WoW: My Mental Health

“It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.”
Carl Jung


WoW: My Mental Health

I didn’t know that there could be such a thing as video game addiction. Apparently, it is huge. There are treatment centers in many countries, including China which uses shock therapy. Ouch. I don’t want that. I don’t need to add any links, there is a ton of information via a simple Google search.

I am addicted to coffee too. I drink two cups every morning. I watch television too.

(Denial is the first voice of addiction, I bet)

The World Health Organization calls video game addiction a “disorder” and is pretty serious about it. Along with video games this also swings into internet surfing and cell phone usage. So, this is really real.

Oddly, my first concern when reading about this today was if playing video games can lead to earning the label of having a mental health issue as a disorder; could I put added to a data base that wouldn’t allow me to do certain things? Like buying a gun. I don’t want to buy a gun but this idea of a Mental Health Data Base as a tool or even a weapon feels very dangerous to me.

I am positive that if anyone is inserted into a Mental Health Data Base that they are never, never ever, going to be taken off of that list in their lifetimes.

And also, what about Blizzard with their intentional game design that encourages more and more play? The phrase “time spent” has been used by Mr. Watcher as the avenue to important rewards. What the hell! I would have thought that our friendly designers would be aware of mental health issues in gaming and would not deliberately steer the players down that dirty road.

From Wikipedia: Many video games, particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing games and social network and mobile games,[10] rely on a “compulsion loop” or “core loop”, a cycle of activities that involve rewarding the player and driving them to continue through another cycle, retaining them in the game.

Not cool.

Prior to learning all of this stuff, I read all about it this morning, I felt that playing WoW in the morning with a cup of coffee and using flight paths to read the news, e-mails and blogs as something kind of healthy. Engaged with many things on many levels, this would add to my good mental health!

Can doing pvp pet battles make you sick? Okay — that is a silly idea. Of course not.

Right?

I can, I think, feel it within myself. After playing a shoot-em-up game that is violent, I have zero urges to actually be violent outside of the game. I enjoy it when we cancel raid night and go read a book. Yes ma’am, I still read books every day. I don’t think that I’m addicted or have a disorder even though I blog on the game. The clues might be there but they don’t all add up to bad stuff.

Like Freud said when asked by his students if his addiction to tobacco was because of a phallic symbol, he said “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”. A game is a game and a rose is a rose is a rose.

13 thoughts on “WoW: My Mental Health

  1. Like many other behaviors, I think just playing a video game, even playing it regularly and for a lot of time per session, doesn’t necessarily qualify as addiction — you also have to look at how the time spent playing the game affects other areas of the person’s life.
    I ask myself sometimes, “Am I addicted to WoW?” After examining my daily activities, I usually come to the conclusion that I am more addicted to chocolate (50 – 70% cacao, please) than I am to WoW. I can shorten my playtime or delay when I log on to do other things. I can think “I do not have time for WoW tonight because I have to grade papers” and mean it — not log on at all because I have work to do. I have a lot harder time putting down or going without chocolate…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a fascinating topic that was in the news earlier this year, even – the World Health Organization is beginning to define a diagnosis for gaming disorder, and back in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association had proposed “internet gaming disorder” be added as a condition for further research to the DSM V. It is an interesting topic – a lot of gamers, including many friends of mine, see the idea of “gaming disorder” as a personal attack, and push back hard against the idea. There is also a lot of dispute about the physiological implications – the DSM V definition contained the idea of a similar physical response to that of addictive substances like heroin, which led a lot of people to complain of stigmatization.

    I think it is a discussion we need to have, and the WHO definition gets closer to what I would consider “accurate” for the idea – when you play games to the detriment of all other activities in life and things disintegrate around you as a result. I had my engagement fall apart because I was playing WoW instead of being an active participant in my life – and these days, while I play about the same amount of time, my life is pretty on-track and okay. I would define that first condition as addiction and the present-era as not-addicted, even though some could debate otherwise. I am willing and often do step away from the game to go to social events, engage in other activities, and get a healthy amount of sleep. Defining what gaming addiction looks like and when that is a correct diagnosis is a good step to treatment, which allows research to happen into the other theories like the production of dopamine and the like.

    And that’s without touching the developer’s own subtle and un-subtle psychological manipulations – like how loot boxes in Overwatch are animated and built to very specifically appeal to you subconsciously. For as much as I think well of Blizzard, some of the science used to make their games plant a deep hook can be viewed as insidious in a way.

    Sorry to dump a bunch in here, but I just shot a video on this topic a few days ago and it is one of the more interesting things I’ve looked into lately. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your reply.
      If I were to get defensive, I’d challenge any and all to try to turn off their televisions: it can’t be done.
      And there must be a prescription to medicinal marijuana to ease the pain of addiction joke in there too.
      It is an interesting topic but I don’t think it can be really discussed with out television as part of the conversation.

      Liked by 2 people

      • LOL, it’s considered progressive in Russia not to have television today πŸ™‚ It could be ok if it’s used as a bigger monitor to watch streamed or downloaded internet content, or as a monitor for playstation and whatever. But considering normal broadcasting, it’s mostly a thing for older people or dumber young people.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Game addiction is a big thing, and even causes deaths. There were reports how people died of fatigue after long sessions, and there was an awful story how a baby choked to death on its pillow lying on a stomach, while its young parents were playing for 12 hours in a row and never checked for its well being.

    Mostly these reports come from Asia – I think it’s due to their culture, the fascinating ability for industrious work during some insane stretch of time, and that is transferred to games as well. Did you know that Chinese version of WoW cuts your leveling experience 3 times after you’ve played 3 hours in a row? This is meant to encourage breaks in gameplay.

    My own checklist for addiction is this:

    1) Do you cancel planned activities / refuse to go to an event/vacation in favor of playing video games?
    What I mean is if you have tickets to sports/theatre/concert, or have a friends meeting, or invited to a party, or have a trip planned, and you just cancel to stay at home and play – which happens regularly.
    Note: taking a day off at expansion release day is not considered as such. For example, I’m taking a day off to play a gig with my band in another town, and that’s healthy, right? Important hobby events don’t qualify.

    2) Is it the only thing that you care about?
    Real game addicts (or any other addicts) get quickly bored in a random company – and everyone else is bored with them. If it’s the only thing you want to discuss, it’s trouble.

    3) Are you playing despite feeling odd and not well?
    If you’re hungry because you’ve missed your dinner two hours ago, if you’re feeling like shit all the time because you stay up every night and never get enough sleep, if you’re feeling fatigue but you can’t take a break – that’s trouble.

    4) Do you have trouble with your everyday life routines due to gaming?
    Personal hygiene, failing household chores, missing job, failing relationship qualify here.

    Blogging about video games is not addiction. On the contrary, it’s healthy. Video game serves as a fuel for your creativity – as it does for fan fiction, cosplaying, art and whatever possible. How could that be wrong? πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a good list of warning signs.
      By that list of warning signs, I fall into a much more addict-like state-of-brain when I am reading a novel than I do when I am playing WoW — and I’m aware of that, which is why I don’t allow myself to read novels very often anymore…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good topic. Yet a tough nut to crack. I have known people who never were social butterflies, but playing a MMO really did nothing good for them; they stopped working and just isolated themselves completely.

    All in moderation, but in some cases, I believe it can be damaging for their health to play these games – and push them over the edge to a point, where real life has less appeal than the virtual one.

    Sometimes I do wonder, what comes first, the chicken or the egg, if you know what I mean? For some, an MMO can give them a sense of belonging, if they are in a nice guild and such – and have trouble going out. But for others, it completely replaces their real life, and they just stop trying out there, because an MMO keeps them hooked.

    The fact, that Blizzard have hired psychologists to help develop their game really says something. I do not like it. But it is a business, much like any other, where consumers needs something, to stay hooked.

    I think MMOs compared to offline games are way worse, when it comes to addiction. Since the world is “alive and breathing” even when you are logged off.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yeah, I imagine that. I think both hubby and me are glad to have found a spouse who likes gaming.

        I remember back when I didn’t game (like 15 years ago or so) and I was in a relationship with a guy who did game. Gosh, the amount of times I just wanted to throw his computer out the window!

        I really did not grasp the idea back then – especially the “online” part of things. “Why can’t one just pause the game!?”. Hah. So oblivious back then, so young πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Anything can be an addiction if you allow it to control your life. I don’t play nearly as much as I once did, however, I do enjoy the time when I can play for a few hours and push all of my reality off to the side for a bit. I’d call gaming “escapism” more than an addiction.

    Liked by 1 person

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