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aren
06:20
Hm… I would think you don’t need them to get addicted, not the way you phrased it. It’s more like you need certain aspects of it, which you would require regardless. As an adult it’s something like:

- Regular income
- Shelter (not just under the bridge, but a place to rent or such)
- A tool for videogame use
- Being able to live for months or years like this.

The basic point is, if you have a job and play games for escapism, this doesn’t mean you have are addicted. Addiction is, to go with the wikipedia definition, “characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.” You can keep your job and your flat and still be addicted to games, the same way you can kill 4 pints of beer every weekday evening and get shitfaced over the weekend and still have a job. (Though this may not be the job you started out with.)

The issue is with the negative consequences. 

In an exemplary scenario you start playing a game for escapism or relief for a stressful job or just because it’s fun. You still have friends, family, go to the movies, take care of yourself, etc.
You keep playing the game, and over time the focus of your life shifts. It moves from wherever it lay before to the game, how to get better at it, how to beat it, whatever. You start to neglect your friends (“Sorry, I don’t have time that day, maybe another time”), not going out with them when you usually did, finding excuses, telling them you’ll be there next time, but in your mind you’re still halfway thinking of a problem or something you had in your game. You were putting on makeup or going jogging every other morning, and now you’re foregoing that for another quick game. You start to set your alarm to a different, oriented to more game time instead of healthy sleep schedule. Your work starts slipping. If you were average before, now you do below average work, with your mind and focus being constantly elsewhere. After a year or so your boss starts to notice and asks if you’re fine, if you’re having problems, or simply they reprimand you, and you know you should listen to them and get your shit together, but you tell yourself the game is so much fun.
Instead of facing your problem you start looking for another job, one needing less of your focus, one you could get by with working less, even if your living arrangements didn’t change. You only need to make enough money to pay the necessities (rent, food, probably internet). Your friends and family are worried about you and express it to you, but you slink by, not answering the phone, or making weak excuses when they do manage to get you.

One can manage all this. 

The part of society more in danger of getting addicted to video games would be kids, I think, and that is more a function of their freedom of these prerequisite necessities. They (usually) don’t need to work, they have shelter, food, and internet provided by their parents, and more free time, too. Since they don’t need to worry about these things, at least not initially, I think the obstacles to addiction are easier, or the much cited slippery slope is steeper, and since they are initially more disconnected from these obstacles they may slip deeper. And, depending on age, the harm addiction does would be multiplied due to the brain’s still ongoing maturation. Fiddling with the reward mechanism in the brain while it’s still not fully matured can’t be good and will carry lifelong repercussions.

However, it’s not helpful to put all addictions into the same pot and expect them to come out the same. Video game addiction is, basically, a first world problem (though not limited to the first world, I assume you get what I mean) that requires a certain affluence, one that is easier reached in more similarly affluent societies. But it’s still an addiction by current medical understanding, a way the brain’s reward mechanism gets taken over in a bad way. 

Or to look at it another way, the brain is shittily programmed, with spaghetti code and legacy implementations and old, old APIs still being open to manipulation. 

Since we don’t know how to fix the code, we have to deal with the harmful exploits and error codes just as much as the atypical pathways and results this leads to, be they addiction or transsexuality. We can’t simply take out the brain, rewire it, and put it back in. We do not have the knowledge for this, nor the tools to do it effectively, so the best way to accommodate and regulate the scenarios. 

Where societies draw the line for these treatments isn’t self-explanatory or obvious, but I think a decent benchmark would be self-destructive behaviour and the erosion of free will. 

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