You thought we took a week off? Little did you know we were diving deep into our own psychoses and come up with excuses to why we do what we do in video games. The question this week asks us: what gaming habits would require mental health consultation if you had them in real life?
If I’m ever in an old house with rickety floors, I’ll surely smash a jar of holy water on the floor in front of me before every step just to make sure it’s safe. What would this constitute? Paranoia with a dash of OCD? Or is there a name for false floor phobia?
Justin L (JDevL)
Of all the topics to kick off with a Castlevania reference, this would have been one of my last picks. But Josh, can you imagine the gear you’d have to wear to support that holy water habit, let alone how expensive buying all those containers would get. Glass everywhere.
Having a camera follow me around as I enter a new place for the first time would reveal just how crazy I am. If my gaming habits transfer correctly and I go to the mall to meet someone, here’s a rough breakdown of what would happen:
I would enter the mall via the corner door furthest from where I am supposed to meet someone. I would proceed to explore the perimeter of the mall and take note of the doors available to me before coming back around to where I started. I would enter each door one by one and explore inside, UNLESS it felt like it was the room I was supposed to be in, in which case I would immediately turn around and explore the next room. Once all new rooms were explored, I would go back to any of the rooms that felt right to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Then I would walk back and forth across the center of the mall until I was sure I’d covered the entire mall. Only then, would I make a bee line for whomever I was meeting. That person of course, would not mention that they saw me walking around the mall like a mad man, and to that person I would also arrive just as they were expecting me. Forgetting entirely that I was hours late because I had to see every corner of the mall. Later, I would discover that malls hold nothing of value and all the “collectibles” I found are just cluttering up my inventory.
I KNOW someone would likely have me committed when every time I started off somewhere I’d immediately run backwards to make sure nothing was hidden behind the starting point… Because you know, that’s where people hide things…
Justin G (GiffTor)
You know how one definition of being insane is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well, if you’ve ever tried to go on a high-score run or meet some really hard achievement challenge, you’ll know that’s total BS – youhave to do the same thing over and over again, you just have to do it thiiiiis much better. It’s normally the same guy/bomb/shrub/migratory swallow that kills you over and over and ruins your run until you figure out how to beat him. So, and Ethan can correct me, but I think this is probably some variation on OCD – taking perfectionism to a level above and beyond what’s healthy. (Yes, there is healthy perfectionism. What, you want an engineer who works for Boeing or designs bridges saying, “Eh, that’s good enough. Let’s go have lunch!”? You want a website with a lot of comma splices and mismatched pronouns? I didn’t think so.)
Anyway. If you’ve ever seen the (now cancelled) show Monk with Tony Shaloub, you can imagine me if my video-gaming perfectionism were writ large. Our podcasts would be much quieter (what OCD nutball could deal with a shedding machine like The Spenser?) and I would be retconning every article ever written on this site for grammatical errors.
There’s a thin line between perfectionism and OCD (the perfectionism HAS to disrupt normal functioning for it to be anything more than just an annoying attribute and the Monk/Shaloub example personifies this, though I have dealt with persons that never left their homes as a result of certain OCD behaviors, so I’m a bit jaded in that sense), but what Alex, Justin L. and Josh Lee have described are all OCD like behaviors, which I believe is the number 1 video game related mental health concern.
For me, I deal with video game hoarding, with Fallout 3 and New Vegas as evidence of my issue. Regardless of the functionality of whatever item I run across in the game, I feel inclined to take it back to whatever dwelling I occupy and hang onto it. Fortunately, the inventory system and the limitations of the game itself prevents my character from drowning in crap, but this compulsion does prevent me from playing the game with a natural “flow”. Luckily, this issue stays digital (for the time being).
Everyone knows I play a ton of games and seldom finish them, which points to ADHD, but since I actually have ADHD it doesn’t count. However, games with more structure to them actually get finished faster, just like tasks in real life ( a reversal on the question if you will).
My gaming habits are boring compared to everyone else’s. I guess one thing that could be considered mental health consultation worthy, or at least a meeting with Dr. Drew, is my fear of saying goodbye to games. I’ve mentioned before that I start a ton of games and never end up finishing them because I don’t want them to end. If they are sitting there unfinished then that means (in my own weird sense of justification) that I can still spend time with them at some point down the road. The fear of letting go could wind me up along side all of you OCD’ers and at least there would be a little variation in the Horrible illnesses.
I decided for this topic it would be best to visit the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
For starters, i would be safe to say that there is some mild to severe alcoholism within the group and their video game habits. In a recent podcast, Gifford made it sound like he is incapable of playing a game with friends with out being half in the bag. Contra runs are also associated with alcohol consumption as well. It’s not a bad thing, but should be monitored in case treatment is needed.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that Lacey is a hoarder, but he might have Oniomania. I think the issue at hand is the need to purchase every game over the desire to hold on to every game. His Oniomania may lend to some mild hoarding, but the obsession to buy is more prevalent in the case. I may have a little of this as well, but not to the degree that Lacey has it. I find myself looking at used games when I am bored (which happens a lot). Not as bad, but still an issue none the less. I am still trying to find my case specific diagnosis (I’m leaning towards plain old fashioned boredom).
To say we all have some sort of ADD or ADHD comes with the territory of playing video games. Some of us play games for a few hours and never go back (Ethan), and some of us have the need to play more than three games at one time (myself). You would be fooling yourself to think that ADD isn’t prevalent within this group.
Gifford is obsessive compulsive in his need to complete most games that he plays. I have never met someone that is willing to hunt meaningless feathers just to get the full achievements for a game. I know a lot of the crew will go questing for arbitrary items to complete a game, but I wont do it. With that also comes the need play a game straight through with no other distractions. I know that each one of us could name one game that we were obsessive about until we completed it. New Vegas was the last game that made me be obsessive compulsive in some way.
So there is a few observations you may now call me Dr. JPizzle. I will conduct counseling sessions for anyone in need (there will be of course a nominal fee).
Thanks Dr. Pizzle, but could your medical background be a slight case of multiple personality disorder? If not, I can see how games can almost contribute to this in the sense that you are constantly changing roles and characters and at times it’s tough to keep things straight. Now, I’m not suggesting that people have no clue as to what their alter ego is up to, but the very idea of gamertags and avatars is based around escaping from one’s own daily boredom right?
Thank god Doc Pizzle has never observed me playing GTA or Saints Row. He would be legally obligated to inform the authorities of my imminently dangerous psychopathic behavior. His observations would include murderous tendencies, obsessive stalking of female sex workers, automotive kleptomania and necrophillic teabagging. I would have no defense. One sample viewing of a game play session would condemn me. “Your honor, as you can see, the defendant is wearing only an adult diaper, wielding a large purple double dildo, and is creeping up behind innocent bystanders in a public park with the intent to bludgeon them over the head, steal their money and rub his genitalia on their forehead. It is the court’s recommendation that Mr. Lee be placed under psychiatric care and in solitary confinement for the remaining days of his sad existence.” Such will go the case of The Normal People vs. Lee.
I find no issues with how Josh plays GTA or Saints Row. That is how those games are meant to be played. I get great joy in knowing that I can commit many crimes that I would never dream of doing in the real world.
I would describe my habits as maybe more Bi Polar than anything else. I go on terrible mood swings when it comes to the game genre I like to play and how I treat my created characters. I feel that would suit me better since I do create characters very different from myself, with the exception of very short hair.
Sadly, Dr JPizzle is taken on Xbox as a gamertag and Microsoft has issues with the name DrPizzle. I in no way mean that name in the sense they are thinking.
I didn’t jump right into this because I had to sit down and think about if I actually have any bad gaming habits. In the past I never used to finish games. I own maybe 20 PS2 games and I doubt I’ve seen the end of any of them. But, Microsoft has actually found the cure for that with their Achievement system which has pretty much taken me through most of the Xbox games I own. So I started to think that I’m the “normal” one in our little group here.
After a little more thinking, and looking over my game collection, I have some serious violence issues. I believe I own 2 xbox games that don’t involve killing people. The fact that I find enjoyment and satisfaction by blowing someone’s head off with a shotgun could be considered a little disturbing. But on the positive side, maybe that’s what keeps me from doing it in real life. Could the games also be our therapy?
Just because we have our weird little quirks doesn’t mean we should be committed to Arkham Asylum. Our gaming habits might be “weird” and a little out there, but you ask any gamer and they might have their own eccentricities. After all, we spend our free time obsessing about video games. Of course we are a little weird.
Giant Bomb (images)