Addicted to gaming? It may not be a bad thing

As a dedicated gamer, you’ve probably found yourself telling people that you’re addicted to a certain game on more than one occasion. In most cases, the term ‘addiction’ is thrown around without a second thought, despite addiction typically being synonymous with negative issues such as poor health, weakened relationships, and financial trouble. However, there appears to be a widespread confusion relating to addiction and dependency. Dependency is almost always negative – it suggests that a person cannot function physically without something. But what about addiction? Can addiction ever be a good thing?

Is Video Game Addiction Real?

Saying you’re ‘addicted’ to a game is usually accompanied by laughter or said with humorous intent – after all, you’re perfectly able to function without crushing some candy for a few hours, right? Of course you are, because you’re not dependent upon gaming. But are you addicted? It’s entirely possible, and that’s because game developers employ a set of clever techniques that make you want more. Whether it’s daily rewards, the chance to earn trophies, new challenges, time trials, or the opportunity to show off your achievements to the community, it can be difficult to let go at times. Gaming addiction is real, and it’s encouraged by developers. The big question is: is it dangerous, or can this sort of addiction actually be beneficial?

The Other Side of Addiction

If we look into addiction in more detail – why it happens, how it manifests itself, and so on – we can easily see how a ‘safe’ addiction (that is, an addiction to something that does not pose a health risk, such as video games) doesn’t have to have negative connotations. Instead, it demonstrates how a passion and dedicated interest could have a number of benefits. At its core, addiction is heavily associated with learning and education, and dopamine plays a major role in the creation of this link.

Dopamine is a hormone that’s often associated with happiness and joy, and although it was once believed that dopamine was released in response to happiness, it’s now thought that the hormone itself provides the motivation for us to seek joy. The ‘joy’ can be whatever is desired, whether that be food, love, or flicking some angry birds through the air – it doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is that we understand what dopamine does. Essentially, it encourages us to develop, through a need for exploration, learning, and satisfying curiosities.

Looking at it in this way, it appears that gaming addiction could have a very positive effect on the way we learn. If dopamine does indeed play a role in addiction, it provides us with the motivation to undertake what has become known as ‘experiential learning.’ So what is experiential learning? Quite simply, it’s learning without the rules, and many types of video game provide this experience – simulation games, for example, where there’s no end goal, or games that encourage the thorough exploration of different worlds. Experiential learning helps both kids and adults develop, encouraging us to fine tune our existing skills and learn new talents.

Is video game addiction bad? Not always. In fact, addiction in this sense could actually be advantageous! When the differences between addiction and dependency become clear, we can easily see how an addiction can provide multiple benefits, whilst not posing a risk to health. If you needed a reason to go and check on your farm, then this is it!

the author

He’s a cat. He likes to play video games. He often has a hard time with this since he’s a gamer cat living in a gamer human world, but he gets by.