Video Game Addiction: Is It Real?

Video Game Addiction: Is It Real?


– Come on, let’s go, let’s go. Let’s go! If you’re a gamer, you probably know that
those hilarious dances are all emotes from the hit
video game Fortnite. It’s become one of the most successful video games of all time, with more than 125 million players, raking in over $300 million
a month for its publisher. But as the game is taking over the world, there’s a rising panic that some gamers are getting full-on addicted, with headlines like
“Parenting the Fortnite Addict” and “I almost lost my sons to Fortnite” popping up all over the place. Even the World Health Organization is worried about video games. Just recently, it officially recognized gaming disorder as a
mental health condition. But it’s not that simple. The American Psychiatric
Association isn’t convinced, and says there’s not
enough research showing that video game addiction
is its own disorder. So what’s going on? Is video game addiction really a thing? Okay, so first of all, I’m not a gamer. The only reason I knew those dances was because they existed before Fortnite, or I’ve seen them on Instagram. But I do have a lot of friends who game, and I can’t tell you how
many times I’ve shown up to kick it with people, and
they’re just glued to Fortnite. And I’m like, uh, hello, guys? Can we actually do something or we’re just gonna sit here all night? And we just always end up
sitting there all night. So when we were digging through
research for this story, it was hard to find the universal
definition of addiction that everyone agrees on, but in general addiction is
when someone uses a substance or engages in a behavior
repeatedly and compulsively and continues to do so even if other areas of their life suffer. Whether you can truly be
addicted to video games the same way you can be
addicted to heroin or alcohol is up for debate. Research is kind of all over the place. For decades it was generally believed you could only be addicted
to physical substances. Like if you started smoking cigaretes, over time the nicotine will start to alter your brain chemistry. Smoke one, you’ll get
a quick pleasure boost. Ignore the craving, and you will get physically uncomfortable. That’s when you’re addicted. But then, in 2013, gambling
was officially reclassified from an impulse control problem to an addiction. This was the first time that a behavior was put in the same category
as drugs or alcohol. And guess what? When you look at the brains of some people who have problems with gaming, the reward pathways
activate in the same way as people addicted to drugs. And then there are a
bunch of stories out there about people losing their jobs or failing out of school because the gaming has
gotten out of control. – [Narrator] It’s unthinkable, but his fixation is so complete, Logan has refused to go to
school for the last two years. – To combat this, South Korea, home to maybe the most intense
gaming culture in the world, went so far as to pass a law preventing kids from under the age of 16 from accessing gaming websites
between midnight and six A.M. They just straight up shut it down. But this is where things get tricky. Games are meticulously designed
to challenge or reward you at just the right moments
to keep you playing. Those rewards, like new
weapons or new skins or more in-game currency,
motivate you to keep grinding, keep leveling up, because the next reward
is just around the corner and you’re so close. So when you can’t put your controller down, is it because you are addicted, or because you’re really
motivated to keep playing? Which brings us to the concept
of self-determination theory. One of the most widely accepted theories to explain what motivates people. Basically, there are
three key characteristics of motivation. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And video games like Fortnite offer up all three in abundance. Autonomy is the desire to be self-directed and have the freedom to choose. Like, when you have your
enemy dead in your sight with your trusty SCAR, but then — bam! Out of nowhere you’re getting
sniped from God knows where, and it’s time to build to stay alive. Or maybe you never got into that situation because you chose to be a camper and don’t mind sitting back and waiting for everybody else to die. Mastery is the desire
to progress and improve. It takes some serious skills
to take on 99 other players and come out on top once, let alone win consistently. I mean, there are professional
Fortnite players out there. This game is their job. Purpose is the desire to be a
part of something bigger. Something meaningful. Fortnite is kind of like its own culture. It goes beyond just playing the game. You can post your best kills
or funniest emotes on YouTube. You can follow and interact with your favorite player on Twitch. You can literally spend hours discussing the game on
Fortnite’s dedicated subreddit. Because video games give
you almost instant feedback, it can be easier to get
your motivational needs met in the gaming world
than in the real world. Researchers who don’t think
video game addition is a thing argue that gamers who have a problem regulating their gameplay might be escaping an
underlying real world problem, like anxiety or depression. But gaming isn’t all bad. There is research that shows that games can be good for the brain especially fast-paced action games. In a series of controlled tests, kids who played first-person shooters showed faster and more accurate attention, quicker visual processing of 3D objects, and demonstrated an
increase in creativity. And in some cases, these benefits could carry
over to other real-world tasks. In another study, pilots and surgeons were able
to outperform their peers after playing action games. The researchers think the gaming increased their ability
to filter out distractions and focus. And researchers are just starting to learn how video games affect social behavior. After all, 70% of gamers
play with other people. Players are actively
engaged with each other. Players play cooperatively. They play competitively. They share tips, tricks. They teach each other how
to get better at the game. So at the end of the day, researchers are divided about video games. Some think there is enough research to say it can be an addiction in some people. Others think we need more research to make sure that video
games aren’t just an escape from a problem someone already has. So what do you think? What motivates you to
keep playing a video game and how do you resist
temptation when you need to or when you have to? Let us know in the comments below. Oh. And if video games and
tech are kinda your thing, then we’ve got two episodes
we think you’d really enjoy. One is all about how facial
recognition being used more and more to track our whereabouts. Yeah, creepy. I know. The other is all about virtual reality and if it can make you a better person. Alright guys. I’m going back to my game. I’ll see you guys in about two weeks.