Intro- Are video games detrimental to future success?
Are video games detrimental to future success? If you spend your evenings playing games like GTA, God of War, Fortnight will you never amount to anything in life? Is obtaining a college degree, holding a full time job, starting a business, or having fruitful relationships predicated on whether you are a gamer or not? In this article I will attempt to answer these questions and discuss the effects that gaming addiction has on people. If you are someone who suffers from video game addiction or know someone that does then I hope this reading benefits you.
My take on video games
The purpose of this article is not to demonize video games or to knock people that play them. I’ve been a gamer for more than 30 years and am fascinated by the evolution of gaming since my childhood. 95 percent of my friends throughout grade school were avid gamers. I come from a family in which nearly every male born after 1984 played video games on a regular basis. There is so much nostalgia behind the video game culture that I grew up in. I have very vivid memories of me and my sister playing games like Super Mario Bros and Street Fighter II. It was rare for a 90’s child in the U.S. to not be exposed to video games. Whether you went to a friend’s house or to your local Pizza Hut games were right in front of you. Every year I had more than one classmate who owned a Game Boy.
But being around so many people who loved video games I have firsthand knowledge of the negative consequences of gaming addiction. I’ve had close relatives go nearly a decade without leaving their home because they were hooked to Halo . A good friend of mine took 7 years to finish High School because he valued games more than his studies. Another friend of mine would regularly spend his entire paycheck on gaming. People that I once had close bonds with cut off social ties so that they could dedicate more time on their Xbox headset. Video game addiction has robbed family members of quality time during holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. I found myself hating the video game industry that I once loved because I felt that it stole the lives of friends and relatives.
Bad habits come in all forms
Do not get me wrong, I’m not singling out gaming addiction as the only negative habit that exists. There are a lot of other bad habits that impede people from having a productive life. Social media addiction can be just as bad as gaming addiction. We live in an age in which millions of people spend their entire day fishing for likes on Instagram. For years I was addicted to watching videos and posting on sports forums. I wasted my entire mid 20’s being on the internet and doing nothing that brought value to my life. Till this day I regret throwing quality years of my youth into the trash. I believe had I dealt with my habits I could have been close to a millionaire by now. It was time that I gave away because feeding my addiction was worth more than anything else.
What is it about video games that gets the average person addicted? This is a question that has been answered by psychologists, sociologists and mental health experts. According to Mayo Clinic Health System, ”The reward center in the brain releases dopamine in response to a pleasurable experience or hyperarousal. If a person experiences hyperarousal while playing video games, the brain associates the activity with dopamine“1 Like most addictions, it gives a person a buzz and a particular feeling of euphoria despite having adverse effects. It is also stated that video games, like alcohol, are manufactured to keep you coming back for more. If a video game was too easy to play through, the sense of reward and accomplishment would be close to non existent. If a game was nearly impossible to get through, few people would want to play it. Game designers are aware of these things and take advantage of it.
Too many hours playing
Not only do gaming addicts receive a dopamine rush from playing, they relinquish hours of their week doing so. According to studies video game addicts play between 80 to 100 hours a week. That is more than double the amount of hours of the average work week. And spending more than a certain amount of time playing games has potential to affect your sleep. Psychology Today reports that, “gaming more than hour a day was linked to a 30% higher risk of poor sleep quality”2 By spending many hours in front of the gaming screen it is not only detrimental to a person’s mental health but to their physical health.
How addiction can interfere with your success
Gaming addiction can interfere with potential success in a number of ways. Firstly, it can prevent you from performing well in school. Video game addiction has been linked with bad academic performance3. The time that an addict can spend studying they’ll waste on playing games. Secondly, addiction can contribute to the loss of employment and financial opportunities4. Think of all the goals that an addict can achieve if they dedicated even a third of the time they spend playing video games to a career. Thirdly, it can rupture relationships with others. Because withdrawal from society is a symptom of many game addicts this is not surprising at all.
What about the functioning video game addict?
I know people who are able to hold full time jobs while dedicating 30 hours a week to Call of Duty. If a person can be a functioning member of society despite being addicted to video games is there really a problem? I would like to provide a couple reasons why such an argument has no merit. First of all, no addictive behavior should be justified. You can be the be the most successful entrepreneur, but a bad habit is still something that controls you. Secondly, is playing 80 hours a week of games a good use of your time? If all you do is work and play games then you are missing out on a lot that life has to offer. Think of all the healthy relationships, hobbies and endeavors that you are depriving yourself of.
Are video games detrimental to future success? I would say that even though playing games in itself is not a cardinal sin, too much of it is not good. My recommendation is to limit the amount of time that you play to an hour a day. If you find that even 60 minutes a day is not in option for you then seek professional help. There a number of clinics and programs that can help you to deal with this problem. If you do not treat gaming addiction like any other negative habit then it’ll linger on for the rest of your life. Another suggestion is to find more productive activities to engage in throughout the week. I wrote an article entitled “10 things that I do other than play video games” that you can check out.