Medicine shows that pathological players spend twice as much time in front of their screens than the others. People who are addicted to these kinds of games often have an underlying problem that most likely is the reason for their addiction. Bullying, depression, anxiety and social phobia are some examples of problems that the pathological player can have.
Digital games also have a social side. World of Warcraft for example, which is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game.) Currently, WoW has around 11 million active accounts, which makes it unbelievably easy to make new online “friends”. In this game you can join guilds, do raids, or just walk around in this enormous playing field. When someone is for instance getting bullied its easier to rely on online-friends, instead of real people.
Real life doesn’t have much to compete with when a dyslectic boy who is unpopular in school, can be a mighty Warrior in World of Warcraft. The road is short from being a hero to making gameplaying an easy solution to deal with your real-life problems. Overuse of computer games can be a symptom of something more serious, and it becomes very hard to treat it in real life when the person is already self-medicating with games where they can escape reality.
The addictiveness of computer games is based on a lot of different factors. Even though you can escape from you real life in books and movies, it is easier to escape from reality in videogames. It can become kind of your “second life” because of all the choices you have to make in order to progress. Another factor that doesn’t occur in books and movies are the friends you make. You can find fanbases to bond with over books, but you wont get as tight with each other as when you go on a raid together for example. But the common ground is that they want to escape from something in their real life.
The Economist Newspaper Limited: “What makes videogames so addictive?” (2014):
U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Pathological video-game use among youth ages 8 to 18: a national study” (2009):
AOL Inc: “8.5 percent of U.S. youth addicted to videogames, study finds” (2009):
Written by Ingeborg Monsen 1STA