Gaming – a blessing or a curse?

29 March 2011 by Anna Mieczakowski  
Filed under News and views

In recent times, there has been a plethora of extreme and alarmist articles in the media about the impact of video games (both online and offline) on the lives on individuals who play them. For example, there has been an article about how parents from South Korea failed to attend to their baby’s basic needs because of their obsession with gaming. As well, there has been a lot of discussion about the supposedly increasing number of games addicts among children, with some sources stating examples of youngsters who have dropped out of school in order to to play games for up to 21 hours a day.

Countries such as China and South Korea have already declared battle against online gaming and introduced laws in the forms of an anti-online game addition system and gaming curfew respectively in order to curb their citizen’s usage of games.

However, I recently came across an article titled “Online computer gaming: advice for parents and teachers” that a UK games expert, Professor Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University, wrote in 2009 in response to a huge number of emails that worried parents and teachers of young gamers sent to him over the years. Griffiths argues that, while games may be problematic to some individuals, in his career he has only come across a handful of real games addicts. Griffiths, furthermore, says that “any activity when taken to excess can cause problems in a person’s life. We would not legislate against people excessively reading or exercising. Why should online gaming be treated any differently?”. With that said, parents and teachers should be educating adolescence on how to play games responsibly.

There is an increasing body of evidence for the positive influence of games. For example, a games expert from the Silicon Valley, Jane McGonigal, believes that “gaming can make a better world” though teaching people about strategising and probelm-solving. McGonigal’s research shows that games can enhance personal happiness and help society.