Take our user survey and make your voice heard.



Compulsive Internet gaming addiction on the rise


“If I’m not here everyone will die, so if you want to drink with me you’d better come over.”

The journalist hearing this from an old friend is naturally nonplussed. What he finds at the root of his friend’s condition is the relatively novel, but rapidly spreading, phenomenon of Internet gaming. If fun was all it was, there would be no problem. Unfortunately, reports Shukan Asahi (Dec 18), it tends to be addictive. Some people can’t tear themselves away from their game personas. The real world grows increasingly alien to them, and they to it.

The journalist receives a second shock on walking into his friend’s apartment in Tokyo’s Shinjuku. The friend -- we’ll call him Masao -- is 27, and quit his last job six months ago. His one-room flat is so littered with convenience store bento and order-in pizza wrappings that you can scarcely force your way into the place. Not looking up from the 3D characters flitting across the screen -- the “everyone,” presumably, who would die in his absence -- Masao says, “I’m playing Final Fantasy. It’s a Net game. What, you don’t know it? And you a journalist! Look at me, I’ve gained 20 kg…”

Having heard vague reports of Internet addicts in South Korea and China literally dying at their keyboards, the journalist expresses his concern.

“Don’t I know it!” says Masao. “That’s me all right. I’m hooked. But I’m not as bad as some. At least I take time off to go to the john. I don’t pee into PET bottles.”

How typical Masao is is hard to say. A Japan Online Game Association survey cited by Shukan Asahi shows Japanese game sites drawing 75 million hits in 2008, up 30% from 2004. That proves burgeoning popularity, but not necessarily burgeoning addiction. Still, some people fear the worst -- that Net gaming is destroying personalities and making hardcore participants unfit for “real life” -- if anyone knows what that is.

It was thwarted romance that did Masao in. There was a girl at work he liked, but she thought him weird and made no secret of it. He quit in despair and turned to gaming. Online, in his game character, he is as popular as a young man can wish to be.

With “Ms A,” another gaming addict Shukan Asahi’s writer meets as he widens his investigation, it’s a different story. At 19 she plunged into depression when her boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident. That was the end of “real life” as far as she was concerned.

Someone she encountered at a suicide website suggested gaming as an alternative. Gaming, therefore, might have saved her life. The companionship, though purely virtual -- maybe for that reason -- she found comforting. Her fellow gamers meet sometimes in physical space at “offline” parties, but she declines to join them. She’s not ready for that yet. Her online character is male, because “guys trying to pick me up would be a nuisance,” and she suspects it’s the same with some of the other “male” gamers.

Does Internet gaming cause people to be withdrawn, or is it a potentially beneficial window on the outside world for those who would be hopelessly solitary otherwise? The experts are divided. Very likely both are true to some extent. For many, neither is -- after all, the vast majority who play do it without forsaking life as we know it. “When we [players] get together off-line,” Shukan Asahi hears from a dedicated but not addicted devotee, “I see magazine editors, guys in finance -- normal, busy people.”

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Gamblers are dumb. Except, of course, those who win big and then stop. But there aren't any of those.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It said "gaming," not gambling. They are talking about Pac-Man or Super Mario or whatever they call those stupid things these days.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, whaddya know, it took a poster with a B and an L in his handle to point out that I inadvertently added a B and an L to gaming, therefore changing gaming to gambling! Yikes! Thanks, Beel!

OK, I will now say that internet gamers are almost as bad as internet posters, ha ha ha!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gamblers are dumb. Except, of course, those who win big...

Sarge, you might have a "typo excuse" except that gamers don't "win big." Only gamblers do. Rarely. So fess up that you blew it. We'll all mock you anyway.

Gamers just play games until their friends are gone, job is lost and brain is fried. There's no possibility of a big payout.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually, when I read the headline I thought it was gambling also. Maybe I was thinking about pachinko.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This has a real MAZES AND MONSTERS edge to it that I don't like. Certainly these games can engage people and get them to interact, and they can also be destructive, stressful and addictive.

I am addicted to real life, and I am not so sure it is more healthy for me. Does it need to be said that everyone needs a balance? Everyone needs growth?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These video games are the work of the devil. Video gaming is banned in my household and books, familiy activities and sports are the way we live.

People getting so ingrossed that they urinate in a pet bottle!! That is vile and shows how addictive and morally wrong this gaming habit it.

Like tobacco, alcohol and narcotics it is something addictive that can ruin ones life, social skills and health.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Video gaming is a terrible disease that leads to obesity, laziness and idleness. It should be banned!! Bring back traditional games from the good old days, Monopoly anyone?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

except that gamers don't "win big."

In asia or at least South Korea gamers can "win big". Apparently if you are really good at games like Starcraft, you can get huge sponsership agreements.


Hopefully this is something that doesn't catch on in the rest of the world, sedentary lifestyles pushed to the extreme.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks DenDon, I needed that...

I used to play Everquest to all hours of the morning until I realized I was paying them to do factory work. I killed the monster, I killed the monster, .... It got boring.

Maybe some people get addicted, some people don't. This attitude of banning everything that might just offend somebody or possibly do somebody harm is just nuts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The low moral folk on here who believe anthing goes may wish they took another path. Video games are not good for children or adults come to that. The only type of benefut are flight simulations for pilots and similar types. Video gaming is on a par with narcotics and other no good things of modern day life.

If you have kids, dont buy them video games or allow unsupervised internet access where these gaming sites could be found by minors. Lets bring back quality family time, books, cinema, bowling, church etc.

Society is already turning kids into consumer mad freaks, these sites make them worse. They are off limits in my household and also my friends households.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you have kids, dont buy them video games or allow unsupervised internet access where these gaming sites could be found by minors.

As a kid, playing video games on the computer, taught me the ins and outs of adjusting/upgrading hardware, the basic of software/internet programming and typing skills. A skill set that in my field gave me an advantage over those who didn't have the same exposure to computers that I had and as a result my pay and the types of projects I work are better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Back in my day, we walked 20 miles to school everyday, in the snow, up hill, both ways!

Everything is computerized now, as technology keeps advancing. Familiarity with new techs and hand-eye coordination (e.g. those US servicemen flying UAVs hunting terrorists) are pretty much needed in the new economy. But as with everything else, moderation is key.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These video games are the work of the devil.

I thought devils were fictitious characters that only existed in things like video games.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Blah! You're all a bunch a killjoys that bag on video games, and making blanket statements. So, I'll make one: You all probably suck at them anyway.

I remember when my mother brought home the very first "Video Pong" in the early 70's for my birthday. I never looked back. But I'm no slob loser that can't keep a job, a wife, or have a family.

This all comes down to the individual. It's not the fault of the game, that these people fall into an endless spiral of self-destruction.

Think I'll go play some xbox with my daughter, later.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"They are talking about Pac-man or Super Mario or whatever they call those stupid things these days"

Heck, the last video game I played was Miss Pac Man. I can proudly? say I was able to put the high score on the machine nearly every time! I an also proudly? say I had the very first home video game - Pong! I also enjoyed Space Invaders and Asteroids.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I played those games too. I think you'd do well with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Heh, come join us hunt down some virtual terrorists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CoolCali: I'm with you. Pretty much anything that gives you a high, a rush or takes you away from reality for a while can potentially become an addiction; gaming, gambling, shopping, jogging, eating, drinking... Addiction is basically avoidance. Both people in this article are simply escaping into cyberspace because they don't want to deal with their feelings. They both need a good friend to talk to or a psychotherapist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, some of you people are about as enlightened about gaming as a teetotaller on the topic of cocktails. If you don't know anything about it, why post? Sure, addictive things are bad, and games have been proven to be addictive. But in moderation games are an excellent way to relax and a social tool, too. These people who pee in bottles? They're a myth. Or if they do exist, they're so anomolous as to be not even worthy of anecdotal reference.

I grew up playing video games and am playing one with a dozen friends across the sea right now. They aren't people I've ever met, but we chat on voice programs and share part of our lives. I'm in a long-distance relationship and I play games with my partner whilst chatting too. And I can say without qualm that video games were a way for me as a shy, bookish primary school kid to connect with others and make friends when I was horribly clumsy and terrible at any game we'd play on the school playground.

This article is a sham, because the author has barely bothered to reference anything other than a few abberant cases. It's precisely this kind of 'journalism' that makes gamers, in our lexicon, facepalm.

All you haters should go check out this charity: http://www.childsplaycharity.org/ It was started by gamers to bring video games to sick kids in hospital. A bright spot for kids with terminal diseases who need distraction from their suffering.

More on topic, I do worry that addictive gaming will be worse in Japan where seeing someone about psychological problems is basically a no-no. And I teach waaaay too many kids with underdeveloped social skills. 'What do you like?' '....''....''geemu' . That wouldn't be a bad answer except that the stigma against gaming is still strong here and it makes them less likely to use games as a social nexus than overseas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Although preachy I would agree with DickMorris.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One professor told me on what he had seen in life. He said "Anything can be additive. Anything."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too much of anything is bad.

@saborichan: yeah... the media does that often... (you get a killer or some guy, blame it on something the mundanes hate, then the mundanes poison the entire well/basket/etc.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Video games are not good for children or adults come to that. The only type of benefut are flight simulations for pilots and similar types. Video gaming is on a par with narcotics and other no good things of modern day life.

And the root of that problem are computers. With the advent of the computer, came along all the ills with it: gaming, hacking, loss of personal information, etc. Of course, computers have made our lives easier (to some extent).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My game of choice is Second Life. You can basically do whatever you want there. But I still can have a life too. It depends on the individual. In the article, these folks went through some sort of life setback and decided that the virtual world is better than the real world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I liked Q'bert c.c;

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aren't "compulsive" and "addiction" used in this context kind of redundant???

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Games dont give you a hard time like wives/gfs do. Online games are typically 15 bucks a month, far cheaper than any "real life" hobby. Online games are probably the best form of entertainment for the money, but one has to know when to play and when not to. People who are so hooked that they dont even go to work = loser.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just for the record! I so happen to be one of those supposedly no life gamers. This is somewhat of a ridiculous topic as you can say the same for YouTube, FaceBook, or MySpace junkies. Anything in excess can be bad but you have to put it into perspective. While I may not be a socialite. Gaming has allowed me to fill a void in my life. The same likely applies to others as well wherever that may lye. I personally don't see what all the fuss is about as it might actually be a good thing, in Japan's case at least. I know of many Japanese of which gaming has been a positive experience. It's better then the alternative at least which should never be an option.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are people in life that will become addicted to nearly anything, golf,soap operas, women,alcohol etc. Should we ban all of these then DICK. By the way, i think religion is by far the most damaging addiction so i would include churches in that list.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posting on JT can become an addiction, too!

Gaming isn't the problem. The problem is that many people are becoming more and more dependent on computers and this takes away from social interaction which leaves some with few social skills.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How does this dude survive in a shinjuku apt for six months with no job?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gaming has allowed me to fill a void in my life.

Good point. Gaming is a better way to fill one's day than other more violent ways which I'm sure some people fill their lives with. I would rather encounter a hardline gamer, than a gun-toting radical anyday.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Video games can improve hand-eye coordination. Video games can improve reflexes. Video games can get you active (see: Bemani genre and Wii). Video games can help people get out their aggressions without hurting real people. Video games can bring people together. My brother would refuse to play cards or board games. Playing video games was the only type of game he would play with me when we were growing up.

I did a bajillion activities growing up. And I played video games a lot. I am a better person for it, physically and mentally. Gaming is only a problem if you do it to the exclusion of everything else. As with any hobby.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Like many others stated, addictions of all kinds are unhealthy. In addition to the classic problem means, like alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, food, etc, we now have more modern types, based on the advancements of technology. Moderation is key with anything. There have been people glued to the TV for hours a day since it was first available on the market. The same is for the internet and the same is for gaming. The last two at least offer interaction with others and thus stimulate the brain more so than mundane TV watching. People can get addicted to anything and it becomes unhealthy for their lives, mind and possibly their bodies. Humans, by nature, are creatures of habit and often times indulge in these habits more than they should. Maintaining self control is key.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"These people who pee in bottles? They're a myth. "

No they aren't, but so what? You can use 30 liters of drinking water to flush down 100 ml of urine, or two liters of urine. Which is better for the environment?

It is nice to see that people have such healthy opinions, but there are plenty of lifestyles and plenty of addictions that can leave people functional and productive. Many times it is just a phase. I remember distinctly putting coins in arcade machines when I could not afford it. Maybe everyone has felt addicted to sex... with a special person... and nicotine and caffeine have ruled my life at times. Any one ever met someone addicted to religion? It seems like everyone has or has had a monkey screaming on their back. Computer games with people have not been very satisfying for me, but simulations and rpgs can be really really fun. There is very much to learn, and experimentation lets you enjoy them over and over. EVENTS are repetitive, but PROCESSES, if they vary, can be fun to experience.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites