Case study. How the need for love and connection can lead to game addiction

There was a teenage girl in southern Germany that was overweight and not very attractive. When the girl was 14 years old, her parents divorced, and he was forced to change school because her father was a pilot with very variable working days. She had to stay with her mother full time, and because of economic reasons, the mother decided to move to another smaller town.

Fortunately enough, this won't be any cliche story about the fat and unattractive girl moving to a new town and being bullied. However, this was a very small town where people have known each other for generations, so the girl had problems getting close to anyone. The kids were kind to her, she wasn’t abused in any way, but she was never accepted as one of them. They never invited her to parties. They never wanted to spend time with her. She was all alone and that was devastating for her. All the advice she was given was to find a new hobby or something else that she could spend time with. The same kind of advice is given to game addicts to keep them from gaming. Get a pet or take a singing course without any whatsoever respect to the individual actual human needs.

What do I mean by that?

There are 6 basic human needs very well described in Tony Robbins relationship program.

1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure

2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli

3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed

4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding

6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others

All of us have these needs. However, some are stronger than others. The German girls highest human need was Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something. When the girl was excluded from social contact with others, that was devastating to her.

As a result of this, the girl turned to gaming. Now before everyone compares this to drinking alcohol or using drugs, it's not the same thing. Alcohol and drugs are more about escape from reality while gaming is the reality, at least from a point of view when it comes to satisfying one or several of the six human needs. Why is that?

In the absence of friends, the girl started to play World of Warcraft and very quickly learned to heal and within a few months became very good at it. She joined a guild, met many new friends with the same interests and became better and better at healing. Gaming is the closest to a free market you can come across. If you create value, you are desirable, which the girl did. The girl was a great healer, and after a few months of playing and developing her skills and avatar, she literary couldn’t be left alone. Her skills were needed everywhere, healing in dungeons, healing doing raid bosses, healing in all kinds of events World of Warcraft has to offer. The girl got several requests for her skills as soon as she logged in to the game. All this satisfied her most important human need, Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

The result is that today the girl is heavily game addicted because the game satisfies her most important human need, something she couldn’t get in real life.

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