You're a video game addict - Now what?

It's really quite amazing to me how one industry has come under attack by so many groups of people. If it isn't Congress or Jack Thompson trying to destroy a billion dollar industry, it's the AMA and any other organization that doesn't know the differenc

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For those of you who are keeping score, last week, the American Medical Association decided to postpone the vote on whether or not heavy video game playing is an addiction.

In a statement prepared by the organization, an AMA spokesperson explained that more research needs to be conducted before a decision is made: "Given that approximately 70 to 90 percent of U.S. youths play video games, the AMA today called for more research on the long-term beneficial and detrimental effects of video game and Internet use."

I can't help but think that the AMA should really find something better to do than waste its time finding out if there is such thing as a video game addiction. These people - probably some of the best and brightest this country has to offer - are spending time deciding whether or not heavy gaming is an addiction while people are currently struggling with real issues that seem to be forgotten about? Maybe I missed the memo, but something is amiss here.

If you ask me, video game addiction should be the least of our worries. There are people currently suffering from drug, alcohol and a slew of other addictions, and yet the AMA is worrying about the guy sitting in front of World of Warcraft for eight hours each day. Sure, that's an issue and maybe he should get up and see sunlight every now and then, but is it an addiction like cocaine or heroin? Please.

For the sake of argument, let's say the AMA decides that video game playing is an addiction. Then what? Will we need to rewrite the penal code to include overactive gamers getting a little too much? Will we be seeing little 8-year old Jane being swept away in a paddy wagon because she wanted to play Lumines for more than five hours yesterday?

Where does the addiction end and where does nonsense begin?

Once the AMA calls gaming an addiction, will they add a new wing to the Betty Ford Clinic to house all of those Halo addicts? Will your local Congressman cut the ribbon on the new Video Game Addiction facility? Even better, will your insurance company pay for your addiction like it does with other (real) addictions?

The fact that the AMA may decide to call gaming an addiction is nothing more than a glorified attempt at stopping this evil enterprise. We like to play games and hey, if that means we play Killzone all night, it doesn't mean we are addicted, it just means we're entertained.

It's really quite amazing to me how one industry has come under attack by so many groups of people. If it isn't Congress or Jack Thompson trying to destroy a billion dollar industry, it's the AMA and any other organization that doesn't know the difference between a joystick and crack pipe. Don't these people know that they can invest in gaming companies and make a boatload of money instead of doing the jobs parents should be doing? Someone needs to remind them of that point.

Addiction is an awfully strong word to just throw around. When I think of the term addiction, I think of blood tests to see if I smoked something last night. What will the test be like for gaming? Thumb graphs to measure irritation?

The sad fact is we are living in a transitional period. The old guard is on the way out and before they go, they are trying to destroy all issues that are foreign to them. If the AMA puts video game addiction on its books, in twenty years we will all be laughing when it's erased by a World of Warcraft fanatic.

But in the meantime, open up the first ever video game addiction insurance company. Word on the street says it's the next big thing.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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