Addiction plagues everyone in the world in some form. Whether it presents itself through less self-destructive means such as having a tendency towards eating sweet foods or becomes severe to the point of substance abuse, addiction in all forms when not moderated can coerce anyone to continue on the path of self-destruction. Unfortunately, addiction does not restrict itself to the adult population and infests the minds of teenagers and children alike through the quickly booming industry of multiplayer video games.
First, a brief overview of how addiction affects the brain psychologically. The brain itself functions as a network of chemicals and cells coming together to create all of our sensory perception and emotional state. Addiction focuses on emotion, a very strong but impulsive area within humans. Once a person partakes in an action that gives them a sense of pleasure, dopamine is released within the brain and acts as a reward for what the brain feels to have been a positive experience. This instigates a cycle of repeating the activity for pleasure to release more dopamine. Unfortunately, the more an act is repeated and a dopamine response is triggered, the more dopamine is required for the brain to feel the same level of reward as had originally occurred. Evidently, when not under control, addiction can run rampant and lead to shutting out everything from life.
Gaming within teens and pre-teens poses the same risks and dangers as any other addiction and can lead to even worse effects than adults. Due to the fact that these children are still developing and have yet to obtain a grasp of understanding the world, the impact of long term addiction to video games can be drastically detrimental and take exponentially longer to reverse as well as impacting the child’s future life.
Many games are specifically tailored and designed to be addictive. A prime example of this are MMORPG games (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) which use a number of tactics to enthrall users and capture them ruthlessly in their deep abyss of content. The most prominent characteristic of an MMORPG game is that there is no traditional “end” or possible way to “win” as the user can endlessly continue to upgrade their player. Another popular trick these games use involve the gradual progression in time it takes to receive the same reward. A user may be able to quickly level up at first but gradually has to spend more time to get the same reward and therefore stay on the game for longer to achieve that goal. This seemingly simple trick is invisible to many players and leads them into the trap of staying in that virtual world no matter the cost.
While games are not all inherently bad or made with malicious intent, it is important to be cautious of what we are exposed to and always be mindful of how it affects our everyday lives. The risk is too great to allow oneself to fall into an addiction and have to put in so much effort in order to escape. There is a reason why addiction and vice are intertwined in their meanings and it is because both lead to dangerous consequences. The only positive addiction lies in moderation.