George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

November 17, 2010 -

A George Mason University teacher believes that society is blind to the permeation of videogame addiction in college students; a problem so widespread that she believes it is swelling the number of dropouts.

Demonstrating less tactfulness than Rush Limbaugh (yes, that was odd to write), Erica Jacobs kicks off her column by alluding that Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho’s addiction to Counter-Strike contributed to his actions, before recounting the tale a student of hers told about a roommate at school that became so addicted to World of Warcraft, he eventually dropped out.

After this paper was read in Jacobs’ class, "each [of the other students] had a similar story of a family member or friend who was addicted to a video game.”

Jacobs goes on to reference a 2008 speech by (then) FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, who billed online game addiction as “one of the top reasons” students dropping out of college.

“No one is immune from addiction,” wrote Jacobs, who continued:

We cope with addictions to alcohol and drugs more readily than addictions to video games, and that blindness has put many college students in jeopardy of failing school. As we know, recognizing that a problem exists is the first step to dealing with it.

Remember, the addict could be you.


Comments

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

So, this piece lazily conflates physical addiction and psychological addiction (two substantially different, but superficially similar conditions) and then complains that there is a difference in how we deal with two things that are different?

Shoddy journalism.

 

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

Her trying to link video games to violence is onerous, but her overall point about accepting video game "addiction" as a potential issue that people may need help with is valid.

Hello, my name is Arell, and I... was addicted to World of Warcraft.  *sob

No seriously.  Back when I tried college for the second time, I was also playing the brand new game called WoW.  A year into the game, I was playing 3-4 hours a night weekdays, and more than 6 hours a day weekends.  But I was also reading and posting on forums for hours at a time, dealing with Guild business as the GL, and working to maintain a website for the guild.  I'd use Computer Labs on campus to go over instance strategies on the official forums, and doodle talent builds in class.  Did this effect my grades?  Oh hell yeah.  Was it why I eventually dropped out... again?  No.

I was actually trying to cope with my mother's cancer that year, and then her death.  I retreated to an MMO to shut out the pain, and to have control over my character's life where I felt I didn't have any in my real life.  I finally realized that this was stupid and that it was hurting me, and I actually forced myself to quit cold turkey.  Even then, I had a kind of phychological withdraw for about 2 weeks.  I thought about WoW, I dreamt about WoW, I'd catch myself starting to open WoW websites when I sat down at the computer, and then paced the hallway outside my computer room when I tried not using the computer.  I did get back to normal, and my grades and social life did improve.  Of course, I eventually dropped out of college when I realized I didn't have any real goal in mind and was just blowing a shitload of money to learn things I couldn't use to get a better job.

The biggest thing is, I never blamed the video game.  It was all my own fucking fault!  But that doesn't mean I didn't have a problem that I could have used help to end sooner.  Gamers often get defensive when the topic of "game addiction" comes up, because gamers are used to people blaming their hobby for everything.  But just because the person's compulsion is video games, does not make gaming inherently bad.  And GOOD psychologists don't demonize video games, either.  Just as they don't demonize gambling, sex, food, shopping, or Justin Beber for other forms of obsessive behavior.

I didn't bother reading her column, the whole Virginia Tech thing sort of soured her opinion for me.  But people with obsessive problems need help.  Sometimes just family and friends, sometimes professional therapy.  But just because their obsession is a video game, doesn't mean it should reflect badly on games as a whole, or that the person's problem can be dismissed as not real.  It's not wrong to recognize that a large number of people are dropping out because they can't lay off the video games.  We just need to figure out how to help them, without making the video games the villan in all this.

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

For those interested, Erica responded to my correction about Cho. I don't think she will be updating the actual article, but she admitted as much in the comments. Here is what she said:

I stand corrected. Since the column was not about Cho, I didn't do as much research on that lead-in as I should have. Even though I only mention a suspicion that there was a link between the video game and the shootings (which might be technically accurate), the implication was still incorrect, and for that I apologize. I stand by the main points of my column, though.
Thanks for pointing out my error.


E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

Do we get a link to the column in question? I would like to read the whole thing.

Nevermind, I found it myself:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Erica-Jacobs-Video-game-addictio...

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

oh, it was in the Examiner... yeah... not concerned... right-wing rag. Terrible freebie paper they give out at Metro stops... except almost no one takes them. We take the Express (Washington Post's freebie).

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

Thanks for the link.

EDIT: Whoops, and sorry for sniping you on the Counter-Strike bit; your post wasn't up yet when I wrote mine.

Yours is more diplomatic and maybe I should have dialed down the snark, but seriously, FIRST MATCH in a Google search for "virginia tech" "counter-strike".

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

Theres addiction and addiction, or can't live without it vrs reversed priorities. If reverse priorities where a clinical mental issue the US goverment would be surrounded by paddy wagons...


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Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

"Seung-Hui Cho’s addiction to Counter-Strike contributed to his actions"

If I remember correctly didnt Cho play in his early youth and his roomate confirm that he hadnt seen him play anything?

Maybe I'm remembering that wrong but that came to mind.

Now on to this comment: "We cope with addictions to alcohol and drugs more readily than addictions to video games, and that blindness has put many college students in jeopardy of failing school."

Is this guy really claiming that mental addiction is worse than physical addiction? Comical.

 

This guy has a firm grip on his soapbox.

 

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

The whole Counter-strike thing with Cho came from a single paragraph in a Washington Post story that was later removed. The official findings of the task force assigned to figure out what actually happened only mentioned him playing basketball and Sonic the Hedgehog in his youth.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

The only people who kept on about that connection I think was one lawyer who kiept claiming Cho ditched his hard drive in a lake to hide that he played.

Even after the Washington Post pulled the article and apologized.

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

Moron. Addiction forms a dependancy, where your body will not function properly if you do not feed the chemical dependancy. If anything, playing non-stop video games is a pathological disorder stemming from social problems. You can stop playing videogames and not have withdrawl symptoms. Drugs and alcohol...not so much.

---------

James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

Re: George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

Behavorial Addiction is seen as a real phenomenon by many people anymore.  Classifying "addiction" as solely something chemical based hasn't been true for decades.  You can argye the symantics all you want about specific "definitions," it doesn't change the fact that many people display addictive behavior to: gambling, sex, exercise, work, internet, cutting, idolizing, shopping, food/eating, and even video games.  These people compulsively and obsessively continue activities to the detriment of their health, mental state, and social life.  Solving "compulsion" is not always as easy as choosing to stop.  Sometimes people need help.

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