Saturday, March 10, 2012
Looking in Through the One Way Mirror
Writing about gaming addictions has proved to be the biggest writing challenge I have ever faced. I must admit that I learned a lot about myself and my husband while on this excursion. Part of the difficulties of writing a piece on this addiction was that it was very personal to Tom. My concerns were for his feelings and at times what I felt was appropriate, Tom felt it wasn’t and had crossed the line. This piece will actually be the perspective of the outsider... my viewpoint of gaming addiction. Tom will be assisting me on the next article which will be his perspective of the subject.
Having said that, I will jump right into this by saying I believe the activity level in his brain is not the same as mine, nor is his thought process. The experts have dubbed technology addiction as Popcorn Brain. From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed more to me like spaghetti brain, as I felt like his thoughts were intertwined.
I was also surprised to see that I was at a loss for words for the first time in my life. I am the one person who is never at a loss for words! I began to wonder if he was the norm, and it was my thoughts that were actually tangled. Through all of my research, however, I decided there was no right or wrong. There were only differences in the area of activity in our brains.
I have spoken of my brain being a mangled mess from life’s experiences, but after seeing how his brain worked, I saw my brain like that of a Catholic Nun with the cleanest closet in the world. In the long run, however, I decided that it was the outsiders, the non-gamers, who just did not understand the thoughts and desires of gaming addicts.
Gaming addiction is a new problem that has moms, dads, husbands, wives and even employers perplexed and at a loss for a solution. One reason for the severity of the problem is the impressive amount of technology right at our fingertips. Ten years ago, employers, for example, would just block the internet except the sites that had been approved by the big boss. Today, you are looking at computers, notebooks, and cell phones, all capable of internet connectivity and distraction.
Initially, (and to some degree many still believe this) non-gamers looked down on gamers assuming they were lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, and often drug and alcohol addicts. This thought process seems to be evolving as lawyers, doctors, and scientists have joined the realm of WOW or Call of Duty. One look around and men in suits are seen becoming angry with Angry Birds.
It seems that doctors, therapists, and neuroscientists have had to return to their drawing boards to discover the drive behind gaming addictions. What exactly is the push? What compels these typically hard working gamers to sit at a desk for sixteen hours on end avoiding their priorities such as their family, friends, and work places? My sources have told me that games have been developed with just the right ingredients to hook players. What is that ingredient?
In a word, progression! As you move forward you are gaining something you desire such as stronger weapons, or better armor. It is these rewards that keep gamers going and make them want to keep playing. These rewards go hand in hand with instant gratification. Scientists have discovered that inside the brain, there is a release of dopamine. This is the pleasure region of the brain and it drives gamers to continue. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0)
Until I began this article, my perception of gamers was stereotypical. I assumed, like many others, that these personality types were undisciplined, unmotivated and selfish, worrying only about their games.
With my husband, I also felt his thoughts were ADD related. I had to wonder if this was genetic? Was he born with this type of thinking? Or, was this caused by gaming? Maybe one just intensified the other! All I knew for sure was we both found it difficult to have a mutually rewarding conversation. His thoughts many times were on games, even when he was not playing.
As for his gaming, I have to admit I am a typical enabler who made justifications for the amount of time he spent playing. “He works thirteen hour days“ I told people. “He deserves all the time he wishes to play”. My job is to run everything else and how dare I ask him to help me with anything. His schedule is hard enough as it is! Actually, in many ways I preferred it that way. I stay out of his way and he stays out of mine. With me having attachment issues, this is perfect, I thought.
Emotionally, my only demand of Tom was he spend time with the kids. As an adult, I could handle a lifestyle that was conducive to a single person, and like I said, I preferred it that way. The kids on the other hand, are another story. I was not, nor will I ever be, willing to compromise.
In the end, I see gaming as a much more serious problem than I ever had. In my opinion, and apparently that of professionals as well, I see gaming addiction no different than cocaine, nicotine, or gambling addictions. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/video-game-addiction-no-fun
Gamers are not lazy, uneducated druggies. Gamers are addicts. I am glad to have tackled what seemed to be the most difficult writing assignment I have ever engaged in. I have learned that we must accept gaming addiction for what it is and be willing to spend the time and money to rehabilitate gamers, just as we would alcoholics and other addicts.