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Although the idea of an online video game addiction may sound like a stretch to some, consider those addicted to gambling. Some have gone as far as to wear diapers to casinos in order to keep playing longer. College funds gambled away and broken families are very real results of a gambling addiction, a behaviour some experts say is being rivaled by gaming addictions.

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Video Gaming is a Serious Addiction

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Video gaming is a serious addiction

Ian Willms

Saturday, January 26, 2008

There is a new hook for kids and adults alike - it is cheap, readily available, already in most households and has the power to destroy lives if left out of control.

Online video games are on our computers, televisions and even cell phones.

What was once considered innocent fun has progressed to a level of elaborate virtual escapism that has caused many people around the world to fall into the trap of an online gaming addiction.

"I quit smoking when I was 24," says Robb Xander, now 32, "but it was by far harder to quit playing World of Warcraft."

Xander is in the process of freeing himself from a three-year addiction to online video games.

"It''s way more interactive," says Xander. The game World of Warcraft links thousands of users from around the world together in the same online web-based match. They are called Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). There are nearly 10 million active World of Warcraft accounts today. And that is just one game.

Although the idea of an online video game addiction may sound like a stretch to some, consider those addicted to gambling. Some have gone as far as to wear diapers to casinos in order to keep playing longer. College funds gambled away and broken families are very real results of a gambling addiction, a behaviour some experts say is being rivaled by gaming addictions.

For Xander, it isn''t the game itself that is addictive, rather the avoidance of real life.

"It doesn''t necessarily become ''more than a game’. It just becomes not being in reality. It''s escapism," he says.

"I started down a path of escapism because I couldn''t manage my emotions and my reality at the same time. When you''re destitute you don''t realize a lot of the decisions you make," Xander continued.

Online game addictions have the power to destroy relationships, marriages, jobs and even entire families simply because they offer the user an escape from any high-stress reality they may be coping with.

According to Michael Piercy, program consultant for The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, "It''s similar to using substances like drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms to avoid one''s social and/or environmental reality. Of course, that reality doesn''t change, it is only postponed."

"When the user relies on their coping mechanism to an extreme, reality around them is still changing." Piercy said, "When their reality changes in a negative way the user sees this as more of a motivation to continue their avoidance."

Beyond any social damage, there have been three documented cases of fatalities directly as a result of playing online Role Playing Games (RPGs). In one example from August 10, 2005, The London Times and BBC reported on a 28-year-old South Korean man who died after playing a MMOG for 50 hours straight. The official cause of death was heart failure due to ...

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