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🎮 games, drugs

People talk about video games today the way they talked about booze in movies from the 20s, and people who play games are “on the sauce”.

Having recently had a child, I spend a bit of time reading parenting things online, and places like Reddit are full of stories that become repetitive real fast. Relationships being pushed to limits, typically over what’s labeled an “interest” in gaming, but what actually reads a lot more like an addiction. And it sort of feels like because there’s no direct health consequences of the addiction, we’ve mostly failed to recognize it for what it is. But the parallels to conventional addictions are uncanny: Husband comes home from work and wants nothing to do with his family. He flips on the console immediately and resents any attempt to interfere. If left to his own devices, he’d spend every free moment he had gaming.

I personally know people in poor financial situations who, despite their better judgement, cannot stop themselves from spending every spare dollar they have on games. And they aren’t even good ones. Half the time they’re just re-issues of old games where the only real difference is the box is a novelty color. What is that if not addiction?

I also know parents who are so concerned that their kids might one day develop a classic drug addiction that they actively encourage them to stay home and play video games in the basement. And I know recent graduates who, as a result, pay little attention to anything that requires advanced planning or long term goals and instead spend all their free continuing to play video games in the basement. And every time I interact with these kids, I can’t help but wonder if they’d have been better off doing actual drugs.

The US banned alcohol for a decade because men were spending too much money on booze and time at bars, and it was interfering with home life and destroying marriages. It just seems a bit odd that we’ve accepted whatever we’re calling our current relationship to video games at face value.