Obsession or Hobby: Are You Taking Games too Far?

Gaming can be very therapeutic as well as enjoyable, as long as it doesn’t become too much of an obsession. A lot of people get so engaged by a game that they try to live it out in the real world. Digital entertainment doesn’t have to center around such negativity, though. It’s when you begin to completely obsess about a game is when your world turns upside down. Speaking from experience, there is such a thing as becoming obsessive about video games.

Why Gaming Obsessions Are Bad

Being engaged in a good game is much different than becoming obsessed by it. You need to discover which is healthy and which can cause severe damage to your body. Yes, a gaming obsession can be harmful to both physical and mental parts of your existence. I many ways, getting too consumed by a particular game could have the exact same results as someone hooked on meth.

Addictive Behaviors

Although it may sound silly to some, video game addictions are very real. It’s similar to the effects of some of the most hardened street drugs on the market. For many people around the world, obsessions turn into dangerous habits. For example:

  • Malnutrition
    Once in a while you’ll read a news headline of a fatality because someone thought they could survive off of caffeine alone while playing a game. Regardless of what you think, energy drinks are not a source of nutrition.
  • Stealing
    I’ve seen a lot of people steal to make a few dollars to pay for their gaming obsession. Not everyone who visits a pawn shop is looking to score money to buy drugs or alcohol.
  • Lying
    I’m guilty of this one. Lying to my boss so I could stay home to play is but a first step to an addiction. How often do you lie about playing your favorite game?
  • Intense Anger
    Yet, another one that I am guilty of. I would get irrationally angry at a game if I was doing poorly. I’ve seen people destroy game systems and televisions because of a bad gaming experience.
  • Feeling Like You Can’t Live Without It
    How many people do you know couldn’t live without their favorite game? I know many that would be lost if “League of Legends” suddenly disappeared.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms
    Sometimes the addiction to a game can be so intense that the player suffers from similar withdrawal symptoms as those on heroine. This is because of the chemicals that are released in the brain during play. Eventually, the body becomes dependent on those elevated levels – just like drug abuse.

Added Stress Levels

Set game addictions aside for a moment. Being obsessed about a game can also lead to elevated levels of stress. This could cause problems in everything from sleeping patterns to rational thought. Stress is one of the more powerful conditions of the human body because of everything it can control. Blood pressure, anxiety, headaches, diarrhea, rashes and even the sex drive are all influenced by stress.

Letting an Obsession Take Control of Your Life

Any obsession has potential to cause problems in your life. Losing control is quite easy, especially if you believe it’s in your best interest. But I’m telling you from personal experience, you shouldn’t call in sick to work in order to play a few extra hours of your favorite game.

Blurred Lines of Reality

Video games are constantly getting a bad reputation. For instance, a 20-year old was convicted in 2013 for living out crimes he pulled directly from “Grand Theft Auto.” This isn’t necessarily an obsession. This is what happens when idiots play games and are unable to determine the lines between reality and fantasy. People like this have deeper mental issues that need to be resolved.

Obsessions, however, can easily blur those lines. Back when I was much younger, I remember calling in sick to work so I could play EverQuest. Then again, who did’t back in the day? In retrospect, that behavior could have been seen as obsessive. At the time, I didn’t see what was wrong about taking a day off to complete some quest or to lose myself in another reality. Today, I can safely say that actions such as those hindered my development as a professional and cost me more than the monthly subscription fee.

Ignoring Others Around You

I know a lot of relationships that ended because someone was obsessed with a game. This is speaking from personal experience as well. One of the things that drove a wedge between my ex and I was the original “Star Craft.” I spent more time working on my “awesome” record that I didn’t see I was losing my family. However, I was also 22 and not really ready for the family dynamic.

LoL ChampionshipToday, it seems everyone online is looking to develop some kind of a record for themselves. This digital presence is a shot at immortality for many people. Unfortunately, many of these individuals lose site of what’s really important: real-life family and friends. Getting the best score is only relevant in the few years that particular game is popular. Once the fad is gone or a new version comes out, you’ll have to start all over again.

Meanwhile, those closest to you become distant memories. But hey, you still have your game.

Shrugging Off Responsibilities

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to call in sick and play a few more rounds with your online “friends.” Shrugging off responsibilities so you can get a few more hours with your favorite game may be considered obsessing. Rent still has to be paid, food on the table and electricity is needed in order to keep your game operational.

Chari Causes Back Pain

This isn’t including the responsibilities to yourself. Health wise, sitting in front of a monitor or television all day is bad for you on many levels. Muscle mass, bone density, joint health and even your mental capacity can all be affected by spending all day in a sitting position. This goes beyond simply gaining weight.

It’s Possible to Enjoy Gaming Without Obsessing

It is possible to enjoy your favorite titles without developing an obsessive behavior. However, this is often reflected by an individual’s mentality in the first place. If playing MMORPGs is your way of escaping real-life because you feel anxious or stressed, you may need to seek counseling. Although gaming can be used as a form of therapy, it can be abused just as often as prescription medications.

Don’t confuse being obsessed with having a hobby. Enjoying digital entertainment can be fun, but don’t let it control your life. Taking an obsession too far can lead to a variety of problems you may not be ready for. This is true with anything ranging from your favorite football team to the way books are arranged on a shelf. A minor obsession is one thing, but becoming an emotional wreck because a server is down is something else.

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Michael Brockbank

I have been playing games for more than 30 years. I wouldn’t consider myself a hard-core gamer, but I have brought the pain in my day. Now that I am rounding the horn at 40, I still enjoy everything from booting up the old Commodore 64 to exploring new titles in Steam. You’re never too old to enjoy a good plot and mind-numbing graphics.

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