Hey there guys. You might remember an article I did last week called ‘The merits of gaming’, well today you get to read the dangers of gaming. A somewhat darker side of the whole gaming thing. Note that this article isn’t meant to scare you to death about ever playing a game again, it’s just meant as a sort of heads up to inform you of the possible consequences so you can prevent them.
So let’s kick it off with the most prominent and most common of all these dangers. Addiction. Yes, it happens quite a lot, more than people think actually but fortunately not quite as extreme as it could be. So what is an addiction exactly? Addiction can be defined as physical and psychological dependence on psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco, heroin and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.
However, addiction can also be viewed as a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it. Pleasure and enjoyment would have originally been sought, however over a period of time involvement with the substance or activity is needed to feel normal. Some psychology professionals and many laymen now mean ‘addiction’ to include abnormal psychological dependency on such things as gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, internet, work, exercise, idolizing, watching TV or certain types of non-pornographic videos, spiritual obsession, cutting and shopping. In short, people can get addicted to just about anything they can grab. In the case of gaming, it is mostly online gaming that is addictive (ahem, World of Warcrack anyone?). Players will often find themselves thinking about the game, an ‘irresistible’ urge to play regardless of the time of day. Naturally, people start living for the game and start neglecting their real life. Some ‘side effects’ can be the decline in personal hygiene, aggressive behaviour and a decline in school or work results. So what do you do if you get addicted? Well, either you face the fact that it’s just a game or you go to one of the specialized facilities that have been sprouting out of the ground to treat your addiction. But if that’s your only way out then you’re quite messed up really. Talking about messed up, check out this link about a Chinese gamer.
Another danger could be social detachment from the world. I’ve seen it often enough when people start living for a game they give up on their real social life. The social awkwardness created by the isolationism of gaming addiction actually feeds back into the gaming addiction. Sort of a street with no end really.
Next up on the list is physical damage. The list of physical distress that you can experience as a result of gaming is quite impressive, although I should not that these can also be caused by other activities that have nothing to do with gaming at all.
First up is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has long been associated with computer use, so it’s no surprise that it’s a physical symptom of gaming addiction. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the main nerve between the forearm and hand is squeezed or pressed. This occurs when the carpal tunnel – the area of the wrist that houses the main nerve and tendons – becomes irritated or swollen. Overuse of a computer mouse can cause such irritation and swelling, as can excessive use of a video game controller. It’s highly recommended to take a 5 to 10 minute break after every couple of hours behind a computer or holding a controller. You should walk around a bit, get something to drink or eat just so you do something other than using your mouse or controller. Another solution if you already have this is a wrist brace, which offers extra support to your lower arm and wrist area.
Next up is migraines. Migraine headaches typically start in one spot and slowly spread, getting more painful as they progress. In severe cases, the pain can be so extreme that it causes the sufferer to vomit. Light and noise can cause excruciating pain. Someone who plays video games for extended periods of time is more prone to migraines because of the intense concentration required and the strain put on the eyes. As I said above, take regular breaks.
Next up are backaches. Backaches are a common physical symptom of gaming because most gamers stay seated in the same position for hours on end. The lack of movement causes stiffness and soreness, but could deteriorate into chronic back problems. Again, same solution as above, take regular breaks, practice some sports or whatever. Next to that you should also buy an ergonomic chair, which costs a bit of money but is certainly worth it if it prevents backaches.
And lastly, food and drinks. Many gamers often don’t take the time to eat properly and prefer to stuff themselves with junk food and energy drinks. While fun for a while, it does not offer all the nutrients your body need, and in the case of energy drinks can cause insomnia due to a large amount of caffeine running through your body. Whatever the case, stay away from energy drinks, ‘zey ar ze spawn of ze devil!
As you can tell from most of these physical dangers that are linked to excessive gaming, moderation is key. This list also isn’t a complete list but I started getting depressed about the whole subject, thinking of how I sit at my pc and which of these symptoms I experienced so I think I’ll call it right here.
Here’s a question for you guys though! Do you know any person who has an addiction or shows these symptoms? Or have you yourself experienced any of this? If so, please leave a comment in the section below and tell me your story!