Video game addiction can have serious effects on your health. Playing for hours at a time might help you get better at tougher games, but it also often has its almost life-changing consequences.
Even if you’re taking your PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS with you, there is one thing you’re not doing while you’re interacting with those pixels on a screen. You’re not genuinely socializing with anyone in person, with the exception of perhaps engaging in Pokemon battles. This problem has only been made worse since the introduction of paid online services like Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, and the upcoming Nintendo version for Switch. Back in the days of the NES, all the way through to the N64, it was possible to buy extra controllers and have up to three friends play at the same time.
Now, the social aspect has been locked behind a paywall, and even having a second player in the same room requires you to pay a license fee just to have both players playing the same game on the same console. PC gamers are likely to have it worse as any copy of a game is likely to only support one local player, with additional players required to have a separate PC and a separate copy of the game.
The lack of physical social interaction can lead to depression, especially in the teens. While it’s not supposed to be happening, teenagers often play games intended for adults, such as Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto, the former of which has rarely been known for its multiplayer focus. It’s a common trope these days to play one of these titles with the headset on, and hear what is likely an eleven-year-old yelling in your ear and making unwanted comments about people’s mothers.
Xbox has done something to curb this behavior, allowing Xbox Live users to leave negative feedback on offending accounts. Even though it makes gamers behave if they wish to continue playing online, it doesn’t encourage anyone to meet in person.
According to Destructoid, a study was conducted with 10,000 Dutch teens from 2009 to 2012, the era when online multiplayer had become a new norm, and physical social interaction was declining because of it. Study leader Michelle Colder Carras, Ph.D., along with several other scientists, took the results of these surveys and noticed a positive connection.
“While playing video games for four hours a day can be worrisome behavior, not everyone who does so is at risk of developing symptoms of addiction or depression. If these adolescents are sitting around playing games together with their friends or chatting regularly with their friends online as they play, this could be part of a perfectly normal developmental pattern. We shouldn’t assume all of them have a problem.”
Part of what appears to be curbing video game addiction and depression symptoms is the act of posting progress online, commenting on gaming news or simply sharing videos of their shenanigans.
PlayStation Network might actually be helping gamers with its trophy system, rewarding persistent gamers with points toward increasing their gamer score. Some might consider it a sign of skill to have a higher gamer score, much like in the arcade days when you achieved the highest score for the day. Though those with a lower level might not see the point in playing video games for hours. The latter might even simply be too busy with real-world activities to have time for the hobby.
Posting progress, or even leaving comments online, may be an annoyance to others, but it could be what keeps many teens from being depressed. Knowing that someone “liked” their post or commented on it can be a form of validation to someone who isn’t that social.
Said comments could even lead to them making real-world friends and learning about different cultures, which is generally a positive behavior.
[Featured Image by AlessandroBiascioli/Shutterstock]