So here we go again – more reasons why I might be failing out of school.
Reason #2: Video Games.
“Great… a follow up from the last post… Angie’s got to be telling us that she’s failing out of school this time because she spends too much time playing video games…”
Unfortunately… Yea. That’s pretty much the case. But let me take a stab at explaining why that might be. First things first, however, let me point out that when I talk about video games here, I’m talking about PC games (games that are played on a computer), and not console games (games that are played on a console such as an Xbox, Playstation, or Wii). While console games are also very fun, the basis for its addictive nature is different from PC games – for example, many PC games are multiplayer online games with no predefined endings (there’s no “beating” these games), whereas many console games are games intended for solo-play, following a story-line that can be completed.
In any case, here it is – my list of excuses for being addicted to video games:
Excuse #1: Feelings of Confidence, Accomplishment & Self-Worth.
I think this excuse is pretty straight-forward, and is the basis for many of the other excuses. Unlike many goals in life which may take months or even years to achieve, video game goals are much easier to complete. As Video-Game-Addiction.org puts it, simple things like “beating the level”, or “beating the high score” can get you hooked, as completing these little tasks will generate feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment. Moreover, since the majority of PC games are MMO’s (massive multiplayer online games), this offers gamers the chance to compete and compare themselves with other gamers, which helps to generate feelings of confidence and self-worth, as there will always be someone who is newer to the game (or is simply worse at the game) than you. Feelings of self-worth can be further compounded by the way in which games will always portray you as a hero – someone of importance. I mean, try playing this heroic theme song in the background as you merely run downstairs to grab a snack from the fridge. This song belongs to Riot Games Inc., who owns League of Legends, but it is similar to a lot of the battle music which plays in the background of many other video games – it’s so epic it actually makes your mundane task seem important, and makes you feel heroic!
Regardless, I must admit that personally, being the competitive dork that I am, it is the feelings of accomplishment from winning (i.e. simply being better than someone else) that keeps me playing.
Excuse #2: Game-Makers Are A**holes.
Okay, so this one’s a bit of a stretch, but I’m sure many gamers out there will agree upon this sentiment. Game-makers are evil – they make a living off of their games’ players, so they want us to be addicted to their games. Now obviously, no gamer is dumb enough to be straight-up addicted to a game because its makers are cold-hearted, money-stealing, jerks – what we are actually addicted to, (back to Excuse #1) again, is our feelings of accomplishment and self-worth. We play a game to get good at it, so that we can feel good about ourselves. And the game-makers know this. And they play us on it in two different ways to keep us online:
- Though many of these games advertise themselves as being free-to-play, what they forget to mention, is that the game is actually free-to-play, and pay-to-win. That is, you can play the game for free, but if you want to get any good weapons or items in the game, you’ll either have to pay with real money, or play for weeks to get the same thing others could have gotten in seconds with a credit card. And even if you opt to play for a few weeks, by the time you get one in-game item, the wealthy would already have purchased three or four items. So essentially, you can either pay for your
freegame now, or if you’re like me, you can stay online for a few weeks (and probably wind up paying for something else later).
- Again, since games thrive by making money off of its players, game-makers want you to be constantly playing their game. So what better way to do that, than implementing a system in which loyal players are rewarded, and unfaithful players are punished? Many games nowadays have systems in which they actually give you bonus items for logging in everyday for an entire week – and these items will, in turn, give you a significant advantage over the (unfaithful) players who don’t have this item. Other games (like the ones I play), will even go as far as to punish players for being away, by, for example, making your score (or your rank, or your amount of in-game currency) decrease exponentially for every week of inactivity. Moreover, as Dr. Conrad (clinical psychologist for tech-addiction) puts it: “the virtual world continues to evolve even if the player is not online”. That is, players will fall behind by being away. So if you want to get good at a game, you better stick around.
Excuse #3: Social Connections
There are actually two reasons why social connections could easily get someone addicted to a video game. First of all, where shy and socially-awkward individuals may struggle to establish social connections in the real world, the virtual world offers you a virtual character to hide behind, thereby giving you a chance to establish the social connections you couldn’t obtain in person (Novotney, 2012; Conrad, 2013).
Second, many video games encourage team play to achieve common goals – this often establishes a sense of team commitment, and thus a sense of responsibility for remaining loyal to your team (i.e. you need to stick around to help the team progress) (Conrad, 2013).
Excuse #4: Escape from Reality & Feeling In Control
Since virtual games allow you to hide your less-spectacular self behind your virtual character, what better way to get you addicted to a game than to make you fall in love with your character? Many games nowadays offer you the option of personalizing your characters to make them look just the way you want them to. By day, an average gal with glasses, frizzy hair, and braces, but by night (i.e. online), a sexy, dragon-slaying elf girl with long blonde hair, and un-proportionately large boobs! Or maybe elves aren’t really your thing, and you’d rather be a gorgeous red-headed, leather-clad assassin (with an equally, un-proportionately large chest). Or maybe you’d like to be a fox girl? Or a robo-chick? This is just four, out of hundreds of other options. What are you in the mood for today?
Point is, you’re in control. You choose what you want to be, and if it doesn’t work out, deaths are never permanent in games anyway. You’ll re-spawn in a second. Or you can restart and make a new character. So rest easy. Go ahead and feel good about your sexy self when strolling out into your virtual battlefield.
Excuse #5: Real World Rewards
This one’s got to be the most obnoxious excuse of them all – the fact that it’s actually possible to gain real world rewards for playing video games. World-wide tournaments for e-sports (electronic sports – i.e. competitive video gaming) actually offer top players a chance at fame, money, and/or sponsorship agreements (i.e. free computers, or other tech items) from leading gaming tech companies. And truth is, this idea is incredibly appealing to us gamers – who wouldn’t want to be paid for playing a game they love? And don’t go dismissing these world-wide tournaments as small little nerd-gatherings either – you’d be surprised at how large the gaming industry is! Check out the opening ceremony for the League of Legends Season 2 World Finals:
Point is, the fact that people can make money off of a game (as unlikely as it is), can be a very strong drive for people to spend more time online, and get good at their games.
For a better perspective of some of these excuses that I’d mentioned, try checking out this video, which was made by an addicted, World Of Warcraft player:
So there we have it. Between all these reasons, how could a girl not get addicted? Gaming feeds my needs for feelings of confidence, control, accomplishment, and social connectedness. And maybe if I play long enough, I’ll even become the first female gamer to make it to the big leagues. Hah! So if you really think about it, a video-game-addiction is really no different from facebook-obsession – in the end, everyone is just addicted to attention.
For more information about other causes for video game addictions, check out Dr. Conrad’s list of 15 reasons, here.
Conrad, B. (2013). Why are video games addictive?. TechAddiction. http://www.techaddiction.ca/why_are_video_games_addictive.html
Novotney, A. (2012). R U Friends 4 Real? American Psychological Association. 43(2): 62. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/02/friends.aspx
Video Game Addiction. (2012). What makes a video game addictive?. CRC Health Group. http://www.video-game-addiction.org/