Interviewing My Gaming Roomates

Gaming

Below I have included a short audio interview that I did with my two roommates. The first interview involves the more hardcore gamer between the two. He is mainly a PC gamer and built his own custom gaming PC worth probably 2000 dollars. He also uses a Razer Blade Gaming laptop.

The second roommate I interviewed is the more casual gamer of the two. He mainly is interested in less competitive leisurely Japanese Role Playing Games (J-RPG’s) like Final Fantasy.

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Internet Video Game Addiction

Gaming

Extent of the Problem

As many as .2% of all teenagers in Germany to 50% of all teenagers in Korea have been reported to be Internet gaming addicts (Kuss 2013).  To some countries especially those in South-East Asia, the government has taken special care to address this serious problem. In South Korea, 24% of the children who are diagnosed with Internet addiction are hospitalized (Kuss 2013). Japan has taken similarly extreme measures by starting the development of “fasting camps” that cut off their patients from technology (Kuss 2013).

The concern of these groups centers around data from numerous studies that point to the negative consequences that Internet gaming addiction can have. Below is a list of the most popular concerns (Kuss 2013):

Sacrificing Real-Life Relationships

Sleep

Work

Education

Aggression and Hostility

Lack of attention

Motivations for Addiction

Some of the gaming motivations most commonly found to be associated with gaming addiction were (Kuss 2013):

Coping and Escaping Daily Stresses

Building Online Relationships

Mastery

Control

Recognition

Excitement

Challenge

Developmental Stages of Addiction

According to the biopsychosocial developmental theory of addiction, Internet gaming addiction develops no differently from other addictions. The behavior first becomes something salient to the individual (Kuss 2013). Then the individual uses the behavior to modify their own mood such as using gaming to escape the pressures of work or to feel great (Kuss 2013). Then a tolerance to gaming develops to the point at which gamers must spend greater amounts of time to feel the same mood effect (Kuss 2013). Following this tolerance, gamers may try to discontinue their behavior but will develop withdrawal symptoms (Kuss 2013). The continuation of behavior at this point in the addiction may lead to interpersonal and intra-personal conflict (Kuss 2013). Lastly, individuals who have tried to quit may experience relapses (Kuss 2013).

Context of Gaming

Using evidence from two case studies, Kuss shows the importance of context in diagnosing and characterizing gaming . Both case studies involve men that spent on average 14 hours a day playing MMORPG’s such as World of Warcraft (Kuss 2013).

The first Man named “Dave” was aged 21, unemployed and single. He self reported that gaming positively influenced his life by providing an online social life, boosting his self -esteem , and giving structure to his day (Kuss 2013). Dave’s extensive gaming did not lead to distress or have a negative impact on his life. In this particular instance, his behavior cannot be classified as a condition that would meet the requirements of the DSM-5 classification of mental disorder (Kuss 2013). On follow up, when Dave found a new job and entered into a relationship with someone he met through the game, the amount of gaming that he engaged in decreased significantly (Kuss 2013).

The second individual from the case study reported on a 38 year old accountant named “Jeremy”. Jeremy was married with two children at the time and due to his gaming, faced a relationship breakdown, lack of time for family activities and a loss of his job (Kuss 2013). Compounding these negative life events were increased craving for the game, playing time, and feelings of low mood and anxiety (Kuss 2013). In this instance, gaming was used as an escape from real life problems and although he tried to quit gaming on multiple occasions he was ultimately unsuccessful (Kuss 2013).

These two case studies show how the same excessive gaming behaviour may have different levels of consequences depending an individuals own context. It’s not simply just the number of hours played.

Citation

Kuss, D. J. (2013). Internet gaming addiction: current perspectives. Psychol Res Behav Manag, 6, 125-137. doi: 10.2147/PRBM.S39476

Video Game Addiction Self Introspection

Gaming

I must make a confession. This week is the last normal week of school before finals and this weekend I found myself playing video games. Prior to this moment I hadn’t touched a game in almost 3 months, but suddenly I felt the urge of commanding my WW2 troops in Company of Heroes 2. Trying to relieve the general from my former life, I sat for 6 hours to play 8 straight multiplayer games. At this time I was also experiencing full blown flu and had a fever of 102. Here are five things that I noticed about myself after playing the game for so long.

Initially You Feel Amazing

After not playing video games for so long, initially I felt super high. Company of Heroes is one of my favorite games. It is a real time strategy game that is set in the WW2 era. Players can choose between the Germans or the Russians and engage in online battle. My favourite team is the German team where I choose a close air support discipline which gives me access to air reconnaissance and attack runs. My favourite thing about this game is that there is a lot of strategy that goes into the gameplay. While some may think that playing games isn’t very physical, I often sweat when I play games because I get so into it.

You Get Very Irritable

When you’re in the middle of the game you must focus 100 percent on the screen in front of you. Maximization of time efficiency is key to success in real time strategy games and in the heat of the moment distractions can lead to losses. That’s why in moments such as these my reaction to normal interruptions such as questions, small talk or requests gives an unusually angered high pitched response. When I’m gaming, I’m not to be bothered because I get very irritable.

Win Or Lose You Keep Playing One More Game

It doesn’t matter if you win or if you lose, you will always want to keep playing. Often times you know that you’ve wasted too much time on the game but you keep reassuring yourself that it’ll only be one more game. Before you know it, 3 games have somehow slipped by. If you lose, you get frustrated and want to win. If you win, you are ecstatic and want to keep up the streak. You’ll only ever end up stopping if you’re roommate keeps you off his computer (Well in my case anyway).

You’re Body Forgets About Its Other Needs

When you’re playing the game, you’ll miss alerts that you’re body normally gives you. For example, I failed to notice it getting dark outside and only after the game did I realize I was in a dark unlit room. Another problem is that you don’t realize you’re hungry or thirsty. In my 6 hour game binge, I failed to take a break to get food. I did however have a water bottle handy at my side to hydrate. Finally potentially the most disastrous alert that I missed was the need to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t until I finished my last game that I felt the pressure in my bladder. Thank god I noticed when I did.

Video Game Addiction Treatment

Gaming

Video Game Addiction is real but is it necessarily bad? I mean games are fun and a way to relieve stress. For some individuals however, the use of this technology has become problematic. These “problem” users have been reported to neglect work, education, social relationships and personal well-being, playing games up to 80 to 100 hours per week (King, 2010). In these individuals the high level of involvement is comparable to pathological gambling (King, 2010).

Because Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has had moderate to high levels of success for problem gamblers, researchers were interested in adopting a similar framework of therapy for compulsive video game players (King, 2010).

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

According to the Mayo Clinic, Cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT) is a form of mental health counseling in which a counselor works with the patient to help the patient become more aware of negative thinking and behaviours. These sessions allow patients to view their challenge clearly and develop an appropriate response.

CBT

In addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse describes CBT as a method to prevent relapse. It has been used in treating alcohol and cocaine addiction. A central component of CBT is anticipating problems and developing effective coping strategies in patients so that they can deal with these problems. Proponents of CBT point to research that indicates skills learnt through cognitive-behavioral therapy extend beyond the treatment sessions.

One peculiarity about video games that may make them a more challenging target for CBT is that unlike gambling games, video games do not depend on chance but rather involve skill(King, 2010). Video game users may see this as incentive to practice these skills to master a game and thus hold rational thoughts on video game use (King 2010).

Unconventional Treatment

Gaming addiction among the youth in South Korea has become so prevalent that the government has acted to ban online video game play after 10:30pm for youth under 16 in their 2011 Cinderella Law (Lee, 2011).

The government also sponsors many of the gaming rehabilitation centers in South Korea. Some have turned to controversial means of treating this addiction. In Gangam Eulji Hospital in Seoul, Neurophysiatrist Dr. Lee Jae Won uses techniques such as brain scans, electromagnetic stimulation, and virtual reality therapy. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive way to stimulate a select region of the brain. Repetitive stimulations can make a brain region temporarily overloaded with activity and non functional. In the video below, Vice interviews Dr. Lee Jae Won who describes some of his approaches. Skip to the 6:20 mark.

Regarding the specifics of TMS treatment for addiction, in Bellamoli et Al’s 2014 review she describes how TMS treatment is probably effective in the treatment of some addiction such as achohol (Bellamoli, 2014). The mechanism for such beneficial treatment is that repetitive stimulation of the prefrontal cortex can modulate the mesolimbic and mesostraiatial dopaminergic systems that are abnormal in individuals showing addiction behaviour (Bellamoli, 2014).

Temporary Lesioning

Temporary Lesioning

Citations.

Bellamoli, E., Manganotti, P., Schwartz, P. R., Rimondo, C., Gomma, M., & Serpelloni, G. (2014). rTMS in the Treatment of Drug Addiction: An Update about Human Studies. Behavioural Neurology, 11.

King, L. D., Delfabbro, I. P., & Griffiths, D. M. (2010). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Problematic Video Game Players: Conceptual Considerations and Practice Issues. Journal of CyberTherapy and Rehabilitation, 3(3).

Lee, J. (2011). South Korea pulls plug on late-night adolescent online gamers. CNN.

Is Internet Addiction Real? and How does this relate to Video Game Addiction

Gaming

Internet Addiction. Is it real?

According to Marc Potenza, a psychiatrist at Yale who is the director of the school’s Program for Research on Impulsivity and Impulse Control, addiction research first focused on substance abuse (Konnikova 2014). All addictions however are characterized by an inability to control how often or how intensely you engage in an activity even if it brings negative consequences to your life (Konnikova 2014). In substance abuse addiction there are real substances introduced into the body that have real physiological effects. Is Internet Addiction real if it doesn’t actually introduce anything into the body?

download

In Dr. Potennza’s 2014 review published in Can J Psychiatry journal he explores much of the recent research into a second type of addiction characterized not by substance, but by behaviour. Specifically he examines online behaviour addictions. Much like behavioural addictions in real life, the online form of activities such as gambling, shopping, sexual behaviors, and video game play may lead to compulsive engagement (Leeman, Potenza 2013). In the DSM-IV, the second most recent edition for diagnosis of mental disorders, excessive levels of these behaviors was categorized as “impulse control disorders not elsewhere classified” (Leeman, Potenza 2013). In the most recent edition, the DSM-V, compulsive gambling became officially recognized as an entry (Konnikova, 2014).

international-summit-on-r-007

Addictions of behavior and substance are similar in that they affect sensitization to awards. Basically this means that addictive exposure of online gambling can make natural rewards less rewarding than they would have been in another person (Leeman, Potenza 2013). Further both these forms of addiction affect neurochemistry specifically in the dopaminergic neurons of the mesolimbic brain structure (Leeman, Potenza 2013). These neurons are important in the brain’s natural “reward circuitry”. High and low dopamine levels beyond the basal optimal ranges may lead to excessive substance use and impulsivity (Leeman, Potenza 2013).

Dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter.

Dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter.

There is also evidence for a genetic basis of behavioral addictions especially in gambling where behaviour was found to be highly heritable (Leeman, Potenza 2013). In Twin studies researchers found that genetic heritability accounts for 50-60% of the variance associated with addictive gambling.

Compulsive Video-gaming

Research on this topic has so far mainly used functional brain scans technologies such as PET and fMRI. In mostly young male subjects, compulsive game-players responded with more activity in brain activity in frontal areas, and the striatum compared to controls (Leeman, Potenza 2013). Further, these individuals have a reduced sense of loss in situations that normally should bring about loss (Leeman, Potenza 2014).

Scientists use brain scans such as these to look at areas of the brain that are overactive metabolically to discern functional and affected areas.

Scientists use brain scans such as these to look at areas of the brain that are overactive metabolically to discern functional and affected areas.

Looking beyond brain scan data, the research is less expansive. There has been some limited genetic research. Here, there is data to suggest that certain individuals within the population who have a specific allele variant of the DRD2 gene are more susceptible to compulsive gaming. The specific allele was correlated with higher self-reported reward dependence in male gamers (Leeman, Potenza 2013).

It's real to them

It’s real to them

Currently in the DSM-V manual, video game addiction is classified as a “condition requiring further study”.

Citations

Konnikova, M. (2014). Is Internet Addiction a Real Thing? The New Yorker.

Leeman, R. F., & Potenza, M. N. (2013). A targeted review of the neurobiology and genetics of behavioural addictions: an emerging area of research. Can J Psychiatry, 58(5), 260-273.

Korean eSports Culture

A Globalizing World, Gaming

Korean eSports Culture is Huge

The 12,000 sell out attendance of the 2013 League of Legends World Championship in Staples Center Los Angeles is considered to be a historic achievement in North American eSports. Make no mistake however, this number is still dwarfed by numbers from South Korea, a country with a population that is far smaller than the United States. In fact in the 2014 League of Legends World Championship set in Seoul Olympic Stadium, 40,000 fans gathered to watch that years final.

league of legends

Check out the entrance video to a Starcraft Tournament sponsored by Korean Air. Now could you ever imagine something similar happening in North America?

Gaming in Korea is more than a past time. Especially among children, gaming at internet cafes called PC bangs can be considered the main opportunity to connect with friends physically. This physical meeting place for students to play and meet their peers is important because it served as the venue for original eSports starts to develop their skills much like a public open basketball court would do the same for basketball players in their youth.

PC Bang

PC Bang

eSports culture is so huge that even among couples, it is just as normal in every day society  to go watch a video game match than it is to go watch a movie.

Historical Development

Many argue that the development of such a prolific eSports culture began with the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Since then, the government of South Korea invested heavily in telecommunications and Internet infrastructure (Mozur, 2014). This internet infrastructure acted as a foundation onto which the the highly connected mobile gaming competitions took advantage of. The government also became directly involved with the creation of the Korean E-Sports Association (Mozur, 2014). The official goal is to make e-Sports an official sporting event, and to solidify the commercial position of e-Sports. The organization does this by managing the broadcast of e-Sports, pro-gamer working conditions, as well as encouraging gaming for society in general. This has undoubtedly made professional gaming a part of mainstream culture and contributed to the dominance that Korean teams achieve in many of today’s popular games (Mozur, 2014).

ruliweb_kespa

Citation

Mozur, P. (2014). For South Korea, E-Sports Is National Pastime. The New York Times.

Video Game Addiction Self Survey

Gaming

Below is a video game self addiction survey adapted and pulled from Dr. Young’s Assessment of Internet Addiction (Young 1999).  This self-assessment can be used to just give a rough idea of the severity of video game and or internet addiction.

To assess the level of addiction, answer the following questions using this scale: 0 = Not Applicable 1 = Rarely 2 = Occasionally 3 = Frequently 4 = Often 5 = Always

1. How often do you find that you play video games longer than you intended?

2. How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time playing video games?

3. How often do you prefer the excitement of video games to intimacy with your partner?

4. How often do you form new relationships with fellow video game players?

5. How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend playing video games?

6. How often do your grades or school work suffer because of the amount of time you spend playing video games?

7. How often do play video game news before something else that you need to do?

8. How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of video game playing?

9. How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do during video games?

10. How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of video games?

11. How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will play video games again?

12. How often do you fear that life without video games would be boring, empty, and joyless?

13. How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are playing video games?

14. How often do you lose sleep due to late-night gaming?

15. How often do you feel preoccupied with video games when doing other things, or fantasize about video games?

16. How often do you find yourself saying “just a few more minutes” when playing video games?

17. How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend playing video games and fail?

18. How often do you try to hide how long you’ve been gaming?

19. How often do you choose to spend more time gaming over going out with others?

20. How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are not gaming, which goes away once you start gaming?

Now add up all the score that you achieved for all of the numbers. The higher the score range, the greater the level of addiction:

NORMAL RANGE 0 – 30 points

MILD 31- 49 points

MODERATE 50 -79 points

SEVERE 80 – 100 points

Citation

Young, S. K. (1999). Internet Addiction: Symptoms, Evaluation, And Treatment.Innovations in Clinical Practice.

eSports

Gaming, Technology

The audience of the 2014 League of Legends World Championship exceeded the audience of that years NBA Finals

History

Professional organized gaming is often given the term eSports which is short for electronic sports. ESports has been a part of gaming culture since the early days of gaming but has recently within the last 10 years taking up a large surge in popular.  In particular the rise of internet connectivity has greatly benefited eSports gaming on the PC in particular.

Gaming pc

Large tournament style gameplay has been one of the defining features of eSports. In these tournaments top professional players from various teams compete in tournaments with prize money usually sponsored from manufacturers and software companies. Some of the big names in tournaments include, World Cyber games, the Intel Extreme Masters, and Major League Gaming. Prize money and eSport tournament numbers have grown steadily over time from when measurements first began in 1998 as seen from data below (1).

2015 data has yet to be compiled

2015 data has yet to be compiled

One notable tournament was the 2014 The International: Dota 2 Championships which had a total prize pool of 10,931,103 USD. Predictably as tournament prize money has increased, so has the number of active pro eSports players competing for money. The number of active players peaked at 6228 in 2014.

For 2015, I'm guessing some players have yet to play any games.

For 2015, I’m guessing some players have yet to play any games.

TEAMS 

Teams in eSports are similar to teams found in other sports. Teams are comprised of players, coaches and managers. It is common for members of a team to live under one roof in a house run by the manager. Teams often gain sponsorship’s as a means to generate income outside of traditional tournament prize winnings. There are a couple main organizations under which the teams play. These are the Korean eSports Association, the United Kingdom eSports Association and the International eSport Foundation.

Some famous teams from around the world include, Team Liquid(United States), FNatic(Europe), OMG(China) and Samsung White (South Korea).

The 2014 League of Legends World Champions

The 2014 League of Legends World Champions

One difference between eSports teams and traditional sport teams is that eSports teams include multiple different sub teams for different games such as Counter-strike, League of Legends and DoTa.

Culture and Fanbase

It is undeniable that eSports culture in America and Europe lags behind their Asian counterparts. This may be due to differences in certain cultural stigma’s associated with playing video games.

The Excitement of eSports!

The Excitement of eSports!

South Korea is famous for producing some of the best eSports players and eSports Teams. Below is a link of Vice’s host Matt Shea who flew to Korea to explore South Korean dominance in eSports and eSports in general around the world.

References

1. “E-sports Earnings”. Retrieved 4/15/2015

World of Warcraft (WoW)

Gaming

The last game that I will introduce in this blog post project about video game addiction is World of Warcraft (WoW). WoW was created by Blizzard Entertainment in 2004 and is one of the highest grossing video games of all time. It has grossed between 7 and 10 billion US dollars in sales and belongs to a genre of video games called massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). These types of games are characterized by the massive amount of simultaneous players that can interact with each other in the virtual game world. Often in these types of role playing games, the player creates their own character or characters and uses this character to explore their virtual world.

Players can choose from among a set number of races, each with their own unique abilities and skill sets.

Players can choose from among a set number of races, each with their own unique abilities and skill sets.

WoW is a little unique when compared to the previous games that I introduced because it is neither free to play or a one time purchase. Instead WoW runs a monthly subscription service for 14.99 US. This makes WoW one of main players of gaming industry as a whole with over 10 million subscribers to WoW alone as of October 2014 (Reilly 2014).

In WoW players are  endowed with the ability to customize their virtual player to suit different races,  looks and behavior, and skill types. For example players can choose professions such as blacksmithing, cooking, and fishing. These skills if chosen by the player can have various in game benefits. Players can also equip their characters with different in game equipment to effect the skills of their character.

equip to your hearts content

equip to your hearts content

A core component of gameplay is the completion of quests or missions. Through tasks given by non playable characters (NPC) designed in the game, players can advance the story and uncover new parts of the virtual world. The completion of quests can often entail item retrieval, killing of particular units, and or travel to certain locations. Difficult quests are commonly completed with the help of other players who form a team.

The below video has become an infamous internet meme but gives a good idea of what an MMORPG is and aswell as highlighting the challenges of team based questing.

References

Reilly, Luke (2014). “World of Warcraft Subscriptions Back Over 10 Million”. IGN. Retrieved 2015/04/02.

StarCraft

Gaming

Star Craft is arguably one of the most popular real-time strategy (RTS) games ever made. It was originally released by Blizzard Entertainment on March 31st, 1998. The military Sci-Fi game takes place in a fictional 25th century society where 3 different races engage in war. These three races include, the human Terran, the insect Zerg, and the humanoid Protoss. The game was considered a revolutionary development in RTS gaming because it popularized the use of different races each with their own respective units, buildings and game-play styles.

  • Protoss, are considered the most technologically advanced race in the game. Their units are strong, have a unique recharging energy shield but also take time to develop. Here, quality is emphasized over quantity
The old reliable zealot.

The old reliable zealot.

  • Zerg are considered organic and quick in nature. Their units are unique in that they aren’t built, but hatched from other units. They are also weaker but take less time to develop. Strategies involving the Zerg emphasize rushing and overwhelming the other player with quantity.
The Overlords were assimilated into the swarm to help control  lesser  Zergs.

The Overlords were assimilated into the swarm to help control lesser
Zergs.

  • Terran are unique in that they are the only faction with in fighting. They are thought to have originally been banished from Earth many generations ago and are the most balanced race with many units using ranged attacks.
Humans and their nukes

Humans and their nukes

RTS differs from turn based strategy because there are no turns and all players play at the same time. Game-play in Starcraft is thus very fast paced and requires constant micromanagement of action on the battlefield. Strategy lies within scouting the opponents build and building an appropriate response to your opponent through correct unit choice, tech tree upgrades, and resource/ base management.

Often players are measured via Actions Per Minute(APM) which is a metric that measures the amount of productive actions a player can do in one minute because players who are faster than others at doing certain actions have an advantage.

APM is one of a few different metrics for player skill

APM is one of a few different metrics for player skill

Below is a quick video demonstrating the importance of APM to professional RTS gamers.

Below I have also included some Starcraft 2 tournament highlights.