How Good Is Gaming?

Do you play video games? Have you found changes in yourself?

Currently when internet, hardware and software facilities have become better in quality and more accessible with time to people from all backgrounds and walks of the society, video gaming has become popular culture. Nowadays, most of the people can get access to most of the popular games very easily. Standing in a world where the number of gamers and games are increasing with a steep slope, these are the two of the most pertinent questions we need to ask ourselves.

There are various genres of video games and the most popular being shooter, action, role-playing and sports. We all know someone who has played or plays any or all among PUBG, CoD, CS, FIFA, PES, AC, etc. Even I have played all of them at some point of the other and I have recently switched over to playing PUBG from PES. The market value of the gaming industry in India was around 62 billion Indian rupees in 2019. With the current increasing trend, this value has been estimated to go up to over 250 billion rupees by 2024. The gaming domain has most popularly shifted to mobiles, with the greater number of cheaper smartphones being available in the market.

However, despite such a strong positive effect on the market, there are a lot beyond just economy and marketing policies that are associated with gaming. Yes, I am talking about the psychological and physiological impacts of playing video games. Although, it has been found that gamers have improvements in various aspects of visual attention, brain function in response speed, concentration, attention, spatial cognition and life skills, there might be several short-term implications like higher levels of aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and aggressive behaviour, which can cause irreparable damages in the long-run. In fact, both the positive and the negative effects can rise with the increasing violence, competitiveness, difficulty, and pace of action of the game. Even extreme cases of aggressive gaming have shown development of sexist attitudes, empathy and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety). In fact, a recent survey that I conducted for a short-term project showed a strong correlation between people reporting stress during lockdown and also spending a longer time on gaming during the lockdown compared to before it. This can be inferred both as people are more likely to get stressed if they play games or, people who are getting stressed are more likely to play game and perhaps try to reduce their stress or get some desirable distraction.

A diagrammatic overview of the General Aggression Model
[Image Source: Adaptation from Anderson and Carnagey (2004) by Adachi and Willoughby (2011)]

Now that you have reached this far, and that the first question asked above might is a ‘yes’ for you, let us proceed on to answering the second question asked above. Ask yourself the following and score as wise. This will finally give you an idea about the answer. So, let’s start:

  • Are you spending 2h or more on gaming regularly (3 days a week or more)?
    • If yes: +5 (if it’s a ‘no’ in any of the questions here, you can add a 0 for each)
  • Are you being rude to people more often over time?
    • If yes: +10
  • Are you feeling hatred for anything or against anyone (even though you might not be expressive about it) more often over time?
    • If yes: +10
  • Are you feeling angrier recently on yourself in case you do not perform as you might have expected in a particular match?
    • If yes: +5
  • Are you being very obsessed about your rank in a game, or your game style, or your scores in each match, or your gaming profile (or the stats) or being insecure about it?
    • If yes: +10
  • Are you often willing to play more to make your game or your stats better?
    • If yes: +5
  • Are you being too critical about the glitches or the sides of the game itself that might have an effect over your performance?
    • If yes: +5
  • Have you often felt (or often crossed your mind) that a guy plays the game better than a girl or the other way round?
    • If yes: +10
  • Have you ever considered quitting the game or send an enquiry/complaint to the game customer care because you felt disappointed with your performance in the game or some glitch in the game that might have caused bad results despite the best of your efforts in your game?
    • If yes: +5
  • Have you ever felt that you are addicted to the game, but been helpless about quitting it?
    • If yes: +10

Now that you know your score (out of 75), you can get a relative quantification of your answer to the second question I stated at the beginning of this blog. If you have scored 45 or above, it is quite intuitive that you might be suffering from the more likely short-term negative effects of gaming too much. So, all you need to do is simply think over it and reduce the time you spend for gaming and do something that is not competitive and relaxing as an alternative. In case your score is 25 or above, you might be more likely getting too much addicted to the game. You can always think of spending less time on gaming as mentioned before. However, you can still continue the same involvement in gaming, but remain cautious about if you are developing the other aspects as asked above in future. If you are below 25, you might still be safe from the negative sides of gaming. These are completely my suggestions and how I would like to evaluate myself if asked to.

One thing that we can be sure about is that gaming does have an effect on changes in cognitive, hormonal and brain wave functions. However, if they can really have health implications or cause behavioural displacements completely depends upon the nature of the game and our extent of addiction in playing it.

By Diptatanu Das, Department of Biological Sciences, IISER Kolkata.

References:

  1. Hill, S. “Games rule the iTunes App Store: Most popular genres revealed”. localizedirect.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  2. Diwanji, S. “Online gaming in India – Statistics & Facts” https://www.statista.com/topics/4639/online-gaming-in-india/ Published on Jun 29, 2020. Accessed on 12 July 2020.
  3. Bejjanki, V.R., Zhang, R., Li, R., Pouget, A., Green, C.S., Lu, Z.L., Bavelier, D. (2014). Improved perceptual templates with action games. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (47) 16961-16966; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1417056111
  4. Feng, J., Spence, I., & Pratt, J. (2007). Playing an action video game reduces gender differences in spatial cognition. Psychological Science, 18(10), 850-855.
  5. Adachi, P. J. C., & Willoughby, T. (2011). The effect of violent video games on aggression: Is it more than just the violence? Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16(1), 55–62. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2010.12.002.
  6. Anderson, C. A. (2004). An update on the effects of playing violent video games. J. of Adolescence,27, 113−122
  7. Kühn, S., Kugler, D., Schmalen, K. et al. (2019). Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study. Mol Psychiatry, 24, 1220–1234. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-018-0031-7
  8. Prescott, A.T., Sargent, J.D., Hull, J.G. (2018). Violent video games and aggression metaanalysis Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115 (40) 9882-9888; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1611617114
  9. Aliyari H., Kazemi M., Tekieh E., Salehi M., Sahraei H., Daliri M.R. et al. (2015). The Effects of Fifa 2015 Computer Games on Changes in Cognitive, Hormonal and Brain Waves Functions of Young Men Volunteers. Basic Clin. Neurosci.; 6(3):193–201.

Cover Image:
The featured/cover image has been made with images from:

  1. https://i.pinimg.com/736x/7d/4c/85/7d4c85185c28219f977523a8fe05b270.jpg
  2. https://wallpapercave.com/wp/wp5857234.jpg
  3. https://wallpaperaccess.com/full/1424729.jpg
  4. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/cf/85/2b/cf852bda8ac2a7fa50ec3760e256922b.jpg

Author: Das Diptatanu

Diptatanu is a fourth-year BS-MS student at IISER Kolkata and a KVPY fellow, majoring in biology, with a chemistry minor. He has been a part of the gold-medalist iGEM IISER Kolkata teams in 2018 and 2019, and is also associated with next year’s team. Other than having a high affinity for good food and sleep, he loves to make music and play TT, football, cricket, etc., in his free time. He prefers to do some original work and has been writing articles, blogs and composing new songs. He is currently the CEO of IISER Kolkata Campus Radio and is also one of the admins and a regular blogger of our blog page, ‘The Qrius Rhino’.

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