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Can You Be Addicted to World of Warcraft (WoW)?
It might seem silly to some that a person can be truly "addicted" to a game. The truth is the reality of video game addiction is all to vivid to those suffering from it. In this hub, I hope to convince you that World of Warcraft addiction does affect certain individuals.
It does occur to me that in some of the ad spaces a "Play World of Warcraft now" pop-up might be shown. Please read this hub before deciding to click it.
What is addiction?
First, we should know what addiction is in the first place. Often in everyday conversation, we might say we're "addicted" to a lot of our favorite hobbies and pass times, but this is significantly different from true addiction. Psychiatrists use a "handbook" called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM for short) as a common guide for diagnosis. The criteria for substance abuse and dependence can be found here.
A more understood and commonly accepted form of addiction closer to game addiction is gambling addiction. With criteria listed here, we can see how quite a few symptoms can easily be rearranged to accommodate gaming addiction, a sufferer only needing five symptoms to qualify.
In an abridged form, addiction is a repeated maladaptive behavior where individuals continue in the habit despite loss of pleasure or facing serious dangers or problems.
This is a non-technical definition, and I feel it is important to note that this describes a psychological addiction, which is different from physiological addiction. Physiological addiction involves substance abuse and can be diagnosed in a fetus or comatose patient.
The controversy of game addiction.
Game addiction is not currently listed in the DSM. A very adept look at the possible reasons of why it is not and the difficulty of classifying it is given by Dr. Allen Frances. What Dr. Frances explains is that we must be very careful about declaring fun activities we do to the exclusion of other hobbies and responsibilities as pathological addictions. Pathological addictions are often done out of compulsion. I'll explain my experience to give an example. You might find it may or may not be true addiction.
How I started.
I started playing the MMORPG World of Warcraft in 2008. I started playing for the same reasons many others started, their friends were playing. It was one friend in particular who I never thought I'd be like. This friend of mine would get home from school everyday and play WoW from 2pm until he went to sleep at 2am. He would wake up at 6am and do whatever homework he needed to do and repeated the same routine. This went on for months. Sometimes the hours shifted, but this was generally the case.
It hit me hard when he answered that whole "find your passion" question. The question is pretty much: if you won the lottery and never had to work again, what would you do with yourself? Would you write, draw, go yachting, or play extreme sports? Is there anything you would devote yourself to? This might be a passion you should pursue as a career. My friend's answer? "Dude, I would play WoW all day." That is entirely not who I wanted to be, but I still wanted to be involved with this mysterious game with my friends. So I started to play but never touched the part of the game my friend was obsessed with, raiding. All I wanted to do was Player Versus Player (PVP) gaming. I wanted to play in a competitive environment with other people, and I thought that this way I could play on my own terms and not on a schedule that so many raiders abide by.
The horribly slippery slope.
When I started playing, I was far behind many of my friends, so I played more to catch up. Eventually, I was playing nearly all day. From close to when I woke up to when I went to sleep, pausing to run on the treadmill, bathroom breaks, and some eating. I actually began to use WoW as a dieting tool. It was easy to avoid cravings and not think about food when your nose was stuck in a monitor. While I started to lose weight and look healthy, my mind and body were actually taking a turn for the worse. For more than three years after that, I played for multiple hours everyday, averaging close to 5-8 hours. I did it while going to school and a job, sometimes playing it at work.
I began to weigh activities versus playing WoW. How much fun would I have going out with friends instead of staying home and playing WoW? Why workout and go through that pain when I can just play WoW? I stopped reading for pleasure, it wasn't nearly as fun as playing the game. Eventually, it became too tedious to read my assigned textbooks for class. My mind was too under stimulated by anything without immediate fun. It was harder for me to focus, and my social interaction was becoming less and less personal. When I went out with friends, I often spent most of my time thinking about WoW, and when I would get to go back to playing that night. I gained a lot of weight. At work, I would sit on the internet reading about WoW. Sometimes, it was all I could think about. I became what's called in game a "WoW-head"; it's named after pot-heads. A WoW-head is obsessed with WoW as much as a pot-head is obsessed with pot, and both rot your brain.
The worst part of it was, after two years of playing, I was hardly even having fun any more. Most of the basic parts of the game I had done more times than I could accurately guesstimate. I began to play for the small wins I could get, which became more and more spaced apart. It started to fill like I was going through the motions and doing it because nothing else seemed like it would be as much fun. This continued until I finally made the decision to give it up.
Before you start diagnosing yourself and/or others.
Addiction is a complex mental health issue and a particular addiction may just be a manifestation of a deeper psychological problem. The point is, you should speak to a professional if you are seriously concerned. This might all sound very depressing, but I would suggest you cheer yourself up by watching the South Park episode on the issue, Make Love Not Warcraft.
I offer some tips on how to break WoW addiction and general gaming addiction in this hub.