I used to think video game addictions were a joke and I'd laugh anytime anyone compared it to crack but is it really that funny? Let's make some comparisons.
? Crack consumes time that could have been invested more wisely ? video games consume time that could have been invested more wisely.
? Crack costs money ? video games cost money.
? Crack can ruin lives ? video games can ruin lives.
? Crack can ruin your health ? video games can ruin your health.
? Crack is addicting, meaning the more you do it the more you want it ? video games are addicting.
? Crack is a hardcore substance that infiltrates the body's chemical processes and becomes an external chemical addiction. Video games get the adrenaline pumping, which leads to a self-induced physical and mental addiction.
Many will laugh as they read this ? I want to laugh too! But video games and other forms of electronic entertainment are like giant vacuums sucking the time out of the ultimate reality ? life. Life in the "real world" is and will continue to be the pinnacle of existence. Yet as more and more virtual environments spring up and becomes more "real" ? more people will get hooked and escape from true world.
In my research I found a few sites that talked about their life running game addictions and some of the steps they took to solve the problem. In one dramatic example a gentleman took a Glock 17 9mm to his Civilization CD! http://www.logsdon.net/games/civ2.html
In another classic example a young Jeffrey Stark writes a passionate essay on how an online reality game has ruined 7 years of his life. He urges "Please watch your son closely. And if you really want to do him a favor, take the computer away, or delete his characters, delete the game, and take his EQ disc and break it. He WILL BE PISSED at you for like a month, but eventually, he will become a *normal* person. Its harsh, it's cruel, but I tell u what: when he looks back upon his life, he will thank you for doing so, as would I if my parents did this along time ago for me." The full essay: http://www.selfpsychology.org/_forum/0000014b.htm
What is so fun about video games?
My hypothesis is that in a virtual environment like video games we have more control over our virtual environments and shorter timelines to get feedback on our performance. We can also do things in the virtual world, without the consequences we'd normally face in public. This allows us to free our inhibitions and experience the excitement of dating without boundaries, running people over or shooting them on the streets ? like what you find in some of the most popular games on the market today.
It seems that human beings are hard wired with a carnal desire to be and do whatever we want ? without limits or without consequences. The real world spoils all that fun. The virtual world becomes an outlet for our wildest fantasies. Whether it be commanding an army for the glory of Rome or playing the role of a mob hit man. The excitement also becomes compounded with online gaming. The challenge of matching wits with other players makes the gaming experience even more intense. The brain loves a challenge ? and one where a strategy can be applied with almost instantaneous feedback (a few hours or so) is almost too good to pass up. It becomes a problem when these hours are stacked on top of each other for days on end and other more important time investments suffer.
The Time Vacuum
The time vacuum exists when there's nothing to fill it. Video games are a motivating filler of the time vacuum. T.V. and other forms of idle entertainment also play a role. All forms of entertainment are not bad. And engaging your time in leisure is not negative. But a real question of value comes up when a consistent time investment yields only a short-term reward.
Have you asked yourself the value of your time investments?
Ask yourself if the time you invest in your game, television show, or movie is going to affect your life tomorrow in a positive way? Are you investing in the future or are you simply killing time. Most time investments are like candy for the mind - sweet at the time but stupid in the long run.
What can you do that's enjoyable today and also has a more positive impact in the long run?
? Invest your time in your passions. Your passions should fuel the actions that lead you to the vision of your future. If you don't have a clear vision ? that's where your time investment should start. (See Rules for Goal Setting)
? Read books today that are applicable tomorrow.
? Make a list of activities you would consider entertainment and evaluate them in terms of current enjoyment and long term value. Even put many new things in this list you have never even done before. Experiencing new things can be fun! Life is an experience ? soak it up. This step alone will significantly improve your life in the long run.
These alternate activities should be motivating enough to give you a twinge of excitement when you think about spending time on them. They are the things you'll immediately bring into your mind when you find that you have free time. You don't want to get distracted and just do what sounds fun. You want to evaluate the activities you'll have fun doing ahead of time. Now this might seem to contradict spontaneity but in truth ? going out on the weekends to watch a band play or a comedian can still be valuable activities for your social growth. You should just know in advance where you will permit your time to be invested and where you will not. This requires logical evaluation reinforced by a commitment and decisive action. Knowing what you want out of life and what you're absolutely willing to do to get there is perhaps the best remedy for all forms of time waste. Darwin once said, "Anyone who dares waste one hour of life has not discovered the true value of life."
This article is part of the James Rick Daily Vitamin by James Rick, a daily blog that merges our understanding of spirit with the physical world. James Rick is author of Full Potential, a revolutionary guide to mastering your life in stages. He is also a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and CEO of two international ventures.
More can be learned at JamesRick.com.