Snooker champion Neil Robertson has revealed that he nearly ruined his career due to an “addiction” to online gaming, claiming that he’d play League of Legends and FIFA 14 for up to eight hours a day.
The Australian champion, who picked up the winner’s trophy in the 2010 World Championship, said that video games had got in the way of both his career and home life. “In the past, I’ve been staying up and playing it”, he told Eurosport. “Then all of a sudden, it is 6am, the birds are tweeting and I’m thinking: ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to get up in a couple of hours to take my son Alexander to school. Then I’ve got to practice’.
“My partner Mille absolutely hates it. League of Legends is banned in my house. And rightly so. It is just awful.
“If you are a single guy, and work in a normal job, you can get around it. But you can’t win professional snooker matches when you are tired.”
Robertson added that he likely would have won 120 centuries instead of 100 if he wasn’t “addicted like hell” to FIFA 14. He also revealed that he spent a lot of time on World of Warcraft, to the point where he became more concerned with performing well in the game’s raids than progressing his snooker career. “I was part of a raid team, and we played a few nights a week”, he explained. “When we got out to China for a tournament, I was trying to make the raid slot. When I got out there, the connection was so bad that I couldn’t get access. I was furious for four or five days.
“All I was thinking about was getting back home for a connection from China. I lost my spot on the team, and all of a sudden that became more important than the snooker which is absolutely crazy.”
Discussing the reasoning behind his addiction, Robertson said that he believes the games are “designed to take over your life.” He added: “You find yourself sitting in front of the computer screen for six, seven or eight hours straight. Which is obviously not healthy.”
According to Robertson, China’s leading snooker player Ding Junhui has also been negatively affected by lengthy League of Legends play sessions. “I think it is one of the reasons he had a poor season two or three years ago”, he continued. “We were both playing it non-stop, both glued to our laptops playing League of Legends.” When asked on Twitter about which champions he played as during his time with LoL, Robertson replied: “Loved Aatrox, Tryndamere top and leona support.” He added that the highest rank he had achieved in the game was gold, which ranks above bronze and silver but below platinum, diamond, master and the top rank, challenger.
Scientists have stated that more research is needed in order to determine whether or not an individual can be diagnosed with video game addiction. While rewards in video games, such as achieving a high score or topping an online leaderboard, can cause the brain to release the chemical dopamine and lead the player to feel happy as a result. Though some believe they are hooked on this sensation, addiction is more complicated than a simple desire to feel good.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “a person with a drug addiction wants to use drugs even when their grades have tanked, they’ve lost their job, and they no longer care about the things that were once important to them. When they aren’t using drugs, they feel withdrawal symptoms that make them sick. Scientists aren’t sure video games can cause the same effects.” However, it has also been argued that while those who play video games too much may not experience withdrawal symptoms, when it begins to impact upon their personal lives but they feel unable to stop playing then this could be considered a form of addiction.