What are the hazards of excessive gaming? In calling it "excessive gaming" we generally mean consistently playing for longer than 6 hours everyday, or regularly playing for longer. After reading zap.com`s "Get Wrecked. Why esport`s injuries matter" , we wondered does this apply to the wider gaming community, and is there any evidence of excessive gaming causing psychological or physical harm? Here we have assembled a selection of examples where excessive gaming has had adverse effects.
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Pro, Semi-Pro & Casual Gaming:
It is well documented about Gaming Related Injuries within the esports scene, however many semi-pro and casual gamers consume as much time as professional players in practising and trying to reach new levels & achievements. Esports Pro`s, Semi Pro & Casual players practise or play in excess of 6 hours per day, as well as many hours streaming or making content which requires gameplay.
One example of the effect that this type of gaming can have on players is that of Hai Lam, a former competitive player who was forced to retire due to a "Debilitating Wrist Injury". According to Compete, a number of esports players are also suffering from collapsed lungs, though we are not aware of this being an issue for the wider gaming community.
Psychological & Physical effects:
Dr. Gregory West discussing research carried out by the University Of Montreal, suggests that: "The brain scans of people who play shooter games often show less gray matter in the hippocampus compared to the people who don’t play shooter games". Why does this matter you may ask? The research goes on to say: "This is significant because people with lower amounts of grey matter in the hippocampus are known to be at increased risk of developing depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s disease".
Another aspect of excessive gaming that is potentially of concern is the "Casino Techniques" employed in modern game development. ABC suggests that game makers are deliberately using techniques that are synonymous with gambling addiction to produce games that keep people playing. The ESRB recently stated that elements of gaming such as Lootboxes are not forms of Gambling. It`s clear there is a potential link between gaming and "addiction". In a Guardian article Dr Kim Hyun-soo recalls being on a committee that investigated the case of a games-addicted young man who killed his mother before killing himself. Gruesome stuff. In some way games are having an addictive effect on some members of the gaming community, and in rare instances this "addiction" can have negative consequences.
Physical damage that excessive gaming can do is demonstrated in the case of Wu Xiaojing who suffered from temporary blindness after gaming for 24 hours on her smart phone, her medical condition being diagnosed as a "retinal artery occlusion". Even more worrying is the story of Brian “Poshybrid” Vigneault who died after carrying out a 22 hour gaming & streaming session, though it has to be said that gaming has not been directly attributed as a factor in what happened.
Is it ethical to give members of society the means to cause their own physical, financial, social and psychological demise in the disguise of a game? Maybe not, but the problem here is that for all the responsible & normal gamers, there will be equally as many if not more irresponsible & immature gamers that do take things too far and also won`t grasp the issue of F2P games not actually being Free To Play, and the Pay To Win aspect that features in modern games. Dr Kim Hyun-soo in a Guardian article discovered that: "there are three different types of gaming addictions: some people are addicted to moving up the ranks, others to the money-making aspect & some to the sense of belonging to the gaming community". We think it`s best to not get too wrapped up in gaming so that it impacts negatively on your psychological, physical or financial wellbeing. When gaming stops being fun, isolates you and becomes a chore or obsession, it`s probably time to switch off and take a break.
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