Gaming: The new age addiction

Battling Night Elves in Darnassus City, protecting the country from deranged terrorists, or controlling the lives of simulated people all just seems like simple tasks but, there's one catch: (fighters) are faced with completing the objectives before dinner is ready. Those types of scenarios are all too familiar to what the quintessential gamer would go through during the course of a day. For some, gaming is something to do when you're bored, but for others it starts to become more of an addictive vice than a pastime hobby to the point where gamers find themselves craving the intensity of a graphic video game rather than enjoying actual reality.

As technology continues to steadily rise, video games are becoming more realistic and often resemble reality more than reality itself, giving gamers the opportunity to subsitude the virtual reality with actual reality. With games like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and even such simplistic game such as the EA hit The Sims; games are giving addicted gamers the opportunity to escape into a virtual dimension filled with action and fantasy.

For Santa Monica College student Daniel Wilkins, gaming is used as an escape method. After his father passed away from cancer Wilkins found himself venturing into the extraterrestrial realm of Halo 3 or the industrial plains of Call of Duty.

"It was an escape for me where I could take out my anger," said Wilkins.

Studies that were done by Stanford University professor Nick Yee showed that "users that play online games establish meaningful relationships and salient emotional experiences, as well as real-life leadership skills from these virtual environments."

Despite these findings, Wilkins managed to justify the belief that extensive gamers are anti-social is misinformed. "When you play online, you are constantly communicating with people and making social connections," he said.

Where it becomes the issue is when a number of gamers that take it to another level and often become addicts of the virtual world. Once they enter this realm it's as if they lose the ability to separate the ideology between the id, the fantasy perspective, and the ego, reality.

As for SMC student, Patricia Snyder, playing online video games has become a full time job. When not studying for her computer science classes Snyder spends majority of her time on the popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) World of Warcraft (WoW as diehard gamers often refer to it) as a level 80 Warrior Blood Elf defending the plains of Silvermoon City against the alliance.

"I often get so into the game that I have to plan my school schedule around WoW, because of the constant raiding missions," Snyder says. "My favorite thing about the game is that even though you reached the maximum level in the game there's still so much to do and you honestly never actually ever beat the entire game."

According to the students who played online multiplayer games faithfully did so about three times as much as those playing independent based games, averaging over 14 hours a week.

Snyder knows that her addiction to WoW is an unhealthy path but she brushes it off with the idea that "if I didn't play WoW I would be letting down my troop."

She felt that her only true friends that would never betray her are the people she's met on WoW, along with friends she's met at SMC that join her in her raids from time to time.

For some playing video games are used as escape methods from facing an imperfect reality. For others it's used as an attempt to make friends. Regardless of the motive for playing them, games like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, or even Halo can often create addictions that rival that of  any type of drug.