Gaming can prove to be a solace for some in the face of numerous uncertainties. How? You may ask. Simply by serving as a means of distraction from the unchangeable circumstances. We find it even more helpful in this disheartening pandemic situation. We generally look at gaming as a source of entertainment, which it rightly is. There are various modes of entertainment apart from gaming, but in the wake of this pandemic and our ever-decreasing ability to maintain interest in something for an extended period, all other options seem to have simply diminished. Video games grabbed mainstream popularity around the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, it has become a whole industry contributing billions of dollars to the economies of China, the US, etc. Who doesn’t love some fun time as relaxation and entertainment after being exhausted mentally and physically? We all do! This is where Video games come into the picture. Believe it or not, gaming has become a sort of a ritual for all the gamers out there. Hard-core gamers, in fact, have great opportunities to turn their fun time into fruitful careers. Even the non-gamers shouldn’t hesitate to engage in fabulous games temporarily. A very unique thing that gaming does is detaching us from reality. Apart from all the perks that gaming has in store for us, it also consists of some downfalls. Another factor why games are loved and enjoyed by almost everyone is because they take away our boredom and replace it with joy, making people momentarily forget about their worries. The ongoing circumstances are achingly gloomy, and we never know what anyone is going through. The video gaming industry has been tremendously growing. It provides a whole field of opportunities along with some addiction issues. This shows how long we have come in terms of gaming and technology, and mental health. It is an evolving community that is continuously undergoing different experiments.

Especially during the current times of a dangerous pandemic, the gaming industry has seen a huge spike, and gamers worldwide are hell-bent and even more focused on gaming. Due to the pandemic where practically everything has gone online, what better opportunity could exist for the gaming industry to expand. You’d be surprised to know the types of genres games can be classified into. Role-playing video games, Sports, Real-time strategy, Adventure games, Multiplayer online, Battle arena, Fighting, Platformer, Racing, Action game, Simulation video game, Turn-based tactics, First-person shooter, Interactive fiction, Survival horror, the list is long. Gaming is not only fun, but it also is like a workout for the mind. The major differences between today’s generation and preceding generations are the immense usage and improvements in technology that exist today. Games were prevalent in previous generations too, but they were in the form of physical activities and outdoor games, which have time for human interactions and socialising. They provided a good state of mental health which people of older generations harbor. Playing online video games has feebly restricted human interactions to the virtual world. Sure, there is a pump-up in adrenaline, dopamine, and certain benefits to gaming but let’s be honest, there’s too much at stake. Gaming is not completely evil and is proven to have certain positive effects viz; it can improve mental dexterity, which means that it is great for the hands. It can increase the brain’s grey matter, which helps control movement, memory, and emotions. Research has also found that those who played more video games were likely to have good social skills due to some types of games’ social and collaborative components. Playing video games can also make you a better problem-solver, improve your vision. They’re a fun way to trick you into learning and inspire you to be more persistent. 

The vast chunks of time which are spent in online gaming is sluggishly but enormously hazardous to health. Video-game addiction risk is the biggest setback for gamers. Several hours which are spent simply sitting in front of a stationary screen creates a detached sense of reality. It can also lead to an unhealthy body posture and increase problems of vision. Video games serve to be a great recreational hobby, but anything taken in excess can be poison, don’t you agree? Almost all the negative effects of video games arise from excessive use and addiction (A sigh of relief for moderate gamers). Let’s take a look at the list of negative effects: 

  • Dopamine addiction. 
  • Reduction in motivation.
  • Alexithymia and emotional suppression.
  • Exposure to toxic gaming environments.
  • Repetitive stress injuries and other health risks.
  • Poor mental state, relationship issues.
  • Social disconnection.
  • Poor academic or professional performance.
  • Escapism and getting stuck in life.

Video-gaming addiction is very real and calls for attention. It is easy to go too far with a hobby. “Gaming Disorder” was added to the 2018 version of the medical reference book, “International Classification of Diseases” by The World Health Organization. This really means it is quite serious of an issue now.

What once started as a hobby or mere curiosity doesn’t take long to turn into unsafe addiction. Think about all the ways in which all sorts of addictions begin, by “only trying it once” or “denial of lacking self-control”. It initially makes you curious and ignites a wish within you to try it out for yourself and steadily becomes a habit, gripping your mind and making it painful to let go. It becomes a rabbit hole, and soon the once curious individual becomes badly addicted. This same process applies to gaming addiction as well. Now, most of you might wonder what’s so harmful or wrong with “gaming addiction?” Here are certain warning signs about gaming, and they’re quite grave in nature. Thinking about gaming all or a lot of the time; needing to spend more and more time playing to feel good; not being able to pay less or quit; having problems at work; school, or home and continuing to play despite the problems, all these signs, and behavioral changes come under the domain of gaming-addiction. It’s not entirely true that everyone who plays a lot has an addiction, but the risks are relatively higher for the ones who do play a lot. The list doesn’t end there but also includes feelings of sadness when one can’t play, not wanting to do other things that one used to like, and using gaming to ease bad moods and feelings. Inherently, replacing hours of playing outside with friends and socializing for hours of alone screen staring or battling with computer-generated fiends doesn’t seem to be a good trade for millions of young people. Besides that, much research conveys that video games have the possible capacity to turn players violent. Playing or spending too much time on violent games can invite unfriendly thoughts and a positive relation with violent thoughts in one’s mind. The facts are in front of us to measure the good and bad regarding gaming addiction. The enjoyable bits of life can only be experienced to their fullest when there is a balance maintained. Gaming addiction is proof that anything out of proportion or excess will eventually cause more harm than good. If an individual decides to limit their gaming time can receive the benefits, and if an individual chooses to go par with it, they shall be equipped to face the negative effects too. Therefore, the next time you catch your mind calling for those doses of dopamine, seek adventures in a different form.

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