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Internet Gaming Addiction Essay

“So, how was your weekend? ” one worker asks another. “It was amazing,” the other responds, “My girlfriend and I found a spot on the top of a small hill and talked as we watched the sun set. Then we went to a bar and watched a local entertainer, we had a couple of drinks and spent the night meeting all sorts of interesting people. ” “That sounds nice,” the first worker replies, “Which bar did you go to? ” “It was a cantina on the planet Corellia. The entertainer was really helpful. We then took my new star-cruiser to join with a group of people who were off to fight the Rancor.

That took a really long time, and we had to return to the cantina in shifts in order to use the entertainer to heal, but we finally took the monster down. I got quite a bit of experience for that one. (This is such a great shocker, illustrating the difference between real life and a game and the way the two blur in many people’s minds! ) Man what a busy weekend. That was only part of the first night,” the second worker explains. He is visibly excited, and continues to explain more events in detail, all of which of the game. “Wait a minute,” the first worker interrupts, “You mean that you watched the sunset with your girlfriend in a game?

” “Of course,” responds the second, “She is a Rodian bounty hunter from the planet Tatooine . I think she lives in Brazil in real life. Anyway…” He resumes his story where he was prior to the interruption, detailing the events of his entire weekend. The majority of his weekend it seems has been spent playing a popular on-line computer game based on the Star Wars universe. The exchange above is a small illustration of a steadily growing population of people whose social experiences and interactions take place almost exclusively on the internet, inside virtual game worlds.

The widespread availability and use of the internet has allowed people access to communication with anyone else on the planet. As with any other powerful tool however, its use is prone to abuse. Numerous studies have been performed on the addictive nature of the internet and some of its uses and applications. “Surfing” on the internet, chat rooms and messaging services, and Multi User Domains all have documented cases of addiction that display many of the negative aspects associated with substance abuse, minus chemical dependency.

(This shows great use of fact to cement your point of view, rather than quoting widespread opinion. ) Video games like the ones mentioned above, commonly referred to as MMORPG’s or Massive Multi-player On-line Role Playing Games, are hugely popular and are one of the newest forms of on-line interaction prone to habitual use. (Good statement, but maybe a good place for a new paragraph to help follow along? ) What was once thought of as a harmless past-time may be more dangerous than many realize. (Good use of shocking language.

) The reasons behind the addictive behavior these kinds of games can induce lie in the rewarding social experiences and sense of accomplishment offered to otherwise introverted people, a sense of anonymity or alternate identity that serves to boost self esteem, and they seem to offer escape from the often depressing everyday life the addicted individuals feel they are trapped inside. (This is a good statement, but how do you know? Is this opinion, or something that’s been quoted? ) Multi User Domains, commonly referred to as MUD’s, are text based fantasy realms that play like an interactive novel and are populated by user created characters.

As these characters, players complete quests, fight “monsters”, and collect weapons and items in order to become wealthier and stronger. With the advent of 3D graphics and larger servers, this type of medium expanded and improved, providing a much richer environment and the ability to support many more users at one time. These games came to be called MMORPG’s and have become exceedingly popular because they offer much more variety and detail, offering the same level of open ended game play that evolves as much as the characters the players create.

For example World of Warcraft, a hugely popular MMORPG, just gained its 10 millionth subscriber as of 2008. This is roughly half of the population of Australia. These games run continuously and are accessible by people from all over the world, making them change and grow all the time. This, along with the experience accrual and monetary system keeps players playing longer and more frequently, as they are constantly being rewarded for their dedication. Peer pressure from other players may also play a role in increased playing time, as the forming of groups is often encouraged and sometimes necessary to accomplish the more advanced goals.

These types of games have a much higher rate of addiction and abuse than do video games that are not of the dynamic multi-player variety. In a study performed by Peter Wiemer-Hastings, PhD, and Brian D. Ng, M. S. published in the CyberPsychology and Behavior journal, they found that the majority of the players of non-MMORPG played an average of 1-6 hours per week. The majority of the players of MMORPG are on the other hand played on an average of 11-40 hours per week, and 11% of those studied played 40 hours or more per week.

The players of MMORPG’s also had tendencies of playing for long stretches, up to 8 hours at a time, and had reported losing sleep because of their playing habits. The study also asked a series of questions regarding the social behaviors of the two distinct groups of players. The answers indicated that “MMORPG users would rather spend time in the game than with friends, have more fun with in-game friends than people they know, found it easier to converse with people while in-game, did not find social relationships as important, and felt happier when in the game than anywhere else.

” (Wiemer-Hastings and Ng) Playing habits with this level of dedication, especially when approaching the 40 hour dedication level, is almost certain to have negative impacts on the person’s personal life. Playing games this frequently is akin to working a full time job. This leaves little time for other activities or social interactions, especially when the dedicated player has an actual full time job or is a full time student. This can lead to an increasingly fractured personal social life and many who are introverted or less confident may begin to seek the entirety of their social outlets in a virtual world.

These types of introverted people often find the anonymity and alternate identity appealing, as it offers them an escape. It gives them the ability to be anyone they wish for the time that they are playing, often times consuming much of the players’ real lives. Another popular game that shares many common themes and ideas with the MMORPG type of games, Second Life, is a 3D virtual world populated by players who create alternate identities to socialize with online.

The player creates the way he or she would like to appear in the game, can purchase land and houses for their character to reside, and are free to do in the game world as they wish. Characters can shop and socialize as they would in the real world, all safely behind an alternate identity. Mediums such as these may be useful, as many institutions have begun experimenting with using them in group sessions and for distance instruction, as it can prove to be a more personal means of communication than traditional distance learning techniques.

However, people who may struggle with traditional social interaction or who have a low self esteem may begin to find this type of interaction to be a complete substitute. This can lead to habitual and addictive use which may lead to the same problems in the individual’s everyday life that are often seen with the addiction to the MMORPG’s. (What problems, specifically? Do marriages end? Are jobs lost? This sounds a little vague and leaves me feeling like the argument is a little shaky. ) Many who have become to be dependent on their on-line social life may begin to lie to loved or become defensive about their frequency of use.

One study indicated that marriage and dating relationships were effected the greatest when addictive computer game usage is present. “Dependents neglected their spouses in place of rendezvous with electronic lovers, leaving no quality time for their marriages. Finally, Dependents continued to emotionally and socially withdraw from their marriages, exerting more effort to maintain recently discovered on-line relationships. ” (Young) The study also found that “Despite the negative consequences reported among Dependents, 54% had no desire to cut down the amount of time they spent on-line.

” (Young) This lack of a desire to change this habitual behavior serves to illustrate the level of dedication and addiction possible in the use of these avenues of entertainment. As the addiction begins to involve larger portions of an individual’s life, damaging their professional and romantic relationships, often times depression can result. This brings us to the third possible cause for gaming addiction, escapism. The nature of these types of games present the player with the ability to play a character as close to or as far away from their own personality type and gender as they choose.

They are given the ability to reinvent themselves entirely, to live out their every fantasy. As the players progress through the game, accomplishing quests and gaining experience points, they are receiving a sense of accomplishment. Individuals who have trouble approaching the opposite sex in their real lives can do so with the confidence that anonymity gives them. It may also give individuals who are depressed a reprieve from what they dislike about their lives. The more time the player spends in the game, the more this behavior is reinforced.

As the playing time increases, the issues in their daily lives worsen until most of the players waking hours are spent hiding in the virtual world. As previously mentioned, these MMORPG style games excel at creating a believable and enjoyable fantasy world. There are games that cater many different genres and the developers have gone to great lengths to ensure that all personality types and playing styles have options to keep gamers enticed. The incremental increases to stature and abilities within the game serve to keep interest level high.

The developers are continuously developing more quests and new game areas to explore, ensuring that the players will always have more to come back to. What was once seen as a harmless past-time may become the next focus of support group therapy. Review This is an excellent and well thought out argument pointing out the fact that online gaming has begun to steadily replace reality for many people. The author supports most of their arguments with facts gleaned from studies, and there is little to no feeling of personal preference here.

The only areas where the information seems to draw from personal experience rather than supported fact are the reasons and the potential results behind large quantities of gaming. Otherwise, this argument is very well written and well supported. Works Cited Wiemer-Hastings, Peter and Brian D. Ng. “Addiction to the Internet and Online Gaming. ” CyberPsychology and Behavior 8. 2 (2005): 110-113. Young, Kimberly S. “Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Clinical Disorder. ” CyberPsychology and Behavior 1. 3 (1996): 237-244.


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