Main Risks and Benefits of Video Games

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Have you ever been so into a video game that you were playing you were literally spaced out of reality? Have you ever played a video game so long that you lost track of time? I know I have on more than one occasion. Have you ever wondered why you get so into a game and almost have to be forced to put a controller down? Doctors have finally figured out of some of the affects that video games have on your brain and the reason video games can become so addicting.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been very fond of video games. I remember receiving my first gaming platform and playing it endlessly for hours. At one point in my life it became such a problem that I would find myself often spending most of my time gaming, almost locking myself in my room with nothing but the remote, the TV, and video games, lots of video games. I became so drawn in to gaming that I frequently fall behind on my school work, receiving extremely low grades, and missing out on activities with friends and families. I wonder at times how damaging video games may be to my life. However, I never took into consideration that video games may be beneficial and important in many ways, that it is more than just a source of entertainment. With my knowledge and experiences I begin to view video games in a different light. Nevertheless, I realize that video games have been flagged in history as a disadvantage in society due to the fact that it keeps students from focusing on school work as well as portraying graphic and violent images to young children. As a result, video games are often weighted down as being a time consumer and harm to one’s life. Though this may true, what’s also true is that video games have multiple of other purposes. Because of its popularity, video games are now being used in important fields such as psychology; it can also be use for scientific research, and even in education. Due to its complexity video games have many different views and uses, however we often associate gaming with negative experiences or ideas. Therefore, I want to dive deeply into this intricate and often overlooked matter to explore the different side of gaming. So now I wonder, are video games as bad as we depict them to be?

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My curiosity first led me to an article I found in the textbook 'Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings', titled, 'Be a Gamer, Save the World' by Jane McGonigal, a popular speaker and consultant known for her positivity towards video games. In this article, McGonigal reveals the truth about video games such as ‘Guitar Heroes’ or ‘World of Warcraft’, stating that they “consistently fulfill genuine human needs that the real world fails to satisfy” (465). She also acknowledge the popularity of video games and its importance in real world problems solving, and she cleverly reinforce her argument with statistics such as the amount of time gamers spend gaming and the money video games take in. McGonigal argues that gamers aren’t completely tuned out of reality as they have “careers, goals, schoolwork, families, and real lives that they care about” (465), but rather they dedicate their time in the more interesting and appealing virtual world of gaming. She opposes critics who negatively misinterpret video games by claiming that video games contribute to a happy life as it fulfills our hope for success and a sense of challenge and accomplishment.

The American Medical Association defined that an addicted video gamer was spending a quarter of their free time playing video games averaging to around six to twelve hours a week playing. What is even more surprising is that in 2010 a study showed that on average a gamer played eight hours a week. Yet, there are only about 10-15% of video gamers that meet criteria of addiction. “A person developing a liking for it can go on and on with it for hours together, not even realizing the amount of time he has been spending on it' (D’Silva). Video games can give the person playing a high that they cannot achieve anywhere else. For example: when I play the video game 'Call of Duty: Black Ops', and I get a kill, the excitement and even enjoyment I feel is sometimes overwhelming. The kill is what makes me want to keep playing because I know what it feels like to get it so I want it again and again. However, when I get killed by the opposing team it makes me want to try even harder to stay alive and not get killed. Either way there is something that is going to motivate me to continue playing until I am completely satisfied.

In the past sixty years video games have become a multi-billion dollar industry. Do not let the numbers fool you, the industry may be a multi-billion dollar industry but has definitely had its fair share of scrutiny. Video games, especially recent games, have been getting bad press as well as blame for violence.

What is interesting to me is that no one really thinks of the positives video games can bring forward. For example, video games can improve hand-eye coordination especially in gun based games like 'Call of Duty' or 'Modern Warfare'. The enemy may be running and the player must maintain position, aim, and shoot at the same exact time. These skills are vital for trainees, especially in the Air Force. The most well-known simulations are flight simulators, which attempt to mimic the reality of flying a plane. All of the controls, including airspeed, wing angles, altimeter, and so on, are displayed for the player, as well as a visual representation of the world, and are updated in real time.

Another example of hand-eye coordination as well an example that shows video games to be a useful tool is the study of doctors who play. “Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37% fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27% faster than their counterparts who did not play video games'. James Rosser, a doctor, who participated in the study said “the skill needed for laparoscopic surgery is 'like tying your shoelaces with 3-foot-long chopsticks'. Video games can be used to train soldiers and surgeons.

Whether you play video games or not almost everyone has heard, read or even said that video games have a certain effect on someone, usually a bad one. These accusations are not entirely wrong no matter how much video gamers do not want to believe it. Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping, according to a scientific study (Anderson and Bushman, 2001). The repetitiveness of the actions increases the intensity of said actions. Other negative effects of video games can include but are not limited to not being able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy in the video game as well as undesirable grades in school. Studies have shown that the more time a kid spends playing video games, the poorer is his performance in school. Another study showed that children who are video game addicts are more likely to score lower on tests than children who do not play video games as often and are also more likely to argue with their teachers and friends.

When I play a video game I sometimes get lost in it and completely about reality. However, once I am knocked back into reality I know the difference. I know that I cannot take a gun and go around killing people for points. With this, I found that a negative effect for serious gamers can actually be the inability to realize the difference between fantasy and reality. The consequence is that they end up believing that the real world is similar to the virtual world of the game they have been playing and hence, behave and interact in the same way as they do during.

The effects of video games can be bad for someone who is constantly playing. However, as Ronald Reagan said previously video games can be helpful, like with the hand-eye coordination aspect. An immense advantage of playing video games is the ability to make quicker decisions and analysis. According to researchers at the University of Rochester, led by Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive scientist, games simulating stressful events such as those found in battle or action games could be a training tool for real-world situations (The Positive and Negative Effects). Another benefit of video games can be physical activity. Not every video game has violence and guns. Nintendo Wii, a cordless system based on one holding the controller moving around, is one of the most popular for active games. The results show most teens that play active video games play at moderate or vigorous intensity levels that would help them meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity on most days Jason Ritter said. A final example of how video games can be helpful is the ability to manage things. Games such as ‘Sims’ or ‘the Tycoon series of games’ allow players to do just that. The games require the player to make decisions that control the entire game and possibly the outcome. For example: In the game Sims the player decides what the people in it do whether it be eat, talk, shower, sleep or use the restroom. It is these actions that make the game all the more fun because the player is in complete control and as a result manages what happens.

Video games are without a doubt my stress relief from built up anxiety throughout the day and sometimes week. I love getting ahold of a controller and releasing all of the tension. I think being able to become swallowed into the virtual realm of a video game is one of the most appealing parts of the entire process. The idea of being able to leave reality is the most appealing part of video games to me. It gives me the opportunity to escape from whatever is troubling or adding stress to me that day. I remember reading that cursing can help reduce pain. The study had a person get shocked with electricity, being unable to curse; the subject was not able to tolerate the enduring pain. Next, the study allowed the subject to curse as much as they wanted and the results were the person endured the electric shock multiple times longer. I know that when I play video games I curse, not because I’m in pain, but rather to express my anger and frustration. I’ve also noticed that I’m not the only one who curses while playing video games; my boyfriend, his roommates and his friend Jordan all do too.I thought it would be really interesting to do my own research on myself playing video games. I decided to record myself playing ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’, one of my favorite video games. I played the first game, ‘Kill Confirmed’, in which the objective is to kill the opponent and get their “dog tag” left behind afterwards for 100 extra points. I recorded myself to see how many times I would curse. I ended up cursing eighteen times within a less than ten minute game. I also realized that I used the “F bomb” more times than a “lady” should. But the way I see it, when you’re playing a video game like that, being a lady is out the door! I also did another recording of myself, playing the same game Kill Confirmed, this time not being able to swear. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done! I found myself screaming or rather screeching instead of swearing. While I was playing the game that I couldn’t swear I ended up saying “F#@%” and then said “S@!+” because I realized I swore before!

Video games have almost always been associated as well as blamed for violence in the world today. Could video game really be behind the actions of criminals? Not all video games are violent but the ones that are do have an effect on the brain. Research suggests, even though some have been faulty, video games have indeed an effect of violence. When one combines all relevant empirical studies using meta-analytic techniques, five separate effects emerge with considerable consistency. Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior (Anderson). People who play video games moderately are less likely to develop symptoms and signs of violence and aggression compared to someone who is an addicted video gamer. High levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school and during free play periods, and violent criminal behavior. Journalist Tom Bissell said, “We are no longer worried that children are missing school because of video games, though. We are worried that they are murdering their classmates because of video games”. I think this quote emphasizes people’s fear, today, when dealing with video games. I also found it interesting that games do not have to be rated Teen or Mature in order to expose someone’s aggression; even rated everyone has been proven to depict aggression (Anderson).

Another example of how video games can affect the brain with violence exposure is desensitizing violence in everyday life. This means that when someone who plays video games, violent ones in particular, sees something that is gruesome in real life it is less likely to affect them because they are used to seeing such actions with the video games they play on a daily basis. In one study, 161 college students were randomly assigned to play one of several violent games, neutral games, or pro-social games (in which helpful behavior was required). After playing, the students completed a task in which they could either help or hurt another student. Those who had played the violent games were more hurtful to other students, whereas those who had played the pro-social games were more helpful (Gentile).

For me, who plays violent video games at least a few times a week, I could never imagine not being disgusting at some of the things people do in this world. It truly is amazing what things can and do effect someone.

Video games have been around for the last forty plus years. It is not news to anyone that they are only going to become more and more popular. I am a video gamer myself which is the main reason I wanted to do this paper. I thought it would be interesting to figure out what I can or even cannot get out of playing in real life scenarios. I found, in my personal opinion, that while video games can in fact have negative effects there are more positive ones. I think that the negative effects that have been proven to actually happen do not occur as often as the positive ones. I think researching this topic has almost eased my mind about playing video games as often as I do; it’s almost like I don’t feel guilty playing them!

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Main Risks and Benefits of Video Games. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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