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Video Game addiction: Cutting off hand is no solution
9:26 a.m. EST February 5, 2015
The first time I visited Florida was 1976. I was just 12 and the trip was full of firsts.
The first time I flew on an airplane. The first time I went to Disney World. And the first time I played a video game.
The game was called “Shark Attack”. For 25 cents I could pretend to be a deep-sea diver, shooting sharks with a crossbow. I can still remember how the shark looked on the screen and how the controls felt in my hand. I can visualize where the machine stood in the hallway outside of our motel room in Orlando. I recall my parents telling me to stop playing the game so much. I stopped when I ran out of coins — which wasn’t very long, given the modest size of my allowance.
Eights years later I bought my first video game for my Commodore 64 computer: “Impossible Mission.” I enjoyed playing it, but I was more intrigued by how the programmers were able to make the motion of the characters on the screen so fluid. The sound effects were incredibly realistic. I soon lost interest in the game and moved on to other activities.
A few years ago I really enjoyed playing “Angry Birds,” but I don’t play it much anymore. The game itself is still fun, but playing videogames in general doesn’t really interest me; there are too many other things to do.
Given the size of the video game market, it seems I’m in the minority. The industry dwarfs even Hollywood in terms of revenue. And there are many people, particularly in Asia, who seem to be addicted to playing video games.
Already this year there have been several instances of people literally playing themselves to death. For example, on New Year’s Day a man in Taiwan died in an Internet café after playing video games for five days without a break. A second person died a week later, also in Taiwan, after playing video games non-stop for three days.
Unfortunately, there are many other instances of people, usually young men, killing themselves by going without food or rest to play video games. The BBC reported the most recent and extreme example this week, where a young boy in China cut off his own left hand to stop his video game addiction.
Only a healthcare professional could say for sure why these kids act this way. All I can offer is sage advice that everyone knows but rarely practices: as with all things in life, moderation is the key to happiness.
Scott Tilley is a Professor at Florida Tech in Melbourne. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow his column on Twitter @TechTodayColumn
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