Video Games and the Psychological Health of the Consumer
Video games have been around for decades. Originally created and marketed as educational aids, video games are now a major part of many people’s lives. We play video games because we want to be entertained, we play video games because we want to compete with other people, we play video games because we enjoy the overall experience. The question remains, why do we love playing video games?
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing evidence that playing video games is correlated with poor psychological functioning among elementary school children. Specifically, researchers measured how often parents reported that their child spent time playing video games. After accounting for demographic factors, the researchers determined that families who were most likely to report video game addiction had poorer psychological health than families that did not report spending time gaming.
This study is important because it illustrates the potential negative impact that a person’s gaming habits can have on his or her psychological health. Although it is unclear whether these findings generalize to other game genres or only to game genres associated with crime and violence, it does illustrate the serious dangers of spending excessive time playing certain types of video games. It is especially troubling that so many children do not take the time to develop healthy game genre preferences or to focus on game genres other than the ones typically marketed towards their interests.
One can only imagine the adverse effects that playing too much video games could have on children. Perhaps children would be less likely to engage in physical activity after playing video games for extended periods of time. Perhaps they would spend more time sitting in front of the television, instead of participating in more real world activities. One thing is clear: if you play too much, you might as well enjoy it.
In recent years, there has been a trend toward switching to more diverse game genres. The rise of PC gaming, mobile phone game development, and the resurgence of console game development shows that video games are no longer being targeted at a single audience, but at multiple audiences. By creating multiple genres of video games, a company allows its consumers to have a greater variety of games to choose from, increasing the likelihood that their customers will find something that appeals to them.
If there is one common thread evident in all of this research, it is the need to reduce problematic video game use. By removing the element of compulsion that drives people to constantly play, companies can increase the amount of healthy social relationships that people can participate in, increasing their overall sense of well-being. By removing the elements of physical violence and realistic expectations surrounding real people, virtual worlds create an opportunity for people to live more fulfilling lives. By providing a platform for free expression, they also allow us to have a more positive view of the world around us.