In this paper I examine computer game addiction as a social phenomenon, analyzing the consequences of using the term in order to express a concern about high frequency consumption or even a problematic usage of computer games. I argue that while it is obviously very important to take seriously these concerns about young people ‘at risk’, there is a gap between the phenomenon as a suggested psychiatric diagnosis and young people’s reflections on the matter. Following the work of Goffman and Becker, computer game addiction is not necessarily something negative in the eyes of the player and other young people. It is shown that the classification can be a positive element in young people’s identity work. On the other hand, a high consumption of computer games is also considered as ‘culturally unacceptable’. From this perspective, computer game addiction becomes a question of how to construct the boundaries between normality and deviance and how prejudices are governing and controlling young people’s lives. All this suggests more caution in classifying frequent and problematic computer game play as a disorder in itself. We need a more complex understanding of computer game addiction than research so far has offered us.
Addiction Research and Theory, 2013, Vol 21, Issue 5, p. 365-375
Computer game addiction; classification; label; stigma; normality; deviancy