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But this addiction doesn't kill you
October 8, 2010 7:18 AM   Subscribe

A long moment passes. "Watch yourself," he adds finally. "Our family's got a gene in them, that addict's gene. I'm just happy you never seemed to get it." Thoughts on gaming and addiction.
posted by BurN_ (29 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have a reading addiction and I don't want help.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:22 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Woah. Gamers with Jobs on MetaFilter. My worlds collide!
posted by papercake at 7:22 AM on October 8, 2010


Also: good article.
posted by papercake at 7:31 AM on October 8, 2010


That's... interesting.

Perhaps I haven't faced up to it, either, but video game addiction is very real and can be as debilitating as any other. If I were honest with myself I'd admit that I'm a video game addict as well.

The hallmarks of addiction are there - this recurring compulsion to perform the same behaviour, again and again, an inability to stop doing so no matter how many times or how urgent it is, a quiet, brooding obsession about it. I have all these in spades, when it comes to video games.

I dropped out of college because of video games. It was a close thing, too - a little bit here, a little bit there, and I'd have graduated by now, but instead I've had to start from scratch, and if I were honest with myself I'd admit that video games were a major factor in that. But I'm not.

I blame it on other things. Weak willpower. Relationship problems. Lack of concentration. Sure, these were the symptoms, but where did they come from? They came about because of videogames.

In moments of clarity I can see how videogames have ruined my life so far. I'm still young, and not all is lost; but I can see no sign of myself improving, in terms of dealing with this addiction. I am, perhaps, being truthful now, but in a few days I'll be reading for an assignment and I'll say to myself, "I've done well, and a half-hour of Minecraft won't hurt, will it? I need to relax, after all." Before I know it, six hours have passed in Minecraft or Team Fortress 2 or Kongregate, and I'll hate myself again.

Steam tells me I've spent something approaching 1500 hours on their games. That's just Steam. It doesn't count iPhone games, or non-Steam games, or consoles. I'd estimate that I've probably spent 3000 hours in the last four years on videogames. That works out to about 1 in every 8 hours.

And I haven't even factored in the Internet addiction yet.

It's been six years since I realised I had a problem, and I am perhaps no closer to solving it than I was at the beginning.

What does this article say to me? Nothing I don't already know. But perhaps it tells me I should get help. Perhaps addiction really isn't something I can deal with on my own.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:44 AM on October 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


That was a touching and frighteningly familiar story. All the way up to the part about gaming, at least.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:46 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Updating the Green/Blue/Grey Very Often is only rational. I'm fine.
posted by Namlit at 7:46 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah my family has the addict's gene running through it something fierce and I've had to struggle with it in relation to several things, including video games. It doesn't help that video game developers employ psychologists to make their games as addictive as possible. It's like gambling. 999 people may be able to go into a casino and lose $20 and walk away and never think of it again, but that 1 in 1000 won't.
posted by ND¢ at 8:03 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I lost four years of my life to Everquest. Haven't logged in in another four years. I still dream about traveling to exotic places and battling strange creatures. I keep telling myself that after the kids are grown and out of the house, that it'll all still be there waiting for me to continue the quest.
Don't even ask me how many hours I've wasted playing DOOM.
posted by Balisong at 8:11 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Quitting World of Warcraft was one of the best things I could have ever done. I played FFXI Online for a while, quit because it was too grindy, and then tried WoW a year later. I figured, "hey, it's Warcraft, which I like, and doesn't penalize you for dying, so it's gonna be more casual and fun." How wrong I was. I got my wife (then girlfriend) into the game, and she's written at least a couple of decent Metafilter comments about her experiences.

The thing about WoW is how much time it demands of you in simple preparations just to have fun. Want to PvP? Better do dungeons to get good PvP gear. Want to do dungeons? Better grind PvP for the gear that comes from that! The worst part is how readily people accept that the game's a grind, so if you do things to explore lore rather than maximize economy, people hate you. I play Magic competitively now, and it costs more than WoW, but I'd say I'm having fun nearly 100% of the time I'm devoting to it.

I definitely understand the addictive compulsion. I feel completely drawn into whatever I pursue. As soon as I quit WoW and got back into Magic, I was reading strategy articles, exploring all the (thousands of) cards that'd been printed in the long hiatus since high school, and so forth. When I played Starcraft 2, I did the same thing, with Magic way on the back burner for a month. It's probably a good thing I never tried "hard" drugs, and weed does little for me but make me sleepy; I'd be trying to find the "perfect high" and probably be a drug dealer. Nothing against drug dealers, per se, but it's a legal risk I don't want to take. As it is, my brief foray into home-brewing had me researching how to open a brewery before I'd barely finished my first batch!

Internet addiction is quite the same way. It's nigh-infinite, nearly every interesting page will link to 2 more of equal interest, and there are honey-pots like TV Tropes and Wikipedia just waiting to suck you in for hours. For someone who's a little obsessive and an information sponge like me, it's a good way to just waste an entire day that would've been better off job-searching. I imagine "I don't have a computer," or "I don't have Internet access" will be the "I don't have a TV" of the 2020s.
posted by explosion at 8:32 AM on October 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


There is no "addict's gene." There are literally hundred of genes that are linked to alcoholism, but those same genes are not all linked to cocaine addiction, etc. Furthermore, genes don't work this way. There isn't even a single gene for eye color. At best, using 6 genes, they can predict eye color with a 90% accuracy. That means that 10% of the time, they have no idea why the hell eyes are the color they are.

What is known with certainty is that we are all alienated. We can argue wither the alienation is a simple by product of modern society or a deliberate, predictable, and perhaps even intended consequence of modern society. But we are all alienated. TV and mass media alienate us with image representative of a reality that does not exist but which we aspire to as if it were real.

There is only one way to remedy this alienation--love. Society maintains the alienation by sellling you on the promise of love in a future that is forever postponed.

I used to think that the internet would reduce the alienation and allow us to communicate directly with each other. But the truth is that the internet reinforces the alienation. The greatest advertisement for facebook is a friend's page with more friends on it than on yours. You are not popular enough. Love is reduced to like, which is quantified because computers are good at that. And those aspects of love that are qualitative and unquanifiable are marginalized or ignored, because computers are terrible at those things.

The story goes that life online and in games is no less "real" than life outside or hanging out with friends in a park. After all, what we think of as real is merely what we perceive, right? And seeing a tree in a game is the same as seeing a tree in real life, because both are acts of seeing. But everything online is mediated explicitly through online social norms (no snark on AskMe), but also implicitly through database structure and data models. The expression of certain kinds of acknowledgment, affinity, or appreciation is not included in Metafilter's table structure or SQL queries. So to the extent that Metafilter is a community, it is a community in which many personal relationships can never exist. They are literally defined out of this reality.

Furthermore, what do you know of your friends online? You know what they tell you, which amounts to a fictional story told by an unreliable narrator. I don't mean that they deliberately lie (though people of course do that). I mean, how can they articulate a truth about themselves that they are not aware of, or that they hide from?

There is a notion in art called the uncanny valley. We perceive images of people in art or in computer graphics to be more authentically human as the fidelity of the reproduction improves. But at some point at very high fidelity, this perception breaks down catastrophically, and what looks almost exactly like the image of a real person looks monstrously wrong. Consider the characters in the films The Polar Express or Beowulf. They look, move, and act like people. But...something is not right. Something betrays the fact that what we are looking at, what is talking to us, is not a human but a thing. In Freudian terms, the flaw that casts the reproduction in to the uncanny valley is a "blot" or a "stain". We can't stop seeing whatever it is that the thing is missing. What worse, the negative stain--that missing thing--seems to be staring out of the image right at us. We can't help but stare back at it. We are locked onto its gaze.

Online social networking and videogames constitute simulations of real life. And like the reproductions above, these simulations lack critical aspects of real life experience that places them into the uncanny valley. The difference is that while in the simulation, we too are thrown into the uncanny valley along with everything else. Because out online selves are part of the simulation.

The addiction to games and social networking operates on this stain. The normal gamer and the non-gamer react to the missing elements of the simulation by growing bored or refusing to play, respectively. The normal social networker uses facebook to mediate real experiences, to connect with people that they connect more often in real life. They are unconsciously aware that something is very wrong about this simulated reality, and are more than happy to leave it.

The addict is also unconsciously aware of the stain, but he wants to climb out of the valley to the other side where the simulation has everything it needs to be the reality we imagine we want. The facebook addict and the gaming addict are chasing the rush associated with fidelity. This feels like a real friend. This feels like a real adventure. Maybe I need more friends, more followers, more interaction, better graphics, more reality to wash out the stain. And like any fantasy that is realized, the end result of chasing the experience on line a psychological disaster.

What addicts us to games is exactly the same thing that puts other people--the normals--off. The non-addict (subconscious) sees the stain as a horrible thing to be avoided. The addict sees the stain as the horrible thing to be covered.

But the stain can never be erased because no game or database can reproduce reality. For one thing, they exist out of time, but this isn't the only thing.

Videogames defer life. But they do not defer death.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:05 AM on October 8, 2010 [25 favorites]


My video game problem announced itself early on -- I lost a job after playing Sonic The Hedgehog for 3 days without stopping right after I bought a used Sega from a friend. I gave the console away after that and haven't bought one since.

Before that, it was a 56-hour jag playing Ultima IV. And before that, there was playing Tetris for so many hours that I went to sleep, dreamed of playing, woke up with the blocks still falling through my subconscious, and started up the Atari to play more.

Before that, it was the HUNDREDS of dollars in quarters I fed into first-run Pac Man and Tempest machines. Hundreds? Maybe thousands. I'm not sure.

Since I discovered that little switch in the back of my brain that, after about an hour, will go *click* and suddenly it's days later and I haven't moved... I pretty much stay away from any games more complex than Bejeweled or whatever. I did purchase Spore, but only played through it once, in tiny chunks, at a dead run with no stopping to really investigate what was going on.

I just don't even approach them anymore. I know how I'm wired, and I know that hole I fall into, where it used to be Tuesday but now it's Saturday and fuckwhatjusthappenedtoallthattimeI'mhungryandIstinkandwhatareallthesemessagesinmyvoicemailIdon'trememberthephoneringing...
posted by hippybear at 9:11 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The story goes that life online and in games is no less "real" than life outside or hanging out with friends in a park. After all, what we think of as real is merely what we perceive, right? And seeing a tree in a game is the same as seeing a tree in real life, because both are acts of seeing.

I'm not sure whose story that is. The one I'm more familiar with, and more willing to defend, is that neither online interactions nor gamic experiences are fundamentally false or meritless. Which is a story that gets told mostly in reaction to people declaring the opposite: that online relationships are fake, empty, pointless simulacra with no real human content, and that, similarly, games have no worthy qualities, have no art in them and no substance.

You show me the person who claims outside of some narrow context that looking at a tree in a game is precisely the same as looking at a tree in a park, I will show you a person who is being silly. Most folks arguing the subject are arguing a more nuanced and less absolutist defense of the merits of such stuff.

But everything online is mediated explicitly through online social norms (no snark on AskMe), but also implicitly through database structure and data models. The expression of certain kinds of acknowledgment, affinity, or appreciation is not included in Metafilter's table structure or SQL queries. So to the extent that Metafilter is a community, it is a community in which many personal relationships can never exist. They are literally defined out of this reality.

This is silly. Metafilter is not the sum of it's metadata fields; the principle thing that makes Metafilter work, and keeps people coming around, and builds friendships and relationships and correspondences, is the words people use to communicate with each other. Those words live in database fields too; the database framing is meaningless. You could as soon argue that a blind man is somehow prevented from having human experiences because he literally cannot experience a fundamental human mode of interaction.

No one will be hugging over the internet any time soon, but that's not a condemnation of the internet, much as pretty much everyone does need a hug. It's just a statement about which channels for genuine human interaction are available in this specific context.

The facebook addict and the gaming addict are chasing the rush associated with fidelity. This feels like a real friend. This feels like a real adventure.

The person with crappy real life friends is chasing the same fidelity. The person who enjoys novels is chasing the same adventure. It's not as simple as pinning this shit on a medium.

Gaming addiction is real. It's genuinely problematic for the people it affects. So too internet addiction. But the problem is the addictive cycle, not some notional valuelessness of the mediums themselves.
posted by cortex at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


Game addiction is hard to talk about for me, partly because it's so personal, and partly because I don't want to feed into media depictions of video games as this horrible thing that will eat our children and ruin society. I don't think games are bad. I think games are bad for me.

I admitted to myself, years ago, that there was a certain kind of game that was a Problem for me. Civilization, Nethack, most lately Dwarf Fortress - the "GPA-killers". For me, they start off fun - here is this whole world, this universe of possibilities. You can explore it, analyze it, find out what works and what doesn't. It takes up the spare clock cycles of your brain and lets you try to solve a problem with no risk. Failure is unimportant. Eventually the fun wears off, but I want to play anyway - rather, I don't really want to, but I really don't want to do anything else. It's this thing that I think will uplift me and relax me, but it doesn't. Even when I'm done learning anything from the game, there's nothing else I want to do.

I tried to quit just these games many times and continue playing games that were less problematic, like adventure games, but every time I fired up frotz or ScummVM I eventually ended up playing hideous amounts of Dwarf Fortress. Things came to a head when I was beginning a new romantic relationship, about which I was really excited, and found myself making time for gaming instead of for her. I wanted to spend the time with her, not alone with my computer, and I knew it - but I wasn't capable of making that decision every time I had to. That's when I decided to stop, completely, all games. I didn't, and still don't, trust myself to make good decisions related to them. I am not capable of making many small decisions about the role games will play in my life, so I have made one decision and I will not revisit it - playing video games is not part of my life anymore.

My life has improved markedly since I decided to give up games. Outside the context of game addiction, I don't think statements like "why don't you go make a real garden instead of playing Farmville" make sense. For those of us that really do spend enough time and energy playing games, eventually without any real feeling of reward, it can be a powerful force for healing.
posted by yomimono at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nitpicking, but people don't really shoot crack, do they?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:44 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm also calling bunk on the Uncanny Valley of Gaming and Social Networks. People don't get lost in them because they represent reality, but because the augment reality. Roll playing isn't supposed to be just like real life with trees and everything, but be somewhere that you can engage in unrealistic or impossible behavior. No one is a mage in real life, no one cleaves monsters with giant swords for a day job. To really believe these things are reality is to probably have other issues beyond gaming addiction.

Game feedback is quicker and easier than real-world feedback, similar to gambling. With the roll of the dice, pull of the lever (now push of a button), your wealth can skyrocket, though it usually won't. By playing a bit longer, "grinding" a few more dungeons or harvesting a few more crops, you'll get more money or more loot, allowing you to do more in the game world. Your efforts resulted in some positive feedback, and you play for more. Real gardening takes a lot more time and effort, though the payback is a physical good.

In the same vein, people play The Sims because they can be a thief, then a lawyer, then a novelist, always succeeding, always making more money (or entering a cheat code and getting more instantly), all within a few days. No need to risk getting caught stealing your neighbor's TV, spend time going to law school and taking the bar exam, or finding something interesting to write about and get it published. There is no belief that any of this is real, but it is entertaining.

The same could be said for people who enjoy reading books. They aren't making real friends, they aren't going on real adventures, they're just reading about it. But that's OK, because they're not playing computer games, right?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 AM on October 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


these simulations lack critical aspects of real life experience that places them into the uncanny valley

I have to say that's a pretty sloppy use of the term. The UV doesn't arise, you may note, when you deviate from the most realistic forms. Even if you intend this concept more broadly, it doesn't account for most videogames, including some notoriously addictive ones (eg: Tetris). Those players aren't trying to approach reality in the game in any way. Rather, I think they're tapping into something probably instinctual and scratching that itch in a very isolated way (in the case of Tetris, pattern-matching with some twitch reaction timing). That can be very satisfying, but what it's not is any attempt to approach or recreate your world or an idealized one.

Your whole comment seems very focused on a particular kind of game experience and gamer. Multiplayer certainly adds a different psychology, but even there, I think the draw is different from competitive multiplayer to cooperative. I have known a couple of people who say they can't go back to solo play -- the game world feels "empty" or "lonely" -- so there's definitely some element of need for interaction but even there, is it all one kind? The competitive multiplayer fan may simply want a sharper opponent than A.I., whereas an rpg multiplayer may otherwise miss the companionship. I don't think you can pigeonhole "gaming" into one kind of appeal/desire/possible mechanism for addiction.

Interesting to hear stories of how others cope, because of course, you have the ability to reflect on your compulsions and strategize against your worst instincts. For many people that means the cold turkey approach. Me, I joked in another thread about giving yourself over to Civ V, "ODing" on it, and coming out the other side (into the arms of minecraft). The truth is that I played Civ V for a week, initially because I wanted to check it out, but later because I didn't dare fire up minecraft. I knew better than that, if I expected anything else of my day before (a very late) sleep.

But minecraft is a fascinating example, to me, of how certain tools (rudimentary environment-shaping) can lend themselves to addicting players to their own creativity. There, I think empath noted in another thread, again appears to be some very deep instinctual business going on, and what people are looking for is definitely not a closer reality, sharper graphics, more realistic pressures and fulfillments. Comparatively few people arrive at a level of ability in painting, or sculpting, or playing a musical instrument, where what they can craft matches what they can imagine on the spot. That's pretty frustrating, but it's a frustration you can quickly overcome by giving yourself over wholly to consumption rather than creation. But creation is a terribly (wonderfully) (terribly) addictive thing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the same vein, people play The Sims because they can be a thief, then a lawyer, then a novelist, always succeeding, always making more money (or entering a cheat code and getting more instantly), all within a few days

Bullshit. I've played The Sims. I know what it's like. It's not some simulation of a successful thief cum lawyer; it's a simulation of a depressed loner who sits alone in an empty house, surrounded by pizza boxes, crying and pooping on the couch.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:07 AM on October 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


My god, The Sims is depressing. Again, I think there are a few instinctual cravings being satisfied there: design (holy cow the play-house element, let me pick the wallpaper with just this trim), time management pressure (must sleep must be entertained must have time with frie-zzzzzzz), etc. No, not any kind of "this makes me feel like a doctor!". Way more abstracted than that.

But it reminds me, and I'm hoping someone can point me to what I'm remembering, there was a text-based sim where you start from early life values and action choices and work up to an output of how this person's life might unfold. That kind of game presents you with some interesting possibilities of course: play as yourself (as best you're able to do with limited self-reflection), play as your opposite, play as imagined archtypes, etc.. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I have to say, the output may have changed the input. I wanted my character (as "me") to get into exercise, become stronger, more fit, and... the simulation wouldn't let me. I mean, it let me for a bit, but then told me that my character devepment wasn't such that an exercise program could hold my interest for long; I just didn't have the willpower for dedicated exercise. Man, that was depressing. Result: "fuck that shit" became part of my motivation for fitness IRL.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:18 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is silly. Metafilter is not the sum of it's metadata fields; the principle thing that makes Metafilter work, and keeps people coming around, and builds friendships and relationships and correspondences, is the words people use to communicate with each other.

I have lots of "friends" on metafilter, but none of them would help me change a tire in the rain at 2 a.m. None of them would help me move a couch.
We call Metafilter a community, but behind everything we recognize the need for irl connection. There is no substitute for real world friendships and an online community is a poor imitation at best. People are pretty honest about that around here, though - we have meetups I think, in part, because you can't taste an internet beer or feel an internet hug.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Durn, I believe that game was called "Alter Ego" - it was on old dos-based game and had a male and female variant. It looks like now there's an online version.
posted by bookdragoness at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have lots of "friends" on metafilter, but none of them would help me change a tire in the rain at 2 a.m.

There are a few mefites in town who I would help with that sort of thing, and who I think would help me with that sort of thing, if it came down to it. There are a bunch more who fall in that general category but who live in different parts of the country or the world.

But 2 a.m. tire-changing isn't really something metafilter's community is built for. It's an asynchronous text-based medium with relatively little geographic focus. Couch-moving, maybe a bit more workable because it's not something that usually occurs in the middle of the night without warning; if you mention a couch that needs moving in a meetup thread, I'd say there's a pretty decent chance you'll get that couch moved.

But help that can happen over the internet does happen. People provide emotional support, coordinate that which can be coordinated over the internet when someone has a problem, talk to each other, become friends, collaborate. Some of this is supplementary to or supplemented by in-person meetups and such, which I love and find very valuable for the qualities that an IRL interaction provide and so I'm not remotely discounting that side of things. But the whole genuine human value of online interactions is not remotely reducible to the meat-space manifestations of same.

People were having meaningful friendships at a distance long before the internet. These days it's much more easy to make casual acquaintances and maintain light friendships at a distance than it ever was in the past, absolutely, but while it's certainly a mistake to confuse having a couple common Likes on Facebook for a meaningful friendship, it's also a huge misapprehension of the nature and possibility of online human interaction to confuse the lowest rung of internet social interactions for the limit and character of all such things. Far, far more people today are able to have rich text-mediated interactions at a distance than were able to back when putting something in the post was the only real channel of communication.

Anyway, this is a huge topic and it's all pretty far afield of the question of gaming addiction, and that is a big and worthy topic in its own right and the ostensible topic of the thread, so I'll let this drop and stop distracting from that. Topic for another day.
posted by cortex at 11:06 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Woah. Gamers with Jobs on MetaFilter. My worlds collide!

Hello there, I'm on GWJ too. *high five*
posted by juv3nal at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2010


That's definitely it, bookdragoness!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:16 AM on October 8, 2010


Durn, what an awesome game. I was kind of pissed though, when I successfully navigated infancy only to get kidnapped, tortured and murdered. Some creeper pulled up to the curb while I was playing in the yard, and I selected "curious" as my mood but didn't go up to the car, and the game was all, "You have chosen an inappropriate response." So raped and murdered it is, I suppose, for cautious, curious little balrog.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:41 AM on October 8, 2010


Which is a story that gets told mostly in reaction to people declaring the opposite: that online relationships are fake, empty, pointless simulacra with no real human content, and that, similarly, games have no worthy qualities, have no art in them and no substance.

All those value judgments are yours. I never said anything was pointless. And the "art" reference is an attempt to introduce into this a debate that is completely irrelevant. I thought my comment made the distinction between "normal" interaction with games and social networks and "addictive" interaction. The normal reaction is to use the thing for what it is. The normal person uses facebook to organize their social life and extend it to include other people they might not otherwise meet in real life. The addict uses facebook to try to get out of it the emotional connection the normal person gets out of real-world social contact. With twitter, the example is easier. Why does it matter how many followers one has? The normal user will answer that question in one of two ways: (1) it doesn't matter, or (2) they need the followers to do something else--promotion, opinion forming, etc. I'm not judging whether those are good or bad or right or wrong. I'm saying that the normal user approaches Twitter from a standpoint of utility. They use it to connect, have fun, amuse themselves, build a following, etc. An addict will answer that question this way: (1) more followers is better. Why is it better? Because having more followers is meaningful to them in a way that has nothing to do with putting those followers to use or having fun. More followers satisfies a need.


The person with crappy real life friends is chasing the same fidelity. The person who enjoys novels is chasing the same adventure. It's not as simple as pinning this shit on a medium.

You are ignoring the fact that every can use these things is a healthy way. There is a healthy approach to a video game and an unhealthy approach to the same game. Yes, everyone reads novels. Some people obsessively read "escapist" fiction, though, because they are looking to hide in the fantasy world of the book from something in reality. That obsessive use of novels is not unhealthy.

The problem is more acute with this medium, because the simulation of life in games is better (I'm not talking about Tetris, I'm talking about the games that people actually talk about being addicted to.) That is precisely why I used the uncanny valley.

But 2 a.m. tire-changing isn't really something metafilter's community is built for. It's an asynchronous text-based medium with relatively little geographic focus.
posted by cortex at 2:06 PM on October 8


And yet in your earlier comment you said:

Those words live in database fields too; the database framing is meaningless.

The framing is not meaningless precisely because the framing is what builds the community for some things and by implication not for others. Let me give you a discrete example: For any given image, are words capable of communicating exactly the same messages in the same qualitative way as that image? I don't think so. (I also think the reverse is equally true, i.e. images can't always substitute for words).

If I'm right, that would suggest that there are some concepts, feelings, ideas that can't be effectively communicated with words that could be communicated with images. And yet we can't post images. That literally means that certain messages can't be communicated on metafilter. Further food for thought: would the quality of the written comments be the same if we could also post images?

My point is that the structure matters. It enhances and elevates some forms of communication (and some messages) and suppresses or discourages others.

Anyway, this is a huge topic and it's all pretty far afield of the question of gaming addiction

No, it's exactly the same question. People play games with online with other people, right? That is an interaction mediated by the structure of the game, just like metafilter is interaction mediated by the structure of this site. Is Second-Life a Facebook with 3d game elements grafted on, or is it a 3d game with facebook elements grafted on?

You're ignoring the fact that games and facebook are actual real-life experiences (you press buttons and things are affected in the real world) but those are not experiences of the ones those things simulate. They are entirely different experiences new to humans. for example, clicking a button to connect a person to you in a semi-permanent way on FB. The actual FB/game experience provides the real-life sensations (hey, I clicked and now this person's data record is successfully tied to mine) that convince the addict that what the simulated but unfelt experience (making a friend who reciprocation of friendship is validating and positive) can be made real, if only they could X, Y, and Z (get more links, post to their wall, post to walls of people they link to, etc). The addict is trying to cross the gap between the simulated and the real, and keeps failing because there is no way to bridge the gap, because the simulated experience is not a real experience (tying data records has absolutely nothing to do with making friends).
posted by Pastabagel at 11:52 AM on October 8, 2010


I have lots of "friends" on metafilter, but none of them would help me change a tire in the rain at 2 a.m. None of them would help me move a couch.

Right. That's what Twitter friends are for.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:53 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not talking about Tetris, I'm talking about the games that people actually talk about being addicted to.

???
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:54 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought about it for a while, and then uninstalled Steam and Minecraft. I don't know when or if I'll ever start playing videogames, but this is, for me, the right thing to do at this time.

I'm not going to issue a blanket condemnation of gaming and the internet; that's just silly. Gaming isn't in itself inherently evil or empty or fake; it is what you as an individual make of it. In this sense videogames can be compared to alcohol or reading. The spectrum of experiences available via these activities is vast and people use (or abuse) them in vastly different ways.

The problem with videogames is that they are expressly designed to play upon human desire - their feedback mechanism, as filthy light thief has mentioned, provides a quick fix with less actual effort than real life does, and in this sense, addictive personalities are particularly vulnerable.

Cold turkey is probably a nuclear option, but until I know I'm capable of dealing with vidoegames in a healthy and non-destructive manner, it's the only safe one. I've already tried rationing, self-flagellation, various manners and styles of controlling myself, but all have ultimately failed. So I'm going cold turkey until further notice - and perhaps by announcing it publicly (Twitter, FaceBook, MeFight forums) it'll be more successful this time round. I don't know, but I do hope.
posted by WalterMitty at 10:09 PM on October 8, 2010


@WalterMitty I sincerely wish you luck. I spent all my middle and most of my high school years playing Quake 3. Looking back I cant believe how much time I spent and how productive it could have been towards upping my GPA. I barely ever opened my textbooks, I swear till this day I am bad at math because of not paying attention back then. I am going to have to sit down one day and learn it properly.

You gotta start somewhere bro, and doing something is always better than nothing. I can truly say that in due time it does get easier.

One mantra I usually hear myself uttering every once in a while is "You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down."
~ Mary Pickford
posted by BurN_ at 10:33 PM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


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