Although many people consider video games a passing hobby, or a gentle vice, the truth of the matter is that there are thousands of people from teenagers to adults who spend countless hours online. Although, the true time spent, can rarely be reported accurately (as the subjects are almost always in denial regarding their actual time spent playing), it is immense and life-absorbing. This article focuses on the Gears of War series by Epic Games, published by Microsoft Game Studios.
Gears of War and its successor Gears of War II is arguably the most addictive and widely played game available exclusively on the XBOX 360. The game itself is more than a shootem-up, rather its an “over-the-shoulder” third-person shooter that pits players against alien enemies or in circumstances of role reversal, alines versus human. Contrary to many a parent’s belief, the game is more than a button masher, and actually requires use of cover to avoid “hit-point” or damage. Like many shooters, the game uses weapons, from laser and sniper rifles to brutal chainsaws that allow young players to vicarious act out bloody decapitation rituals in close combat. Although it allows cooperative play online through Microsoft ‘s X-Box Online, the game can also be played as a stand-alone or with solo missions.
In the land of Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online gaming community, parents are scarcely aware the time their sons play this game behind closed doors, zoned in on the game with headsets, or the faceless friends who join their kids on daily rampages. Sure children stay out of trouble playing the game, but what toll does it take on their social interaction or school work.? More importantly, to what degree of denial do both parents and children, or teens have regarding their addiction to this immensely popular game?
Speaking from experience as a gamer for more than 20 years, I will personally say that Gears of War II is extremely addicting. For one, there is constant pressure to maintain the skill level of your peers in online competition. Secondly, there is always room for improvement, whether it’s honing your craft in sniper-fire or other grenade throwing tactics. Gears of War 2 becomes one of those games where you try to limit yourself, but compulsively push on saying, “One more round, to even up the score, or One more match for the best out of 20.”
In the end, “Gears of War” games and the denial that accompanies “play-time” should be treated as an addiction with substances, such as drugs or alcohol. Simple symptoms can be seen with the following signs: 1) If the gamer needs more and more time to play or 2) The gamer becomes irritable, cranky when denied the time and 3) He or she constantly rationalizes the amount of time spent playing or insists on how his playing is not that extensive.
Finally, the point of this article was not to bash the game but enlighten those interested on how strongly denial commands addiction for many on the XBOX’s richly designed series “Gears of War” and to serve as a warning for those “too far in.”