Nowadays the discussion of gaming addiction is present in almost every household, only recently it became a medically declared addiction. It’s also a growing topic of interest in radio and media. The debate of where to draw the line on what’s a healthy or productive dose of gaming is still a major grey area.

Gaming and streaming networks combined have given rise to a new monetization platform for the avid gamer like never before. This creates a greater incentive for the gaming community to invest even more hours now. The question is how much time spent on the activity is too much. The fact of the matter is there is a crucial difference between “excessive gaming” and “addictive gaming”. The difference lies in the psychological motivation of the gamer.

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The Pro $$$

Take for example a professional athlete who may spend an estimated 6 to 8 hours a day going through grueling workouts. They may also need attend physio appointments or have media obligations to fulfill. In this case an athlete may be restricted in their options for downtime. Spending a couple of hours relaxing and gaming might just be what the doctor ordered. They can even connect with friends near or far online, giving them that social interaction they may desire. Their bodies resting while their mind reaping the many cognitive benefits of gaming. – I.e. Improvement in coordination and cognitive problem solving. This is a healthy relationship with the pastime that so many love.

You could apply the same principles to any working professionals or college students. Once what needs to be tackled for the day is done, by all means you have every right to spend your free time as you wish. Some people like reading, others enjoy clubbing and some choose to dominate on the joypad.

Getting Twitch Famous

Another scenario may be an average gamer who decides to stream via “Twitch” or “YouTube”. Nowadays more and more social media influencers exist. With their lavish lifestyles, rising fame and 6 figure pay cheques flaunted across the internet, it causes an understandable desire for emulation. Ninja is a pro gamer, well known for his Fornite stream, shit you not he earns $500,000 per month from Fortnite. Let’s just let that sink in…

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The money on offer can lead to an obsessive thirst for that glorified stardom. If in the rare occasion the gamer is beginning to show signs of rapid growth in a fandom, now the gamer is driven to spend even more hours online. The logic of this is more time spent online increases the odds of your channel reaching a wider audience. A larger audience leads to generating more potential revenue for the gamer. Profit from these channels can be made through various routes. In regard to “Twitch” for a few examples, a mere 50 followers enables you as a “Twitch” affiliate. Now you’re receiving a small share of adverts the streaming network runs against your screen. It also gives you additional monetization options –I.e. Subscriptions which are split 50/50 with a value of $5-$25. You may also decide to sell personalised merchandise relating to the channel. Now what was a once a naïve pastime is a flourishing business.

Falling into the trap

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Now for the darker side of what is for most a harmless, amusing game. As I mentioned before the debate here is distinguishing between “excessive” and “addictive” gaming. The “excessive” gamer may spend the same amount of time playing as the “addictive”  gamer. What we look to is how much of a negative impact the activity is having on the individuals’ life.

Sometimes these impacts are seen as social reclusion or irregular mood swings. Often enough the activity which is seen causing the addiction is blamed, when in fact it’s an underlying issue which is to blame. The activity is simply acting as the escape. The experiment “Rat Park” conducted in the late 70’s serves as a great insight for this issue. This is where the negative stigma attached to gaming gets its roots. It stems from a lack of broader understanding for the causes of addiction. Gaming is now being linked to the rise in mental health illnesses in young people. – I.e. Social anxiety and depression.

Partly the issue may be from idea of sitting at home all day and make a living from playing video games. I mean in an ideal world who wouldn’t find this image attractive, jocks, socks, joypad and money. The life. In my opinion video gaming can be as much of a catalyst to addiction as food or alcohol. We could easily list of statistics on dependency or debate the harmful uses of gaming but in most cases an underlying issue is at hand. What we need to do as a whole is reinforce a philosophy of balance in our society and especially our youth. We can still enjoy the ever advancing world of gaming as long as we choose to do it responsibly.

 

Check out the Rutland Centre in Dublin who offer a range of addiction services, so if you or anyone you know is struggling with a gaming or any other addiction they can seek help.

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