I could hardly believe this story . I read it before I found it on the internet so at first because of all the silly “gang” names (or whatever they are) I thought it was a joke but as I continued to read I realized there was nothing funny about it. I don’t know if it’s the gaming that got inside these people’s heads or if they were all a little odd before they started playing. I tend to meet
halfway on that one. Perhaps some of these people were social outcasts to begin with and gaming met a social need. Still others had dysfunctional families and gaming served as an escape from an unhappy home environment. But there are lots of people who don’t fill those categories and still get “stuck” in virtual gaming. That has to be a little off. One interesting, potential explanation (not proven) for gaming addiction is that when a gamer crosses the line from having the choice of playing to being compelled to play, the brain has been rewired. The gamer doesn’t play anymore because it’s fun but because of a compulsion. Then the gamer hates the games but cannot stop. it is possible to rewire the brain via learned experiences, even to the point that the brain’s anatomy changes slightly. No joke. There has been decades of research on that and obviously not about gaming so much as most other learned behaviours. There are a few cases in this one and without further ado let the games begin….
Case Number One – A young Russian man has been charged with murder after an internet game jumped off the screen onto the street. It’s alleged he killed an internet gaming rival after they met face to face in the city of Ufa. It all started when two clans, the Coo-clocks, (seriously),made up of students, and the so-called Platanium with experienced gamers of over thirty, started fighting to wipe out each other on-screen. I don’t think I’d personally admit I was a Coo-clock. Whatever. 33-year-old Albert had enough dignity to be a Platanium. He used to spend hours in front of his computer. He had his own clan and a dozen warriors. Just days before the New Year in a virtual battle he clan killed a member of the hostile Coo-clocks. (How can anyone be hostile with that name?) This was serious stuff in the world of gaming. Gauntlets were thrown and days later the enemies agreed to meet face to face in the real world. Now you just know at this point there is going to be trouble.
Poor Albert was badly beaten and died from his injuries on the way to hospital. That is so ferocious I can’t imagine what the other gamer did to him. Incredible that these people just don’t know where to draw the line. It’s got many frightening implications and not just for gamers. That whole 1984 Brother Billy concept seems more and more real when I read about this type of phenomenon.
“I think they have confused the game and reality. And after we buried him on December 31, they continued to threaten us,” Albert’s sister Albina says (not Albino – she isn’t all white). It’s amazing she was able to give a statement. The alleged murderer doesn’t care one bit and hasn’t justified himself. The 22-year-old student very calmly and without remorse explained why he killed his opponent: “Beat everything that moves, and everything that doesn’t move – move and beat!” That sounds reasonable. When Albert and the murderous student met, the student applied this rule in real life. Here’s one of the truly sick things: other members of the internet Coo-clocks clan are harassing the family of the murdered man, threatening to kill his sister, who hasn’t turned on the computer for days. (Can’t blame her there). So we have an underage student (s/he must be or else the name would be printed) who has murdered a man over a silly internet game. Add to that anonymous players are harassing and threatening to kill the man’s sister. Why? What’s she done? That’s the mentality of the people involved in this tragedy.
Case Number Two- Another gamer in his twenties came to Moscow from Ukraine to meet his rival. The confrontation ended in with the Moscow man being beaten to death. What did the Moscow man expect though? Why do any of these weirdos meet in person? They must know something nasty is about to happen. That’s what I mean about these gamers perhaps being a little unbalanced even before they begin to game.
Case Number Three – A twenty-year-old from Petrosavodsk (wherever that is) killed his grandmother after she interrupted his game calling him for dinner. Well how dare she? She got what she deserved.
Case Number Four – In 2000, a young man named Shawn became addicted to the game Everquest. Within three months he quit his job, got evicted from his home, and was up all night playing. His family worked hard to help him get his life back together but to no avail and he committed suicide only a year and a half after he began playing the game.
However, internet experts say these cases shouldn’t be lumped together just because some people can’t handle the situation. “Not many talk about the benefits of internet games for disabled people who don’t have a chance to communicate with others like themselves or able-bodied people. Nobody mentions the benefits the internet can offer in education,” says Aleksandr Kuzmenko of a computer game magazine. Well, interesting point about disabled people. I don’t know how many of them would agree with that statement. There are also many disappointments when communicating on line with people; sometimes online “friends” simply disappear. Ouch. And there are a plethora of ways to communicate with people, whether disabled or not, that don’t involve gaming and can still involve the internet and other avenues outside of computers. A friend of mine is a medical doctor. He is a specialist. He also has a physical handicap in that he cannot walk. He uses a wheelchair. I always see him socializing with people. He has lots of friends. He is brilliant. He has more friends and more fun than many able-bodied people I know. What an insult it would be to say that he might need the internet to have a social life.
And as for the education comment, how is it beneficial? I will concede that eye-hand coordination is probably enhanced by some games. And activities that enhance eye-hand coordination are thought to strengthen some academics. Stuttering can be eliminated by squeezing a ball in one’s hand so perhaps eye-hand activities could do the same. (Just a theory of mine), Mind you academics and extra-curriculars is usually applied to playing sports or taking dance lessons, not to gaming.Now for the negatives: Two rival gangs trying to murder one another for points doesn’t add up to education in my mind. The idea now is that most schools are working hard to eradicate bullying and violence, and this whole concept clearly opposes that goal. Children are also exposed to many internet dangers that accompany gaming, including pedophiles who disguise themselves as gamers to target these kids. I would love some feedback about the supposed “educational” nature of gaming.
All in all these cases are very rare, naturally. Just as people who become so involved in Dungeons and Dragons, a board game, can take that game too far. That’s an unusual phenomenon. How it is that some people become so immersed in “the game” that they fail to separate reality from fiction is a puzzle (pun). Here is another facet of the dangers of internet gaming where kids are concerned. A key concern is that so much of the content is hypersexualized. Pornography is embedded in these games, (that’s a no-no and not especially educational) allowing kids to engage in virtual or simulated sex acts (ick). Males and females are overtly sexual, and many games glorify violence (well that’s a given). Some games exist for the purpose of simulating sex and virtual sex games are free and easy to access. These games allow kids to create an online identity to explore sexuality in any way, including group sex, bestiality, and other fetishes. Now that is definitely a (totally gross) problem.
Adults are victims in that they can become addicted to online gaming. One consequence
isn’t just the extreme violence of the aforementioned cases but the sad reality that these people begin to lose contact with the real world. They spend less time out of the house socially interacting with real people and more time hooked on the computer. This phenomenon is at such a critical point that there are rehabilitation facilities for people who have a severe gaming addiction. Seriously. Some warning signs to watch for are a lack of verbal communication with family members and friends and (ick) poor personal hygiene. How does this happen? One way is that real life can suck. No surprise. Disappointment isn’t easy for anyone so a person (adult or child) turns to a game where failure can be erased. If the gamer loses a game, no problem, have a do-over and win it this time. The game becomes a drug that lures a person away from reality. A young person fails to get the experience s/he needs in real life by suffering and learning to accept the bad as well as the good times. No one wants to be hurt and disappointed but it’s a fact of life and brings with it its own special set of learning skills.
In 2002, a woman named Mrs. Wooley founded the Online Gamers Anonymous site. Her son is Case Number Four. “I want to warn people that these game
s can take control of their lives just like drugs or alcohol. Some gamers told me one can become addicted in less than 24 hours. Once a gamer has gone from social gaming to addicted gaming, he can’t go back. Games can be a drug of choice and need to be looked at that way. The website is www.olganon.org. Anyone can get addicted. Colleges recognize that video games cause a huge percentage of their dropouts. Many now bring in counselors to deal with excessive gaming. Some are asking students if they play games before offering a scholarship. They know they might be wasting a scholarship on a gamer.” Fully grown, hard-working adults get addicted. Some adults have been known to lose a job and eventually a house and family to the games. An extreme case is of a man in Florida
who lost his job and had to start living on the street. He secured a restaurant job for minimum wage pay, just enough to get himself to the gaming café. After his shift ends, that’s where he spends the rest of the day. When the café closes he sleeps on the street and does the same the next day. That’s this man’s life.
Sometimes fathers leave their families. All they feel they can do is play. Grown women play social games like Farmville, SIMS and Second Life because they like to do things with others. Sometimes married women end up leaving husband and family, neglect their children, to be with someone in the game. Okay that’s as weird as it gets. An extreme case is the Korean couple who let their real child die of malnutrition because they spent all their time taking care of a virtual baby. What the hell?
I expect some angry feedback for this blog. Any reader who wants to defend gaming is welcome to do so. Especially with a cohesive, sensible argument, not some explosive, irrational reaction just because gaming is so great. That doesn’t settle any issues. All I can say is I’m grateful there is no such thing as a blogging addiction. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go write my 207th blog before I kill somebody.