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Videogames: Addiction, Hobby or Cult?
Posted on Monday, June 9 2008 @ 15:42:13 PST

The experience of video games varies from individual to individual. Some gamers play a couple of hours a week, and others play a couple of hours every couple of hours. But I'm sure you already know that (unless you're the latter, then you might be unaware that the former even exist). So how can we possibly put any definition on a group of people ('gamers') that vary in their habit so much that they can't be put in the same time bracket, let alone under the same banner. Look at the example of nations: a person from a country will be a member of that country for their entire life, so we can, with reasonable accuracy, call them 'Swedish' or 'Mongolian' or 'Martian'. However, in these groups there are exceptions, and these exceptions have names of their own 'ex-patriates' etc.

This leads me to believe that there must be other categories next to 'gamer' that can be used. Xbox Live attempted to class this as 'Recreation', 'Underground', 'Family' and 'Professional'. But this did not work. And it didn't work because the majority put themselves as 'Recreational'. And yet, this number of 'Recreational' members varied so much in how often they were gamers at all. I classed myself as recreational, and I play for a couple of hours a day. My friend is also recreational, and plays a couple of hours a week. So Xbox Live missed the mark here.

You can't, as Microsoft attempted to do, define a group by the way they believe they play. A far better system would be to put a timer on the account and then you take an average of time spent on the account per week--this is then attached to the account so other people can see just what 'kind' of gamer this gamer really is (and mock/admire them suitably). GTA had the right idea. In the stats, its possible to view your 'Addiction Level'. Something which is, apparently, 'Spiralling Downward' for me. Naturally, this doesn't define my gamer characteristics, in the way 'addict', or 'healthy habit' would, but it gives the same idea.

It seems to me that all gamers come under three categories (categories they can't possibly put themselves in... because they'd lie): hobbyist, (the kind of hobby that stamp collecting would be considered) addiction (the people that say 'I can quit sure', but never could) and cult (they're aware they have a serious problem [more so than the addicts], but if you try and tell them they should do something about it, their eyes glow red and they pull out a level 43 scythe). People might be able to give up for a couple of months in the addiction stage, but they'll always return.

I'm not saying to be in the last two categories is a bad thing. It's not like heroine which actually has a truly detrimental effect, but I think everyone needs to understand (those outside the gaming circle more than any) that there's not just 'gamers'. A disgusting stereotype ranging from people with glasses and long greasy hair to people who own a mobile phone with Snake II on it.
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