Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Review: Game Addiction

So I've been picking up books in the library faster than I can read them. One of those that I've actually finished is Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects by Neils Clark and P. Shavaun Scott. Surprisingly, instead of auto-launching into a diatribe on the eeeeevilness of games and how they are destroying the minds of our young, they manage to neutrally examine how gaming has affected everyone in the modern world who isn't currently growing up under a rock, from Facebook to World of Warcraft, and how this change isn't so much evil as different.

I appreciate how they handle the issue of gaming addiction--who among us doesn't know someone who abandoned all "real life" to sit in front of a screen and battle with pixels? While many RPGs have this problem inherently built into them that there are no obvious breakpoints, it comes down to some people having a more addictive personality than others, and what works for one person may not work for another. One person may sit down with Tetris and not leave the screen for six hours, while another person has no problem walking away when something else needs to be done.

I think many people (gamers and nongamers alike) need to realize that the pixelated avatars they are interacting with are real people too. It may be easy to lose sight of this and think of those other things moving around on your screen as sophisticated NPCs, but the fact remains that you should treat people online the way you do in real life. Also, that you shouldn't sacrifice your out-of-game life for your ingame life. It took me awhile after I first started gaming, but I have made a rule: "Am I not doing something I should be doing in real life for this game?" If so, it's time to set aside the game until the real life things are done. Not that I'm even perfect at this, but I'm better than I used to be. I don't mean that you should necessarily set aside gaming as your means of recreation. If gaming is something you enjoy, you should keep doing it. However, if your homework isn't getting done or you're calling in sick to work to play the game, you need to gain some perspective.

In short, I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the whys, hows, and wherefores of gaming addiction, as well as for people who want to demystify the possibly foreign world of gaming and how it has become integrated into our culture.

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