This past Sunday I read an article in the newspaper about a video game addiction center opening in Amsterdam.
Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants have created Game Zone Center, an “outdoor gaming treatment camp”, to help people with a video game addiction.
I am not going to claim that there is no such thing. In fact, I think it makes sense that there are people who have a serious addiction problem with video games since there are addictions to a number of other things. I take issue with the following statement:
The participants will gain true self esteem by spending 2 weeks in a team of real people, achieving real goals and having real fun!
That statement bothers me because it sounds too much like the uninformed statements I’ve heard from people in high school and college. “Why don’t you put down the controller and get a life?” or “Why don’t you go out and hang out with real people?”
To a lot of those people, going out smoking and drinking with friends until you get sick is healthier social time than LAN parties. They were not exactly the kind of people I wanted to use as role models. Besides, not all games involve solitary confinement, especially not today. Even the single player games can get communities of players talking to each other. It may sound like I am stretching the truth to make a terrible point, but I’m serious. Playing video games does not require cutting yourself off from the real world.
I don’t really know how to talk about “real goals” since I do not know what they mean. Video games involve goal-setting, and accomplishment of those goals can provide a very satisfying feeling. It does not compare to life accomplishments, such as getting a new job or winning a championship soccer match, but it isn’t as if video games promote inferior goal-setting techniques. I would argue experienced video game players are the ones most likely to create great goals for themselves. They know that if they set out to acheive something, whether in a game or not, they can do it if they attempt it. They’re the ones getting the experience of trying, failing, and trying again.
Video games are real fun. I’m sure that the clinic will offer their own enjoyable activities, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that I think sports are a lot of fun. I just don’t see how playing a simulation of a sport or any other type of game disqualifies it as “real” fun. Tell a bunch of people playing Super Smash Bros Melee or Guitar Hero in the living room that the fun they are having isn’t real. Tell them that it doesn’t count unless they are actually playing guitar or having epic martial arts matches. I’m sure it will be a real eye-opener and they’ll change their ways.
I don’t know nearly enough about the subject to talk about the addiction problem. I’m sure it is a real problem, and those suffering with it will need the help that such a clinic can provide. That issue is not what I am talking about. I simply don’t appreciate the sentiment that video games are the enemy of normal, healthy, and socially acceptable people. Not to get too dramatic, but I’m waiting for someone to say,”Well, have you ever tried not being a video game player?”