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Debate: Video games are the drug of the century

Video games are constantly progressing towards characteristics similar to drugs. If we look at a huge point brought up in the speech mentioning how ancient "lydia" (i think) used video games to cause the people to ignore or forget about the necessities to life such as hunger. This effect is very similar to the effects of many drugs like acid which are used to dull sense of reality and enter an external world to forget the problems in reality. This is one of the many things that video games have in common within drugs.

So the debate is are video games being used for beneficial reasons like teaching values of never giving up on a mission and knowing the possibility of accomplishing important objectives. Or are video games like World of Warcraft offering an alternate world for a person to escape to and allows the creation of an avatar that reflects the person they wish to be and the existence in a world different from reality?

Please if you are arguing one side think of arguments that oppose your own point of view and offer them as well only because i would like to hear both sides and it will allow for a much better debate and allow for you to articulate your argument in more depth.

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    Lejan .

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    Nov 29 2012: Why on earth has everything we do have to have 'beneficial reasons'? This is why any 'workaholic' still is socially more accepted than any 'gameaholic', even though a 'gameaholic' is only destructive to him- or herself.

    Isn't any scientist, writer, artist or whoever in 'flow' nothing but 'on a trip'? Doesn't all of them forget to 'eat' in this creative phase? And wouldn't our economy give literally 'anything' to find a way to get employees on a daily basis in this state of 'trance'? So what makes the one drug 'bad' and the other 'good'? Just the bucks earned rather than spend on them?

    To me any destructive addiction should be avoided and help offered to those who are in it. But there are smooth transitions and double standards involved in this matter.

    Diablo III put me on a diet for 7 days and I guarantee you, that the same time would have been more accepted in any religious fasting week. Why? Because the one cause was 'just' entertaining? Isn't 'entertainment' actuall nothing but the key to 'flow'? To me it is, and the use of the term 'drug' only comes into discussion, if 'entertainment' is used for 'entertainment' reasons only and in which no gain in GDP or high school grade was made.

    To me the 'drug of the century' is the stock market in which 'gambler' can knock down whole and even real countries. Here I would start first with 'anti drug campaigns' to free people off their addiction to breed more profit... Yet this seems to be accepted somehow... why? ;o)
    • Nov 30 2012: Trust me I myself played WoW for a long time! I don't think all games are bad and entertainment is a bad thing. But just like the amount sedatives given before surgery it needs to be the right amount and to much sedative can result in a coma and to little could result in a really shitty surgery. Just like everything else in the world there needs to be a balance between too much and too little and there is nothing stopping people from throwing their lives away because of an addiction to a game. People don't know what too much gaming looks like and people need to be aware that video games are dangerous in excess....
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        Lejan .

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        Nov 30 2012: I absolutely agree with you and that's why I stated:

        '... any destructive addiction should be avoided and help offered to those who are in it.'

        In addition to this I was trying to make the point that if it comes to this pathologic imbalance, we are more likely to damn a 'video gamer' than a well accepted and respected manager in 'workaholic' mode. Both are suffering the same imbalance, yet a video game becomes a 'drug' and a career trip becomes a role-model. To me this is a double-standard and should be seen as such.

        As you rightly state, that there is '... nothing stopping people from throwing their lives away because of an addiction to a game', so there is also 'nothing stopping speculators and hedge-fond manager from throwing whole economies into 'melt down' of an addiction to profit maximisation'

        Both is pathological but only the video gamer is seen to be 'on drugs', whereas the gamer is the only one who is damaging just himself and nobody else.

        This contradiction in perception of addictive behaviour is what I wanted to underline here, and it was not my intention to advocate any 'pro addictive gaming'.
  • Nov 28 2012: I will concede that video games are similar to a knife. What can be used to feed a family can also be used to take a life. Video games give far more than they take however in many ways video games are a drug albeit a drug of a therapeutic nature. Video games have been utilized in multiple fields due and have shown signs of effective growth in so many ways. Video games have led to the loss of life on a small scale, but I would challenge the masses to supply something that has or cannot kill in excess. By our very nature when we give in to our temptations with no discipline we are enticing death.
    • Dec 6 2012: I just unwittingly echoed your main point :) Glad to hear someone taking a rational stance on games (and tools in general)
  • Nov 28 2012: "Video games are the drug of the century"

    Video games are the literature of younger generations. Many years ago people used to think movies were dangerous too, it's amazing how every generation replicates the something-new-that-I-don't-understand-is-ruining-today's-youth trope.

    I hope I never become become like that when I'm old, but perhaps it's inevitable.
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      Nov 30 2012: Video games are no literature, they are games and like movies it is their quality and quantity only which makes them 'dangerous' to young people.

      Obesity is not caused by fast food and soft-drinks alone. It is caused by its excessive consumption. That's a difference!

      Even the classic 'bookworm', those who used to read paper printed literature back in the old days, exercised excessive and unhealthy behaviour. The reason why only classmates and no parents blamed them, was the fact, that they did not became noticeable stupid by it.

      My personal experience with the 'digital generation' is, that many of them are lacking long term focus and concentration abilities on 'slow moving subjects' and self-thinking processes.

      In a time in which the term 'cult' is earned for something within a timeframe of a single year, in which technologies change like seasons, nobody has to fear to become 'like that' as we all were at that point already the day before yesterday and evolved from there anew again.

      Restrictions are no revenge of the old on the new generations. And those who managed to operate an Atari VCS console will have no problems to 'understand' the principles of todays Wii or PS3.

      My parents let me play for hours in a row, because I also played foodball and had other outdoor and indoor activities as well. Restrictions were only made if my tendency became to excessive in either field and rightly so. It didn't harm me and spread the range of my skills.
  • Dec 10 2012: I think video games do both! I had cancer at 17 and spend many years being very sick and video games made a big difference in how I spent that time. Are drugs really that bad, many humans suffer and have lives filled with pain and if a game or a drug can help those people live than it's ok with me. The real problems is the way we live in general. How any human being can walk past another human being in need and do nothing is beyond me. It's clear to me they we are still wild animals at heart.

    I lost my voice for three years and now I can talk but it can be hard to be understood. Most of my friends have drifted away because it was just too hard to maintain the relationship since I could not talk and be understood and i was kind of angry. A few years after I got my voice back I started playing online games, now some people give me a hard time about my voice and freak out when I start talking (jerks) but others have no problems with my voice and have become my friends. I have spent years playing with and talking with these gamers and they have helped me use my new voice and helped me learn to socialize again.

    I can't wait for another generation of gaming.
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    Nov 28 2012: "This effect is very similar to the effects of many drugs like acid which are used to dull sense of reality and enter an external world to forget the problems in reality. This is one of the many things that video games have in common within drugs."

    acid does not dull your sense of reality nor cause you enter an external world. at least what i think you are meaning by external world. acid can make you fixate on your problems... but really, it can help you work through them, which is why they used to use it in psych offices before it was deemed illegal...
    take some acid and report back.

    i can see the occasional extreme case of a person taking video games as escapism too far, though. it is uncommon for it to be taken that far but it does happen. i think there's nothing wrong with occasional escapism as long as it doesn't get out of hand and you don't start ignoring real life. if you don't escape once in a while, you lose perspective on the situation. it's all in moderation. i just do not think comparing this kind of thing to a drug like LSD is very accurate.
    • Nov 28 2012: I see your point of view but as a person who played video games excessively and have also encountered drugs i personally see the similarities of video games and drugs to be numerous. I am not saying you are entering "an external world" I know i said that but that was a poor choice of words. According to people use drugs to experiment, fit in, escape, relieve boredom, to rebel, and to seem grown up. I would say that this is why majority of people play video games: to escape, fit in, relieve boredom. Personally i agree with the benefits of video games but realistically how many people are playing video games to build those characteristics. People arent intentionally using them for their benefits they are using them to enter an alternate world that allows them to create an "avatar". If we look at modern games like halo where it allows for the creation of a person to reflect you within the game and also allows for you to enter alternate worlds and make decisions in that world. People have the potential to benefit from video games just like beneficial painkillers after surgery but there is nothing restricting people from abusing the use of video games and the abuse of video games just like the abuse of painkillers has drastic consequences.
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        Nov 30 2012: considering the source you linked to me, i have absolutely no reply to you. it says enough by itself.
      • Dec 9 2012: I believe that you are incorrect. Halo allows for a character customization for online purposes only and the only decisions you make in that game is who you are going to "kill". the game is based of a story and you are essentially "playing" the story. But if you want to look at RPG's (which I believe you should have mentioned) then yes you have to make decisions but its very different. RPG games such as Skyrim or World of Warcraft are video games that want you involved in the game. A game is nothing without a story and creators want people to become more involved in the game which is why it is an RPG. Also, in my opinion video games nothing like drugs. drugs and video games may have you "hooked" but the side effects are completely different. Unless your going to go 3 days without eating or sleeping video games are much more safer than drugs. And i'm pretty sure if you and your friends grab a bunch of guns and start playing real life modern warfare opposed to the video game version then there is a problem. Video games allow the imagination of killing something without actually killing it. In a way it relieves stress. Weather it be from playing a racing game to an RPG game to a FPS game. It is much safer than the real thing.
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    Dec 12 2012: I would categorize video games as addicting, however I would not categorize them as a Drug. A drug is a chemical used for medicinal or recreational purposes that either alter your perception or treat an illness and/or symptoms of an illness. Video games are not ingested, nor do they introduce anything foreign to the body. Categorizing video games as a drug would be a major blow to those who enjoy it both heavily and in small doses. I personally believe that people should be able to do what they want provided they are not hurting anyone around them. Playing video games is not unlike taking antidepressants except that it's harder to quit physically addicting drugs. I would feel horrible if a gamer who games specifically to self medicate was viewed as negative, especially if that same person were to take over the counter drugs or prescription drugs and not viewed as negative.
  • Dec 12 2012: Sorry, but I have to debate this issue. The "drug of the century" is the IPOD/IPAD. They really are a great technology, but people, please!!! There is a place and time to use them! Certainly NOT when you're driving or walking!!! People walk into me all the time at the mall, at school, and grocery! They are OBLIVIOUS to what's going on around them!!!
    It's not all IPOD/IPAD Users I'm talking about. I refer to people who use them use them as their LONE means of communication and who are OBLIVIOUS in this way.
    So, I nominate the IPOD/IPAD
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    Dec 11 2012: let the War on Video Games commence!
  • Dec 11 2012: I think we need to move the gaming platform into a more in depth, mentally challenging area than the point and shoot type deal.
  • Dec 10 2012: If you can't change the kid, change the game. Here's a scenario that might work. Build a first person shooter game whose advancement and achievement requires not a body count but rather a count of hostages saved. Now, I'm just a silly old man cackling over his computer and watching western civilization tear itself apart just as it did in the dying days of fuedalism when mankind was able to change from the landlord/peasant economy to a money economy. Design games in which the reason for the conflict is part of the gaming format. By the time these kids grow up they will have an understanding of their tool which far surpasses any in our own time.
  • Dec 10 2012: Drugs are usually used by individuals to alter their sense or perception of reality.
    Reality being their own world.
    Everyone has a lot of stress in their lives and a lot, a helluva lot, of fear.
    I think the number one selling medicine in the U.S. is for anti-anxiety.
    At least I know this was true about seven or eight years ago. It may have changed.
    I watched very successful, apparently well-rounded mature people, who worked hard, made more than a living and ate anti-anxiety pills for sustenance.

    Twiddling the thumbs was one of the first forms of denial that I recall, to wile away the monotony of daily life.
    That's what life is. It is insanely monotonous, boring and prone to driving one insane.
    So we humans have developed all sorts of things to get us out of it or to somehow just simply deny it to ourselves.
    Next, at least for the more modern age, came smoking. A great way, and a drug, to stop thinking and focus on puffing every time one had a thought that bothered them.
    The walkman, with headphones gave people another way to tune out.
    As we refined and upgraded the walkman, we came up with the cell phone so that one could always and almost immediately have access to another voice that wasn't their own thinking.

    It has now progressed to smart phones, with pads that allow one to flip their fingers or thumbs up and down, sideways, searching, always searching for something to take them out of themselves and their thinking.

    It looks an awful lot like the twiddling of thumbs from my childhood days of poverty.
    Just about everything else today is a way to (quote Roger Waters), amuse ourselves to death.
    The death is mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual.

    We even call them "tools" and they are, but they are very addictive tools.
    Now what is dangerous is not that they are addictive, but that the general population, worldwide, now carries the predisposition to addiction, and addiction usually leads to insanity or death.
  • Dec 10 2012: Roommates been watching Breaking Bad.
  • Dec 10 2012: Prescription pills are the drug of the century. Anna Karenina was a prescription drug addict, drugs are drugs. Unless you talk'n a world view then there is something to be said about the herb khat but for the most part herbs are herbs and drugs are drugs.
    Theirs a lot to be said about drugs: compounding facilities are coming under fire, I think legislature is slowly going to come online to help the elderly and infirm get access to drugs, just yesterday I heard on France 24 that the French are sick of Asian made generic drugs. Then theirs that black market aspect of select drugs like the dust from the coca plant that fuels cartels in Mexico, or the tears of the poppy propping up Afghan warlords and clans. Also their may be other sorts of drug culture starting up for an example watch the Rave episode of Spaced but I wouldn't know about all that.
    No video games are not the new drug maybe you had an addiction to video games you may have had an addiction to video poker or off track betting but none of those are going to anesthetize some one before surgery although they'll help train to people to fly planes before they do it.
  • Dec 6 2012: Drugs are tools -- just like iPhones, nuclear bombs, and binoculars. Choosing to use them in a way that grinds against other people's values is what makes them generally "good" or "bad"... not the tools themselves.

    What makes drugs powerful and scary is how addicting they are. But if that was the only meaningful characteristic of a drug, I could just as easily demonize Facebook or the Stock Market -- and the addiction-forming power of those tools. LSD can profoundly expand your realm of experience... but it's taboo because the negative side-effects make it less-desirable than other ways of doing so. The issue isn't as simple as "Is it a drug? And is that bad?"

    Games are incredible at making people feel good, and therefore lend themselves to addiction. Even as a game designer/enthusiast/optimist, I will openly admit that they have that in common with drugs. But games also possess other incredibly powerful characteristics (many of which other comments and TED talks have touched on). It's entirely up to us to cultivate an industry and a world culture that use that power for good. If you're too pessimistic to trust humanity with that responsibility, then I can't imagine how terrified you are (or should be) given the prevalence of drugs, weapons, money, religion, science, education, politics, and other equally potent tools in the world today.

    Profoundly powerful tools don't simply go away (example: nuclear weapons) -- which is why it's better to be assertive and find positive uses for them, rather than sit around debating on whether we should have invented them at all.

    If you don't like the direction games are headed in, dream a better one and make it reality.
  • Dec 3 2012: Are games becoming like a drug? Misowned/misused gaming experiences possibly. But it's mostly within addictive personalities where that danger really exists.

    Properly owned and properly used game experiences are actually teaching really strong ideas. For example, it's teaching you that asking others for help (finding experienced players to act as game guides for example) or collaborating with others (guilds) is not only a good thing, sometimes it's necessary. Now, you could always do things like asking for help or collaborating with others in reality, but within a game it's easier to do because you know that in the overarching narrative you're all working toward essentially the same end.

    And since you're asking whether or not the games themselves could be considered an escape from reality, sometimes yes they are. But is that the important question? No. The important question is actually why is it that some people feel the need to escape. Is it a sense of powerlessness? Is it a sense that the only place that their decisions and actions actually matter are in fantasy settings? Is it loneliness because they might be outcast? Depression? A feeling of loss of control even regarding one's own life? The answer is yes. Maybe not all of these, maybe even some that I couldn't even get to listing. The fact is, and this is coming from a gamer, it gives our minds something that reality might not be giving. And again, how that in-game experience is used and owned is what is actually important. It's not the why that is important. If you stick to the why, the question of whether or not something is a drug can actually be applied to anything from literature to religion to work - provided the right argumentative build up can be applied.
  • Nov 28 2012: Good job Christopher. Let's also consider some of the Ted talks showing benefits of some video games. Maybe it is simplistic, but hopefully the best well be encouraged where possible. We know it won't always happen.