It sounds like the poster is a really motivated guy, and lionhearted is correct in his sibling post here that that can be a strong force for productivity if you can master it. I really hope that Tom manages to do so, because at 21, he's got his whole (non-destroyed) life ahead of him. Losing two years to an addiction is a big deal, but it's something you can overcome and possibly even come out stronger from.
Edit: Since I talked a little bit about my own circumstances in a reply, I might as well go into detail here, particularly since it looks like the actual linked post might be a lie/exaggeration. I played Final Fantasy XI (an MMO, unlike most games in the series) from the fall of 2004 until the fall of 2009, and World of Warcraft from then until January of 2011.
During that time, my life outside of the game basically stopped. I dropped out of college, I moved back in with my parents, I stopped programming and reading, which were my main interests before the MMOs came along. For a few of the years in the middle I didn't work or even really leave the house. Eventually I got pushed out because my parents knew that what I was doing wasn't a healthy lifestyle, but I did just enough to adapt and got a job an an apartment and continued gaming.
What pushed me to quitting wasn't any sudden realization, but just a slow-building frustration with the whole idea of MMORPGs. Eventually it hit critical mass and I quit FFXI, thinking that the problem was just that I needed a better game. A year of WoW convinced me otherwise, and I've been putting my life back together since then. I (obviously) don't mind talking about it now, and I'd be glad to answer questions if anyone has them.
One of my physics professors apparently had a similar experience with bridge. If I remember correctly, his bio said that he was a Life Master at age 21. You apparently have to play one hell of a lot of bridge hands to become a Life Master, and keep in mind that this was before the internet. When I asked him, he reported that basically bridge took over his whole life for several years.
And then he recovered and apparently had a pleasant career and got tenure and everything.
And now I must control my essay-writing addiction and go build some software. ;)
That self-control is based, however, on biological and physiological pathways.
Dopamine receptors, and anomalies with the dopamine system, in particular, can leave people vulnerable to various addictive habits:
This also brings social gaming in as a concern - what is the moral stance on games what have been specifically and deliberately engineered with said biological and psychological pathways in mind, with addiction as an intended outcome as opposed to an accidental and marginal one?
Biologically perhaps, psychologically no. This "trick" you speak of is the sense of progression and rewards given that makes a game fun to play.
I've never once seen a game that is not fun, but is addicting. Although my friends have said Master of Orion 3 fits that description, but I never actually saw them ever play it so I think it was a joke.
If somebody knows where to find the talk please post it, my google-fu is weak today. He also compares the iphone to a swiss army knife and the ipad to a "swiss-army-kitchen-utensil" (i.e too bad to be really useful and too big to fit in your pocket). The talk was just a few weeks after the first ipad release. It also contains alot of other talk about the future of gaming for the general masses, facebook games and gaming anything in life(like shopping), etc. If that's enough to trigger anyones memory.
The farmville comparision i was refering to is probably this one http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/content/cultivated-p...
Activities that people get addicted to (like gambling or videogames) are only psychologically addicting. Yes, of course psychological addiction does have physical effects (dopamine levels in your brain, for instance), but we can still clearly differentiate addictive drugs from addictive activities.
To be addicted simply means one will seek out the thing they are addicted to at great cost. They'll neglect all sorts of important things and put the object of their addiction above all else.
To be dependent means ones body needs a substance to function normal. Usually this means keeping withdrawl at bay.
You can be dependent but not addicted.
The only difference between drug addiction and an addiction to, say, playing games is that you are not dependent upon the games. In reality however the cost of both are just about equal. The one difference being that many substances will cost you your health directly while games will cost you your health indirectly. In both cases however the psychology is the same and so is the neurobiology. But because games don't literally replace already existing neurotransmitters you don't get dependence. But what you do get with games, just like substances, is your reward pathway being excited to the point where you begin seeking out the thing that excited that pathway over and over. Nothing else excites that pathway as much and so you then crave that thing.
People look at gaming and drugs and think its a no-brainer that they're so clearly different but they aren't. Addiction is addiction no matter the object of addiction.
You know what the real difference between gaming addiction and drug addiction is? Stigma. What everyone thinks they know about addicts/addiction.
Anecdotally, I know someone who was on three pots a day, and he had a miserable month when he quit cold-turkey. Some of that was withdrawal, but some of that was also probably him having to adjust to a wake-sleep cycle without the aid of stimulants.
At the same time, there's a huge, active, and concerted effort in many areas of commerce to leverage dopamine and related pathways to create habitual consumptive patterns. Games, TV shows, junk food, cigarettes, gambling, narcotics, online activities (HN included), and other factors.
Any time you hear about 'gamification', hearing something described as "crack", or other tricks for sites or apps, you're looking about influencing the dopamine system.
It's something which I'm becoming increasingly convinced is a case where commercial/corporate interests and profit seeking are at odds with greater societal well-being.
But that's just me.
I've had next to no direct experience with narcotics. I've read some about it, and seen the effects on others (many times tragic). I'm familiar with the Opium Wars and the effects of heroin on China under British rule.
There was a book title some years back which rambled for a long sentence to the effect that the problem with smack was that it was so hard to quit and then once you did the worse thing was that it felt do damned good when you did use it again.
An earlier title pretty much sums it up: "It's so good, don't even try it once".
The addiction for me was more of the organisation of stuff - I co-ran one of the most successful linkshells (guild) on my server for a while, and was in charge of many raids - I loved it and was good at it. I'd probably make a great middle manager or something, heh. (No thanks.)
Anyway yeah, it's possible to "get out" and still reclaim your life. I have a tenured position at a university now and completed two successful postdocs since I quit. I don't regret having played though - I met some excellent people through FFXI, many of whom are still very close friends today. It's just a matter of having the ability to self assess where you are and the guts to pull yourself out of it if you realise that there's an issue. I know I can do that now, but I also don't want the temptation to fall back in.
/me prepares himself for public humiliation if he's wrong
I got out -- and I'm the first one out -- my little DOTA addicted circle who did it.
I still play DOTA, but very controllable and sometimes didn't play it in months.
Same thing built up with Minecraft for me. What a lost amount of time :/. So fun at the time, but there is only so many Legos I can afford to spend time on.
Well, a week and a half later I pretty much mastered it, and purchased the PC version because it had more features.
I've spent A LOT of time playing this game recently. Then I got onto PVP and Faction servers. Playing with others and the thrill it brings to blow up a base with a TNT cannon and steal everyone's shit is very addicting.
I knew I was getting into trouble when I bought the original Xbox version. In a moment of weakness I purchased the PC version and the number of hours I spend playing is not very healthy.
Luckily for me, my wife will kill/leave me before it ever gets really bad, so eventually I'll get pulled away and bored with it. I usually do. I hope. :)
I've long suspected they're the same thing - or, at least, on a spectrum together. I know that I just don't "feel right" if I work less than I want to, or if I skip out on a workout session I had planned on. And I know that with myself and other people I train jiu-jitsu with, we will train with injuries that rationally we know we should not. When we talk about it amongst ourselves, we say things like "I just can't sit on the couch doing nothing." I suspect this "discipline" to get back to training is similar to obsession and compulsion.
I was 6'2'', 168 lbs, 1% body fat
When I was climbing competitively, I once had my bodyfat measured (by DEXA) as just under 3%. For climbing, pretty much any weight (even most muscle) is just dead weight, so climbers are as skinny and lean as any athletes out there, and I only very rarely ran into people as lean as me.
I've known a lot of bodybuilders and wrestlers, and even there, it's rare to see people below 3%, and I've never heard of anyone who's tested below 2% bodyfat. 1%? I won't say that it's impossible, but to be alive and functioning at that level would require you to be a genetic freak on the same level as Lance Armstrong or Michael Phelps.
My friends even looked up to me, as they are monks who train Taoist Wudang Kung Fu in southwestern China. At one point I became a monk by my own right, and I was looked to for even spiritual advice.
So you're such a badass that monks that train others in Kung Fu looked up to you at 18 years old? They also made you a monk and decided you were enlightened enough to give spiritual advice, despite the fact that you have very obviously poor impulse control?
I tried being a drywaller, and a welder twice.
Why didn't you try doing what you spent all that time in southeast Asia learning, and start doing martial arts professionally? You could be a martial arts instructor, stunt man, or any other profession that hires badasses of this caliber.
Also, "being a welder" isn't something you just jump into without previous experience and/or equipment.
This whole thing feels made up for sympathy. Apologies if you're telling the entire truth, Tom.
>So you're such a badass that monks that train others in Kung Fu looked up to you at 18 years old? They also made you a monk and decided you were enlightened enough to give spiritual advice, despite the fact that you have very obviously poor impulse control?
That is not as incredible as it seems. You can see his addictive and competitive personality in the martial arts training. I know people like that in the martial arts world.
Sometimes, in the East, you're promoted beyond your skill and competency in order to encourage you to grow into the role. If his teachers are genuine, they would have recognized his addictive personality to begin with. What's even funnier and sad is that, they would have accepted his shame in going a little crazy. It is surviving and healing from this that will allow him more empathy as his role as a monk in the future.
You're also making a very common mistake that seems to pop up in America, these strange notions about enlightenment and giving spiritual advice.
>Why didn't you try doing what you spent all that time in southeast Asia learning, and start doing martial arts professionally? You could be a martial arts instructor, stunt man, or any other profession that hires badasses of this caliber.
That's the same thing as jumping into the UFC. I feel the same way, and have avoided teaching, let alone doing stunts or getting paid to inflict violence and death. If he were as obsessed about Buddhism in his teenage years as he was to games and martial arts training (likely), then these professions would not have appealed to him.
Anyways, the post is to Gamers Online Anonymous. I'm glad there's such an organization out there. I doubt this guy wrote it gain sympathy from you specifically. Maybe the post is for sympathy, maybe it isn't. It doesn't matter, because the addiction is real.
I'm just stating as far as I know. Maybe there're truly monks who practice "Wudang Kung Fu" and Taoism. But as far as I know, Taoism is about living peacefully and healthily and as long as possible, not about defeating your enemy.
The arts passed down from Wudangshan is not exclusive to Tai Chi. Tai Chi has origin myths relating to Wudangshan, but I doubt taijiquan was the only thing they practiced. Taijiquan itself cannot be characterized as "a slow sport to help find inner peace". Well, you can, but that is like saying "Wudang Kung Fu".
There are definitely "Taoist monks". They have their own temples and do their own things. They have similar beggar-monk tradition as Buddhist beggar-monk traditions. At several points, Taoist monks cultivated within the same spaces as Buddhist monks. This is not surprising given that all religious wisdom springs from the same source.
One aspect of Tao-"ism" is about living peacefully and healthily and as long as possible ... but that's not really it at all. That's the popular religion. As Joseph Campbell noted, the most popular religion in the world worships the idols of Longevity, Prosperity, and Posterity. Pop Taoism is no exception.
After you shed the outer layer of pop Taoism, at Taoism's core, it shares the same underlying understanding of reality as Buddhism, Shinto, and even the obscure parts of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Its moral expression is uniquely Chinese.
As for "not about defeating your enemy", this goes into something very interesting, the role of violence and spiritual growth. Sun Tzu's Art of War is very much Taoist-flavored. It might be kept at its arm's length, but its far more obscure inspiration, Master of Demon Valley (鬼谷子) is acclaimed as part of the Taoist tradition, despite being heavily encrypted teachings about the shadow side, governance, and right action.
As others have stated, the issue here is not starcraft or gaming in general, it's addiction. If the core roots of that aren't addressed, he'll likely move from one addiction to another until he fully hits rock bottom and gets the professional help he needs.
That being said, it would also suggest he is a manic-depressive type. The highs are high, the lows are low. This is a very difficult condition to deal with.
I have some friends who are physical trainers, and they were talking about low body fat once, saying it's very difficult to to get down to around 5% and lower than 4% is dangerous.
According to a random body building website thread, 3% is essential body fat... http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=143851451&...
edit: it was one of those cheap electrical measuring devices. It's very probable that the machine had a high margin of error.
You might actually read 1% on the skinfold caliper, but that doesn't necessarily mean you literally have only 1% bodyfat.
I've got it too, and have made insane/amazing progress and gotten quite good at some skills, crafts, and disciplines in fast time. I've also burned many hours on something like Civilization IV or playing lots of Chess. It's a mixed bag.
I wrote about it here --
Definitely worth reading if you've got the same personality mix.
Now, however, he's stabilized after going to therapy and has a pretty rad job doing pen testing. Anyhow, thanks for posting this link, I knew there was some sort of thing describing his personality trait :)
Maybe you can shed some more light on the 'rage to master' personality trait you're talking about?
I'm not able to find the definitive research paper on it right now which was titled "The Origins and Ends of Giftedness," but here's one on the trait in the visual arts which should give you an idea --
Despite the term being catchy/interesting, most of the literature on it is very academic and somewhat dry. It probably makes for poor curiosity reading, but it's supremely valuable to dig through the academic papers if you have the trait yourself or you're a parent/guardian/teacher of someone who does.
I'll continue to look into it, I find awareness of oneself's personality of highest importance and I always strive to learn more about why I do the things I do.
It seems this is it http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.110...
> Google the term “rage to master” – click around, read some summaries, and then check out a couple academic papers. It will be very worth your time.
I'm not sure if it's related to Aspergers, but I don't think negativity is warranted. Having an intense interest is good by itself; if it keeps for a few months—there you have a startup. =) The only problem is indeed that you have to master it, and not always do conscious attempts help.
 Although I might be mistaken and there wasn't any in your reply.
I'd love to discuss the good and the bad with the trait itself but I should probably do some reading first to verify that it's the same trait that I'm referring to.
"Fast forward to summer '10. By now I had moved out of three apartments with my friends. I lost three jobs. I tried being a drywaller, and a welder twice. In between my friends and I would do odd-jobs that lasted a week at a time then would get paid one large sum, then blow it all on alcohol and marijuana. Living literally off of pickle juice, beer, bread once in a while, redbull, and cigarettes, we found ourselves wasting our days away on the Xbox with nothing else to do but wait for a job. Finally, I had to move back into my mother's house (a big time alcholic, who is seperated 15 years now from my father, a raging, abusive in every way alcholic) and that's where I took the deep plunge into hellish unconciousness.
Waiting eagerly for years for the realease of Starcraft 2 I waited in line 2 hours at 2:00 am for the special release...."
- 1% body fat
- ran 12 miles and got bored (so he walked home??)
- 20 one-handed push-ups on either side (but only 100 combined??)
- became a monk
- shrank an inch in a year do to inactivity
All together, though, those bragging points add up to something implausible.
The other sounds less likely...
When SC2 was released, I got into it big time as well. I know I have an addictive personality (if given the right method and circumstance), but I didn't know the term 'rage to master' I'll have to look it up.
Anyway, I slept and breath SC2. I knew it was going to get me in trouble, I had no delusions of going Pro, but I just wanted to be good. I hated the feeling of losing to cheese tactics and winnings games, surprisingly, only gave me a mild high. If I won, I wanted to be a legit win. SC2 to me is chess on steroids. I'd kept playing no matter if I won or lost.
I was aware of my personality flaw so I gave myself a goal – Plat #1 on my division and I'm done. So I reached the goal and immediately quit the ladder game. My ability to do this made me doubt if I really had an addictive personality. I find myself going through the same process for other games such as WoW and D3 – aim for the highest (reasonable) goal, 'prove' something to myself and be done.
It's really unfortunate, since I rarely play games for the sake of 'fun' anymore (any online game bring out the competitiveness in me.) Just like the Matrix guy, I don't see them as games anymore, I see them as ways to min/max, look for exploits, efficiency, risks vs rewards, mathematical equations.
I was talking with a fellow gamer, and we both made the same observation about playing video games at an above-casual level. I realized (when playing Skyrim) that I was focusing so hard on being as efficient and successful as possible, that I wasn't really enjoying myself anymore.
I've since been making an effort to play games more casually. I can still be competitive, but if playing games feels like a chore, I'm doing it wrong.
I should add that I don't live in Korea or China. I'm a guy in my late 20's who lives in rural Wisconsin, and I know several people that I met while playing that particular game that have gone through similar (though usually less severe) experiences. The ones that I've kept in touch in agree that they were addicted as well, and that it's probably a lot more common than anyone would like to admit for players of certain genres of games, particularly MMOs.
It's great that he posted this though. He'll be able to come back and read it over and over - and hopefully it will help him begin to take responsibility for his life and what he can do to change it.
On more than one occasion, Starcraft 2 was one of those triggers. It only occurred after long heated anonymous matches that I lost, never during single player or with friends. I shelved Starcraft 2 shortly after a bad outburst where I broke the door of my wooden keyboard tray.
If I had to guess, the intense focus I was putting into Starcraft broke my normal awareness of my emotions. Thus, loosing control when I was defeated.
What you described is called "getting really angry and losing your shit." It happens to pretty much everyone.
EDIT: I probably should have written that like less of an asshole. Sorry - I'm not here to deny your problems. The point still stands though.
I guess the feeling is hard to describe; "getting really angry and losing your shit." doesn't cover it at all, especially in the situations I can remember. Everybody looses their cool, this is way beyond that for me. The situations where it's come up wouldn't constitute the level of rage I've felt.
If you need to put a label on yourself, intermittent explosive disorder or something is likely closer than bipolar.
There really is no reason to pathologize your behaviour unless you want to seek treatment though. There's a lot of shite in the DSM.
I'm asking because most people diagnose themselves as being either bipolar or ADHD, and it's almost always a bogus diagnostics based on very common personality aspects that everyone has, such as some level of mood swings or tendency to procrastinate...
None of my incidents have been in a work environment, which may be linked to my analytical personality. Situations at work can be controlled and resolved easily.
The fits I'm citing are full on rage, like zero to "put your head through a wall" in 2 seconds flat.
Like I said, and you mentioned, I'm only guessing at a diagnosis. It's likely that my rage is linked to my level of control in a situation.
Then they "wake up" again. Quite disturbing...
I was better than anyone I knew in my job and I kept studying edge cases of my profession that I would never need. Soon my job became too easy. I would spend time studying professioms related to mine only in case I come up with something useful. Make no mistake this was not workaholism since it had nothing to do with my day to day work except in very rare circumstances. I also know that this is personally unproductive since I work as a manager and I can tell mismanagement of resources I mile away. I am very strict unfortunately only on everybody else but me. I read issue queues and follow forums for open source projects for thing I will never use. Same thing goes for stackoverflow for a series of languages. I have studied history books, correlating things on various books and sources and historical archives. Attempting to put everything in an elasticsearch cluster for better fulltext search. To what end, I don't know. My spouse has gotten used to this but my friends seem to have changed during the years. I have no long term goals and many things I learned I won't use. Since my addictions are not fun related they just look like hobbies. The problem is they add up to many hours a day.
I would not call it rage to succeed, I would call it inability to stand still mentally.
God, do I know this feeling. I don't know if I would have gotten away from it without friends and family.
And I don't mean to be moralist, even if I sound like one. The main problem is that he must get up and decide to change his life, see that he is a perfectly normal young guy. If he can't quit playing by himself, why don't he look for help? A psychologist or even a psychiatrist may be of great help, but they sure wont come to his home from out of nowhere.
I am disappointed to see people blaming 'this or that game' for their problems. Personally these types of folks need help and a good safety net of friends and family to point out what's truly happening instead of being surrounded by those with the same issues. Unfortunately it sounds like this guy had none of the former and plenty of the latter.
Heck, some of them might actually believe that their stuff is superior to MMA, based on some woo aspect or other. :-)
What would it take to make such a thing? Is it possible? Exactly what elements of Starcraft make it addictive? Would it be possible to make a similar but less addictive version?
I work in the team, making one of the the best selling fps games.
Then again I don't like playing fps games, I'm just supporting tools code.
I don't like multiplayer games at all, especially mmorpgs ones. I do love hot-seat multiplayer games like Heroes of Might and Magic - it's great fun. People in the same room, taking turns, and in the mean time having laugh and jokes (and smelly clothes, also a bit drunk after 24hr marathons)
For single player - old quest games, and JRPGs took many hours of my life...
IANAP (psychologist), but I would say probably this person has a big problem with video games, but more specifically impulses and I would venture to guess possibly a hard time distinguishing reality from fantasy. Probably, the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy is one of the bigger problems here and then addiction. It's good that this person seems to want help, get out of the hole. I think it will definitely take professional help; there's more going on here than just playing Starcraft 2 too much.
Usually these things result from a misfiring in the brain. Some are more impressive to the outside world than others, but none of them really satisfy the person.
I wrote about it a little bit more here: https://jseliger.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/from-the-departmen... .
There are also a lot of ways to waste time. Few people seem to make good use of it, so perhaps again it is not really Computer Games that are to blame?
The games provide consistent rewards. From the gamers perspective the only down side is leaving the game - you're suddenly tired, hungry, possibly feel unwell. Of course those are the symptoms of sitting on your ass all day playing video games but one isn't aware of the symptoms until one finishes playing (or later, eg trying to work on a couple of hours sleep). It seems all the emotional, adrenaline rewards are in the game and all negative feelings - pain, hunger, tiredness - are outside the game. Such feelings get amplified by having respect within a game for your position, having friends within a game, etc., if one has none of these things in the real world ...
I find it very easy to get in to drink. If I could afford it then it would be a problem for me too I think. Thankfully I've managed to avoid other drugs (except caffeine).
Spending too much time on them seems more like an effect than a cause.
That having been said, I have a handful of friends or acquaintances that have problems with addiction. Each of them ruined their college experience with a combination of: drinking, pot, alcohol and finally Adderall (to fix their attention, but ultimately fueling alcoholic-ish binges).
It's terribly sad because I'm an excellent student who spent basically three years straight getting high after classes and homework and continued to work on my github projects. Stopped when I moved away for an internship cold turkey and had a headache for a few hours and then was back to normal.
I hope that we can learn how to screen for these things or provide better treatments for people that get addicted to those sorts of psychological releases. Video games are a nice way for me to relax and I've been known to have a four hour binge with a bottle of wine on a Friday night, but I can't imagine literally losing control of my life.