Would a law providing for treatment of Internet gaming addiction actually help players to recover?

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Would a law providing for treatment of Internet gaming addiction actually help players to recover?

Life Inside a PlayStation

By YOUNG-HA KIM

Published: November 24, 2013

BUSAN, South Korea -- In October 2012, my wife and I arrived in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick and unpacked our suitcases. We had ended a two-year stay in New York and flown back to Korea in June, but returned to America for five weeks to promote the publication of my novel "Black Flower" in English.

We had found the one-bedroom apartment -- a fourth-floor walk-up with a sofa that sagged in the middle, so that only one person could sit on it -- on Airbnb.com, rented out by a young hipster who worked in the gaming industry. I was sitting on the sofa, feeling disappointed, when the owner of the apartment, who was showing us around, hit the remote control. A large projection screen descended from the ceiling. A Sony PlayStation, a Microsoft Xbox, a motion-sensor camera and surround-sound speakers turned on. I half-listened while he explained how to use these gadgets. I hadn't been on a plane for 14 hours to play a console game. I thought to myself: Hipster, stop pestering me and leave.

A few days later, Hurricane Sandy swept through New York and New Jersey. People swarmed into supermarkets to stock up on water, pasta, bread and bananas. Electric power went out in several neighborhoods. My book's launch event was, of course, canceled. It had been scheduled, of all times, for the very day that Sandy swept through. As night fell, the subway lines running between Manhattan and Brooklyn ground to a stop. We had nowhere to go. Only then did the PlayStation begin to look appealing.

For the next few weeks I lived inside a video and Internet-based game called "Killzone." As soon as I woke up I reached for a game controller that resembled a gun, and shot and killed thousands of bad guys on the screen until my sore arms stopped me from continuing. I battled users from around the world. My book publicist contacted me with plans for a new event, but in a terse email, I replied that I had no interest, and continued playing. I ate tacos and drank Corona beer while killing thousands into the night. I lost weight. My eyes became hollow.
Looking back, I see my life has been a series of addictions. As a child, I went through a period devouring comics and martial arts books. For only a short time (thankfully) I became obsessed with card games.

In my 20s, I became obsessed with the role-playing game "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," named after a classical Chinese novel, and later "The Sims," a life-simulation game, and "StarCraft," a science-fiction game.

After 15 years of smoking, I barely managed to quit, at age 33. Until that point, I had been a chain smoker who even lit up in bed.

After giving up smoking, I began my battle with alcohol. I mixed whiskey and beer together into a glass and had it every night. It was the only way I could fall asleep. It took another few years to overcome this habit.

Though my addictive personality didn't cut too badly into my productivity as a writer, it caused me to waste time, and I was always ashamed of it.

Attitudes toward addiction are complex in South Korea. Though laws governing drugs are very strict, they tend to be lax when concerning alcohol and cigarettes. Alcohol, regardless of its proof, can be found and drunk year-round, 24 hours a day, at nearly any restaurant or bar. According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of alcohol-use disorders among South Korean men stands at 13.1 percent, more than double the 5.5 percent figure for the United States.

Our smoking rate is also high. A 2012 report found that South Korea's cigarette prices -- 2,500 won, or about $2.35, a pack -- were the lowest among 22 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. According to the W.H.O., 44.7 percent of South Korean men smoke daily, compared with 16.4 percent of American men. When a smoking ban in large restaurants and bars was put into effect last year, smokers loudly protested. Many bars are choosing to overlook smoking, as it has long been a part of drinking culture.

But among teenagers, Internet games are perceived as a serious addiction. Given the extreme competition surrounding university admissions, parents regard enjoyment of video games with great displeasure. The conflict between parents and their kids, who see the games as a form of escape, has even been known to lead to violence.

Recently, the governing Saenuri Party introduced an addiction law that would treat online video games like drugs, alcohol and gambling and also online video games. The proposal has pitted parents, conservative religious leaders and the medical industry against game developers, progressive intellectuals and gamers. Shin Eui-jin, a medical doctor who sponsored the bill, sees addiction as a disease; others view it as a form of evil.

Defenders of gaming are fighting back. Moon Gyu-hak, chief executive of Softbank Ventures Korea, a venture capital fund that invests in technology companies, wrote bitingly on Twitter, "Since we're being treated as if we are drug dealers, it's a good time to move operations overseas and have our board members immigrate somewhere like Singapore." Opponents of the legislation, which includes a game curfew for juveniles, note that the experts behind the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of American psychiatry, held off on listing "Internet gaming disorder" as a formal disorder, calling it a "condition warranting more clinical research."

Would a law providing for treatment of Internet gaming addiction actually help players to recover?

I didn't put the controller down in my Brooklyn apartment because of a law. One day my wife approached me as I sat back exhausted from shooting the toy gun.
"You still having fun?" she asked.

I thought about it, and shook my head: "No."

"Then let's go out."

The hurricane had passed, and the L subway line was running. We went to Central Park and walked through the fallen leaves. The clear autumn sky passed over our heads. Branches as thick as human torsos were strewn about. I suddenly realized that I had been depressed playing the game, and hadn't enjoyed it for a single moment. I told my wife that I wouldn't retreat again into that gloomy purgatory. We got some Vietnamese food and returned to Brooklyn. For awhile, each time I closed my eyes, I still saw scenes from "Killzone," and I had to fight the temptation to return to that world. We left New York and returned to Seoul, almost exactly a year ago.

I feel ashamed thinking back on my time in Brooklyn, when I was addicted to games and isolated from the world. But like a physical scar that is part of one's body, that time is part of my history.

What would have happened if my wife had sent me to a treatment center? Without access to the Internet, I probably would have recovered -- but I would have lost confidence in my ability to overcome the addiction on my own.

Young-ha Kim is a novelist and short-story writer. This article was translated by Krys Lee from the Korean.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/opinion/life-inside-a-playstation.html...

Liz Woolley

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Wow, this article is

Wow, this article is interesting and also, sadly, of little suprise. In answer to the author's question, my reply would be that treatment may work for some and not for others. There are just too many variables to assign a yes or no answer to every case. Everyone's experience with this addiciton is so different, but so alike, in many ways.

Perhaps there should be a law requiring insurance companies to provide some type of treatment for this addiction, just like any other? Addiction is addiction regardless of what the "substance" may be. Maybe we need to focus more on the tendency toward multiple addictions and how to overcome them as oppossed to the type of "substance." I thought it was interesting how he mentioned he had "always been addicted to something" (paraphrased).

We were very blessed to have been able to send our son to a brief stay in a treatment program. More than anything it provided him the opportunity to "detox" in a safe environment. Other than that, only time will tell what benefits came from the experience. I wasn't there and he's not ready to talk about it in depth. For now, he's been game-free for a year, but that is because he was young enough to be given little choice in the matter. We need to get to these kids at a young age when we, as parents, have more impact. But I don't need to tell you that; you've been trying to tell the world for some time now. So thankful for all you and others are doing to raise awareness and support healing. God Bless!

Thanks for sharing, Liz.

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Such a law is akin to

Such a law is akin to Court-mandated AA.

On the one hand I get annoyed when chairing a meeting and a member sidles up to me after asking for their 'attendance sheet' to be signed.

On the other hand I have met many who would have never found AA or sobriety without the Court compelling them to attend at least one meeting.

I am not sure there are easy answers...

Olga/non member since Dec. 2008 Check out my latest video on Gaming Addiction and public awareness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-6JZLnQ29o

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lizwool wrote: .... What
lizwool wrote:

....

What would have happened if my wife had sent me to a treatment center? Without access to the Internet, I probably would have recovered -- but I would have lost confidence in my ability to overcome the addiction on my own.

....

If he had the ability to recover on his own, he's not powerless over it. People who can moderate or "recover on their own" are not experiencing what people who need OLGA are experiencing. Whether we say they "aren't really addicted" or whatever doesn't really matter. Most real addicts never recover. Of the ones who recover, the vast majority require help, lots of help, sometimes huge amounts of help over a long period.

If it looks like addiction and acts like addiction and sounds like addiction and feels like addiction....do we really need a bunch more research on it? I've done my research.

I am a recovering computer game and gambling addict. My recovery birthday: On May 6, 2012 I quit games and began working a program of recovery through OLGA No computer games or slot games for me since December 12, 2012. No solitaire games with real cards since June 2013.

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The first time I quit Evony,

The first time I quit Evony, I did not have any problems. This was about 2 years ago and my life was still ok in all areas (work, school, and social life) except my marriage. I did not experience the withdrawal symptoms like I did the last one. I did not even miss the game until my husband gave me his laptop and the light bulb just came on, Evony. I figured it would be ok to play again since it was a long time ago. This time I could not quit on my own and I really needed help. I have experienced the powerlessness in me and serious impact over my marriage again. That is my experience, the degree of abuse over gaming on a continuum line.

In Control------------>Mild loss of control----(Old Me, not yet an addict)------>Moderate loss of control------->severe loss of control------(New Me, an addict)------>out of control=insanity.

Maggie

It's good to have goals and dreams, but while you're waiting for things to change, waiting for promises to come to pass, don't be discontent with where you are. Learn to enjoy the season that you're in--Pastor Joel Osteen

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Tommi wrote: Such a law is
Tommi wrote:

Such a law is akin to Court-mandated AA.

On the one hand I get annoyed when chairing a meeting and a member sidles up to me after asking for their 'attendance sheet' to be signed.

On the other hand I have met many who would have never found AA or sobriety without the Court compelling them to attend at least one meeting.

I am not sure there are easy answers...

AA was instrumental in courts sending drunks to meetings rather than to jails. The meetings I go to won't sign their attendance sheets until after the meeting.

Maggie wrote:

In Control------------>Mild loss of control----(Old Me, not yet an addict)------>Moderate loss of control------->severe loss of control------(New Me, an addict)------>out of control=insanity.

Best description of addiction I've read yet.

cdgoldilocks
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I think it might help them

I think it might help them afford treatment. It might compel insurance companies to cover some of the costs. It might compel the medical community to see this as a real addiction, so doctors and clinicians can write medical releases to excuse people from work, hopefully keeping someone from getting fired while seeking treatment.

Just a thought.

Maggie
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Hi Cd, It would be

Hi Cd,

It would be challenging but not impossible. When an addict tries to explain their addiction to a non-addict, every addict knows that non-addict would not get it. As for families of the addicts, most know the impact of gaming over their lives but they feel helpless in the situation. This is very similar to that, just try to apply this to the public and the medical community. Not many can truely understand the power of the addiction unless they are going through the same thing.

It takes time for sure.

Maggie

It's good to have goals and dreams, but while you're waiting for things to change, waiting for promises to come to pass, don't be discontent with where you are. Learn to enjoy the season that you're in--Pastor Joel Osteen

Andrew_Doan
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From my clinical experience

From my clinical experience yes and no. Patients seek "official labels" to validate their disease and to make them get serious. On the other hand, others may even "validate" their illness and do nothing because they blame their genetics.

This is why I have called the addictive personality trait as the go-getter trait, which you can read on my blog. I have the trait, but how I apply it will determine whether I am an addict or game changer in life.

Andrew Doan MD PhD

My Videos: Internet gaming disorder is real & my story 

*The views expressed are of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.

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Im torn on this subject.

Im torn on this subject. Making it legitimate in the eyes of the law would be great. But how many would use it as a cop out just to get out of trouble?

Patria
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Making alcohol illegal did

Making alcohol illegal did nothing but create an entire industry of criminal behavior that didn't apply before. It did nothing.

Making anything illegal just makes it worse.

The medical community will get it eventually. I just wish it was sooner than later.

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