Have you ever wondered about the impact that video games have in our society? Is there any benefit of playing video games at all or is it just a waste of time? And the more pertinent questions – Do violent video games encourage someone to partake in violent activities? Let’s deep dive into the topic and try to understand the facts behind them.
Video Games is a form of Art & Entertainment
Video games can be defined as interactive electronic games that are aimed at entertaining players. These games can be either played online or offline. You can use a portable device, PC, or a console to play video games. If you are playing the games online, then you will require a live network connection. These run in real-time and are highly competitive and social. These also demand a high level of commitment and cooperation among players.
Different categories of video games are available across various genres including adventure, racing, shooting, strategy, action games, sports games, and more. Each game demands different skills.
Evolution of Video Games
A comparison of the character Lara Croft from 1996 to 2017 in the Tomb Raider video game franchise
With advancements in technology, the playability, techniques, ability, and requirements of video games constantly challenge a player. 3D games were barely a thing a couple of years ago. Now they have become the new normal. The video game industry is slated to grow in the coming years. Many young children who are still shaping their personalities spend a considerable amount of time playing video games. Hence, it has become essential to study their impact on the behaviors of players.
According to a recent survey, people spent over 7.89 hours per week playing video games as of February 2019. In the US, gamers spend about 7.61 hours per week playing video games. The global average is 7.11 hours per week. With the video game industry expected to grow, there are several concerns about its usage.
Positive Effects of Video Games
Source: Children’s Health
Video games have positive effects on a player in numerous ways. They engage the players in different facets of everyday lives including social, psychological, and physical. They promote healthy living and also increase social interactions through various avenues.
Games like PUBG and Call of Duty help you forge friendships with other players. It is vital to remember that anything in excess can be harmful. If you are playing the games in moderation, then you can benefit from playing fast-paced action games. These games have events and peripheral images popping up and disappearing. These games also teach people to become better at taking sensory data and translating them to take correct decisions.
Gamers are not antisocial as projected in pop culture stereotypes. They are highly social people and they are even capable of forming stronger relationships than non-gamers as per a report published in The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.
Games also enhance one’s ability to learn. Certain video games have the potential to boost the flexibility of the brain. A study was done at Queen Mary University and the University College London established that strategy games boost cognitive ability. They help participants manage more information sources during the gameplay. Video games also improve hand-eye coordination.
Role-playing and strategic games are linked with improvements in spatial, vision, and problem-solving skills. Strategic games are associated with resilience whereas solving puzzles enhances positive feelings, promotes relaxation, and increases self-esteem. Role-playing and prosocial games have strong ties with social benefits and reduce feelings of hostility and decrease cognitive aggression. These promote quick learning of social skills and also increase cooperative behaviors. Playing racing games can boost your chances of taking riskier real-life decisions.
Video games have been praised and also demonized at the same time. This popular entertainment option has attracted strong opinions from the experts. Video games do impact the way our brains function. For instance, video game use does affect attention. Various studies have shown that video game players exhibit both selective and sustained attention.
There are sufficient research studies available that demonstrate that playing video games increases the competence and also augments the size of various parts of the brain that are responsible for visuospatial skills. It affects the ability of a person to recognize spatial and visual relationships among objects. Enlargement in the right hippocampus of individuals was observed in long-term gamers.
Researchers have also identified that video gaming can be quite addictive. This behavior is also referred to as Internet Gaming Disorder. Gaming addicts have demonstrated structural and functional alterations. These are linked with feeling motivation, learning, and pleasure. The research is still in its infancy and not much can be deduced from it. The effects don’t really translate into real-life changes.
A study done at McGill University has brought into light that human-computer interactions such as playing video games can have a negative impact on the brain. Some of the noticeable effects are
- Changes in behavior
- Not prioritizing interests or responsibilities
- Continuing games despite the negative impact
- Poor time management skills
- Can result in social isolation
- Declining grades in school
- Changes in sleep patterns or difficulty sleeping
Some studies show no connection between playing video games and human behaviors or violence
Video games likely have both positive and negative effects. If video games were the reason behind violent mass shootings, then one might expect such events to be quite common in South Korea or Japan. Both countries spend a considerable amount of money on video games in comparison to the United States of America. Both Asian nations are known to have large video game communities.
Japan is home to Sony, Sega, and Nintendo that are top video gaming communities. South Korea has an equally competitive video gaming industry. Both nations have stringent laws limiting gun ownership. As a result, these nations have the lowest incidences of violent crimes in the world. Also, the chances of casualty events are quite rare.
Moreover, children below the age of 12 should not have easy access to highly violent video games. Outright banning is not the solution and has never been for any form of digital art. Proper distribution channels and appropriate laws in place can prevent easy access of violent video games to children.