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Dewey (2005) wrote: overwhelmed by passion, as in extreme rage, fear, jealousy, the experience is . A condition, episode, person, or group of persons, emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion by the mass media . addition to stories produced by journalists and promulgated by mass media, credentialed experts came forth to denounce video games.Orzack, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, said that she believed 40 percent of For now, the AMA has stated that there is insufficient evidence to declare video gaming addictive (Addiction 2007).However, its members proposed that the American Psychiatric Association assess whether such a diagnosis should be included in the 2012 version of the Manual.

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I begin with the topic of addiction—a perennial favorite of the media and one which seems to crop up often when people ask me about video games. How exactly should we think about video game addiction?

Many readers will have encountered the notion of video game addiction in newspaper and magazine accounts. Dewey provides a useful perspective when he discusses the potential for aesthetic activity to become “overwhelming.” I will use this notion, as well as the work of Seay and Kraut (2007) on “problematic use,” to frame my analysis. the act is controlled by an exquisite sense of the relations which the act sustains— Aesthetic activity may become overwhelming in circumstances of particular occasions and relations.

I extend Seay and Kraut’s work to encompass social aspects of problematic use. The potential for aesthetic activity to devolve into a degenerate form of itself is not an inherent quality of any particular aesthetic activity (such as video gaming) but depends on the specificities of a subject’s situation.

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As discussed in chapter 3, Dewey characterized active aesthetic activity as comprised of pleasurable means, successive phases of activity ending in satisfying completion, and collective expression. [T]he material of the experience lacks elements of balance and proportion. Obviously, millions of people play video games and are not addicted.

The final feature Dewey ascribed to aesthetic activity may help us understand why discourse around video gaming includes the term addiction. We must reach beyond the artifact of the game itself as an explanation for why some people play to excess.

Dewey argued that aesthetic activity requires qualities that in some circumstances may readily be lost. It is easy to forget this simple logic under the influence of sensationalism in media accounts that deliver dispatches on the shocking nature of video games: this player sat at his computer too long and keeled over, that one dropped out of school because he could not concentrate on his studies, another abandoned friends and family for the game (see Chee and Smith 2005; Golub and Lingley 2008).

The passion that animates aesthetic activity contains within itself a dangerous seed; such passion can transmogrify to an extreme state in which it “overwhelms” us. Rettberg (2008) observed, tongue in cheek: Societies appear to be subject, every now and then, to periods of moral panic. Socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions.

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  1. Dewey (2005) wrote: overwhelmed by passion, as in extreme rage, fear, jealousy, the experience is . A condition, episode, person, or group of persons, emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion by the mass media . addition to stories produced by journalists and promulgated by mass media, credentialed experts came forth to denounce video games.

  2. Orzack, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, said that she believed 40 percent of For now, the AMA has stated that there is insufficient evidence to declare video gaming addictive (Addiction 2007).

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