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Addicted to Games?

March 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Addicts exist in all forms of society, be it alcohol, gambling or video games. Video game addiction is the latest to pop up in the media as being a great concern for today's youth. According to some studies, nearly 10% of American youth (ages 8-18) are clinically addicted to playing video games.

Should you, parents and authorities be concerned?

According to one study, approximately 23% of youth felt they personally were addicted to video games, while 44% claiming their friends are addicted. Assuming that addiction is generally a negative phenomenon, these youth are concerned about themselves and their peers.

Potential negative eddects of video game addiction are:

Detachment from reality

Gamers who spend many hours playing games are by definition not paying attention to what is happening in the world around them. They can become interested in the fantasy or make-believe world inside the game than in the real world.

Violent Personality

Many adults have raised concerns about the violent nature of many video games. Indeed, at least a few cases exist of teens acting out the actions modeled in games, although hard data is hard to com by.

Games such as Grand Theft Auto include theft and sexual crimes. Parents obviously are concerned about their children taking part in these activities, even if it not "real".

More common is the "war" type of game where the gamer merely shoots another combatant.

Impact on Physical Fitness

Just as having a desk job often correlates with an overweight condition, so young adults who are heavily into video gaming have a tendency to be overweight. Clearly when sitting on a couch or the floor playing a game, one cannot be burning off many calories, although the Wii Sports and Wii Fit have addressed this issue to a degree. In addition, many gamers tend to snack on junk food and sugar-laden soft drinks while playing for long periods of time, which as a regular diet can cause obesity and diabetes in the future.

Mental development and thinking habits

Gamers addicted to playing video games may also suffer in their mental development, especially if homework and reading are neglected. While some gamers have argued that many games require critical thinking to play them successfully, others point out the nature of the typical game is quite limited in scope. In other words, one is limited by the world in which the game developer wished to create. Also, video games have been accused of reducing children's attention spans, both in and out of school.

Gamers' perspective

In response to claims of video gaming addiction, gamers point out several facts. First, addiction can take many forms, and video gaming addiction is much less harmful than say, alcohol or drug addiction.  Second, many adults have addictions such as to caffeine and sugar and they seem to function reasonably well in society.

Advancing video game technology means games are becoming more realistic and immersive. This may mean an increase in video game addiction. The debate as to whether video game addiction is truly harmful will continue to be hotly debates, as gaming is becoming one of the biggest forms of media to date. The industry is on par, even in front of, the movie industry in terms of revenue.

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Video Game Violence

March 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Controversy has surround video games for decades. Varying opinios are held on the issue of violence in video games. Since some studies indicate that as many as fifteen percent of gamers show signs of video game addiction, the presence of violence in games is equally troubling to some.

Parents

It's a parents right to be concerned about their childrend, and many parents are concerned about the influence games have over their children. They wonder whether certain games will cause their children to exhibit aggressive behaviors which they otherwise would not.

In fact, several instances exist of children who have, in fact, planned attacks on others based on specific gameplay. At least a handful of these have actually been carried out. Parents are rightly concerned that their children are not unduly influenced to display antisocial and criminal behavior.

Gamers

The opinion of gamers on this issue, as expected, is all over the map, but most serious gamers are content to let individual gamers make up their own minds. They acknowledge that a few isolated incidents exist where gamers appear to have been encouraged in taking violent actions based upon a specific game, but point out it was likely the individual would have found some other example to model, such as a movie, television show, or book.

Ministers and educators

Many influential people, such as ministers and educators, feel that the presence of violent video games is bad for society. Their existence provides a degree of legitimacy for the use of violence. Young people may get the idea that it perfectly acceptable to use violence to resolve personal conflicts rather than seek alternative methods.

Legislators

Our law makers have also become involved in the controversy. Many Congressional hearings have been held to debate this issue. Laws have been passed both at the national and local level, with many cities passing laws banning specific games. These cities' laws are often later overturned.

Gaming industry

In response to initial legislation during the 1990s, the video gaming industry created the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) which rates video games (similar to ratings for films). This was essentially a self-policing action designed to prevent further intrusion by various levels of government.

Ratings include: EC (Early Childhood), E (Everyone), Everyone 10+, Teen, Mature, Adults Only, and Rating Pending.

The ratings serve to guide parents and their children about the appropriateness of specific games to the child's age and maturity level.

In addition, video games contain "content descriptors" on the back of the game to further describe the game's content.

Conclusion

The controversy over video game violence will certainly not be resolved anytime soon. In fact, it will probably escalate along with the advances in graphics and gameplay with the major gaming consoles. The best approach is to stay informed and to make decisions based upon what is right for you and your family.

One of the main problems regarding video games is that many people believe they are aimed at children. Whilst this is true in some cases, most games are aimed at a much more mature audience. Children, teenages and young adults are naturally drawn to video games as they provide hours of fun and an escape from the real world, much like a book, but in a more involved and usually adrenaline packed way.

The controversy over video games, will certainly not be resolved anytime soon. More accurately, it will likely escalate due to the advances in graphics and gameplay with the major gaming consoles.

The best approach is to stay informed about the games industry, especially if your children are avid gamers. Make decisions that are right for you and your family. Also, don't forget game developers do all they can legally to make sure the game does not fall into the wrong hands. Games have an adult rating for a reason and this is the biggest indication of whether the game is appropriate or not.

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