Q. I thought my thoughtful, sensitive, conscientious, kind, funny, handsome son would grow up to be successful, happy and self-sufficient but he's 20 now, he's passed only one or two classes in his two years at community college and he quits every part-time job he gets.
He is addicted, I think, to online gaming. He says he isn't interested in anything but playing his game -- a game, I'm ashamed to say, I gave him years ago -- and only wants to work for the maker of the game or the gaming industry...
If you keep reading, the parents apparently suggested he join the Air Force, but that did not occur. The advice given is:
According to psychologist David N. Greenfield, director of the Center for Internet Behavior ( http:/
/ www.virtual-addiction.com), addiction to interactive strategy games is second only to cybersex and porn addiction, because gamers are technologically savvy today and the games are more sophisticated, and more addictive, than ever.
The time your son spends on the computer is time that he's not reading a book, not creating an original idea, not jogging in the park, not interacting with people and not improving his social skills. He is putting life on hold.
Because, as we all know, when a 20-year old plays an online game, there's very little reading or creating original ideas or interacting with people. Life is just on hold, as you maneuver PacMan around Azeroth munching pellets and zapping space invaders.
Also interesting was the idea that they're an architectural cyber-Foucauldian fix:
At the same time you should install ComputerTime's family pack (SoftwareTime, $40) on your PCs or Mac Minder (Luma Code, $30), if you have Apples. Once programmed, your son will be able to go online only on the days, times and hours you permit, and in sessions that last only as long as you allow. In this way, he should learn to moderate his behavior, without much fussing from you.
Disciplinary technology = great fuss avoidance.
The game that this 20-year old is playing is not mentioned by name, which is kind of telling in itself. The WashPo writer, however, specifically recommends that the parents read a book about WoW:
But before deleting the game abruptly, you and your husband should read "The Battle for Azeroth: Adventure, Alliance and Addiction in the 'World of Warcraft,' " edited by Bill Fawcett (BenBella, $18) to find out what these strategy games are all about, and then see a therapist to learn how to set limits and structure for your son.
I'm certainly not saying there's no problem here. Based on the
son's inability to do anything productive, it sounds like it is time to
deliver an ultimatum. The parents no doubt want the best for him.
The WashPo writer is trying to help them.
But it's very clear that people who don't play online games don't
understand that reading, interacting with others, and coming up with
original ideas is often what they're all about. In part that's why they're so addictive.