Computer and Video Games Through the Eyes of a Psychologist

Posted by Haldus on October 8th, 2019

Modern computer games are becoming more "advanced" and imitate reality, therefore more and more people are becoming hostages of the video game addiction.

Some Statistics

Statistics on the prevalence of this dependence is significantly different among different researchers. Doctor of Psychological Sciences Alexander Georgievich Shmelev believes that about 10-14% of people using computers are “avid players”. At the same time, Harvard University psychologist Mareza Orzak gives much less comforting statistics: she believes that among people playing computer games, 40–80% are addicted.

There are some gender and age-related aspects of such addiction. The intensity of enthusiasm for computer games is more pronounced among boys than among girls. Young men, on average, spend 2 times more time on computer games. The older and more educated a person is, the less time he spends on computer games (completely different goals appear, and it becomes a pity to waste time in vain by playing games).

Causes

The causes of addiction to computer games are as follows:

  • lack of bright and interesting moments in real life. Everything is so casual and ordinary that a person is looking for a simple and often cheap way to diversify his life. So person look for achievements in the virtual world or in gambling;
  • a hidden inferiority complex, various psychological traumas in childhood and adolescence are a consequence of the fact that a person “failed to play” in a timely manner, so he is trying to catch up;
  • quite often, such addiction develops on the basis of sexual dissatisfaction, when relations with the opposite sex do not add up, and a person tries to “switch over” to something;
  • sometimes the "extra" time becomes the first step towards the development of this addiction. For example, people who are forced to stay in the workplace from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., when they just need to "sit out", start to get involved in computer games or online slot games.

Game Addiction

Psychology of Addiction

The basis for the formation of computer addiction is a departure from reality and the need to take on a role. In most cases, this is a means of compensating for life's problems. At the same time, a person begins to realize himself in the game world, and not in the real one.

Now there are many computer games, fortunately, not all of them are equally dangerous. Conventionally, they can be divided into role and non-role games. Having determined which category a game belongs to, you can evaluate how dangerous it is.

Role games are distinguished by their pronounced effect on the human psyche. At the same time, a person "gets accustomed" to a certain role, identifies himself with some character, while moving away from reality.

The first person-like games immerse gamer completely and player identifies himself with a certain computer character, enters the role as much as possible, because he "looks" at the virtual world through the eyes of his hero. Just a few minutes after the start of the session, a person begins to lose touch with the real world, is completely transferred to the virtual world. He identifies himself with a computer hero that he can consider the actions of a computer character as his own, and the virtual world itself begins to be perceived by him as real. At critical moments, he can fidget in his chair, trying to dodge shots or bumps, and turn pale.

If you look at your hero “from the outside”, then the power of entering the role is less compared to the previous type of games. Despite the fact that identification with a computer character is less expressed, the emotional manifestations associated with the game are still present, which can be seen during the failures or death of the computer hero.

In leadership games, a person directs several (or many) characters. He does not see his hero on the screen, but invents a role for himself. The expressed "immersion" is possible only among people with developed imagination. The psychological dependence that forms during leadership games is quite pronounced.

Symptoms of Gaming Addiction

There are a number of signs of addiction to computer games:

  • one of the main symptoms of computer addiction is a pronounced irritation that occurs in response to the compelled need to be removed from your favorite activity. When the game resumes, you can immediately notice an emotional upsurge;
  • a frequent symptom of computer addiction is the inability to predict the time of the end of the session, the player will postpone it again and again;
  • the computer becomes the center of life of a dependent person, therefore, when communicating with others, the most interesting topic for him will be a discussion of his favorite computer game;
  • as dependency progresses, the person’s social, labor, and family adaptation is violated - he forgets about official, household chores, studies, and loses interest in them;
  • the presence of psychological addiction is also reflected in a person’s habits: in order to spend more time at the computer, he increasingly takes food without leaving the monitor, neglects personal hygiene, reduces sleep time, and computer sessions themselves are lengthened.

Fortunately, this dependence does not develop simultaneously, it goes through a number of stages. The sooner you notice its presence, the easier it will be to cope with it.

Game Addiction Stages

The following 4 stages of dependence on computer games are distinguished:

The initial stage is a slight enthusiasm. It comes when a person has already played several times, as they say, "got a taste." Such a pastime gives a person positive emotions. At this stage, the game is situational in nature, a person plays sporadically, only under certain conditions, when there is free time, but he will not play to the detriment of something important.

The next stage is passion. The transition to this stage can be determined by the emergence of a new need - the game. At this stage, a person is already playing systematically, and if there is no such opportunity, then he can sacrifice something to make time for his favorite activity.

And finally, the addiction stage. In the pyramid of values, the game is being raised to the upper level.

Dependence can manifest itself in one of two forms - socialized and individualized.

An individualized form is the worst option, it is characterized by the loss of contact with others. A person spends a lot of time at the computer, he does not have a need to communicate with family, friends and others. The computer and everything connected with it for such people is a kind of “drug”; it is necessary to regularly take the next “dose”. Otherwise, there is a "breaking" in the form of depression, increased irritability.

The socialized form is characterized by the preservation of social contacts. People with this addiction prefer online games. For them, such an activity is not so much a “drug" as a competition. This form is less harmful to the psyche compared to the individualized.

Over time (this may come in a few months or even years), the attachment stage begins. A person’s gaming activity is dying away, he begins to be interested in something new, social and labor contacts can be established. However, a person cannot "say goodbye" to a game on his own. This stage can last for many years. The emergence of new games can provoke a surge in gaming activity.

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The consequences of gambling addiction

  • self-esteem decreases, a person’s self-awareness is violated, over time, he may feel himself not as a real person, but as a computer character;
  • people suffering from this addiction get used to the fact that pleasure can be achieved without any serious actions, volitional efforts, over time in the real world they cease to show initiative, become passive, personality degradation occurs;
  • the consequence of dependence may be a violation of family and social adaptation. The player is devoting more and more time to the computer, conflicts arise in this family. Over time, friends may turn away if they do not share a hobby for a computer game;
  • the increasing thirst for the game is reflected in the professional activity of a person: he can play during working hours, when you need to perform some urgent business. Lack of initiative, the desire to leave work as soon as possible, a negligent attitude to one's labor duties will inevitably lead to problems at work and even to dismissal;
  • in order to play some computer games, you must pay for various services. Debt can result from dependence on such games. In the hope of winning, a person can borrow substantial amounts of money, take loans;
  • with prolonged sitting at the computer, not only the human psyche suffers, but also his physical condition. Visual impairment, overweight and disruption of the gastrointestinal tract due to insufficient motor activity and irregular nutrition, problems with the spine - these and other diseases can develop due to excessive enthusiasm for computer games.
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