We often think of addiction as coming from chemicals that people eat, drink, smoke, snort or inject to excess. But, as is the case with compulsive gamblers, playing games can also be an addictive behavior.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization recognized “gaming disorder” in its International Classification of Diseases.
It is described as “impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
If that is the disease, there’s no question that Fortnite is the carrier.
“It’s pretty addicting, I won’t lie,” said Laurin Schwartz, 22, of Las Cruces.
Schwartz said for the past five or six months, he has played Fortnite for 10 to 12 hours a day, every day. He is unemployed at the moment, but he said employment will not cut into his Fortnite time.
“I probably just won’t sleep much,” he said.
Schwartz said he has spent “my fair share" on Fortnite, estimating that to be about $300.
As you would expect, all of that time devoted to Fortnite has made Schwartz a highly skilled player. He said that he and his partner have racked up 100 wins this season alone.
He started out watching other people play and learning from them. Now, those who want to learn the game are watching and taking lessons from him.
“Fortnite is not for everybody. Gaming is not for everybody,” Schwartz said. “But, people are making millions of dollars playing a kids game.”
Epic Games has announced that it will provide $100 million in prize money to fund Fortnite tournaments.
Chamberlain, head of the Learning Games Lab, said most people have had at least one experience where they get caught up playing a game and don’t realize how much time has passed. Likewise, it is not uncommon for parents to be shocked by the amount of time their children spend on video games.
“A good reaction to that is to involve the child in that decision,” Chamberlain said. “Did you mean to spend that much time? What are you giving up to spend this much time doing that? Given that, do you still think it’s worth it?”
She said children who learn how to set their own limits will likely make better decision as adults.
“We’re guiding them all to adulthood, what skills do we want them to have in adulthood? Well, they’re going to have digital tools in adulthood, so we want them to learn how to set their own goals and parameters and guidelines,” she said.