– Gaming addiction can turn a fun hobby into a devastating disease.
In today's video, I'm gonnadefine gaming addiction, explain some of the causes of it and how some games are designedto keep people addicted, as well as share a few ways you can use to get yourself out of the addiction, or just ease of a bit, and makesure you don't get addicted.
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The World Health Organizationdefines gaming disorder as a pattern of behaviorthat's characterized by impaired control over gaming, more priority given to gaming over other activities and interests, and continuation, oreven escalation of gaming despite the occurrenceof negative consequences.
There's bit a debate going on for years about whether it should be considered an actual disease or not.
But regardless, it's indisputable that it actually is aproblem for some people, and I would know because Iused to be one of those people.
Starting in 2007, I wasaddicted to World of Warcraft and I played between 12 to16 hours a day on average, and I never really brokeaway from my addiction until I started college in 2012.
For those who don't have amajor life event like that, it can be reallydifficult to find a reason to change their gaming habits, especially if they're not even aware of what's going on in thefirst place, like I was.
And that lack of awarenessis another symptom of gaming addictionwhich can cause a person to start neglectingtheir friends and family, their responsibilities and their health.
If you wanna learn more about my own story of gaming addiction, then I'll put a link to the video about it atthe end of this video.
So, what makes gaming sopotentially addictive? A common metaphor forgames is a Skinner Box, which is a device that was madeby behavioral psychologist, B.
Skinner, to enable himto perform animal experiments to study operant conditioning, which was his theory thatbehaviors that are reinforced are strengthened, and behaviorsthat aren't are weakened.
Inside the box is a lever, afood dispenser and a subject which was usually a rat.
Skinner observed if thesubject was rewarded after a consistentnumber of lever presses, the behavior will be strengthenedby this reinforcement.
But, if the reward stopped being given despite lever presses, the behavior would be weakenedand quickly go extinct, meaning it would stop entirely, which was due to thelack of reinforcement.
However, he noticesthis extinction process took longer when he switched to variable-ratio reinforcement, which is where the rewardis given to the subject after an unpredictablenumber of lever presses.
If this sounds like a slot machine, well, that's because that's basically what a slow machine is.
We don't know whenwe're gonna get a payout or even how large of a payout we'll get, but even though we don't geta reward most of the time, we keep wanting to try just one more time because a reward could come from that next push of the lever.
Many things in life can be simplified down to a system of actions and rewards.
So, games are definitelynot the only thing that can be modeled as a Skinner Box.
However, games are kindof a unique application of that metaphor because game developers have a lot of controlover the actions, rewards, and most importantly, the reinforcementfrequency of their games.
These factors can befine-tuned by the developers to ensure players will likelyspend more time on the game, and for games with monthly subscriptions, and/or microtransactions, alsospend more money on the game.
And many MMO's, justlike World of Warcraft, are designed to do exactly that.
A big part of the gameafter you reach max level is upgrading your character'sgear to make it stronger, but many gear upgrades are obtainable only through a random chance from a certain repeatable activity, which causes players tohave to do the same things over and over again.
This keeps players from feelinglike they've accomplished everything that they've wanted to do in the game too quickly, which means that they're gonna keep paying that subscription feethat most MMO's require, and give the developers more time to develop more content.
Unless, of course, thereinforcement frequency is set too high or too low, which means players are going to give up, get bored and quit playing.
Other games have differentways of keeping people coming back for more.
Games like FarmVille and Pokemon GO reward you for logging in everyday.
FIFA, Overwatch and many, many other games sell loot boxes to enticeyou to pay extra money for the slim chance of getting something rare and/or powerful.
Battle royale games like Fortnite and PUBG let you quickly jump intothe next round after you die so you have almost zerodowntime in between games.
The first thing I'd recommend to anyone who wants to break themselvesout of a gaming addiction or maybe just spend abit less time playing is to ween themselves off gradually.
Trying to quit cold turkey will make things much harder on you, and it will make it much more likely that you're just gonna goback to your old habits.
This is because as thehabit of gaming is built up, our brain increasinglyprioritizes the behavior and the rewards we're used to getting, or trying to get.
Stopping the behavioralso stops the reward and the combination of thesetwo things being removed will leave you feelinglost and unsatisfied by anything but the game.
Believe me, I've been there.
I'd also recommend beingintentional about this process and scheduling timesthat you can play games, and scheduling times thatyou should do other things.
This will make sure that youkinda keep yourself on track and you don't get lostin a long gaming session, and kinda undo your progress.
To help with this, my second tip is to findother things you enjoy doing to help fill some of the time you normally spend playing the game.
I tried to quit WOW several times during my five year longperiod of being addicted, and I even went as far astrying to sell my account, have someone else change mypassword and not tell me, and even ceremoniouslythrowing my favorite character off a mountain before deleting it.
But I kept finding my way back to Azeroth since I didn't give myself anything else to do with my time.
If you don't know what else to do, you can start by learningsomething creative, you can join a social groupto get you outside more, or even pick up my favoritehobby which is reading.
If you're looking for a more formal or a more structured approach, cognitive behavioraltherapy has been shown to help with the habits and the symptoms of gaming addiction.
Now, don't worry, you don'thave to actually go to a therapist to try out CBT for yourself 'cause there's many at-homemethods that you can use to give it a shot.
In fact, I'll be making avideo about some of those soon to let you know how it worksand what I think about it.
However, if you feel like gaming addiction is really impacting your life, please don't hesitate togo see a professional.
This video probably soundedlike I hate video games, but I've been a gamer for most of my life.
I mean, come on, I'm the Improvement Geek, of course I love games.
But I also have experiencewith being in the depths of gaming addiction, and I really wanna try to help people get out of or prevent them from getting into the same place I was a few years ago.
If you enjoyed this video, consider subscribing to catchthe fresh, sciencey goodness I upload every Saturday morning, and I'll see you in the next one.