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Video Game Influence and Addiction is real! Deal with it!

ArticleID 15  
Writer Leo Ngatia
Category Personal Article

It is difficult to accept that I could perform an activity often enough to become dependent on and endangered by it but this is exactly what happened with my gaming. I was an avid gamer before I started playing a certain online game but did not consider myself "hardcore" because the time I spent gaming was bound by my real-world activities.

I was hesitant to join at first because I did not like the idea of being forced to play online with a bunch of strangers but after a bit of trial and error, I found a community that didn't seem congested with regulars chatting up a storm, bickering children nor hardcore gaming gods who don't give you a chance to get into the game.

I quickly learned to play the game competitively and perhaps even let my social guards down on occasion but what started off as a two to three hour recreational activity a few times a week turned into a four-hour daily must-have, ideally and progressively with longer, multiple sessions a day. I wanted to improve. I wanted to accumulate enough points. I wanted to unlock every prize. I had goals while performing this activity and I enjoyed it but looking back now, that time and effort may have been a complete waste for too high a price unless I end up working in the video game "enterprise" getting paid to create or play multi player, online, first-person, team-based shooters for the world and the dear children in my life.

Recreation is a healthy, necessary part of life. Depending on how much time is spent on it, a recreational activity grows into a hobby or a profession and at this point it needs to be regulated to ensure that it has positive returns on the invested time and effort. More importantly, one activity, recreational or not, must not prevent someone from meeting critical obligations. As soon as one's desires are primarily directed at "a substance x" at the expense of other important substances then "substance x" has you hooked.

I accept my responsibility to look after myself and adults' need to regulate their children's activities. It is important, however, to regulate the dangers of a substance as well. This substance was created by someone hopefully in an environment with knowledge and control of its creation. Its effects should be known and I should be informed of what dangers await me if I abuse it. Furthermore, the more dangerous substances or usage models should not be easily accessible to me or more vulnerable individuals.

My addiction to the video game substance has severely damaged my real world. The chain of responsibility or boundaries that could have prevented my losses simply did not exist! I am allowed to spend as much time or money as I want on any single unregulated activity within the privacy of my home and the only protection from addiction is the threat of losing my important commitments like work, friends, social status and health. For someone who does not feel or recognize this threat (such as a child or an asocial, financially-secure individual), social and legal barriers must be set!

Do not smoke indoors. Do not drink at work. Meet your friends every second day. Do not sell drugs. Do not sell cigarettes to children. Stay active or you will not look attractive. Eat right. Try the new outdoor social place. There are many invisible boundaries that help protect us from excessive recreation. The most enjoyable substances/activities tend to have the most obvious and threatening legal and social boundaries and the most tragic consequences of abuse e.g. driving, sex (broken families, STD's e.tc).

I may not wholly agree with the policies of modern governments but I do recognize and appreciate that there are human minds and interests behind these policies and a lot of them make sense. It is particularly important to note that every activity that has grown into an "industry" has done so with numerous rules, regulations, guarantees and safety protocols. It disappoints me, therefore, that the riotous video game press, consumers and businesses are so quick to stifle and contradict any statements or attempts, by the people charged with the responsibility (politicians, scientists) intended to create legal and social boundaries for this very popular substance.

Video games stimulate the brain just as psychoactive chemicals, stress, social interaction do. I need to know that I am safe from dangerous gaming when I fail to regulate myself. I have felt the mental fatigue of leaving my gaming seat after an obliviously extended session. I know the frustration of not being able to think of anything but my game. These are the manifestations of the damage to my brain and I would hate to see anyone else; especially a child; obliviously fraught with my condition.

The word "Industry" should be reserved for systems that follow some established methods and governance over its activities. The video game (and electronic entertainment) "enterprise" needs to shape up!

Author: Leo Ngatia
video games, addiction, pros and cons, play online, how does it affect children, government policies, who benefits, effects,health
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