All week, GamePolitics has been tracking the search for Brandon Crisp. The 15-year-old Canadian gamer disappeared on October 13th after a dispute with his family which led to the confiscation of his Xbox 360 by his father, Steve.
Mr. Crisp has expressed fears that Brandon’s "addiction" to Call of Duty 4 may be somehow connected to the boy’s disappearance.
GamePolitics put that question to Dr. Jerald Block, an Oregon psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of Internet porn and online gaming addicts. While Dr. Block would not comment directly about the case, he offered his view on how the removal of a game system or PC might affect a hardcore gamer:
I caution against abruptly "cutting off" people from their compulsive computer use without much thought and preparation. I often see extreme anger results, directed at oneself or the surrounding world. When you think about it, it makes sense: The computer (or gaming console) helps a person who is struggling with emotions (1) metabolize those emotions virtually without acting on them in the Real, (2) chew up time so they do not have the hours to act out in Real life, and (3) provides companionship…even if it is simulated or via Virtual relationships.
When you cut the cord, you destroy the way someone is dealing with their emotions, you give them 30+ more hours [per week] to occupy, and you kill off their major source of relationships. Is it any surprise anger often results?
Often the anger is directed at oneself with statements like, "What a waste I have made of my life" or "What do I have to show for the hours I spent in WoW, Civ, etc." It can lead to suicide attempts or other pathology, like drug use. Or, the anger can turn external: "We all live in fantasy worlds, brutal places fabricated and controlled by others. I’ll be damned if I’ll let them take away my world, where I am powerful, without first stripping away their fantasies and illusions." This is what I believe happened at Columbine.