Gaming and Autism

I have been exploring my most likely, unhealthy, gaming hobby and what it means for me. Its only been in the last 2 weeks a professional planted a seed in my head. He said he sees Autistic traits in me, by the way I say things, what I do and feel. He thinks I have undiagnosed High Functioning Autism. He is sending me off for an assessment – interesting times ahead!

I know I have an unhealthy attitude towards gaming and it is one of the most important things in my life. I often choose to game over real life stuff, it’s just the magic in it all, it sucks me up.

It’s got me thinking and I have been talking a lot through with my sister, I have always thought playing an MMO is being social; she and others are disagreeing with this view. I am being told it’s not social as I am not seeing these people in person and pretty much on my own. I find this weird as I don’t feel alone when gaming, what do they know aye!

I have read a few things scattered about the web, on one site a mother describes that some of the attraction is being able to explore new worlds that were simple and organized, also putting the real world away. The sounds of family life from the rest of the house were drowned out by the happy tunes of games. Video games didn’t require you to interact with anyone else if you don’t want to and she goes on to say that she think the real attraction is that it took the stress off of his shoulders.

I relate to this, but I guess loads of others do too. I got my first game when I was around 10 years old. It was an Atari, I then moved onto other consoles like Nintendo, Play Station and Xbox. I was addicted form the moment go, playing a game until its competed, collected as much stuff as I could and did the best I could, each time trying to perfect my gameplay.

I then moved onto my first MMO, Runescape. I played this game for around 7 years, my aim was to get 99 everything and I did get a lot done. I sat and cut trees for months in game to reach 99 woodcutting, but the goal had to be finished, I got my 99 cape and wore it with pride. I still do this in GW2 I set up a goal and go off and do it, rinse and repeat, sometimes I have too many goals and lose focus.

She goes on to say that Games are not just games to the autistic child. To them they are a collection of mysterious mannerisms, facial expressions, voice fluctuations, gestures, and emotions that have to be understood. She thinks other autistic children are like her son in that they view their performance in a game as a measure of their own self-worth & through games they learn to cope with disappointment. Losing no longer means failure or imperfection – learning to converse to overcoming fear of failure, gaming has been an integral part of social development.

This bit fascinated me, although my social skills are ok I get disappointed in gaming and I trend to beat myself up about it, I have a lot of self-doubt.

So…… what does this mean for me? I am an adult, not a young adult either, it is also not confirmed I had ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) I am just currently showing some traits.

I have a need for storing and researching information about the game and I spend a lot of time on it. I can wake up on a Saturday morning and log onto my PC and not move until 11pm that night, I just get lost. Most of my gaming life has been pleasurable and I have achieved a lot, got excited about a lot of stuff and made friends. On the flip side I have been disappointed, let down and hurt.

If I get hurt I tend not to play for a bit and remove myself from the game and watch TV, I get hurt quite a bit by other people. The people that hurt me probably do not even realise they have done so as I am over sensitive to what people say or do not always act the way I expect them to act.

Abstract from a study

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience significant challenges in community engagement and social activities, yet they have strong interests in video games. Thus, there has been increasing interest in understanding potentially positive and negative effects of video games in this population. However, research has not yet examined the perspectives of individuals with ASD themselves on this topic. The purpose of this study was to use qualitative methods to examine the preferences and motivations for video game play among adults with ASD. Individual interviews were conducted with 58 adults with ASD, and responses were coded through an iterative and collaborative process. Several themes were identified, including perceived benefits of video game use (e.g., social connection, stress reduction) as well as perceived negative effects (e.g., time use, addictive potential). Participants also noted both positive and negative aspects of game design that affect their overall enjoyment. The most frequent all-time favorite video game genres were Role-Playing (31%) and Action-Adventure (19%). These qualitative findings enhance our understanding of video game use from the direct perspectives of individuals with ASD, and suggest a need for incorporating these perspectives in future quantitative studies on positive and negative aspects of game use in this population.

 

 

 

Resources

The Mothers Story: http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com/news/autism-game-not-just-game-378493242#ixzz4Yey95CM5

Children with ASD and Gaming addiction: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/08August/Pages/Autism-and-ADHD-associated-with-video-game-addiction.aspx

ASD Adults and Gaming Study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215003581

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