"In November of 2000, my life was going well. I had a lovely girlfriend. I had a working car. And I had a job. My job paid more than enough for me to survive. It also supported my increasingly expensive video game playing."
These are the words of Michael Fahey. Fahey is a writer. He writes for the video game news website Kotaku. In November of 2000, his life was good. However, Fahey's life was about to change. In four short months, Fahey would lose his girlfriend, his car and his job. He lost all of these things because of an addiction. He could not stop playing computer games.
Most people recognize the common problem of drug or alcohol addiction. Addicts often depend physically or mentally on substances or particular acts. They believe that they need them to survive. But have you ever heard of a person who is addicted to computer or video games? Research shows this is a growing problem all over the world. This article is on gaming addiction.
Computer games are popular all around the world. Many people play these games on the Internet. Using the Internet lets people in China play games against people in the United States. And people in India can play games against people in South America.
Games look more and more real as computer technology improves. Many people describe playing computer games as entering into a new world. Some games let people create their own cities. Some games take people on journeys. Other games let people "chat" or talk over the Internet.
People playing these kinds of games create their own Internet communities. Many people like having these kinds of social relations. They feel less pressure to act or look a particular way. That is because the people they are talking to cannot see them.
Gaming can have many positive effects. It can help people make friends. It can help people learn to solve problems and make decisions. It can even help improve eye and hand movement. However, gaming can become a problem. Some people even begin to spend more time playing games in their Internet world than living in the "real world."
This is what happened to Michael Fahey. For Fahey, his addiction was connected to a particular game - a game called EverQuest. He began playing EverQuest in December of 2000.
这就是发生在迈可法和 身上的事。对法和 来说，他玩网络游戏的瘾，和一个特定的游戏有关。这游戏叫：无尽任务。他在两千年十二月开始玩这个游戏。
"Within a week, the game became my life. If I was not sleeping or at work, I was playing EverQuest. Then, working became rare. I would go into work, and I would still hear the sounds of EverQuest in my head. All I had to do was close my eyes and I was in my EverQuest world."
Fahey's gaming addiction cost him a lot. However, there have been far worse cases of gaming addiction. In 2005, the BBC reported that a South Korean man died while playing an Internet computer game. The 28 year-old man died in an Internet cafe. He had been playing the same game for 50 hours with few breaks. The man had not slept well. And he ate very little food while he played. Police officials believe the man died from heart failure caused by extreme tiredness. Newspapers have reported similar cases of gaming deaths around the world in places like Taiwan, China, and the United States.
Many experts have begun to study gaming addiction. There have been many studies done recently - particularly looking at gaming and young adults. Dr. Douglas Gentile is an expert on gaming addiction. He told the website Science Daily,
"We are starting to see a number of studies from different cultures -- in Europe, the United States and Asia. All the studies are showing that around 7-11% of game players seem to have a real problem. They are considered gaming addicts."
Like all addictions, gaming addiction does have warning signs. The National Academic Advising Association lists a few warning signs on its website.
One warning sign is intense pleasure AND guilt about playing. People addicted to computer games will feel the happiest when they are playing games. But they will also feel guilty about the amount of time they spend playing.
Another warning sign is obsessing. Gaming addicts will find themselves thinking about playing all the time. And this can lead to neglect. People with a gaming addiction often neglect or forget about their studies, work, sleep, relationships, food, and family.
Gaming addicts may also struggle with lying, anger and depression. People with a gaming addiction are often unable to control the amount of time they play. And uncontrolled playing can lead to other problems like debt. Many gaming addicts spend all their money on gaming.
China was one of the first countries to address gaming addiction. With almost 300,000,000 Internet users, China has the largest number of internet users in the world. In 2007, the Chinese government decided to act. They began setting time limits on game players. This ban concentrated particularly on those under the age of 18.
Doctors in China also began to address the problem. In 2004, Dr. Tao Ran started one of the first health clinics for people addicted to gaming. Recently he told the Christian Science Monitor:
"The problem is getting worse. Internet addicts often have a difficult time in school and society. So, they try to escape their difficulties and avoid problems. They lack self-confidence. Often they do not have the courage to continue their real lives."
Dr. Tao uses different methods to help people. Sometimes he uses therapy. He will talk and listen to the patients. Together they will create a healthy lifestyle plan. This requires a balance between work, school, and play. Dr. Tao also encourages people to be involved in activities other than playing computer games. In severe cases he will use medicine or other medical treatments.
Today, many more governments and doctors are addressing the issue of gaming addiction. More people are learning about the problem. More people are getting help. And more people are changing their lives. Some people might blame the game makers for creating the problem of gaming addiction. However Michael Fahey does not. Instead, he wrote,
"It would be easy for me to blame the game EverQuest… But I know that was not the problem. I hid. I ran from my problems. I hid in an Internet world instead of directly working to address my problems."
(此原文出自Spotlight Radio，经同意刊载，欢迎上网听以慢速英语读出的这篇文章。 http://www.radioenglish.net. 题目是： "Computer Games: Playing Too Much.")
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