Gaming Addiction Vs Gaming Obsession – Where do You Draw the Line?

Last night, I published a post discussing the unfortunate death of an infant, due to its parents’ inability – or desire – to properly care for it. The reason? They were busy feeding their video game addiction. This isn’t the first case like this that I’ve come across online, and I’m afraid it won’t be the last.

During a discussion via Google Buzz about this article, Peter had some excellent insight regarding addiction to things like games vs. an obsession.

For one thing, people throw the word “addiction” around like they know what it means. If gaming kills someone, then it’s likely safe so say that they had an addiction. For the most part, however, when people are obsessed with games, they aren’t necessarily addicted. Addiction isn’t mere obsession. Addiction isn’t the mere compulsion to participate in something.

When ANYTHING reaches the level of “addiction”… then, yes, it has the capability of killing someone. Asking the question is like asking, “If someone is so obsessed with gaming that they stop eating, can it kill them?” The correct answer is, “Yes, if someone stops eating, it can eventually kill them.” It has nothing to do with the “gaming”… it has everything to do with the “not eating”. When something becomes so compulsive that you stop eating, then it is safe to say that it is an addiction.

An addiction, for the most part, is when something negatively affects your life and even when you actively weigh the pros and cons and recognize that the cons outweigh the pros and you decide you would rather no longer participate in the activity, that you find you are unable to stop and know that you need help.

Most hard-core gamers are not reaching out for help. They weigh the pros and cons and the pros win. They enjoy playing. Very few gamers would truly make the decision to continue playing if they knew, for instance, that they were seconds away from death. When someone who isn’t necessarily addicted to gaming (but is obsessed by it) ends up dying or ending up extremely ill, the problem isn’t necessarily an “addiction”… it’s a lack of responsibility.

An irresponsible person can die while doing any kind of activity. It’s the irresponsibility that kills, not the distraction. If you WANT to stop gaming, however, but find that you simply cannot pull away… THAT’S an addiction, and you should seek help.

Very sage advice in that last sentence. If you cannot pull yourself away from your game(s) to attend to your “real” life, it’s time to get some kind of help. Ask a friend, parent, teacher, pastor or any other trusted person in your life to help you, and get you pointed in the right direction.

What are your thoughts on this matter? There’s no debate that the couple in the original article had some type of problem. Let’s discuss the differences between addictions and obsessions, as well as how a person (especially teens) can tell that they may, indeed, have a problem.