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Video Game Addiction: Can an addiction have a positive side?


Photo by Fredrick Tendong on Unsplash

Video games are dangerous to your mental health and will make you become an addict. Do you believe that? Of course, we hear this repeated time and time again about videogame addiction, and it’s even gotten into a manual of psychiatric disorders, but should it be there? Repeatedly saying video gaming is an addiction, doesn’t make it so. There are several contradictions that we must consider about video games and addictions.


If video gaming is an addiction, there is a huge number of people with it because “The…number of video gamers worldwide in 2018, broken down by region, (indicates)…there were over 1.23 billion gamers in Asia Pacific in 2018, with the region generating 71.4 billion U.S. dollars of revenue in the same year.”


Updated statistics in 2018 raised the estimate. “There are approximately 2.2 billion gamers in the world. Out of the estimated 7.6 billion people living on earth, as of July 2018, that means almost a third of people on this planet are gamers.” Video gaming is a big business and enjoyed worldwide.

Addictions and playing video games, according to a significant review of the research, are not the same. Yes, there are certain things which they both share. 


One thing they both share is that they stimulate a person to want to engage in the activity because it is pleasurable. Regarding the games, who doesn’t want to win and show that they can compete effectively with people all over the world? Millions of gamers are playing each other throughout the day and the night. The internet is abuzz with their efforts to win points, raise to higher levels, or open secret doors. Wouldn’t you want that? 


It doesn’t matter what your age is, because video games can be very pleasurable activities, especially in a profoundly troubling world. The escape aspect is part of the notion that the games are addictive.


Video gaming’s positive effects


Not all video games are based on violence and destruction, and it is here that we must make a distinction. Games can be exciting and require skills in anticipating goals and planning how to reach those goals. They can also include design elements when there are pieces that must fit into geometric patterns. 


Games can also encourage cooperative behavior toward other players. Altruism has been found in some of the research that has been reviewed over the years. When playing games that promote positive response with others, there is a halo effect that carries on after the game.


Games can also engage children and adults in developing finer hand-eye coordination and the use of a controller. Vision also benefits because many of the games require a high degree of visual alertness. Surveying the landscape in the game leads to more acute visual perception, as studies have shown.


Gameplaying also involves repeated actions that will strengthen brain cell connections. What does this mean in plain English? Memory and learning are enhanced as a result of these actions. 

Reaction time is enhanced. Gameplaying requires real-time action that activates areas of the brain controlling sensory movement. In other words, you learn to react physically in a faster manner to make a response to the game.

Photo by Bartek Mazurek on Unsplash

Video games effect on the brain


There is an actual physical change in the brain after game playing. If we could weigh the brains of gamers, we would be able to quantify how the games added some additional brain weight. And brain weight can equal added abilities, increased memory and warding off late-life cognitive decline.


A study of frequent game players showed that certain parts of the brain involved in decision-making are most affected, and that makes sense. You are making rapid decisions during the game, and that’s what you may have to do in your daily life, so game playing is preparation.


Games require logical thinking and help in decision-making not only while playing the game but afterward. This is called “sticky” learning that will last and be utilized in other actions in the future. Gameplaying, including any game that involves firing a weapon, can enhance cognitive control and planning.


Gameplaying involves the brain releasing the “happiness hormone,” dopamine, which is involved in receiving a reward. It is this reward that is involved in gamers’ wanting to continue gameplaying, and that’s where some have indicated it is an addiction.


Rewards are not necessarily addictions, however. Do students become addicted to attending school if they’re getting good grades? Some might, but the majority don’t skip off to school each morning.


The educational component


Not all video games are based on violence and destruction. And it is here that we must make a distinction. Games can be exciting and educational and require skills in anticipating goals and planning how to reach those goals.


Memory skills can be improved if the game is developed in that direction. If we want a student to learn the Preamble to the Constitution or the Gettysburg Address, how much more fun if an animal or incredible fantasy creature recited it? 


The game can be whatever the coder wants it to be. Herein lies the educational challenge. If kids love video games, there’s the educator’s entre to helping them learn and develop that stickiness that is so important.


Are video games dangerous? Some might be for a select group of gamers. Are they addictive? Yes, but it can be a positive form of “addiction” that will encourage mental development.

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DR. PATRICIA A. FARRELL