It is no secret that the SouthPark WoW episode or the thousand other stereotypes of gamers is constantly echoed. There are critics who will say WoWer's or other gamers are all lazy, trans fat consuming, socially in-ept coach potatoes.
Advocates of online games will say it's all about balance and people who play Warcraft are the same as everyone else. The truth is closer to the latter but the stereotypes exist for a reason, sometimes games can grab hold of your life in a negative way, mainly impacting your physical/mental well being as well as those who love you.
So what are some of the symptoms of being addicted to a video game
A tell tale sign is you stop doing things you normally would do before you started playing the game. This may include stop hanging out with friends, going to certain places like the mall, stop working out, and lack of personal hygiene which includes eating balanced meals at set times. I remember when I first started playing EverQuest I would stay up all night, eating random things, including junk foods and barely hang out with my friends. Thankfully I worked out every day or else the junk food on top of a pale body would have been disastrous. It starts off slowing you turn down going out, soon your staying up late for a guild raid, and pretty soon your life is consumed, you're a stranger to your friends/family and your girlfriend is ready to dump you.
Now that we know how easy it is to let it negatively impact your life let's look at some of the positive impacts.
Video games let people develop reactions and muscle memory that are simply not easily mimicked unless via mouse or game controller. This hand-eye coordination is unique from most other forms including sports and adds to making a better overall you.
Games let you stay in touch with friends you might live far away from or would otherwise not interact with. Warcraft can be likened to a chat system with a game around it. It is very social and teaches teens/adults how to interact with others in an ever increasingly digital age this is an extremely useful skill.
Ever hear the expression the more things I have to do the more I seem to get done? Well this is true for all things. When someone is busy and can only devote a couple hours to leisure time World of Warcraft is an ideal choice. It lets you're accomplishments persist even when you log off so you can build/work towards your goal of level 70 each day little by little versus a game where once you turn off you lost all your efforts.
How can you get your family to see it's not an addiction
It's hard to get a non-gamer to see your point of view but explain that the game lets you be imaginative (parents are always preaching that!). You can explore a whole new world with virtually no limits and fight epic battles along the way and make some great friends.
Let your family/friends try it out or at least watch you play. Chances are they will be harsh and criticize the game but this will give you a reality check and let you realize your high end raid that is going to last all night might not be a better option than hanging out with your girlfriend.
So are you addicted
If yes you need to take a step back and find out why you are playing so much. Is it because you have so much time invested? Never throw good money after bad, or take part in the sunk-cost fallacy.
Can you quit
If you really love the game but function normally with your family/friends/spouse than you are not a stereotype and should be looked to as a model for gamers everywhere.
Continue raiding, leveling up, and taking part in drama because I will be there as well.
Game addiction creeps up on you slowly so be careful, but just because you enjoy/love something doesn't mean it's a negative! For the Game!
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