Control the Controller: Video Game Addiction Book Review

How often have you heard or told yourself say: Just one quest more? Just one more level? I´ll just pay one more map? Video games are great, and that is a good thing, they can give us a tremendous joy and happy feeling, a sense for adventure, or a way to leave lives problems behind. But they can also create an unhealthy situation, where the people around us are harmed, if it reaches the more addictive point. Ciaran O´Connor looks further in to video game addiction and how we can overcome it, in his new book Control the Controller, and here is our review of the book.

Control the Controller Video Game Addiction

In his introduction chapter, O´Connor clearly shows the reader that he is foremost a gamer when writing this, a gamer who has personally been in contact with gaming addiction. He does this by both giving examples to his own gaming experiences, such as how playing Final Fantasy VII for long stretches as a teenager when his parents was away for a couple of days, and how that experience gave him pure joy, not leaving his friends behind for the game, but how Final Fantasy XII put him in a must play situation without that joyous feeling. He also does it with clear definitions on different game genres, and a good and comprehensive walkthrough of what rising game types as free 2 play and appointment gameplay is. With this, the introduction chapter really shows that the book mainly is written for family members of addictive gamers and non-gamers interested in the field.

                            “In May 2013, ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ was officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an area warranting further research”

In the first chapter O´Connor shows the reader what gaming components they are, and how they can affect the player. He goes deeper into what video game addiction really is, but I still think he could have gone deeper than he does, with the current research backing him even further. Still, you do get a good overview of video game addiction, and a great opening for the second chapter. In the second chapter he discuss what different signs there is to people suffering from videogame addiction. Following this is a deep insight in how videogame addiction might manifest, with both a player view and what signs the people close to the player can identify. O´Connor succeeds greatly in showing what non-gamers should look for, and how to handle a videogame addiction. But I don’t think he succeeds in getting a player view that is worth reading for player whom might have come to insight they are addicted.

                               “Billions of people play games every year. As noted earlier, in the gloomiest of calculations, up to 15 percent of these qualify as playing to the point where it has become dangerous, excessive or addictive.”

In the third chapter we are introduced to what different views there are on causes behind video game addiction, and what possible effect the different views have on both the addicted and the people around hthem. The first discuss the addiction as a disease, the second as a personality trait, the third is on how video games create the situation, and the last on it as coping mechanism. O´Connor manages well with the explanation of all these different views, and put a great effort behind showing how the addicted can use a certain view to their advantage. Or how a certain view can help the addictive and the family, an also be used against the addicted and the family. I find O’Connor’s discussion on all four areas to very interesting, and varied in the more objective sense. But I do think he could have focused greater on the research, further backing up is discussion while not making the text to scientific, but instead including more readers from the scientific field, especially the last area mechanism which is much more based on his own experience and less studies then the previous three.

                                 “During time spent at computer and mobile screens, we lose a sense of being connected to our bodies… For gamers who find themselves addicted, time spent online is time spent largely shut off from their emotional being”

The fourth and final chapter if we exclude the conclusion is on how to resolve video game addiction, and how to move forward. This chapter is divided into three parts, the first and main part is mainly for the addictive, the second is pointed more towards the people close to the addictive and the last on is more towards health professionals. In the main part of it he draws up a ten step program for how to get bout leaving the video game addiction, these ten steps are mainly the same is most addiction programs, but with some difference given that this is about video games. O´Connor draws a comprehensive and deep view into all these ten stages, making this chapter the most important for a possible video game addict to read. Even if he manages to evolve the steps to the people around the addictive person, and show how they can help, this chapter is clearly meant for the readers who might have an addiction or just want to step down from their playing. That is why I do like how he has added section afterwards with further focus on advice for what loved ones and health professionals can do for the addictive.

                      “In my clinical experience, the most frequent and significant cause and perpetuator of video game addiction is when someone’s skills and ability to cope with their environment are overwhelmed and they are left feeling helpless, fearful or worthless.”

O´Connor uses a good mix of his own experience combined with research to back up the claims he make throughout the book, which creates a nice dynamic for both readers interested in the research itself like myself, or for a more common reader whom is only interested in the addictions process itself. I mentioned previously that I missed seeing references, this is partly because throughout the book it feels as though the author is writing for an audience with the same background he has. There are sometimes terms or ways that he approaches topics that may not make sense to everyone. Though, to some extent he manages to keep down the confusion which might arise from both gaming terms and research concepts, by having a boxes of text explain the term and concepts further, even given deeper insight in them for the ones whom might already have heard of them.

                            “The sinister undertone of the free-to-play business model is that it potentially depends upon pathological or addictive gaming in order to reach financial success.”

Control the Controller is a great read for people who might be addicted to video games or feel like their video game consumption need to be stepped down. It is also a good book for people living with gamers in general as it helps give deeper insight into the mind of a gamer. O´Connor opens a window into gamer’s lives and how addiction affect both their lives and the people around them. He also gives a great and comprehensive overview on research and studies done on, and around video game addiction. This makes it a great read for people interested in video games and the addiction that can be associated with them. So whether you want to step down your gaming, have loved ones who game a little too much, or are plain and simple interested in video game addiction, this is a must read.

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