Is Video Games Bad for Kids?
What is gaming? Gaming is generally seen to be a game played by people who pass their time in front of a television or a computer console and uses the player’s input to control the action. A video game console or computer game is usually an interactive digital game that entails interaction with a user interface or input unit, including a joystick, mouse, keyboard, or other motion sensor device, to generate or display visual feedback to the player. This kind of game has no physical platform; rather, it operates using an electronically programmed virtual reality (ISR) system.
In recent years, with the widespread acceptance of PCs and laptops as primary sources of home entertainment systems, online gaming has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry. To capitalize on this fast-growing market, game developers have created a wide variety of PC and console titles that enable players to interact with one another through a variety of hardware, software, and media. This new breed of “multiplayer games” or MMORPGs have increased in popularity, from casual gamers to hardcore gamers, and have drawn a tremendous amount of attention from the media, marketing, and safety groups. In fact, many state and local jurisdictions have enacted legislation that seeks to regulate online gaming more stringently.
In recent years, PC and other electronic games have experienced substantial changes to their basic structures and programming. Video games developed for PC now often include the use of advanced memory systems, streaming technology, and graphics cards that allow the video gaming experience to “plug in” to the Internet, providing a first-person shooter, action, driving, RPG, and other persistent environment game experiences. Today, PC video games and other online games use advanced programmable game engines to simulate the world around them, to provide a first-person shooter, first-person adventure, real racing, real flying, real Hobo bike racing, and a multitude of other persistent environment game experiences. Many of these video games use sophisticated communication technologies, such as Internet chat rooms, automated game servers, instant messaging, and peer to peer file transfer protocols to allow a player to interact with others and bring real, life “game life” to his/her computer.
With PC games, much of the interaction that occurs can be non-interactive, such as chatting with other players or running errands, but it can also take the form of an interactive computer application, which can result in richer game play, greater pleasure from playing, and increased security for online gaming. In this way, the player has the ability to manipulate the game in a variety of ways and can alter or modify various variables, such as game play, interface, graphics, and so forth. This ability to modify the variables enables the player to experience the benefits of highly interactive online gaming. However, many people do not realize that the developers of many PC games have programmed these variables in such a way that they can be turned off, and that gamers can enable these features if they desire.
While it is unclear whether playing games with these features enabled increases one’s chance of developing video game addiction, there is evidence that suggests that the tendency to become involved in gaming disorders may be genetic. Gaming behaviors that are engaged in frequently may be passed down from parents to children, or even grandchildren. This would imply that gaming disorders are genetic, and that gaming disorder traits may well be common in families. If so, the question still remains as to why gaming disorders are not taught to children when they are young. There could be several reasons for this.
One reason may be that there are many games consoles, and so a child may become accustomed to only playing a few types of them. Another reason could be that many video games require very complex interaction skills to win. Since games require more skill than simply beating the computer or using flash software, it is probably impossible to teach a young child how to play a complex game without requiring some skill from him or her. It is possible that some children are simply incapable of engaging in meaningful interaction when playing video games, and so must learn to interact in other ways, through more indirect methods. It is also important to remember that while gaming can be fun, that enjoyment can lead to addiction, and that the only way to escape from reality is to do so through a game console.