Video games, they’re just images and sounds that can be manipulated by the player; these video games sound quite simple, yet they have become so much more than anyone could have imagined. The video game industry has become much larger than any other form of media out there and makes about $11 Billion dollars in revenue annually (esrb), so these made interactive vastly evolving programs are becoming quite popular, so popular that 58% of the United States population are playing them (esa 4),and often since the gamer on average plays 3 hours a day (Cook 1); that 3 hours a day spread amongst 58% of the entire US population ends up being 183 million hours a day that is being used playing video games, and some might see that as a waste of time and resources, some might find a useful application for that time, but did anyone think about what these video games are doing to us?
Overprotective parents usually want to limit their child when playing video games since they believe it will make their child stupid, that is one of the most idiotic thing I have ever heard in my entire life and there is no evidence of that anywhere; this is coming from real people I have talked to whose names I’m concealing to protect them from embarrassment. Now take into account that too much of anything can be bad for example water intoxication too much electrolytes can be bad for you; water, bad? Yes, so just remember that anything can be abused so that's why its good to have a healthy balance in life.
Personally for this example I’m going to use myself, and some of my own data I recorded over the week of how many hours I’ve played video games and include some observations of my sleep patterns, and personal health to show you the good, bad, ugly, and awesome effects of video games on my body. To track my game play time over the week I used the application Steam by Valve software which is a gaming network that has a feature which keeps track of time spent in game, and I've found that I have played for 13 hours in the past 4 days, so thats about three and a half hours per day, ok so there's that average! Lets say this is my average week; I've been usually cramming my game time late at night when there is no glare from the light pouring in the windows and when I can disturb none of my family members, I game hard and enjoy my time and end up not going to sleep until midnight and wake up at 5:00am to catch the bus at 6:00, so thats 5ish hours of sleep which is 4 hours less than the recommended time for sleep according to the National Sleep Foundation that sleep loss which can lead to Cardiovascular disease, Obesity, Depression, and Brain Damage which of course won’t happen unless I sleep this way for a while, so I’m OK; in fact there are some positive effects to not sleeping much, for example if you pull an all nighter trying to level up your character on double xp weekend for Battlefield dopamine will release rampant which feels great and is your bodies short term solution to keeping you awake, but the morning after the negative side effects kick in: your cognitive functions and reaction times will not function as well as they are supposed to which from experience is hard when having to complete tasks like algebra homework, or to try to do well in Battlefield.
Nobody I know plays video games outdoors, so all that time spent inside doesn’t let you intake as much vitamin D from the sun as you should which doesn’t help your bones absorb calcium which can lead to osteoporosis and weaken your immune system(nature 1), and perhaps even contribute to depression, so maybe this external form of gratification was set up for failure all along? Cam Idair pointed out to me and replied to my comment directly on his Ted Talk saying “The type of stimulation you get in games can be very exciting, but prolonged exposure to this can cause you to be in a situation where every other activity in life is "boring". This isn't because you don't enjoy other activities, it's because the stimulation is so different…In your experience, I wouldn't recommend moving on from games because it's something you enjoy, but I would certainly recommend moving towards a place where you are happy internally with or without games. Basing happiness off an external medium is a recipe for disaster. You won't regret playing games for 1/5th of your life. But you will regret being miserable for the other 4/5ths.”, and to that I shrugged it off, but right now I’m seeing a connection between video games and depression. Also did I mention that when you are playing games on consoles that input with remote controls odds are you are probably sitting which over a large amount of time can lead to weight gain from the not so good gamer diet that consists of junk food which can cause major health problems in itself, and the fact that you are inside maybe playing with others means more opportunity to contact other people letting harmful pathogens such as a cold get to your easily since the lack of vitamin D, regular exercise, and depression which is unhealthy in itself, so your shields are down and you are the perfect target for any given virus and so you get it like how I got a cold this weekend that put me out of commission for a majority of last week. Now I know that you are probably thinking about how video games are more harmful than you could of possibly imagined, well they are if you play as much as the average gamer, but you haven’t heard the neurological benefits they have in store for a gamer like me.
Finally I thinks about time we discussed the positive effects for video games to the human body. Cognitive functions are vastly improved and gamers have much much more grey matter than the average person, but where is this grey matter located? The grey matter is located for the most part in the areas commonly associated with memory, motor skills, and strategy which can be beneficial to anyone especially an old person whose memory is slipping, motor skills are going, and is not as sharp as they used to be, so perhaps this can be a long term exercise to keep the aging mind healthy! Also gamers pay much more attention to detail than anyone else and see better since our vision can pick out contrast faster than someone who doesn't play video games due to the fast paced action games that require you to get a grasp of your surroundings in tense situations and use them to your advantage for survival which triggers the fight or flight response in brain, specifically our hypothalamus that can prepare us for different situations, and where can you find many different situations to learn from without any real danger except the ones that I mentioned earlier in the last paragraph: video games! We exercise learning and adapting over and over again and think creatively of how to overcome the challenges presented to us without any real present danger, except our brain thinks its real since we can become immersed inside the game subconsciously without really knowing it; this would explain why even the bravest souls such as Quentin, Kian, and Bryce have a hard time playing my horror games I made fully, even though they know its purely fictional and made by their great at programming friend, their mind doesn't. So whether you are trying to prepare yourself for a situation in the future through a video game simulation, or you just want to get the bejusus scared out of you games can take you places that no other form of electronic media can take you. Another positive trait to games is the gamers attention span is bigger than the anyone who doesn't play video games(asap). Teamwork and problem solving is a major go to option for gamers, because multiplayer games especially tactical shooters like ARMA2 require teamwork for success which teaches social skills, so I’m not pointing any fingers at mom or dad, but games can make you social just not the frivolous drama you'd expect from a teenager type of social. The statement “too much screen time makes your vision worse”, that's false gamers have better than 20 20 vision, because they exercise their eyes ability to see different levels of grey or seeing small text.
Overall there are a lot of negative effects when binging and playing games like the average gamer health wise, but put games into moderation just as adults would with wine there can be some great benefits for the mind making it a faster problem solving machine to the mind sharp and healthy. Video games can be a tool to do a lot of good and I’m going to remind you of the statistic of how much time the US spends on playing video games per day 183 million hours and that time should still be used playing games, but its a matter of the games that they are playing; think of all the possible outcomes from games that can teach certain subjects and make that subject fun to learn, addictive to learn not these glorified non-immersive, not fun educational games that parents push on their child mom and dad. So my ending thought is start getting a group of teachers, game designers like myself, and changing the ways of learning for the better! Make games productive, seductive, and subtle.
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