Video game addiction is now being recognized as a serious health risk

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Playing video games can be relaxing, or a way to ease the mind but students might not know that it can be addictive and cause blood clots in the brain or even death.

“Some teens might be predisposed to having addictive behaviors. Video games use various psychological mechanisms to make them fun and entertaining. They are designed and marketed to give players an enjoyable experience by providing goals, rewards, gratification and relaxation,” said Justin Sullivan, Professor of Game Development and Simulation at TJC.

According to addictionrecov.org, video game addiction is an impulse control disorder that does not involve use of an intoxicating drug and is similar to pathological gambling. Video game addiction has also been referred to as video game overuse, pathological or compulsive/excessive use of computer games and/or video games.

“I think it’s very important for students to cope with stress but I also encourage anyone with any kind of addiction to seek help,” said Sullivan.

Many students may play video games to use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the Internet, as a substitution for real-life human connection, which they are unable to achieve normally. According to video-game-addiction.org, video games are becoming increasingly complex, detailed, and compelling to a growing international audience of players. With better graphics, more realistic characters, and greater strategic challenges, it’s not surprising that some teens would rather play the latest video game than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch television.

“I play video games whenever I have time and don’t have anything to do. Playing video games can be a way to relax and get away from the real world,” said freshman Christian Chester.

According to Video-game-addiction.org some people become addicted to gaming because they use it to self-medicate. When confronted with situations or feelings that are uncomfortable (feeling sad, arguing with a friend, or getting a bad grade), the person may “hide” in the game as a method of avoidance.

“I play video games five to seven days a week but I stop playing at 6 p.m. to go do my homework or other important things. When I do play I like to escape from the world and you can also meet people on video games to play them,” said sophomore Quest Washington.

Students who are addicted and have problems staying off the controller can get help at therapistspsychologytoday.com.

“World of Warcraft” is the most popular massive multi-player online roleplaying game on the planet (MMORPG). It has been jokingly dubbed as ‘the relationship killer,’ in the gaming community.

However, it is also the most commonly cited example of video game addiction in popular culture. Various groups have popped up to help combat addiction to the game, such as WoWDetox.org and WoWaholics.org, which are volunteer run communities dedicated to helping former gamers turn their lives around. They function much the same as recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or NarcAnon.

World of Warcraft’s developer, Blizzard Entertainment, has even gone so far as to issue statements about the addictive nature of their games and taken steps to help alleviate triggers, according to a 2012 interview with CNN regarding the surge of health issues linked to its games.

Nintendo also has taken steps to battle addiction by having in-game reminders asking “Why Not Take a Break?” in many of their games, including the best selling Wii Sports.

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