Video Game Addiction

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Late to the party, as usual, but I just read Tom Bissel's piece on being addicted to video games and cocaine. I went through a similar thing with Everquest during my first year in New York--except that after reading this, I was clear I didn't. Perhaps I missed something in the piece, but I never got clear on any concrete reasons for Bissel's transformation. Did a girlfriend leave him? Did he get fired from a gig? Did he injure a limb?


I'm not trying to mock, or make jokes. I ask this because the year I spent firing up EQ had its roots in very concrete things--1.) Having a kid at 24 2.) Being dead-ass broke, in one of the most expensive cities in the world 3.) Having recently fled college, and watching the thing I'd fled for (magazine journalism) seemingly crumble around me. I felt like shit for virtually my entire first year here. But once I accepted that three things above were true and immutable, I basically dropped Everquest and went back to work. (I'm fairly sure the first Spider-Man movie played a major role in curing me, but that's another post.) It is of course possible that such tangible reasons don't hold true for everyone.

Anyway, I game today and will likely game to the day I die. But one thing I'm clear on is that gaming doesn't actually make me happy, instead it offers relief from the work I undertake in order to be happy. Television plays that role for most folks, and it may do the same for me again one day. But gaming has ruined me because it offers more control. In terms of pure happiness, there really isn't anything like working on a piece for months, or over a year, and then seeing you name on the cover of magazine. For me, it's just unmatched.

Something else also--there's very little that I can concentrate on for longer than a couple of hours. That goes for gaming, writing, reading, whatever.I just get bored and have to do something else. Occasionally, I can do one of those all day raiding sessions, and I did have that one year, but in the main I can't keep up the concentration. Thank God, for small curses.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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