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gamers addiction: even five hours isn’t enough

An interesting item today, carried in the Straits Times, not a whisper or a peep in Today, the ‘other major paper’ in Singapore.

Are you one of nearly 40% of gamers who are hopelessly addicted?
Additionally, do you have an inner psycho just waiting to jump out?

Self-appointed Internet ‘advisors’ Pagi (Parents Advisory Group for the Internet) (I believe I could have come up with a better name or better initials…) commissioned a report during a video games showcase at the Science Centre and made mention of this in October last year.

Today (as in this day, not the ‘other’ paper) the findings come out that ‘game addiction’ hits 37 percent of survey respondents (of the more than 1,000 visitors to the PlanetGames games exhibition last year) and their symptoms include:
1) inability to stop playing when they know they should be doing something else
2) constantly obsessing over the game
3) engaging in conflict with parents and other family members over their addiciton
4) needing to play more and more to get their fix

Also, most at risk are males aged 17 to 20, with 1 in 8 gamers spending more than 5 hours daily in front their computers.

Ok, I admit I’m an addict.

Whether it’s the bouts of Defense of the Ancients or DOTA, a Warcraft 3 modification (a violent real-time strategy game in which humans, elves, orcs and other fantasy creatures beat each other into the next era), or in Maple Story, an adventure game from the creators of Gunbound, there is something sickeningly satisfying about spending hours in front of a screen, pounding furniture and the keyboard all the while yelling, screaming and cursing at the screen. i guess it’s something like watching a soccer match or wrestling then.

but then again, i’m sure there are golf enthusiasts who scream at the screen yelling, ‘damn, i could’ve hit that putt, Tiger, with my eyes blindfolded and my hands wrapped around my wood. my 3 wood, that is…!’ or something to similar effect.

after a long hard day’s work, there’s nothing like beating up some virtual creatures, considering the real world alternative of beating your boss or colleague up, could possibly land you in a cell next to Took Leng How who’s facing child murder charges. gorgeous, ain’t it?

i’ve definitely hit the ‘computer addict’ charts a couple of times, from clocking up between 5 and 7 hours of game time a day on weekdays and between 10 and 14 hours during weekends during my university days.

for me, the computer has been a game machine, more than a glorified typewriter, or a email or internet surfing machine.

it’s been there the times my parents were out for dinner when i was a kid. when the tv showed crappy stuff during the school holidays. the times when everyone was out of the house and i was there bashing on the i-j-k-m combination (to move the game character up-left-right-down respectively) on my Apple ][ clone computer when i was 12 (that’s about 2 decades ago for those of you who’re counting).

i have to admit those Apple games were kinda pathetic and weak, but then what would you expect from a computer with 48kb (yes, that’s kilobytes, about 48,000 bytes in comparison to today’s computers with 512mb (megabytes) or roughly 512,000,000 bytes. yes, yes, i know the tech guru readers out there will correct me with 8 bits equals 1 bytes. yes i know that, but i’m making it simple here…).

back then a game consisted of a green blob (not to be mistaken with ‘blog’ which is what you’re reading now) moving around the screen firing small dots at other green blobs. it sounds sick, but this stuff was addicitive and i sometimes stayed up overnight to play it. the only sound was a distinctive bleep, kinda like the ‘censored’ sound when someone says ‘shit’ or some other naughty word on tv. you sometimes got soft bleeps, sometimes regular bleeps, and if you were really lucky, you got to hear loud bleeps (especially when you died).

the reason why all the characters were green was coz this was the age of monochrome computer monitors.

yes, there was a time when computers didnt have colour. lots of kids find this unbelievable, just like they dont believe there was a time when you had to WIND your car window down, not just push a button up and down, and occasionally (or perhaps deliberately got your brother’s finger or face caught in the window).

fast forward 15 years and i’m playing Counterstrike (a game of counter terrorists wasting terrorists) and DOTA, Tank Wars (another variation of Warcraft 3) and now Maple Story.

These games wastes lots of time and hardly generates any income, unless you’re the game developer or you set up a nifty ‘hints and tips’ website or sell a book related to it.

the worst part of it, is that even if you’re the top dog today, 2 years down the road, you become a ‘has been’, kinda like being the Pac Man champ. ‘yeah, that guy was the best in the world for this freaky game in which you played some kinda yellow circle with a quadrant cut out that if you imagined really hard, you might think you’re some kinda yellow mouth or monster or something, and then you ran around this maze, eating dots or food or some weird stuff, and then you’d have these ghosts chasing after you and if they touched you, you’d disintegrate.

weird stuff, sounds like something Game Theory developer, John Nash, might have said in A Beautiful Mind

the interesting thing is that while all these studies will continue to show how bad all this stuff is for us, that it’ll rot our minds, reduce us to social imbeciles, bring out our dark savage and violent tendencies, we’ll continue to have one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies and the largest company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange,Singapore Telecom, launch one of the most addictive online computer games World of Warcraft (WoW).

This will undoubtedly mean that countless new players will get hooked on WoW and we could expect to see more ‘violent’ and addicted gamers in the near future.

I definitely would love to spend all day and night playing this game, although at the end of the day, i’m very sure that this will certainly bring me further away from my goal of hitting S$5m in net worth by the age of 35 (about 3 years away).

as of yesterday i’ve sworn off games until i achieve a couple of milestones in my quest towards my goal.

the milestones are:
1) balance my stock portfolio
2) launch my business website at http://www.bizexcellerator.com (not quite up yet, though with a draft at least ready by Aug 1st).
3) spend more time with the wife.

these 3 could keep me quite busy for a while.

I know that there are a couple of readers out there, judging by the counter hits.
do feel free to leave some comments or perhaps even share your own experiences.

in the meantime, live long and prosper.

6 comments on gamers addiction: even five hours isn’t enough

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