For the last 10 years, a Chinese woman named Yun who was believed to be dead, was found living in an Internet café. She left home at age 14 after a fight that she had with her parents. After so much time had passed, her parents assumed she was dead and even had her name removed from their household registration with the police. Then, Yun unexpectedly contacted her mother on WeChat, a popular messaging app in Asia. Even though they connected via the app, her mother was never able to find Yun. The police got involved and they were able to find her, where they were shocked to find her living in an Internet café. She was questioned by police and they found that she had spent the last 10 years living in various cities throughout China, mostly in Internet cafes and bath houses. She spent most of her time playing the free multiplayer FPS game called CrossFire. Yun survived on donations from fellow Internet café users and then other payers would pay her to teach them the best tactics on CrossFire, since she had spent so much time playing it. (1)
This is obviously an extreme case of addiction, combined with other factors that lead to a teenager literally trying to erase existence from her family and live in her own world of gaming. Clearly, this type of thing won’t happen to every person that games excessively, but it is important to remember that when a person plays games addictively, brain chemistry will change over time. For a person that was once bright, outgoing, and gifted in school or other hobbies, gaming addiction can change all that. Just like drugs or alcohol addiction, gaming addiction can begin to alter the person’s personality and change their priorities, many times morphing them into a person that is unlike who they were before. Extreme gaming addiction can cause severe mental disease and instability, even without pre-existing conditions.
If you have experience with someone in your life that is showing signs of addiction, first try to remember and understand that there are real chemical changes happening in the brain and professional help is needed. It’s important to find an outside source – a mentor, a counsellor, a professional addiction specialist – that can be a voice of truth, helping counsel them to break the endless cycle of addiction. Addiction – whether it’s those that are addicted themselves or those that are living with loved ones that are addicted – affects everything and everybody.
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1. Thubron, Rob. “Woman missing since 2005 and feared dead is found to have been living in internet cafes for a decade.” Techspot. November 25, 2015. Accessed December 8, 2015. http://www.techspot.com/news/62919-woman-missing-since-2005-feared-dead-found-have.html