Lately, in the video game community, I’ve been seeing a similar problem brewing between two different sets of gamers. One side is troubled by the fact that they don’t have enough time to enjoy gaming, and the other side is struggling not to play video games, going so far as to call it an addiction. Both of these issues are similar in that they both concern how some of our favourite hobbies fit into adult life. Personally, I fall into the category of not being able to play games as much as I would like to; however, I’ve dabbled on the other end of things as well.
Scientifically, video games have their fair share of merits and demerits as a regular hobby for people. Like you probably told your parents when you were a kid, gaming can help hand-eye coordination and exercise mental capabilities. But not being a scientist and all, I’d like to discuss the other impacts video games can have on someone’s life. More specifically, how excessive gaming can affect us. Whether you like to hear it or not, video games can be an addictive ‘substance’. This is a sentiment that applies to basically everything, as anything that makes us happy can also do the opposite once our tolerance to it has been built up.
Apart from sheer entertainment, the main reason why most people play video games is to engage in some form of escapism. This is perfectly fine in ‘small doses,’ but the problem with escapist mediums is that they can often be too immersive, sucking people into a cycle of seemingly endless consumption. It’s so easy to let time fly when you’re playing games, I can certainly attest to that. There’s not much harm to controlled binges as well, but the problem occurs when you begin ignoring the real world in favour of a digital one. Although the rise of online gaming has brought with it unparalleled social connections, this kind of media is not a substitute for face-to-face interactions, and exploring forums and other discussion posts, this seems to be the greatest problem for those faced with an addiction to video games. I’m not sure if I can offer any real solutions at this point, but if you can identify the problem and its aspects, then that’s the first step to recovery (sorry for sounding like a PSA).
The overarching issue I would like to address with this piece is not about the nature of game addiction itself, but whether anyone is to blame. Are we the players at fault for our own voracious appetite? Or are game developers intentionally creating products that are meant to addict susceptible gamers? Well, like most things in life, I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Indeed, many games nowadays are fundamentally designed to prey on the wallets and minds of those seeking a thrill and time-filler. This is most prevalent among freemium mobile games, where microtransactions reap billions of dollars for their developers. Companies like King (Candy Crush) and Supercell (Clash Of Clans) are basically drowning in money from their somewhat dubious business practices, luring in gamers with a product and then charging for it once they’re already hooked. This is where the topic begins to get a bit murky for me, as I really can’t fault businesses for doing what they were made to do: make money. There’s no denying that the game industry profits off of the people addicted to its products but after identifying that, there isn’t much else we can do. So the only option from then on is for all of us to build a sense of control and moderation.
The medium of video games is the next big step for the world of art and entertainment—I truly believe that. It’s sad to say that such a great thing can be damaging, but that’s the truth. Gaming can be an addiction, but as a community of players, it’s important that we don’t get enveloped into a bubble of chasing upgrades and craving hits of gameplay. We should try our best to enjoy the art form in a respectful manner, including to ourselves.