Is Gaming as Bad as Cheating?
Some compare video game addiction to infidelity.
We all have our vices, and when you hear that cliché, you typically think of someone's penchant for alcohol, their soft spot for gambling, or something equally addictive that causes one to lose control. But for millions of people, that vice is gaming, and some believe the addiction may even be detrimental to relationships.
A Harris Interactive Poll released in 2007 showed that 8.5 percent of youth in the United States are addicted to video games. While the statistics aren't out on adult video game addiction, I think it's safe to assume it's not just restricted to kids. Overall, people spend three billion hours a week gaming.
It seems like an innocent enough hobby, but renowned therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil believes gaming can be dangerous to relationships.
"Anytime someone spends more time with something or someone else than with their loved one, that's an affair," Dr. Bonnie said in a statement. "In this sense, gaming can be an affair—it can take the place of love and romance."
I'm not sure about the spending more time argument, just because that would mean we're all cheating on our spouses with work, but Dr. Bonnie says the idea behind addictive gaming is escapism.
"This escapism can easily take the form of a video game; the alternate worlds and experiences lend themselves to thrill-seeking behavior. The problem is that it's a vicious cycle."
She encourages people not to sacrifice their personal relationships for a hobby. Her solution? Couples need to have more fun together—exercise together, have sex more instead of gaming, and cuddle. According to the statement, these things apparently cause the same adrenaline release people get from gaming. I, for one, can't wait for Playstation to release Xtreme Cuddling.
On a related note, one study found that people who cheat in gaming might be more likely to cheat in a relationship. Earlier this year, North Dakota State University polled over 1,200 adults in the US and UK and found that about half of those who admitted to cheating in a game admitted to cheating in a relationship, too. They also found that cheating in gaming can result in being 3.5 times more likely to cheat at everyday things in the real world.
“It’s not surprising that online cheating parallels real-world cheating, even if people are just experimenting with the possibilities,” said Dr. Mia Consalvo of Concordia University.
But as one commenter put it:
"They make it sound as if the in game cheating leads to real life cheating. The most likely scenario is that these people were already cheaters, and the in game cheating comes easy to them because they're used to it."
Back to the addiction issue. For adults, some signs of video game addiction include neglecting to eat, sleep or bathe; calling in sick to stay home and play games; and lying about video game use.
"The key to avoiding such destructive behavior is communication," Dr. Bonnie says. She also advises couples to set boundaries with the gaming.
Not to say that I don't think gaming can cause issues in relationships, but I think I'd be a bit more hurt if my spouse cheated than if he took up a video gaming hobby. What do you think—have you argued with your spouse about gaming? Can gaming "be an affair"?
Photo: Jamie Grill/Getty Images
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