I wanted this to be an unbiased article about the stigma gamers face and the dangers of this lifestyle, but that went completely out the window.
You see while researching for this article I couldn’t find any real statistics about so-called gaming addiction. Don’t get me wrong, it is a real thing, but when I read up information on several different sites, I began to question their authenticity. One site stopped posting articles back in 2011, so they are hardly up to date. Also, they put the term Level Up in quotation marks, as if they didn’t understand it. It was painful to read those articles.
Instead, let a real gamer tell you why games become a major part of our lives to the point that it can be harmful. All of this is my opinion, I don’t speak for all gamers after all.
I will be blunt; the real world is horrible! It takes loved ones away, chews us up and spits us out. It isn’t really a surprise that when people are given escapist entertainment where they can be powerful heroes in fantastical worlds that people would much rather spend time playing these games than dealing with the hardships of life.
Again, I don’t speak for all gamers but I have picked up bad habits due to my hobby. I spend most my free time gaming and while I was a student, I put off both sleep and studying to play. I still forgo sleep to get some extra hours gaming which has had a knock-on effect on my health. It doesn’t help that, due to my autism, I get obsessed with certain games quickly. Somedays I just get out of bed, jump onto my PS4 and barely leave it for the whole day outside of grabbing food and using the facilities.
I get how this might sound bad to an outsider, but games have helped me get through some dark times. I can play games to relax and let out my anger on virtual people rather that hurting real people. Speaking of people, I have never been good at making friends until I got into games. When I find out someone else likes my favourite games it is easier for me to open up to them. Even though online games like Overwatch, I have made pals from all over the world.
That being said, while online co-op games provide your brain with social stimulation it simply does not compare to socialising face to face with someone. When it comes down to it, spending hours sitting in front of a screen isn’t healthy for anyone. True, gameplay is far more stimulating that watching tv that doesn’t mean it’s better for your physical health, you are still stilling still for hours not doing anything that even remotely resembles exercise.
What bothers me is that there is a stigma that gamers are aggressive, antisocial loners living with their parents. Our hobby is looked down at because we spend hours playing games, but people who binge-watch an entire series on Netflix don’t get judged. How is that fair?
On top of that, video games are often blamed for promoting violence and aggressive behaviour in young children. I always get annoyed when I hear this as the majority of the parents complaining about violence and sex in games are the ones who bought 18 rated games for their underage kids. I have seen this happen while at GAME, it infuriates me. The 18+ is on the box for a reason, read the description of the game before you give it to a kid!
With all that said, I am not ashamed to be a gamer. Yeah, it is not exactly the healthiest lifestyle but frankly, I don’t care. Like I said earlier, games have been a source of comfort and distraction for me over the years. I’m in too deep to cut the cord now.