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Video Game Addiction? Maybe It's Really All About Success

It is easy to dismiss kids’ infatuation with video games as addiction or obsession when in fact, it comes from a completely different reason. I am on the spectrum, so I, along with many others, have gained an immense interest in video games. 

I loved the wonder that they held, and the ability to make me feel powerful. I was no longer the shy, socially awkward kid; I was a wizard, a soldier, hell, even a ringwraith in Cirith Ungol (A location in Lord of the Rings). 

In games, you leave behind the predictable world that plays by very specific rules. Maybe sometimes it is a bit obsessive to want to play constantly. However, I feel it is justified because of the desire to become more than you are.

Everyone has that hole in them that they can never seem to fill, no matter what they do. Whether it’s going to the gym, distracting yourself with work, or going to parties, you are never rid of it. I felt that way for a long time until I got my first console, the Wii and my first game, Super Mario Brothers. 

I was infatuated by the way that progressing through a world playing as a plumber defeating turtles and mushrooms (goombas) could feel so rewarding. I played that game for hours, and it never got old. When we eventually got rid of it for the XBox 360 I was overjoyed, and I could be anything I wanted. I could be a ninja defeating a demon army. I could be on an alien planet taking care of small slimes (Slime Rancher: an affordable game I recommend!). 

I did, however, get in trouble because of it many times. Not wanting to stop the feeling of accomplishment, I didn’t shut the games off, and I got up in the middle of the night. My point is, yes, it can be a bit of a problem, but adults think it’s simply an addiction. That is not the case.

Children always look up to their parents wanting to feel the pride and accomplishment that they feel, so they turn to video games. Most people wouldn’t think that playing football virtually is ridiculous; I say it is clever. People who like sports can play the game they love while gaining that sense of pride and accomplishment one can get from video games. To show you want I mean, here is an example.

I am at home playing a video game when a thought hits me. It’s 4 p.m. and my mom said she would be home around 4:15 p.m. Panicking, I try to finish what I am doing, but I can’t seem to find an enemy, specifically the captain I am looking for. I hear the door to the mudroom open, and I smile and say “hello” to my mother while trying to find the elusive captain. She tells me to shut it off, and I say “OK.” I continue to search, knowing that I have to find him quickly. I can’t find him, and I shut off the XBox.

However, all night I can’t stop thinking about finding the captain. The next day, after unsuccessfully attempting to get him out of my thoughts, I turn the XBox back on. I boot up the game (and in case you’re wondering, the game is Middle-Earth Shadow of War - great game!) and start the search. I can’t find him at first, but I eventually find and defeat him, thus erasing him from my head. During that moment I feel a surge of accomplishment and pride. I then go about playing until it is time to shut it off again. I then go about the rest of my day happily and cheerfully.

So you see? Video games may cause some problems, but the sense of accomplishment you can get from them can turn a bad day into a good day! Sometimes you can get joy and pride in the oddest and strange places.

Cole Hathaway is a student at Sanford High School.