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Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction Paperback – May 10, 2010

3.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Van Cleave is out to settle old scores, set the record straight, and share highlights from an 80-hour-a-week addiction to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft. With confidence verging at times on arrogance ("If you figure out how to make a girl or two howl -- I mean, like biblical noise -- word gets around"), Van Cleave shares the highlights of his early life. Despite an already-formed addiction, he was a "gifted classical guitar major" in college, and wrote a fantasy novel that could have, he has no doubt, been huge. Top-notch agents were calling, but a computer meltdown left everyone empty handed. "Like the... novel that Ernest Hemingway left in a suitcase that was stolen from his wife in Paris in 1922, my epic fantasy would never know an audience." Van Cleave returns often to two main themes: his adoption as a child (which still causes him great pain) and the failure of the world to embrace unique individuals like him. He finds fault with everyone, including himself, but stops short of real insight, and his interviews with other addicts likely won't satisfy readers seeking actual support.
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Review

"[Unplugged] reads like a thriller novel . . ." --Sacramento Book Review

"Unplugged is an important warning about the treacherous nature of any kind of addiction and about the possibilities of self destruction that are inherent when one is absent from one's own life."
--Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

"Video game addiction is a real and growing problem  . . .  I'm glad Ryan Van Cleave has been willing to tell his story and hope it helps many young men avoid similar patterns."
--Kurt Bruner, co-author of Playstation Nation

"The uncommon insights and personal insights make for a great read!"
--Dr. Darcia Narvaez, University of Notre Dame
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: HCI; 1st edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0757313620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757313622
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew Doan on August 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a society that struggles with accepting "video game & technology addiction" as being real because this is a new type of addiction, I commend Ryan Van Cleave for sharing his addiction and writing this book. The book spends a significant time discussing Van Cleave's struggles with other addictions: sex and alcohol, and then leads into his addiction to World of Warcraft. As a recovering addict myself, I know that addicts will trade one addiction for another. Regardless of whether the addiction is sex, drugs, alcohol, or video games, these addictive behaviors stimulate the brain's dopamine reward pathways, essentially becoming an anti-depressant people become addicted to.

I discovered Unplugged while doing research on video game addiction and found the book helpful as it gave me insight into the mind of the addict and how the addict thinks. Thank you for sharing your story in this book.

Andrew Doan, MD, PhD
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Format: Paperback
The second half of the book deals with Van Cleave's journey out of his addiction from World of Warcraft (WoW) and has some honest self-reflection regarding the fall-out from gaming. The first half of the book (Ch. 2-7) however is not at all what I expected as a journey into the dark world of _video game_ addiction. Rather, it includes some grave tales concerning his childhood, many unfortunate misfortunes & misadventures, and a lot of details of his addictions while in college including with sex & booze with a much lesser emphasis on video gaming and gambling. The lack of details into his video game time-sink does not parallel the alarmingly dark nature of his sexual encounters, sexual abuse, and binge drinking. And the chapter about his time as a teacher at Clemson leaves me thinking he was a caring teacher who connected with & saved depressed students and the reason he lost his job was because he saw "Administrator Sally" cheating with a woman on her husband. He writes, "This was the beginning of the end of my days at Clemson" (p. 126). Perhaps these chapters are the side of Van Cleave that is looking everywhere outside of himself for the reason for his addictions or anything but video gaming as the cause of his problems--and therein lies the rub!

There seems to be a journey into a dark world definitely, but it seems to me to be into the dark world of an addictive person(ality) struggling to come clean and be truthful about anything and everything that matters to him. Perhaps this is more the journey _out of_ the dark world he has found himself caught in.
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Format: Paperback
I have a video game addict for a son, actually two. So I bought this and other books to help understand. I really appreciated that the author showed me the draw of this type of game, and I had no idea it could be so terribly addictive. I wondered throughout, though, if he had exaggerated, and reading some of the reviews here, I still have those doubts. However, it did offer a gateway of understanding, and so I still have to recommend it, especially if you have a loved one who is involved in WOrld of Warcraft.
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Format: Paperback
This is a dark book, so expect to read about some nasty experiences. As well as video game addiction, this book also deals with alcohol, sex, and other traumatizing events that reinforce addiction to games. The first section mentions video games only in passing, but the later section of the book is a detailed look at how the author dealt with his video game addiction. The appendix of the book is also interesting, as it includes enlightening interviews from other people who have suffered from video game addiction and some video game experts that speak about the subject as well.

If you want to understand the more personal side of video game addiction, then this book is an enlightening read, but it deals with some hard subject material, so be ready.
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By jodi on December 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
I finished your book last night. Your life has been full of such an array of good and bad, right and wrong. It’s fascinating. I identify with you through all of your feelings expressed so vividly in the book about love, loss, abandonment, sexual abuse, friendship, family and addiction. Thank you for your candidness, it’s very brave, much braver than keeping it to yourself! It did not make me dislike you as you suggested, just the opposite. The book left me wanting to know more, I hope there’s a sequel! You are a miracle. Recovery is a miracle. My wish for you is that you continue on your journey of recovery and self discovery. You have alot to offer others who have experiences such as yours and by sharing these things it helps to remove the stigma associated with such.
Thank you Ryan, Best wishes to you and yours. I hope you get a puppy for christmas! ;)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If there were ever a time for a book like this, it's now. This book helps to understand how people affected by video game and electronic addiction behave - so that those affected by this can recognize how to help.

Normally, self-help books are a snooze - and really, this is a self-help book. But the fact that it's an expertly written memior keeps it interesting and engaging. I can only imagine the people that this book can help.

It's sad that some will choose to see this addiction as less legitimate because it doesn't introduce chemically addictive drugs into your metabolic system. In fact - I think it's worse. Essentially, your body is hooked on itself.

I know many people who need to read this book.
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