I just want to say this first and foremost before I get into anything else. I am a gamer. I own practically every Final Fantasy from the main series, Halo 1 and 2, Sims 2 and 3, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Spore, and countless others. I own a pretty good gaming laptop, Xbox 360, Playstation 2, PSP, DS Lite, and a couple others. I feel as if I do not have a biased against video games. I am not a girl that spends her money on shoes and dying my hair and then wonders how anyone could like video games.
I know why people like video games. I am a gamer. But there is a difference between being a gamer, and being in love with your games.
So I am going to give you a first hand look on multiple real life situations I have seen in my life of how gaming is either beginning to destroy, or has destroyed lives.
The Gaming Child
This kid is conditioned to be a gamer by the parents. There are many parents out there that don’t spend time with their kids and instead buy them any game their kid wants. If the kid does chore, they are given an allowance and that allowance turns into more games. For Christmas the child makes a list of things they want, and every thing they get that year is games.
Instead of going fishing with their father, or baking cookies with their mom on a Saturday morning, the five year old will be plugged into the TV and left alone. I most certainly think it’s okay to let your child play games, but often parents don’t even connect or talk to their child or even try to find other ways to entertain them. They use games as their sole tool. And if the kid is getting bored, they just buy them a new one.
What happens to these kids in the end? Well, I have seen this scenario first hand. The child will eventually get older and have troubles communicating with people their own age unless they are somehow attached to technology.
The only friends they will ever know how to make, are ones connected to a video game. This could be either in an online game, or it could be just as simple as the only friends they make are friends that play games. Their role models, are gamers.
I have seen such instances where a child will be verbally abused by other people, and mistreated in various forms, but they latch to them for dear life because they idolize them by their gaming skills. They always win that round of Smash Brothers or Halo, and in turn it doesn’t matter if they are successful in life or are good to other people. The life lesson they are pulling out of here is that if they only care about games, someday they will be as good as them.
The child doesn’t like the non-gamer. You could be one of the most courteous and kind person and it does not matter. If you just as even hint that the video games should be shut off for a short amount of time, or if you do not idolize their role model gamer as a god as they do, you are frowned upon and disrespected by that such child.
Every teenager goes through their disrespect years of mouthing off and rolling their eyes. But the child conditioned to be in love with their games, they will be against any person that isn’t part of their gaming world. If you are neutral and say nothing, you are okay. Eventually this mouthing off and disrespect towards the anti-gamer leads into adulthood. And that’s where the real problems are.
The Gaming Adult
Now the gamer is an adult. He finds himself unable to move out of his parent’s house. He spends countless hours in his room or basement playing. His parents try to do the right thing by letting him live rent free until he finds a job. Some do, and it is quite possible. But many who do find a job, only find jobs that will only give him or her part time work so that they have plenty of gaming time.
For the addicted gamer who actually goes to college and perhaps even moves in with roommates, he will more than likely just move in with other roommates exactly like him. After all, he does not know how to mingle and coexist with other people who do not game as well.
Any girlfriend (or boyfriend in some cases) that shows up and becomes angry over constant 24/7 gaming parties is frowned upon and seen as a “crazy.” People who are addicted to gaming really can’t see that people on the outside of it as “good” people unless they either 1) say nothing against the video games or 2) join in on the gaming. Often times in the early stages of relationships and colleges, the addicted gamer will not realize the real significance of getting dumped or losing relationships over the video games.
They will see that lost relationship as a relief and a weight off their shoulders so that they can continue their gaming, “stress free”. Their friends will praise them for the end of the relationship. Their LAN parties, late nights of Halo will move on, Mountain Dew and chips will be restocked once again, and the gamer will feel complete happiness once again getting their fix.
This is all just from what I have seen in my college days. I have seen even simple friends disappear because the friend grew up and decided to do other things besides game. And the addicted gamer will be resentful to that friend for not wanting to come over and game.
I have also seen plenty of gamers continue those toxic relationships that they had back in their childhood years. They will have flaky friends, ones that talk bad about them, ones that are not ever their for them, and ones that even insult them to their face. But they see this person as a true friend, because of all the fun they have while gaming. Every ill act towards them seems to be forgotten as long as they continue to play, the game.
Many people do not find their gaming addiction through their childhood or young adult life. Some find it farther into their life, even in their thirties and forties.
The Married Gamer
This one I have not had that close of an encounter to as the other situations, but I have looked on afar from this situation.
I have seen men who will sit on their computers playing an online game for an easy eight hours on a Saturday afternoon. Many wives must be going to bed alone and wake up at 1am alone, not because he’s out drinking and cheating but because he’s gaming. Often times people argue, “I’d rather have him at home gaming then out drinking.”
That is a reasonable argument and I can some what agree with this statement. But some husbands are actually there in mind and spirit while gaming as well. They can play their games and carry on a meaningful conversation. Some perhaps still won’t play until after family supper time. Maybe some just play late at night and that’s it. But there are some that completely shut out. It’s as if they aren’t even there. You can try talking to them, but it’ll be no use. They can’t hear you. They’re listening to sound effects on the computer.
I have seen several marriages end over video games. This is probably the same kind of scenario as divorces over alcohol and gambling.
Any kind of an addiction is toxic. It is toxic to other relationships, to your jobs, to your marriages. These men are living in one bedrooms alone, gaming still. But their children are gone. Their house is sold. Their dogs and cats were given to the humane society. All for…Soul Calibur? For Halo? World of Warcraft?
These men and women can be good people deep down. There was a reason they got married in the first place. They may not cheat, or lie about finances, or abuse their significant other. They probably hardly spend money on anything other than $50 a month on either a new game, or an online game subscription. Perhaps once in a while they’ll buy a $200 monitor for their computer, or the latest console. But lots of husband will spend money on a new fishing pole, or a boat, or booze for a weekend with the guys. But it’s not about how you spend your money. It’s how much those “toys” occupy you mentally.
Perhaps one day this article will get linked on a gaming forum, and addicted gamers will flame the forum with hateful remarks. Perhaps the people I know, who are addicted gamers will find this and think that I am a “crazy woman” for writing this. Yes, because life without games is crazy, isn’t it. Requesting it to not be a “boys night” or a “gaming night” is just crazy of me: that was sarcasm for those that don’t know me well.
This article is not for the gamers out there. I’m a gamer, and chances are you know someone out there that enjoys Rock Band 2 as much as I do. When Sims 3 came out, all my girlfriends flocked to the stores as if a designer purse went on sale. That’s not the type of thing I’m talking about.
Gaming addiction is quite real. Their friendships, marriages, and family will come and go and they won’t even notice. As long as they have someone to play a game with, they are happy. As long as their Xbox doesn’t give them the red ring error, and their computer doesn’t fry they are good. They will idolize the winners of a gaming tournament, and resent the caring and honest people out there that dare call their addiction just as bad as alcoholism. They will call all their friends’ wives, girlfriends, and sisters who stand in front of the TV and say, “For once this week, shut that thing off” a ‘crazy psycho’ And you have to really feel sorry for these people. Because they have a real addiction. They don’t know anything outside of the television.
They won’t know what it’s like to take their family on a picnic to the beach on a Saturday and be completely content that there is no technology around them. They won’t know what it’s like to be living in their own house, and not living in their buddies or mother’s basement or on his couch, with a beautiful wife that he can go off traveling with.
That child won’t know what it’s like to have parents that teach them about life and friendships, but instead parents that leave them to games. That child can’t distinguish between a good person, and toxic relationships because they were never taught. All they know is video games.
This isn’t an article about dissing games. I think video games are good for the economy, and can be used as a learning tool, and also a fun way to connect with friends. I have had my share of parties that turn into a bunch of friends taking turns on Rock Band.
It’s just like how gambling can be fun from time to time. Dropping $40 in the slots on a random Sunday afternoon, or buying a lottery ticket once a week is one thing. But losing your house and family over blowing all your savings and maxing your credit cards over gambling is another.
Having a night out with friends at the bars is one thing. But getting drunk every single night, coming to work drunk, and losing touch with your children and spouse is another.
Some people can’t see how their gaming addiction can hurt anyone. Have you forgotten the time when these parents left their baby to starve to death, (and yes died) because they were playing an online video game at an Internet cafe? When governments start creating laws about how long you’re allowed to play a video game, like China had to, there is a serious problem. People don’t know how to play games in moderation anymore, and people can die or be hurt.
It is a serious problem. And my heart goes out to anyone dealing with a loved one with this addiction. There are others out there that understand. And you are not a bad person like he or she might think you are for trying to get them to shut off the games. You are not a crazy psycho girlfriend for saying enough is enough when the guys have played every day for twelve hours a day. You are doing nothing more than taking that can of beer out of their hand and saying, “give it a rest.”
And I sincerely hope that the children growing up can look back of many fond memories with their family instead of saying, “Yeah back in the day I had so much fun with my games.”