So, if you’ve been keeping up to date with this blog and the effects of video games we’ve explored so far, you’ve probably realized that the topics we’ve looked at, while they are genuine effects that video games are having on society, they’re not enormously world changing. That is until today. It may seem ridiculous to some, but video game addiction is real, it has been real for a number of years now and it is becoming increasingly more frequent. WebMD even compares gaming addiction to the likes of alcohol and drug addiction but is most similar to gambling addiction. Essentially, they define addiction in general as a need that must be fulfilled, by consuming more and more to keep themselves going, whether that be a substance or a behavior, like gaming.
As you probably already guessed, Fortnite is the latest addiction amongst gamers of all ages, but it’s mainly young children and teenagers who are affected by this. Some kids around 12-15 claim to spend up to 30 hours a week playing Fortnite alone, as well as also playing other games such as FIFA and Minecraft. To them, these video games seem like a nice, relaxing escape from reality after a long day of school, however, they don’t notice the real effects it is having on them. Experts explain that gaming addiction can lead to impaired control while gaming; escalation of gaming despite negative consequences, such as tiredness, grades dropping, illness etc.; and most commonly, prioritization of gaming over other interests, for example, choosing to stay home and play video games rather than pursue former hobbies like sports.
Fortunately, there has been some development in helping to combat gaming addiction. With medical centers being established to help victims, similarly to any other kind of addiction. Meanwhile, huge Chinese game developers Tencent attempted to cap the amount of game time for kids on their massively popular mobile game Honour of Kings. They implemented a system which would check players’ identities and ages against a police database, which will apply in 2019, and will mean that players below the age of 12 will be limited to just 12 hours of game time per day. However, this of course opens up a whole range of questions about morality and whether we should have a choice in how much we game… but that’s a topic for another post.
While I discussed earlier how some kids are affected by gaming addiction by not wanting to see their friends, do sports, or pursue hobbies, some cases of gaming addiction are far more severe. Child neglect is a more common outcome of gaming addiction than you might realise. When parents become addicted to a game, they pay far less attention to their own child and far more to a game. In 2010, for example, two South Korean parents became addicted to an MMO called PRIUS which they played for many hours a day at a nearby gaming café, during which time they left their three-month old virtually alone. As expected, the couple were arrested for neglect.
When you think about it, it’s strange how something designed purely for entertainment, to create fun and happiness can have such fatal effects. But this is just the first negative impact of video games on society. In next week’s post we’ll look at how gaming can cause truly horrific effects.