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Today's word on journalism

March 17, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

"Can Seattle's oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age? The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck's. If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word."

--Joel Connelly, columnist, in today's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Playing video games can be as addictive as other drugs, prof says

By Mark Vuong

February 20, 2009 | Reports from around the world suggest that [video] gaming addiction is real and on the rise, stated an article by Harris Interactive.

"The definition of addiction is not just you do it a lot, it's that it's a problem for you," says USU psychology professor Amy Odum, who specializes in behavior analysis in respects to drug addiction.

Many experts say video game addiction has some similar traits as drug addiction.

Odum listed a number of addiction traits: Having a strong desire or compulsion to do it, difficulty controlling it, neglecting alternative pleasures or interests and persistence despite harmful consequences.

Freshman Tycen Sigler and sophomore Phil Blad both have been playing video games since they can remember and acknowledged being addicted to them.

"I think the point where I realized I was addicted was when I started playing games by myself instead of going out and socializing with people," said Blad, who is majoring in journalism. "And when I would make up lies as to what I was doing when I was really staying home and playing video games." Some lies Blad has told people in the past are that he has homework to do, or he has plans with his family.

Sigler, majoring in social work, said he has also lied to people about being too busy to hang out.

"When it comes down to it and I have to choose, I usually pick video games over anything else," he said. Sigler said while he wasn't actually sick he has called in sick at work just to be able to stay home and play video games.

Addiction can disrupt a person's relationship with family or friends and can interfere with a person's job, Odum said.

When he was younger, Sigler said, he use to come home from school and play video games all day. But since growing older, priorites in life such as work and school have caused his playing hours to decline to about two to three hours a day. However, he said at least once a week, typically during the weekend, he plays all day, sometimes even playing until dawn.

Substance addicts will sometimes do drugs or drink alcohol to escape life problems. Video game addicts are not too different.

"It's a good way to forget about problems or what's going on," Sigler said. "Instead of getting drunk and forgetting about life, I just play video games."

Odum said all illegal drugs increase dopamine levels. According to an article by Media Awareness Network, studies have shown when playing video games there is a chance dopamine in the brain is released.

"A drug can't make your body do anything it can't already do," Odum said. "Some drugs just make your body release the neurotransmitters it already has just in different proportions than usual."

Both Sigler and Blad said though they probably will never stop playing video games, they are prioritizing their life by sacrificing gaming time to do other things.

For those having trouble resisting the urge to play video games there is a Web site called On-line Gamers Anonymous that will aide resisting the urge. Amsterdam, Netherlands, has a treatment center to detox video game addicts by going cold turkey.

Here is a video clip from MSNBC interviewing co-host of X-Play, Morgan Webb, about video game addiction.

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