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Excessive Video Game Playing: A Widespread Addiction

Updated on January 1, 2020
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Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

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Excessive Video Game Playing: A Widespread Addiction

Everything that is excessive is not good as to how the trite goes. This applies to all consumption or activities of a person and that includes excessive video game playing. Most of the time, young people spend most of their time playing video games that they even spend countless hours in trying to accomplish or finish a game. These video games provide a virtual situation to these young ones and even adults which permit them to do things that they cannot do in real life. This can help the players unwind or vent out their anger. Sometimes, it even helps them gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Certain people assert that video game playing open opportunities for individuals. However, upon getting too hooked up with the game, playing video games turn out to be a serious problem for many teenagers. It is claimed to have a negative impact on their overall well-being. With that, this paper would like to argue that excessive video game playing can be regarded as a widespread addiction and requires immediate attention and solution.

Gaming and its Development

Adults including young ones who desire to entertain themselves and to be challenged by the game plot can spend their time playing and interacting online. Gaming is not only limited to those who are at home but could be opened to people who are across nations and desire to compete with each other. The development of video gaming has changed the gaming world as it opened gates for local and international games. This has bridged the distance to players as they are virtually connected in the interface of a particular game. This type of gaming is opened to a range of ages that even the youngest in the family would be familiar with the latest online game with just a good internet connection and computer or any mobile media that will serve as platform for them to connect and play.

Gaming has also its growth and movement from its meek beginning to its current state. The growth of the online games started with television sets and is now intensified with the internet connection which is opens the game to the rest of the world. Many players all around the globe can now play through these games despite their distance. Aside from this, tournaments are even put up to see who will be the best among the rest in this industry.

Playing video games has its benefits to its players and drawbacks. It can cause addiction, gambling, and even deaths. As evident with other activities as well, anything that is taken excessively could be harmful. With that, the development of video gaming and its effects to the youth are to be discussed which will not only benefit the gamers but also the older people. These online games could even turn out to be not so bad at all granted that they are taken moderately.

Gaming nowadays has penetrated families and genders since many already consider themselves as gamers. In the past, most of the gamers were men, but now, the case is different. Both men and women assert that they play video games though men are those who more likely to call themselves gamers (Duggan, 2015.). As technology moves wider, gaming reaches more people as its accessibility is made better. With that, gaming becomes not exclusive to men just like how it was taken in the past.

These gamers have variety of choices. Games could vary from easy and simple-plotted to highly violent and tricky ones. Gamers can choose from a myriad of cute and relaxing games to killings and invasion of territories. There are games that are played across nations like League of Legends, Ragnarok, Frozen Thrones, or even DOTA. Actual games with prizes for winners are even put up for these kinds of complex games.

There have been assumptions that men dominate the gaming world. According to Ko (2005), most online gamers are male and those with severe gaming addiction suffer with lower self-esteem and dissatisfaction with daily life their lives anchored on the virtual reality presented on the computer. It is also said that women are represented poorly and that games promote violence and aggression but these do not stop people from enjoying games. Half of the American adults play games on their computers, cellphones, TV and game consoles (274). 57% of the women also play video games which would be contrary to the assumptions on gaming.

Gaming in general is already embraced by many people brushing aside the negative notions connected to it. Tournaments were even put up for these online games which motive a few to become professional gamers who are paid to play and compete in online games. In whatever country one may consider checking, video gaming is already part of every adolescent or adult’s pastime. With that, video gaming has already become one of the most profitable industries in terms of entertainment in the world (Chikani n.p.). Many gamers exhaust their financial resources just to avail the latest games and consoles that will suit their gaming needs no matter how much it will cost them.

Gaming has both its good and bad effects. However, with the frequency of the playing and the amount of time consumed in the process of playing, the effect may be determined since this will determine whether the gaming is still a recreational activity or is already an addiction. From moderation to excessive video gaming, the effects also vary.

Positive Effects

Video games are a ubiquitous part of almost all children’s and adolescents’ lives, with 97% playing for at least one hour per day in the United States. The vast majority of research by psychologists on the effects of “gaming” has been on its negative impact: the potential harm related to violence, addiction, and depression. (Engels et al, 2014). In totality, despite the claimed negative effect of video games, this research shows that there are stronger benefits for games since they could have potential for treatment of the mental health problems.

Video gaming should be seen as neutral. This can never be really fully good nor bad since the user will dictate as whether the effect will be positive for him or not. There have been researches made with regard to the effects of gaming to people which result to two main points. Gaming can help people to critically think but if they get addiction, negative effects will surface. They will be detached from their families and friends and will just opt to always play online games with other gamers even to the point of compromising their health as well.

Contrary to the destructive impact of gaming to young people, gaming appears to provide cognitive benefits. Critical thinking, logic, and the use of the mental faculties under pressure have been seen as a few of these benefits. In a meta-analysis, Uttal et al. (2013) asserted that there are improvements on the spatial skills of those who play shooter video games whose benefits are similar with courses offered in university levels.

Aside from this, Bavelier & Davidson stated that “video games are controlled training regimens delivered in highly motivating behavioral contexts . . . because behavioral changes arise from brain changes, it is also no surprise that performance improvements are paralleled by enduring physical and functional neurological remodeling” (2013). With use of these games, performance improve because the mind is conditioned the person to be capable of the challenges presented in the video game.

In a December 2011 article written by Alice Park in the Time Magazine titled “How Playing Violent Video games May Change the Brain”, she revealed a research conducted in the Indiana University involving 28 randomly selected students showing that one week of constant exposure to violent games “showed less activity in areas that involved emotions, attention and inhibition of our impulses” (Park, 2011). Dr. Vincent Matthews, the leading researcher of the study, reiterated that “behavioral studies have shown an increase in aggressive behavior after violent video games and what we show is the physiological explanation for what the behavioral studies are showing. We’re showing that there are changes in brain function that are likely related to that behavior” (n.p.). It should be considered that violent games are the most popular in handheld consoles such as God of War, Resident Evil, Prince of Persia, Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas, Medal of Honor, Call of Duty and many more. These are not even the tip of the iceberg since Internet-based games are not even included yet such as Clash of Clans, League of Legends, and Counter Strike. Expect decapitations, lacerations, blood and bodies littering everywhere plus a major dose of intense sexuality in these games. However, this attitude that negativity in games breeds negativity among its players is called the general aggressive model or GAM. It states that constant exposure to such violence leads to violent and aggressive behavior (Koojimans, 2004.). This mentality or ideology is, however, not at all supported by many.

Furthermore, cognitive neuroscientists show that game developers design games which would help the test their hypotheses on the cognitive advances that a gamer gets from playing particular video games (Bavelier & Davidson, 2013). These studies put forward the engaging in role playing games help a lot in the development of the critical thinking skills and enhanced creativity. Through the puzzles, challenges, and situations, gamers tend to think critically about the next move to be done given the time pressure they are in. The beautiful graphics also aid in making the game more interesting.

These researches show that games can be good tools for enhancing cognitive capabilities given that regulation on playing is present. Despite this potential, there has been increasing number of young people and adult who are addicted to video gaming that they already show violent behaviors and tendency to isolate themselves from others since the video gaming world appear to be more appealing to them than that of the real.

Setbacks in Gaming

A number of negative effects were identified with relation to video gaming. According to Wood et. al (2008), excessive use video game play causes escaping of other problems and poor time management skills. It is similar with addictive qualities of other activities and substances. Aside from this, it was never connected with academic achievement (Chiu, 2014). Most parents see it as the reason why their kids lose interest in studying which result to the stooping of their grades. Eventually, game addiction shows trait anxiety, neuroticism, aggression and sensation seeking (Mehroof, 2010). Given these primary effects, the rest of the dimensions of life follow.

With poor time management skills, the teenagers will fail to socialize with people cutting ties with their real-world friends and their family in general. This will also endanger them since they will even tend to forget about having proper meal that skipping meals and devouring junk food will cause health problems. There were even cases of deaths in the process of long-time gaming that the young gamers were just discovered to be dead when they were not moving on their places anymore. Aside from this, the academics of these young ones get to flunk as this becomes reason for sleepiness inside the classroom, lack of focus or concentration, and sometimes even absenteeism just to continue playing the game.

People who are really into the game even forget to eat or to drink because of video gaming making them anorexic and undernourished. Aside from this, their relationships in real life also suffer. There have been reports that online gamers died unnoticeably because of nonstop online game playing. This addiction has even led to these gamers’ deaths since they have not eaten well or perhaps they have been suffering and they did not notice that they are actually about to die. This problem is evident to kids but not restricted to them.

“The problem is not just restricted to young kids. We know parents who are hooked on these things. It's only a small percentage of people who get addicted but it's also only a small percentage of people who gamble too much. I don't know anybody else who is treating [such cases] in this country. There's no helpline” (Dudley B. qtd by Bowcott, 2009).

This game addiction was originally taken lightly by people that they think it does not need a helpline. Now, people are putting up help lines since it could be as severe as that of drug addiction. It can ruin lives and take away people from their realities. Parents should keep in mind that these should not be taken sitting down. These individuals tend to be happy isolated from the rest of the world and connected virtually to other gamers like them. Socialization only falls under the gaming world that they tend to sacrifice their interpersonal relationships in real life. Many parents even connect this to hard-headedness of their children. This then causes fights and conflicts at home because of these children becoming more aggressive and passive in doing their homework and school duties.

These may sound superficial but there are still heavier effects that these. There were cases of violence and aggression brought about by excessive gaming. If not, the teenagers end up having psychological problems as they completely shut their lives off people and just focus on their games. As a result to this, Bowcott stated that addiction to online games has made vulnerable young people to be addicted that treatment centers in Britain has started. News about the aggressive behavior of the young people has spread through the years from various countries. Children begin to act violently in schools which include shooting in schools, and public places killing innocent people. This is attributed to their excessive immersion to violent video games whether online or not. They appear to simulate what they experience online in the real world that they end up harming other people. It appears like monsters are created out of their addiction with these characters and capabilities.

With moderation in gaming, the teenagers will gain skills and other advantage in the process of gaming. However, the problem enters when these people do not know when to stop. When they get too attached with the virtual world where they can do everything freely, they get to be so immersed that they turn out to be addicts already. The addiction then results to more serious problems like psychological problem, physiological deficiencies due to the lack of proper nourishment and sleep, and sometimes even societal problems when the addiction leads the gamer to extend the violence in the real world.

These must be solved as the excessive gaming and its potential effects should be determined. The stakeholders involved should consider the following suggestions as to prevent the young ones from totally giving in to the pangs of addictive gaming.

Solutions to excessive gaming

As mentioned, there is nothing wrong with moderate gaming. Several people play games to feel better or to get entertained after a boring task or a tiring job. However, if the gaming becomes the world of the person, it becomes a problem that should be solved. The teenagers or even adults should be monitored as for the closest family members or even friends can intervene preventing the person from getting too attached and subsumed in the gaming world.

Upon seeing early signs of addiction or more than moderate gaming, the parents should already start intervening before the addiction gets deeper. The parents should learn how to communicate with their children for them to determine what leads them to be so engrossed with the video games. Most of the time, young ones who play too often desires to forget problems that they could not face. With proper communication and good parenting, these problems can be addressed properly without channeling it out through games or the virtual world.

As for the schools, the administrators and teachers should conduct a regular survey on those who seem to be addicted with video games. This will help the guidance office to track who should be monitored or who should be processed since this might lead to future problems like dropping out or aggression. The teachers should note those who often sleep in class, skip classes, or those who appear to be out of focus so precautionary measures can be done.

If the addiction has taken over the person already, the family members should help the person seek for professional help already. This will prevent further problems if they will not help the person help himself/herself. Aside from this, the family members should show love and support to those who are in the addiction level in terms of gaming. There is a tendency for other people to take this lightly, but little do they know that this addiction is serious and actually exists.

As for the community, the leaders of the respective districts or even of the school can arrange activities which will distract or occupy the young adults for them not to play too much computer games. By arranging community ball games and other activities for young ones as well as adults, the personal interaction will increase which then can help in the reduction of addicted to games. This may sound to be tedious but if the community will work together, this can be an effective way to overcome the excessive video playing of the young ones nowadays.

Most of the time, those who get addicted to video games are those who have problems in the real world that they cannot fully face. By being a supportive family member or a friend, teenagers can instead face their problems rather than escape from them through winning or playing the computer games. Behind the moves and button presses as well as cursing in the process of playing lie a problem that the person is trying to get over through a method that will never help him solve his problem.

Conclusion

With that, video gaming has already been a part of the household of every individual all around the world. Online gamers vary from young one to adult who are engaged in different games which vary from adventure to combative ones. Not only males are those who enjoy these games since females are also playing video and online games. Many people all around the world already enjoy multiplayer games that could allow them to communicate online and even hold battles. Tournaments are already created to see the best gamers in the world. Many young boys and girls even dream of themselves as among those who are capable of being paid to play games online.

Video gaming has developed from just being a technological oddity and then took over the world as gadgets and the internet became faster. The first versions of games were limited to television sets but as game consoles and mobile media were created, video gaming became more accessible and way easier to use anywhere and anytime. Lots of online games were developed with various types and game plot. Simulations and different virtual worlds with highly good graphics are already present now on the gaming market that people even spend money for these.

With this, several effects can also be attributed to online games. There are both good and bad effects which people could get from playing moderately to playing that much online. If regulated and used wisely, people could benefit from it cognitively since role-playing online games help in the development of the critical thinking of the players. These also help in the spatial skills of the gamers and their capability to work in teams and to work under pressure despite the difficulty of the situation. Decision-making and logic are also put to test in these types of games.

On the other hand, those who excessively use the online games tend to be addicted and aggressive behavior result from too much immersion on the violent games that they have been playing. There were reports of killings and shootings by children who got too absorbed with the reality that they were playing in these games. There were also those who died in the course of nonstop online playing since the nourishment and wellness were not given attention. On the lighter level, these individuals tend to be detached from the rest of the world and they tend to be less sociable.

Video gaming has developed a lot and has taken the world through its interesting plots and graphics. It has grown from simple games to international tournaments. However, it should be taken note that anything that is abused turns out to be negative no matter how much potential it may give to an individual. Given these contexts, it can be asserted that excessive gaming will cause problems and even addiction to young people in general. If left unaided or unresolved, this may even cause bigger problems along the way. The good effects of gaming will never be discounted but with the excessive one, the tendency to be aggressive and harmful should not be dismissed. This should be readily addressed by the family members to begin with, friends, the school, and the society in general.

With that, I can reassert that excessive video game playing has turned out to a widespread addiction of the young people all over the world. This must be solved, and the solution lies on the people surrounding these game addicts since they will not be able to do it on their own. With proper guidance and communication, the gamers might not get to reach the addiction level especially when their problems are already being addressed that they do not need to escape from it anymore through excessive video gaming.

References

Bavelier, D., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). “Brain training: Games to do you good”. Nature, no. 494, 425– 426. doi:10.1038/494425a

Bowcott, O. (2009). «Online game addiction rising, counsellors warn”. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/oct/08/online-games-addiction-on-rise. Accessed 10 April 2019.

Chikhani, R. (2015). “The History of Gaming: An Evolving Community.” https://techcrunch.com/2015/10/31/the-history-of-gaming-an-evolving-community. Accessed 10 April 2019.

Chiu et al. (2014). “Video game addiction in children and teenagers in Taiwan”. CyberPsychology & Behavior, no 7, 571 – 581.

Duggan, M. (2015). “Gaming and Gamers”. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/12/15/gaming-and-gamers/. Accessed 9 April 2019.

Engels et al.. (2014). “The Benefits of Playing Video Games”. https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-a0034857.pdf. Accessed 9 April 2019.

Ko et al. (2005). “Gender differences and related factors affecting video gaming addiction among Taiwanese adolescents”. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 273 - 277.

Koojimans, Thomas. (2004). “Effects of Video Games on Aggressive Thoughts and Behaviors During Developmen” USA: Rochester Institute of Technology, Accessed 10 April 2019. http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/kooijmans.html.

Mehroof, M. (2010). “Video gaming addiction: The role of sensation seeking, self-control, neuroticism, aggression, state anxiety, and trait anxiety.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, pp. 313-316.

Park, Alice. (2011). “How Playing Violent Video Games May Change the Brain,” Time Magazine, Accessed 9 April 2019. http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/02/how-playing-violent-video-games-may-change-the-brain/.

Uttal, D. H., Meadow, N. G., Tipton, E., Hand, L. L., Alden, A. R., Warren, C., & Newcombe, N. S. (2013). “The malleability of spatial skills: A meta-analysis of training studies. Psychological Bulletin” no. 139, 352– 402. doi:10.1037/a0028446.

Wood, C. (2008). “Problems with the concept of video game 'addiction': Some case study examples”. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, No. 6, 169 - 178.

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