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My Gaming Addiction

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Hi there! I’m a video game addict!

Several years ago, I was addicted to Team Fortress 2. At the time, I recently graduated college, and I was out on my own and should have devoted myself to the job hunt. Instead, I played a whole lot of TF2. Getting my first real job was a little difficult, and in hindsight, playing so much TF2 instead of networking or coding did not make it easier.

Eventually, I found that first job, and I currently have a successful career as a software development. But I had to quit playing TF2 so much before any of that could happen.

While the addiction that I developed would not be considered severe enough to be a “gaming disorder” as defined by the World Health Organization, I think that their definition fits well enough to be relevant here:

Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

(Source: Addictive behaviours: Gaming disorder)

Other than the ‘evident for at least 12 month’ requirement, this sounds about right. I had little control over when I would play, or for how long each session would last. I’d stay up late and procrastinate on important things and play TF2 instead. I would even skip meals - I need to eat regularly to control my blood sugar level, so this is really poor behavior!

I’m glad that I was able to quit playing TF2 and do something else with my time.

Why do I write about this now? That’s easy: I’m experiencing a relapse of my gaming addiction!

Splatoon 3 came out a few months ago, and I have difficulty with staying away from it.

Things started innocently. I was easing back into gaming after taking a long break for health reasons. I found that gaming aggravated hand/wrist/arm issues that made it painful to work or take care of things around the house. But I looked forward to Splatoon 3, as I found that I could play Splatoon 2 comfortably - matches are short and the controls don’t irritate my issues as much as other games do.

I bought Splatoon 3 when it came out, and I had fun with it for a while. But I started playing the game for an unhealthy amount of time every day, even though I was having less fun as my play time went up. Splatoon 3 has so much stuff going on: a leveling system (which unlocks weapons), a catalog system (think “battle pass”), daily play bonuses, ranked play ratings, PvE ranks, random items via gacha, weapon proficiency levels, badges, banners, titles, cosmetic items for your locker, and gameplay skills to improve at. Splatoon 3 frequently throws some reward your way and encourages you to play it often. Splatoon 3 caught me in its snare, and whenever I found myself free of it, it soon found a way to capture me again.

Splatoon 3 is particularly addictive to me because of the sense of accomplishment that it seems to give. You’re constantly working towards something, and you just have to play the game to get something! Doing something worthwhile and enriching takes more effort than it does to play the game, so I find myself playing the game when I have free time.

The sense of accomplishment that I get from Splatoon 3 is mostly false. Many rewards come to you regardless of how well you do - the meters go up even when you lose. I don’t get a sense of satisfaction from winning or losing anymore. After putting over 120 hours into it, I can say that the result may as well be determined by a coin flip much of the time.

Things would be different if I got paid to play, but the only way to do that would be to stream or be a YouTube content creator (ugh, I dislike that term). As a full-time job? Forget it. It doesn’t pay well unless you’re a massive star, and I know enough about Twitch and YouTube to know that I cannot rely on those platforms for a career. I tried having a side-job once, but it ended in complete disaster and I won’t try it again unless I have to.

Being a professional Splatoon player doesn’t pay enough by itself, and I’m too banged-up and lack the time to practice enough to reach that level.

The only thing that’s real is that I waste a lot of time with playing a game that I don’t enjoy.

This addiction to Splatoon 3 hasn’t hit as hard as my addiction to TF2 did. I think it comes down to the fact that I can’t play for as long as I used to. I now get aches and pains everywhere if I play for a long period of time. I also have a job and other responsibilities, and I take care of things when I need to.

Having said that, my behavior still matches what I felt with TF2. I do dumb things like skip workouts to play Splatoon 3. I play it even though I don’t like it and experience hand/wrist pains after playing it.

Yep, sounds like addiction to me!