“Things do not change: we change.” – Henry David Thoreau
There’s no shortage of material describing and identifying games and internet addiction/disorder on the interwebs. It’s abundantly present in the gaming industry’s target market and widely publicized as an adolescent pandemic. It can lead to the self-sabotage of a Gamer’s life and affect their relationship with their Gamer’s Girl (GG), especially if she is not a gamer girl.
The Dark Side
In PART ONE of “Are You Or Your Gamer Boyfriend Having Gaming Addiction“, I described gaming addiction as the “dark side” of gaming. I pointed out that in order to pull your Gamer from the seductive blackness, you must get past the assumptions of gaming addiction and clearly define what is going on. With that understanding, you can then make progress to re-establish a balance in the force.
One of the most controversial assumptions was that Gaming is not addictive in the way that drug and alcohol abuse is. I used the analogy of an “overeater,” as gamers tend to develop a psychological addiction that can lead to social and physical problems. Like food, it’s eaten by the masses, but not everyone gorges himself or herself to the point of obesity.
We know that a Gamer’s psychological addiction allows them to feel a rush of happiness and a sense of accomplishment while playing a game. You see a similar mentally charged release of endorphins in gambling, food, sex, pornography, work, or exercise addicts. Psychological addictions are interwoven with emotional cravings. People who are psychologically addicted feel overcome by the desire to have this emotion.
Why does my Gamer resent me?
When your brain is only receiving “joy-joy” feelings from one source, it becomes the main originator. That’s why when Gamers are away from the game, their brain tries to ward off distress by releasing the sounds of orks or in-game music in their head. It soothes them just enough to alleviate the stress until they can return to the game. It’s hard to tear people away from what makes them happy in general, let alone someone who is dependent on this one source of joy. This is how a Gamer can view their job, paying bills, friends, and their GGs as the enemy. They begin to associate them with the negative feeling of tearing them from their happiness.
What’s the alternative to unplugging?
I found a subline addiction that is related to gaming that can work to a GGs advantage. It’s called “process addiction.” It is a psychological addiction that is a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behavior. It can certainly be initiated by a need or lack of one, like the need to feel in control or to escape reality, but it is maintained by repetitive behavior.
In a way, “process addiction” is like finding Peter Parker’s bell tower in Spiderman 3. Peter couldn’t rip the black symbiote suit away from his body, but the symbiote had a weakness to sonic sound waves. By whacking a giant bell, he disrupted the environment that had encased him and was able to free himself from the suite. Sure, it took a few “dongs,” a lot of yelling, and a ring of steel tuning rods, but it worked.
Gaming and Behavior
Behaviors aren’t something you pick and choose to do. It’s a result of instincts or habits. An instinct is something that you are innately born with – or not learned. Habits are formed with or without practice. It’s a repeated action that is echoed often enough to become automatic and almost effortless. If certain conditions are present when you learn that behavior, those conditions can trigger the habit to make it easier to perform.
Here’s the kicker! Ready, wait for it… To save space, your brain stores the most repetitive behavior as instinct. What behavior does “over gamers” exhibit the most? They game – giving gaming an instinctual priority over other behaviors. Who’da thought, right?! That’s why when Gamers are suddenly ripped away from a game, against all rationality, they flip out. It’s going against their instinct. That’s when you get breakdowns or bursts of other natural instincts, like anger. Much like what you see in the conniptions of WoW players on youtube.
Why is it hard to replace bad habits with good ones?
Bad habits are hard to replace with good ones, especially if they are given instinctual priority. This is where intelligence comes in. If something is ineffective or negatively affecting your life – you can choose a rational course of action and make a change. Even if it goes against your habitual instinct. It’s extremely difficult to create new habits in order to short circuit the instinct-driven ones, which is why there’s no overnight success. Researchers say it takes at least 30 days of repeating the good habit before it replaces the old, bad habit.
How can I use habits to fight game addiction?
To recap, we’ve overthrown the assumptions of gaming, we’ve clearly defined the type of addiction it is, we’ve sought out the “dark side,” battled Lord Vader, found the yellow brick road, and have rocked the bell tower. What do we do with all this information?? Well, start from square one of course!
Try to identify some key habits your Gamer distributes that lead to the behavior of “over gaming” and counter-condition them. A really popular habit is losing track of time. In what ways can you introduce “the bell tower” into the situation? Here’s an example:
Losing track of time.
Gamer “X” loses track of time a lot while playing a game. One of his bad habits is getting engrossed in the game enough to not look up from his monitor. His GGs most frequent complaint is that when he agrees to be ready to go out to dinner by a certain time, he constantly overshoots the deadline, making her wait. He’s not proud of it, and he wants to change his negative behavior.
Instead of willing the behavior of looking up, change the habit. Grab an egg timer. If the egg-timer doesn’t work, try tampering with his environment, like turning the lights on or off signaling it’s almost time to go. I know it sounds a bit like Pavlov – but whatever works, right?! GGs, you know your Gamer better than anyone, get creative. When a person says “nothing works for me” – you may need to reevaluate your relationship or seek professional help. If they can’t sit outside themselves and evaluate the situation, find someone else who can. Also, keep in mind that a person has to admit and be willing to change his bad habits in order for this to work.
Remember, no one is perfect. Expect setbacks and stay positive. There’s no magic pill or one perfect treatment. This is merely one way to battle the addiction in a sea of efforts.
Thanks for sticking with this long post. I know it was a doozy – but I felt the need to respect those who have “been there” and be thorough with my observation.
Continue to read for PART 3 – “How To Help Boyfriend Or Husband Who Is Addicted To Video Games?” – GGs go Toe to Toe with the Dark Side
Here you can find more kawaii blog posts, good luck to you ALL!