How is gaming addiction different from religion ? (in Debates)


Sickone May 27 2010 5:51 AM EDT


It is my honest opinion that you could not find coherent arguments about "gaming is an addiction" that couldn't be applied with very little changes to perfectly serve as an argument that "religion is an addiction".
Conversely, that arguments you can make about the benefits of religion could easily be adapted with relatively small changes to show that gaming actually benefits people too.

It is also my observation that the prevailing consensus right now SEEMS to be that religion is ok, but gaming is bad. So... what do you think... should we accept the fact that gaming is NOT an addiction and stop the nonsense crusade against it... or instead, should we instead campaign to also add religion to the list of addictions that should be treated ?
Me, I'm really, really torn between those two options.
But that's not the point of this debate :)

My challenge therefore is the following - prove me wrong by providing a non-circular argument :
* either about why gaming is an addiction (but religion isn't, using similar logic)
* or why religion is good (but gaming isn't, using similar logic).

I will then proceed and try to slightly rephrase your argument to prove what you just tried to disprove.

ResistanZ May 27 2010 5:53 AM EDT

Philosophy on the internet FTW.

Sickone May 27 2010 5:55 AM EDT

Dibs on "gaming _is_ my religion". You can't use that (it results in a tautology where I win anyway) :P

P.S. Emphasis on the non-circular nature of the required argument.

AdminShade May 27 2010 10:59 AM EDT

Shadap fools, I'm a Night Elf Mohawk! 8-)

Zakalwe [Heroic Method] May 27 2010 12:23 PM EDT

It's about rules and control.

Religion is a desire to have grand rules of the universe that are immutable. There is no justice or fairness in life, so people have a natural desire to believe in an afterlife where perfect justice is administered.

Gaming is about action and consequence within set rules. The level of fairness is determined by the game designer, and chosen by the player (since they can choose to play -- or not). The rules in a game are not something hoped for, or believed in: they have measurable, repeatable consequences. Players have some measure of control in the outcome.

So, gaming and religion have this much in common. They are both compelling to people in that they explore rules and establish control over outcomes. Gaming, however, is grounded in what the given game rules actually are; while religion is grounded in what is hoped for.

Addiction is a term for a habit that has negative consequences. It is easier to associate gaming with addiction, because a game is something you DO. If you are habitually gaming when you should be doing something more productive, it should be considered a problem: an addiction.

You can only associate religion with addiction when you consider specific repeatable activities (or habits people have) in a religion. Perhaps this repeatable activity in religion is the act of meditating. If a person has a habit of meditating on what they WISH would happen, and ignoring reality, that could perhaps be considered an addiction.

So, while I believe that both gaming and religion could be addictive, that label can only be applied if the person is pursuing those activities in a way that has measurable negative consequences.

If gaming is perceived as bad, it is because the rules are set. Players do their best to manipulate positive outcomes within frameworks that are not always fair or 'moral'. It is also a very common, compelling activity that can make it simple to ignore other activities in life that could have more positive and permanent consequences.

Religion is perceived as good because it searches for better rules, and hopes for better consequences than reality and life allow for. People who are religious seek to have others follow the same rules in an attempt to effect desired consequences in their society.

So the difference is in the scope of desired control. A gamer is perceived as selfish and no benefit to society when his primary activity achieves consequences that are only measurable by himself and the likely small group he plays with. A religious person is perceived as good when his primary activity attempts to achieve positive consequences for the most people in his community.

Both gaming and religion have the potential for negative consequences. While the consequences of gaming are limited to individuals and those closest to them, religion has a higher impact on more people, due to it's intended scope. When religion produces negative consequences (intentional or not) the impact on society can be devastating.

The bottom line is that gamers will always be perceived as a drag on society as long as they choose their own rules and don't attempt to improve anyone else's lives. Religion will always be perceived as a drag on society when it seeks control in order to produce positive consequences for a few leaders instead of the general population.

So, what motivates you? What are the consequences of your actions? "Good" and "Bad" always come down to that

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 12:25 PM EDT

I'll have a stab. ;)

or why religion is good (but gaming isn't, using similar logic).

Religion grants you eternal life. Gaming doesn't offer that. Eternal life (especially in some for of paradise is good. Therefore Religion == Good. Gaming == not good.

;)

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] May 27 2010 2:13 PM EDT

Religion expresses itself in such a way that it provides a framework for how the entire world works and allows a believer to adopt that framework rather easily.

Gaming expresses itself as a view into someone elses imagination for the sole purpose of entertaining oneself and escaping into a realm of pure imagination (apologies to Willa Wonka).

I suppose one difference is, you can jump into and out of the game without any consequences, moral quandaries or existential dilemmas. Religion uses all of the above as gentle, and sometimes not-so-gentle tools and techniques for guiding its flock of followers. Each religion is itself an organism that needs to reproduce and thrive, and to do so has to do things to ensure its own survival. Video games do not have such restrictions on their existence.

Lord Bob May 27 2010 3:33 PM EDT

Religion grants you eternal life.
What is your evidence for this?

It promises eternal life. Whether it delivers is up for debate, and I personally believe it doesn't.

Sickone May 27 2010 4:06 PM EDT


@ Zakalwe
It's about rules and control + long follow-up

You're not exactly trying to dismantle my challenge... but it was an awesome read, extremely balanced and fair portrayal of both sides, with advantages and disadvantages emphasized. Kudos to you man for that. Was a pleasure reading it.
_

@GentlemanLoser
Religion grants you eternal life. Gaming doesn't offer that. Eternal life (especially in some for of paradise is good. Therefore Religion == Good. Gaming == not good.

Well, for starters, eternal life was not conclusively proven to exist, so at best you can hope for an admission of "religion might grant you eternal life, but it might not" ;)
However, gaming CAN also give you some form of eternal life too ! Or, well, if not eternal, then at least longer than your actual life in some cases. And that's not a possibility, but a certainly. I mean, if you're good enough at it, that is. :P
For instance, your gaming characters could get played by other people long after you're gone, or your exploits could be remembered for a long time in various forms of halls of fame, and there are persistent worlds that never really remove your avatar from play for inactivity, so a part of you keeps on living as long as that game keeps going.
_

@Verifex
I suppose one difference is, you can jump into and out of the game without any consequences, moral quandaries or existential dilemmas. Religion uses all of the above as gentle, and sometimes not-so-gentle tools and techniques for guiding its flock of followers. Each religion is itself an organism that needs to reproduce and thrive, and to do so has to do things to ensure its own survival. Video games do not have such restrictions on their existence.

Well, we were talking about religion in general and gaming in general, but if you want to approach it from the angle of a random particular religion and some random particular game, that's ok too ;)

So... let's see... wait a second, video games sure _DO_ have similar restrictions ! A game, just like any religion, it can either become forgotten or it can be obsoleted by a newer, better, flashier game. A game, in order to "survive" (i.e. have followers), almost exactly like a religion, has to revise/improve itself from time to time (occasionally by releasing a sequel which brings in more fans overall and some extra fans to the old one too -vs- religions creating ofshoots which boost its overall image), it must "spread the word" using followers, it must raise capital in order to keep it going and progressing and advertising, and so on and so forth. The only real difference is in order of magnitude, for instance WoW has 11 million followers, yet even a minor religion usually has more than that. Scale, not methodology, that's the only difference.

As for the moral quandries and existential dilemmas... well, games are slowly but surely getting there. They even adopted (more or less) the same type of categorizing morals into "good" or evil" for most games, with in-game meters clearly displaying how good/bad you are (religions can only dream of such a device, for now). Sure, the "problems" presented might be simplistic, but the outcomes can be anywhere from crystal clear to very muddled and time-delayed (depending on what game you're playing - examples possible ranging from Knights of the Old Republic with a near instant good/bad feedback, the Mass Effect series which shifted to paragon/renegade yet response is also pretty much instant, but what about D&D-derived games, that gave a more complex good/neutral/evil and lawful/neutral/chaotic metering with less obvious jumps from one to another... and then you have games like "The Witcher", in which you don't actually have a meter you can see, but the consequences of your actions not only are they more like between shades of grey, but they also come back to slap you in the face long after you almost forgot what you actually did... and the game makes a point reminding you EXACTLY what you did, and what wide-reaching consequences of your actions were).
Not only that, but even simple strategy games, be it turn-based or real-time, as long as they allow diplomatic communications between players (be it in-game methods with either AI-controlled or player-controlled opponents, or out-of-game direct chats between players), they can all result in moral quandries and the suffering of consequences.

You can do better than that ;)

TheHatchetman May 27 2010 4:33 PM EDT

Religion grants you eternal life. Gaming doesn't offer that.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A

noob...

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 4:58 PM EDT

Konami code FTW! ;)

LB and Sick, Religion gives you eternal life and I'd like you to prove otherwise. ;)

You can't just start picking and choosing facets of 'religion' to debate. That's biased. ;) You have to include all the dogma, from reincarnation, karma and valhalla to purgatory and the hell of upside down sinners! :P

Sick, as for an extension of your life through gaming, I see your 'charcaters' and raise you the myths, fables, and holy books of Religion, which do exactly the same, but hve done for far far longer. ;)

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 5:02 PM EDT

so a part of you keeps on living as long as that game keeps going

Streetfighter fame, versus the Book of Matthew.

I'll positi that not only has the Bible been going longer than *any* game, but that more poeple in the world have been exposed to the 'fame' of religious texts than of any single Game. Including WoW and it's 12 million subscribers. ;)

Sickone May 27 2010 5:05 PM EDT

@GL : How many people actually heard about Zeus first from the game God of War ? :)
Also, it's not exactly that you personally could be included in the Bible anywhere... that ship sailed 2 millenia ago :P

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 5:09 PM EDT

Specific religion versus specific game? ;)

FF7 might be a better choice. Or Ocarina of Time, or CS. ;)

Religions as a whole, versus all games. Well now, do you mean just computer games? Or all forms of 'gamesmanship'? Chess, or other games of it's type could start to rival Religion for exposure.

But then there's no real hall of fame for ancient Chess tournaments. ;)

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 5:11 PM EDT

it's not exactly that you personally could be included in the Bible anywhere...

TV evangelist. Riding the bandwagon to the hall for religious highscores. ;)

Or some spiritual leader. Like a Pope.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] May 27 2010 5:14 PM EDT

So... let's see... wait a second, video games sure _DO_ have similar restrictions !

A game, just like any religion, it can either become forgotten or it can be obsoleted by a newer, better, flashier game. A game, in order to "survive" (i.e. have followers)

Wait a minute here though, religion does not have planned obsolescence, old teachings are followed and even sought after OVER new teachings in many religions (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls). In games, frequently, sequels are not "updates" or clarifications to previous games, they are entirely new games.

Comparing WoW to religion however is more apt, as the subscription model encourages the developers to evangelize the game despite it's dated graphics and such. However, does WoW exist if the developers go away? You could make the argument that it does, but I would argue that it would not, and that you would find people moving to another religion, er.. game.

How many religions are wholly dependent on someone or something existing for the religion to exist. Games are based on someones imagination clearly quantified in a static, or mildly dynamic way. A religion is an idea that exists in the believers minds regardless of the person who originally came up with the idea.

As for the moral quandries and existential dilemmas... well, games are slowly but surely getting there. They even adopted (more or less) the same type of categorizing morals into "good" or evil" for most games, with in-game meters clearly displaying how good/bad you are (religions can only dream of such a device, for now).

I think you are misconstruing the in-game mechanics and the emotions attached to your in-game representation with how one views ones self. When you pause a game, even WoW, you don't HAVE to resume play, the game itself doesn't beg you to come back to it. Games simply give you emotional and psychological satisfaction when certain tasks and goals have been achieved. This emotional response does not equate to an internalized moral compass governed by a religious doctrine. If I run around and kill people in a multi-player game, I don't feel remorse, many times that is simply the point of the game. Even if I choose not to kill everyone in the game, an ingrained sense of remorse is not what's stopping me, it's usually just a social norm or a strategic decision I have made.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 5:19 PM EDT

But LB, and Sick, giving gorund on the unproven nature of Eternal life, Relgion still offers the possibility.

Proper, not memories of your life, but ongoing personal experience, forever.

Even the posiblity of such is something gaming cannot (until we can DL ourselves into the 'net) offer.

Thus loses out to Religion on.

Posiblity > Nothing

Now, when we can live 'forver' in the 'net, it then becomes a choice of proven immortality with vulnerabilities (the 'net failing and you being wiped), or possibly immortality with no vulnerabilites.

But then, that's not really 'gamings' perview any longer, more of an electronic society. ;)

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 5:23 PM EDT

(Batting for the other side on this post)

Come on guys, I can't belive that no ones mentioned this yet!

Gaming Good, Religion Bad because;

No game has yet to start a war. ;) Not even the 'noughts and crosses' (it's not tic tac toe...) of Wargames! :P

Lord Bob May 27 2010 6:01 PM EDT

Religion grants you eternal life. Gaming doesn't offer that.
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A
Win.


LB and Sick, Religion gives you eternal life and I'd like you to prove otherwise.
If I didn't know you better than that GL...
*shakes fist*

*grin*

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 27 2010 6:08 PM EDT

:D

ScrObot May 27 2010 7:05 PM EDT

LB and Sick, Religion gives you eternal life and I'd like you to prove otherwise.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan

[Insert enlightening text about Hume's Maxim here, sure to dazzle believers.]

Sorry, I'll take my logic elsewhere. ;)

I see your 'charcaters' and raise you the myths, fables, and holy books of Religion, which do exactly the same, but hve done for far far longer. ;)

And long before there was organized religion, there were the many of the same myths and fables which ultimately became the basis of the religions we know and love today.

[Too lazy to round that one out with an actual point. (= ]

But LB, and Sick, giving gorund on the unproven nature of Eternal life, Relgion still offers the possibility.

But... ANYTHING offers the possibility, and NONE of it has any proof. I can just as easily say that only those people who own turtles and have 11 fingers will have eternal life. Prove that that isn't true. Making a wild claim with no proof doesn't make it any more real because you can't explicitly disprove it.

(And when there's PLENTY of evidence disproving many other facets of a belief system, the threshold for believability on the remaining facets has to be raised significantly -- or ignored completely in an all-or-nothing approach.)

ScrObot May 27 2010 7:17 PM EDT

I realize I sort of took a left turn on the debate at hand here, oh well.

To the original post, I think you can take ANYTHING to a harmful level -- be it gaming, eating, alcohol, "self-love" or religion. That doesn't necessarily make the thing bad under normal circumstances.

The real problems are failing to identify the causes of these extremes (and instead focusing on the extreme itself being the problem), and lumping both extreme cases and normal cases into the same boat.

DERPA [Red Permanent Assurance] May 27 2010 8:12 PM EDT

>No game has yet to start a war. ;)

GTA gave us Jack "The Blasphemer" Thompson and other neerdowell politicians trying to nuke virtual violence.


AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 28 2010 3:47 AM EDT

But... ANYTHING offers the possibility, and NONE of it has any proof

No, I don't think there's *any* game past or present that has ever offered the posibility of granting the player eternal life...

Now we could easily change this, just for this point, by creatign a game that does offer eternal salvation if you 'clock' it. ;) But until then, the point stands.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 28 2010 3:48 AM EDT

GTA gave us Jack "The Blasphemer" Thompson and other neerdowell politicians trying to nuke virtual violence

Not really a war though. ;)

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] May 28 2010 7:33 PM EDT

i would say that the only proof we have of lives is the current one we live in. any comparison that takes conjecture is thus useless in this debate.

we are left then with what does each offer its adherents. i would suggest comparing brain scans of gamers in the moment and religious worshippers would be the best way of determining how similar these activities affect us. seeing which areas of the brain are affected or lit up is the way to go for this debate!

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 29 2010 4:14 PM EDT

And also the lows.

Many a time I've considered hurling a controller across the room. ;)
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