Fear and Loathing in Azeroth, Part 2

Today, I post my second part of my serial “Fear and Loathing in Azeroth”.  Again, here is the original article:

‘Craft Addicts – Do Online Games Trigger a New Psychiatric Disorder? Boston Globe Online 06/08/2008

Whereas, in the first post I dealt specifically with the shame aspect of Online Gaming Addiction, today we read further into the article and deal with the terminologies used when speaking about this problem.

INTERVIEWER: … how do we distinguish between a passion and an addiction?

BLOCK: Well, let me start with terminology. We do ourselves a disservice when we use the word “addiction.” It is loaded with all sorts of meanings. That’s why I tend to use the term “pathological computer use” instead. I hate the term “Internet addiction.”

INTERVIEWER: But in a recent letter to the American Journal of Psychiatry, you argued that there’s such a thing as “Internet addiction.”

BLOCK: I’m locked into this vocabulary. That’s the term everyone uses and understands. I’d love to get rid of it.

This is the number one argument I have with my friend who is still very addicted to WoW, (already mentioned the whole TV argument in the previous post).  What is the true difference between a “passion” and an “addiction”.  The definition, unfortunately, makes this so hard to classify VGA or OGA as a psychiatric disorder:

Passion – (n.)  Boundless enthusiasm: The object of such enthusiasm.
Addiction – (n.) Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance:  the condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something.
(both definitions courtesy Dictionary.com)

A passion is pretty straight forward: someone can have a passion for sports, a passion for spending time with their family, taking photographs, painting.  Passions are, for the most part, endued with a positive overtone, and can consume alot of a person’s time depending on how enthusiastic they are regarding their passion.

An addiction, on the other hand, would seem to be easy to separate from a passion, as the emphasis here is that it is something that cannot be avoided, and there is a compulsion to do/take the addictive activity/substance, and comes with almost exclusively a negative undertone.
While this would seem pretty self-evident when dealing with more of the physical addictions, (you can kinda tell when someone is strung out on coke, and can’t wait to get that next cigarette), the problem many people have in separating a passion from an addiction in regards to Online Gaming Addiction, based on third-party observation, is that many times the two appear to be the same to a casual observer.
Added to that is the long-held belief by most in both the non-gaming and gaming communities that games are not addictive, or if they are addictive it is a very mild addiction that comes from immaturity and/or boredom, (see my next post).  This type of addiction is not taken seriously because, in all honesty, gaming dwells in a grey area in many cases between passions and addictions… for to many it appears to be both and it appears to be neither… many times the compulsion of addiction is there (playing non-stop), but the physical attributes are not, (outward appearance does not necessarily change, though it can).
So I totally agree with Dr. Block’s use of the term “pathological computer use”, which can refer to a myriad of things but does not invoke the preconceived images and standards brought by using either a passion or an addiction.
Pathological – (adj.) caused by or evidencing a mentally disturbed condition.
(definition again courtesy Dictionary.com)
In this way, we are able to sidestep the problem of trying to fit this problem into an already pre-fabricated box of previous psychological definition.  I like it!
cowerAs we continue to struggle with what to call this, “thing”, that takes hold of lives and causes such pain and suffering not only to the person partaking in the game, but also the loved ones surrounding them, the one thing that DOES remain absolutely obvious is that the problem is real and should not be taken lightly.


Filed under Addicted to Wow, Editorial and Reaction, Gaming and the Internet

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