Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Great Dam of Reality Came Crashing Down

This post is a response to Extra Credits' "Game Addiction" two-parter: Part 1, Part 2.

It seems to me that when most people shake video games, it’s because there’s something that pulls them out. There’s something they care about in the real world, or some concept that they find so compelling it breaks them from their video game compulsion. One fascination to the next.

But what if you don’t have those real-world Great Dams to burst? Nothing compelling to drag you out? I would assume that most people who get compelled into video games are normal people who desire normal things and the video game just seems like a more fun alternative. They block the outside world so that you don’t see how sour things are going in the world around you and they provide greater indulgences and stimulation. The stimulation is likely the reason high-schoolers are often compelled to play video games: there’s no positive reinforcement for them in high school social scene, so kids go online where they’re told that they’re cool, or can at least convince themselves or others that they’re cool by doing shiny things. But a person who is asocial or antisocial and doesn’t respond well or at all to peer support is likely to get sucked into games and then not have any outside influence to pull them back out.

A person can be coerced (by therapist or family/friend) to give the real world a shot, but that person must WANT that real life in order to keep it. A person who suffers any mental illness, even an unnamed one where they simply don’t want their life (or is that called depression?) can’t be convinced to try to come back. Also, person who don’t have any TRUST in those around them (especially not some unknown therapist who clearly has a personal agenda). If someone really doesn’t want to come back, they’ll deliberately sabotage what appears to be honest attempts to get back on track.

A person who REALLY wants to kill his or herself, doesn’t go around telling everyone they’re going to do it (unless they are actually, definitively stupid). Telling people increases the chance of intervention and failure of suicide. That kind of person just wants the ATTENTION that a suicide threat brings, to be treated in that special way (or any way at all, for the very socially deprived), or to be pulled back, to be ‘cured.’ That person who really wants his or herself dead also doesn’t try to do it in a silly, unlikely way (though again, it’s hard to know which ways of killing oneself have the highest success rate, and it’s subject to personal tolerance for pain and suffering, and the factor of what happens to be convenient to do it with). It’s said that there are more successful male suicides than females. Girls tend to choose less lethal methods. It’s been speculated that this is because girls more often don’t actually want to die, they just want the attention, the kind of conversation that they hear when people talk about suicide victims. (“Hey, did you hear about Cindy? Wow, I feel really bad for her. I didn’t know she would go and do that.” And then the tip-toeing of the family and the nice gestures until she’s out of the ‘danger zone.’)

I, personally, don’t see any real solutions to help the people who honestly say that they don’t want to live outside of video games.

End notes: When you are comparing RL vs. online, you shouldn’t be comparing the worst RL experience with the best online experience and instantly judge that video games are setting the bar of personal joy too high. It’s also not as simple as comparing the best vs. the best. Comparing has to be done with detailed economics. Factors like the cost of joy, the amount of joy when it comes, frequency of joy, gap of time between completion of an activity and the joy of completion.

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