From simple arcade games like the Mr Pac-Man, we have come a long way. Video games today employ advanced graphics which make it vastly realistic. Over the years, people have been increasingly concerned about the vivid violence which forms an integral part of many of these games. Gamers maim and kill for scores in games like Dead Space and Medal of Honour. Grand Theft Auto V allows players to have sex with a hooker who can be strangled at the end. How are these ‘realistic’ games affecting the way we perceive and interact with the real world?
The Dark Side of Online Gaming
“As computer and Internet use has become a staple of everyday life, the potential for overuse is introduced, which may lead to addiction. Addiction to the Internet shares some of the negative aspects of substance addiction and has been shown to lead to consequences such as failing school, family, and relationship problems.”
Online games are frowned upon by parents as time-wasters, and worse, some education experts think these games corrupt the brain. Playing violent games are easily blamed by the media and some experts as reasons why some become violent or commit anti-social behaviours. I did go through Rhilo Mero’s article on “Pokemon Go: What’s all the Fuss about?”, after reading it, it made me ponder as to how online games have affected today’s crowd, especially the youths. I would like to bring to attention some of its negative aspects, mainly because I too have been a victim of these over addictive online games. I use the word ‘victim’ as it has done more damage than good. I turned more like a dumb zombie hooked either in my smartphone or the computer screen. Some of the most addictive online games such as Dota (Defence of the Ancient) are venomous because today’s youth, especially young boys, are widely affected bringing with it a whole lot of failures in so many aspects of their lives.
Most of the bad effects of these games are blamed for the violence they contain. But when youths are questioned about these games, they strongly defend their addiction maintaining that games do not hamper them in any way that they are purposeful, and that gaming can be a career if they are good enough to qualify for international tournaments and so on. These are, of course, just excuses deviating them from the real world. Youths who play violent games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and decreased pro-social behaviours. Some other addictive games such as the Clash of Clans, Teenpati, and other RPG games such as Diablo, League of legends, etc. are equally harmful.
The effect of Dota violence in youths is worsened by the games’ interactive nature. In many games, a person is rewarded for being more violent. The act of violence is done repeatedly. Indeed, many studies (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004) seem to indicate violent games may lead to aggressive behaviours. However, the evidence is not consistent, and this issue is far from settled.
The American Psychological Association (APA) also concluded that there is a “consistent correlation” between violent games and aggression, but finds insufficient evidence to link violent video play to criminal violence. An open letter by a number of media scholars, psychologists, and criminologists, have found the study and conclusion done by APA to be misleading and alarmist. Indeed there are cases of teenagers who committed violent crimes to spend a great amount of time playing online games. It appears that there will always be violent people, and it just so happens that many of them also enjoy playing violent games.
Too much of gaming makes the youth socially isolated. Also, they may spend less time in other activities such as doing homework, reading, sports and interacting with family and friends. Some violent games teach them wrong values. Violent behaviour, vengeance, and aggression are rewarded. Negotiating and other nonviolent solutions are often ignored. Games can confuse reality and fantasy. Academic achievement may be related to overall time spent playing these games. Studies show that the more time a youth spends playing games, the poorer is his performance in school. (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004). A study by Argosy University Minnesota School of Professional Psychology found that game addicts argue more with their teachers, fight with their friends, and score lower grades than others who are not addicted to games. Other studies show that many game players routinely skip their homework to play games, and many students admitted their game habits for poor school grades.
Additionally, it also damages the long-term concentration of students. It may also have bad effects on the health, including obesity, video-induced seizures, postural, muscular, and skeletal disorders, such as tendonitis, nerve compression, carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia, restlessness, and so on.
Additions to these games increase individual’s depression and anxiety levels. They also exhibit social phobias. Not surprisingly, their school performance suffers. It also affects individuals’ attention level.
Online gaming indeed does more damage than good: social paralyses, unhealthy physical conditions, disconnect with families, increased level of depression, outburst of anger, pending works, slowly diminishing into a world of hopelessness, and lack of confidence in putting up with the realities of life are some of the few maladies afflicting the individuals. These negative effects should make us ponder as to whether online games are doing us any good? Learn to question yourselves. Ask whether these games will sustain your lives in the future. If gaming leads you towards failure in life, then this ought to be a wake-up call. Stay away from it, do things that will improve you and not destroy your life. Replace it with more resourceful activities such as in-person interactions with friends and families. It is better to stay away from online games if your balance in life is widely affected, especially students who spend much of their time gaming and losing themselves in the virtual world. It is high time that we avoid such questionable source of living, where we gain nothing but social and personal problems.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.