My name’s Hannah and I’m a gaming addict;

reality_is_the_worst_computer_game-s450x360-43799I was raised by The Sims, much like a feral child raised by wolves, but with less dirt, raw meat and howling. A bold statement to make, but I did eat, breathe and live The Sims. The hardest days of my youth were those waiting for my brother to finish his Sims City on our old PC so I could check on the progress of my virtual family, a pain I can presume only imaginable to mother’s torn from their children, waiting to be reunited after months of being forced apart. And what an emotional reunion it was; seeing Sim David getting his promotion so he could go to work in a Limousine as opposed to the broken down Cadillac, oh the shame when my friends would come round and see what a terrible Sims God I’d been! Life became easier when I was bestowed with my own Sims playing machine, day or night, rain or shine, I would be there for my Sims; they needed me. God forbid if I did not notice that their bladder bar was entering the red zone, I did not care if I should wet myself for fear of leaving them, but I would not bequeath the same fate to them, what would the Maid think!? My life became a series of red to green bars and diamonds, ‘Rosebud’ money cheats, and conversation bubbles. Unfortunately real life called, I had a real university to go to as opposed to The Sims 2 University, and Sims 3 was subsequently invented; I do not want to follow my Sims to work or see them in 3D, this is meant to be a virtual world, nothing like my real life; a line was crossed that day. When you realise that in the amount of time you have sat watching your Sims read a cook book you could have read one yourself, you know it is time to end a good thing.

tumblr_lmndlu8xnN1qi95ueo1_500I am not sure whether The Sims captured my undivided attention because I had Asperger’s, or whether it actually made me more Aspergian, if that’s at all possible. I do know that to this day I still enter conversations with new people with a planned series of ‘serious talk’, ‘joke’, ‘talk about hobbies’, ‘flirt’, oh no too far ‘serious talk’, ‘serious talk’, ‘serious talk’. Likewise I still feel the need to ‘touch base’ and call friends who are slipping off my friendship scale. In some ways I believe it helped prepare me for adult social life, in many other ways I feel it totally gave me unrealistic expectations of how to move on up in the world; turns out playing chess on your own does not gain you qualifications in logic, nor does looking in a mirror increase your charisma, you can still get out of a swimming pool even if the steps have been removed or obstructed, and your partner will do more than just flap her arms around when she finds you having ‘Woohoo’ with the next door neighbour.  One important life lesson I did take away was that other people’s Sims are not to be messed with, this was discovered after sneaking onto my housemates computer and ordering her 3 sets of twins from the adoption agency. A lesson which I feel has been invaluable and applicable to many situations I have encountered.

It did not take long before I realised ‘Real Life’ actually sucks, and my head was yearning for its next escape. This is when The West came along, and I almost failed my degree skipping lectures and staying up all night to ‘duel’ other players and lead my town folk, with quality names like “Jaguar Paw”,  into fort battles. I do not regret a minute of it. The summer after this I spent managing my own hospital, Theme Hospital, followed by Theme Park.  Unfortunately such pursuits are somewhat isolating, if only I could combine computer games with socialising? Guitar Hero, Monkey Hero and Singstar you are the answer to life, the universe and everything, but also the reason I had to retake my 2nd year of university.

imagesNow I solemnly click away at my Candy Crush Saga pieces in between working and doing ‘adult’ things like cooking non-microwaveable dinners and applying for tax rebates. The reason I have taken you through all my sordid gaming addictions? Because a new paper has revealed that children with Autism or ADHD spend twice as long playing video games and are more likely to become addicted to them. I think I’ve answered that query pretty succinctly without having to make any further points; It is not an addiction, just a very ill-informed life choice.


Autism and ADHD associated with video game ‘addiction’

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  1. Aha! There’s a paper on it is there? My Aspie daughter is currently obsessed with ‘Neverwinter Nights’ and is, as I type, waiting to throw me off the computer so she can get on with it. I suppose it makes a change from Manga.

  2. I actually can’t go near pc games because I’ll become overwhelmingly addicted. Like no eating no showering can’t-feel-my-hands addicted. I found that internet forums have the same affect and now I am coming to the harsh reality that I may never be able to post again. Which is complicated because I’ve made friends there. Facebook also creates an addiction so I closed my account.

    Moderation doesn’t seem to work. Its cold turkey or fullblown addict. If you have suggestions I’m open to them. :)

    Great post btw

    • Have you tried addiction type therapy? They do say some games are like crack! I think it’d be a shame to have to cut out computers all together, they’re such a good way for people with autism to communicate. Put your computer obsession to good use and look up some support groups and therapists. Let me know how it goes :-)

  3. I get addicted to books, blogs, writing and things to do with words much more easily than I do to anything else – my current obsession is Divergent (a teen-aimed dystopian book) and Divergent fanfiction. I used to enjoy video games, but as much as the average seven-year-old, and I moved on pretty quickly. Strange.

    • I wonder if people with Autism don’t come out of that ‘phase’ as they need that fantasy world a bit longer. Most people as they got older would shift there interests somewhat like you have!

  4. Love this post. :) It’s so recognizable to me, especially with the Sims! I’ve spend many hours clicking on multiple objects and Sims to help them grow into the virtual Sim world to become successful. And it didn’t help that EA made it so easy for us.

    I also had many moment where I was trying to improves certain skills of my Sims while closely monitoring their progress bars and thinking “Shouldn’t I be doing something similar in real life for myself?”. But that’s the problem. I don’t have all these bars to check and keep everything in green and see a red color when something needs my immediate attention. And calling someone to keep a friend status perfect, is much more difficult IRL then in the game, which is just a right click and let them talk for a little while and click on to the next task. I wish it could be that easy!

    Outside of the game is a world that is far more confusing and it’s costing much more energy then I seem have in stock. No wonder playing these games and trying to get achievements within a certain set of (never changing) rules are so tempting. That’s why I try to steer away of games nowadays. I see them, I want to play them, but I know I should be trying to make life into a game and try get some real achievements. I don’t see myself ever being close to having a limousine bringing me to work (who would want that anyway?), but small achievements can be just as enjoyable if you have to work hard for them. :)

    • Where I work turning up in a Limousine would be very embarassing! I like to think my Sims had slightly more exciting careers though, like Pick Pocketing! I have to stop playing games full stop because I find it so hard to get out of the mindset afterwards. I’ve recently taken up chess in true Aspeger’s style and now everything I’m thinking of in terms of chess movements, as soon as anyway speaks I’m thinking “Bishop has moved, must move my horse and position myself closer”; note I don’t even know to official ‘chess’ terms. Similar with Candy Crush, the world looks like gems I just have to move into position. God knows what playing the Sims for so long must have done to me! There is a certain instant gratification though with games that I appreciate is much harder to have in real life, socially you don’t get that sort of immediate feedback, it would take weeks and months to build a friendship and it’s not so black and white!

  5. Very interesting post. Raises points I never thought about. I always thought that gamification of studies is actually a thing that can help with ADHD. The Addiction aspect is something very serious to consider when creating those game style study programs. Wondering Where can I find some guidelines about what makes the games addictive.

    • Well World of Warcraft is meant to be more addictive than crack! My theory is that games which involve competition and team work with real people, and ones made up of lots of little steps and tasks so they don’t seem never ending, continuously give bursts of adrenaline and satisfaction. You are always think ‘I’ll just do another level’ or ‘I’ll catch up and get in front of them’.

  6. Hello I’m Mike and that’s a really great post! As an adult I find myself struggling with gaming addiction still. I think I am fooling myself with boredom. It is not really boredom but the need for social contact, I think. I had 2 friends of which 1 was into some gaming as well so that was ok, but another wasn’t and I found myself struggling to deal with reallife social commitments with him more than usual. I think it’s about forcing ourselves to go outside and doing things that fit us because there’s so much to do out there! That’s the thing you see. At some point I came to imagine “what would real life be like when I grew up in my pc?” Stunning graphics, epic roleplaying, unlimited leveling. I think roleplaying is good when you have too much reality or when you want to learn from it. But I am not learning from it at all. I’ll admit, it doesn’t help that 99% of mmorpg’s are there to give you a rush: violence, racing, etc. Anyways I need to go outside for some roleplaying. I’ll leave my sword at home! 😀

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