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Pros and Cons of Video Games

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Video games are an amazing escape for anyone, they act as a story that you can control and can help you fully understand a character and empathise with them better than in any other media such as book or film. If you ask a person who plays video games, a moment that stuck with them for example a death of their favourite character. But there have been many cases of shootings and violence were people have blamed games. But a simple game where you throw a ball can’t really be the reason, can it?

One of the most recent event that shook everyone was the Jacksonville shooting. This event transpired because David Katz was participating in a gaming tournament in Baltimore. When he lost he walked away and returned with a gun, he proceeded to shoot and kill 2 people and injure 10 others. The media initially blamed video games but later those accusations were discarded as more people showed research that suggested that it wasn’t the video games that cause the violence.

There are positives though for example it can help to reduce pain. “Conscious attention is required for the experience of pain”, says Professor David Patterson of the University of Washington’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. A company called SnowWorld has also started to use virtual reality to treat burn patients. Amazingly they have reported that patients, who play it while having dressings changed report a 40-50% reduction in pain. This is because the patients become completely immersed in the game and forget about their pain.

Video games could be called a distraction however there are many cases where the distraction has become an addiction. It is becoming more and more apparent that it has even been medically recognized and they are calling ‘Gaming Disorder’ and are saying it could be a serious medical condition. It is when people prioritise video games over their school and social lives. “Recent research on 7000 online gamers found 12% experienced ‘addictive’ signs of playing”, says Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University. The advent of violent gaming can also desensitize people and draw them away from empathic behaviour and closer to cold, factual action: being exposed to violence can lead some to become indifferent or less reactive when actually faced with such events. These are some of the reasons for which the military is increasingly employing such games to draw in new candidates (the others being that video games can be considered as training regimens for specific skills, like flight simulators for flying drones for instance). Desensitization does nonetheless have its place within given contexts, scenarios or professions: take for instance, surgery procedures where doctors need to train NOT to react or feel anything while completing a procedure.

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It’s not just mental health that video games affect they also could affect people’s physical health. There is a condition called nintendo thumbs which is where you damage your tendons and the nerve endings in your thumb, this is caused by repeated by hours of repeated movement. You can also hurt your spine permanently by slouching when playing. A study by a man called Gregory West who is an associate psychology professor at the University of Montreal showed that people in the group that played action video games lost gray matter in the hippocampus. And people who played Super Mario games gained gray matter in the hippocampus. Low gray matter in the hippocampus can lead to mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Where action games have proven to affect your body badly, puzzle games have been proven to actually help your brain. Nanyang Technological University carried out a study to find out how the game ‘cut the rope’ affected how fast the people who played the game could think on their feet when they played for an hour a day, 5 days a week for 4 weeks. After 20 hours, players of Cut the Rope could switch between tasks 33 per cent faster, were 30 per cent faster in adapting to new situations, and 60 per cent better in blocking out distractions and focusing on the tasks at hand than before training.

However although there is a lot of evidence to show that you shouldn’t play video games there are people that say that video games can be have positives. “Research dating right back to the early 1980s has consistently shown that playing computer games (irrespective of genre) produces reductions in reaction times, improved hand-eye co-ordination and raises players’ self-esteem”. This is interesting because for how much evidence there is against why you should play video games, there is also an equal amount of reasons people give to play them. For example the point that it can increase the likelihood that you get depression, but then there is the point that it can increase your self-confident. It was also found that the best gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second, four times faster than most people. In another study by researchers from the University of Rochester in New York, experienced gamers were shown to be able to pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared with the four that most people can normally keep in mind. Also scientists have found that women who play games are better able to mentally manipulate 3D objects.

Video games are also very useful for helping people with mental disabilities, they have been said to have a calming effect and also helped them with basic language, maths, reading and social skills. A person called Horn, E., Jones, H.A. & Hamlett, C conducted an experiment that researched the feasibility of a video game system for developing scanning and selection skills. He did this by training three children with different handicaps for example severely limited vocal speech.

Video games can damage you physically and mentally but just like anything else it can only do this when you use them in excess, however they can help people become healthier when the right games are played and for a good amount of time. Video games by themselves are not dangerous but what they can do to people is where it can cause problems.

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Pros and Cons of Video Games. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/pros-and-cons-of-video-games/
“Pros and Cons of Video Games.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/pros-and-cons-of-video-games/
Pros and Cons of Video Games. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/pros-and-cons-of-video-games/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Pros and Cons of Video Games [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/pros-and-cons-of-video-games/
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