We are all fully aware that playing too many video games can be bad for both physical and mental health. This is pretty much true for anything else in life, too much food, too much exercise, too much work, etc. However, up until recently, there were no clearly defined advantages of gaming for hours during the day. Today, we have e-Sports which can be an extremely lucrative career path. It is important to acknowledge that video games can have both positive and negative effects on our brains and development. So, let’s see exactly how playing video games can affect people.
Games and Developing Brain
Our brains undergo extensive development before we reach year 21, and if we don’t provide it with diverse development opportunities we might end up with less gray matter, or thinking part. This was proven in a study that compared people who played video games 2 hours a day, and those who were playing World of Warcraft for around 10 hours a day.
World of Warcraft is one of the games that redefined gaming and had a strong impact on the cultureoverall. However, this does not indicate that the game is bad for our brain. It obviously indicates that playing for 10 hours a day, without providing the brain with additional challenges or problems will stagnant the growth of some of its areas. Moreover, World of Warcraft strongly leverages the skinner box design philosophy which also has strong conditioning potential.
In-Game Rewards and Developing Brain
Video games rely on unpredictable and predictable reward structures to keep players engaged and sort of justify their time investment. This kind of conditioning leads to the instant gratification mentality that can be bad in the long run. This is because we will have to postpone some of those instant gratification impulses in order to devote our time towards things that will be useful long term. For example, studying for 4 weeks in order to pass the exam
Another very addictive aspect is the unpredictable rewards or so-called random drops. This is basically the same design philosophy that drives the engagement in casino games like slots. You keep doing the same thing hoping that this time around you will get that incredibly rare reward you crave. These types of reward systems are good to keep players motivated and maximize their engagement. However, too much exposure creates unrealistic expectations out of life. We get the impression that any effort needs to be rewarded in a short time frame, and give up on things that don’t offer that same reward structure.
Financial Impact of Games
Games can have both negative and positive impacts on our finances. As mentioned eSports can be a lucrative career path, but people also earn by boosting accounts for other players, or farming and selling in-game currency. They are also eating through our finances if we are simply investing too much time into them without doing anything productive.
People who are gambling are also playing video games in a sense and they are using real money to participate. Of course, they are at an online casino and hoping they will win that money back and some extra on top. This again isn’t necessarily bad, so long as we don’t engage in reckless spending or irresponsible gambling behavior. Luckily, if they are playing on the legitimate platforms that allow them to make a 100 free spins, then they are only spending a small amount. In other words, modern operators nowadays allow them to manage their spendings way more effectively, compared to the early gambling days.
Back in the 90s games were considered anti-social activities, but today that is no longer the case thanks to online play. In fact, we have effectively substituted social activities with this hobby, which isn’t ideal, but was really useful during the recent pandemic.
The main takeaway here is that extensive gaming during our years of development is bad. The reason is simple: our brains don’t have diverse challenges that stimulate the growth of different areas. We are repeating the same task over and over, and we are admittedly getting really good at it, the problem is that other important aspects of life suffer because of it. Another issue is the conditioning of the instant gratification mentality which leads to unrealistic expectations and future disappointment in life. Other than that games can have a positive impact on our teamwork skills, critical thinking, and creativity, the key is moderation.
Leslie Alexander is a talented digital marketing specialist and she works in Gamblizard as a content lead. Leslie is especially interested in the gaming industry, e-sports, and tech news. She enjoys hiking in the great outdoors, playing board games with her friends, and binge-watching her favorite shows.