Are video games bad for you?

I’ve been a video game player since my parents brought home the Atari 2600. Those were the days! It was an amazing feeling to start playing a virtual world that appeared on the television screen and I commanded with a controller in my hands. We all know how video games have progressed and became such a big part of nearly every young adult’s life. Video games have evolved from basic sprite games to full-fledged virtual worlds where your choices in-game effect the outcome. Multiplayer games have become a new method of social interaction between many of today’s players. No longer do we need friends to come over. Now we can connect with people from around the world.

I’ll be the first to say video games are fun. A lot of fun! As a young video game player, the only multiplayer experience I had was with people in the same room. We took turns playing a game or if we were lucky the game came with a split-screen multiplayer option so we could play at the same time. Nearly all modern games come with a multiplayer add-on. Most gamers want more than a single player experience and expect the fun and competition of playing with friends and total strangers from around the world.

I have noticed a few games that have more effort put into the multiplayer aspect of the game more than the single-player experience. It’s a sign of the times. Video games are popular for good reasons. There’s always an ongoing debate on whether video games are a positive or negative influence. I have noticed both the positive and negative sides of video gaming in my life. I’d like to point out how video games have affected my life, both the good and the bad.

The positive side of video gaming for me. My eye-hand coordination is so good because of video gaming. I can’t think of any other activity I have done that would trump video gaming for improving eye-hand coordination. I put video gaming on the list of fun things to do with movie watching. I’ve always loved movies because they are a great form of escapism. For an hour and a half(or two) I can escape into a new reality in the form of a movie. I can visit new places, live a different life and seek adventures through movies. A good movie can really connect with me. Video games can do the same thing. Other benefits for myself and other video game players are problem-solving, quick thinking, strategy, and multitasking.

The negative side of video gaming for me. The first negative side effect for me has to be the lack of physical activity. That’s not the video games fault, it’s mine. The video games have been so much fun and engrossing over the years that I just couldn’t pull myself away from them. That means thousands and thousands of hours spent sitting in front of the television or computer monitor.

As video games have progressed so has the storytelling aspect. The visuals are close to lifelike. The sounds and music are movie quality. Modern video games have moved past the occasional fun game time into a virtual world where many of us can spend more time playing than in our everyday reality. A virtual world that pulls the player in with a single player cap and extends it with multiplayer. Many games now have DLC(Downloadable content) that adds even more to the game. It’s all designed to keep the gamer playing.

It’s at this point that I think video games have a negative influence. Playing video games isn’t bad, in fact, it’s been shown that video games have a lot of positive qualities about them. It’s when video gaming tends to be the only or one of a few activities for a person does it become a problem.

I had a short discussion with another video gamer recently and stated that I had stopped playing FPS(First Person Shooter) type games. He responded by saying that video games can be a powerful tool in dealing with complex psychological issues and resolving them. I did agree with him. But I had come to a solution, I don’t like killing people in video games. I don’t like how it makes me feel, even in a virtual world. I agreed video games have can have a positive impact and can help players with issues. But once a resolution is reached, what’s the point of playing that type of game again? For the virtual thrill of killing? To rack up more kills than your friends? I discovered that for myself, I don’t like the shooter style games, specifically war games.

I’m not against gamers playing any video game they want. I hope they have a great time and take it for what it is, playing a game. I do know video gaming has had both good and positive effects on my life. I was a PC gamer for most of gaming life but in the last six months, I switched to an Xbox 360. One of the selling points(other than the great Black Friday sale) was the Kinect. I liked the idea of being able to be more active when playing video games. I had a Nintendo Wii for a while and had a lot of fun playing it. With the Kinect, your body is the controller. I stopped playing FPS games but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to play!

To close this I want to point out video gaming can be a fun and positive experience. When we spend hours wrapped up in a video game though I think it can be a bad experience for many people. Video games can have physiological effects on us because they are designed to be a virtual world. Just as a war game like Modern Warfare can have a negative influence, games like Deepak Chopra’s Leela can be positive. Unfortunately, the war games sell millions which is a reflection of the collective video game players state of mind. Adults are responsible for their actions and we should recognize the impact of video gaming. With children, the parent should be in control of how much video gaming the kids do. It won’t make a parent very popular, but it could have a life long impact on the child.

It comes down to being aware. It goes beyond video games. Any activity should be put in the framework of “is this good for me or others?” Regardless of what we do, in life or the virtual world of video games, it has an impact on the collective consciousness. Many may think that playing a video war game is harmless. I think the mind can stay in that environment long after the controller has been put down. My mind did.

If you have kids, be active in their lives. For them and yourself, pay attention to what you do, how you feel and the energy you are putting out into the universe. It’ll set a good example for them. It is easier said than done, but simple none the less. Expand your awareness and know we are all connected as One.

-Live in Love

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