Putting it to the test
One student experiment conducted earlier this month showed that video game addiction -- along with other behavioral addictions -- has the potential to cause physical and mental harm, much like drugs and alcohol. In the study, psychiatrist Michael Brody selected a gamer, college student Kyle Chevalier, to play the popular soccer (or football if you're not American) title FIFA 16. The goals of the experiment were to detect that "the person needs the substances and as much of it as he can get to keep him going" as well as showing "that if the person is cut off from his behavior, he will become irritable and depressed." These showings, if confirmed, would prove that Kyle has a behavioral addiction.
Starting at 10:30 PM, Kyle starts his game knowing that he has to wake up at 7 AM to get to his internship. As the night progresses, Kyle starts to assure himself that he'll only play a few more games before going to bed. It's already starting to sound like a familiar situation to both myself (and other gamers) who have been in the same scenario. A couple hours go by, and the more Kyle plays his game the more stressed, and less talkative, he gets. His focus on the game practically removes him from the reality of time as 1 AM starts to rear its ugly head. Kyle goes through a number of emotions -- anger, depression, and joy -- all in rapid succession and all for various reasons, which stem from the game. As the night went on later and later, Kyle would feel the need for just one more match. Winning pumps his adrenaline and makes him want to go again. Losing not only makes him angry, but also makes him want to redeem his loss, thus making him way to go again. Finally, at around 12:45 AM, Kyle stops playing, but only because the game kicked him out of the match. Had this not occurred, Kyle might have kept on going for even longer. Upon being kicked, Kyle reacted violently by "throwing controllers and cursing at whoever signed him out." All he could say in his defense? "Definitely going to need to take a nap after work tomorrow."
What did we learn from this study? We first learned that Kyle's love for a video game caused his behavioral addiction to trigger in the early stages of the night. Second, once this addiction was triggered, Kyle made every excuse possible in order to try and keep playing, even though he was tired and he knew he had to go to work in the morning. At the end of the study, Kyle tells himself that it was "not a good idea" to play that late, but judging by his behavior, it's difficult to believe that this will be the last time he goes through a long night of playing video games. Kyle showed that he needed the substance (FIFA 16) and nothing stopped him from playing until it was out of his control. Then, upon having his substance removed, he become quite irritable and hostile over nothing more than a simulation.
Behavioral addiction, as it pertains to video games, is bad enough with a console and a controller, but the latest technologies have now brought video games to phones, televisions, tablets, and various other devices. Anywhere a gamer can go, they can bring their games with them. Games such as Candy Crush Saga or Temple Run (or even my very own Hearthstone) can be played over and over again. And the worst part? These games, and others, carry with them microtransactions and downloadable content (DLC) that can be purchased with a couple clicks of the button. For a sensible casual gamer, this might not be such a big deal, but for the hardcore gamer with a behavioral addiction who simply has to complete everything a game has to offer, this is a financial nightmare waiting to happen.