Concern: 34 million Americans spend 22 hours per week, on average, playing video games. The intention of this article is not to offend those who play video games, but to face the endemic problem head on and search for meaningful solutions. Are video games harmful in themselves? Do they tear down or elevate our culture? Should they be avoided altogether?
Most people will agree that “too much” gaming is harmful. Many more will acknowledge that Grand Theft Auto, which glorifies crime, or esoteric and violent games such as The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, or Fallout are bad. But the question still stands: How much is too much? How bad is too bad? And what about apparently innocuous games like Angry Birds?
Escape from Reality
Video games are designed to give the player a sense of instant satisfaction. Whenever a virtual goal is achieved, the player gets a rush and tends to want more and more. Gaming presents an imaginary world detached from reality and offers an easy “escape” from the natural limitations humans encounter in this vale of tears. In real life, accomplishment is tied to reality, hard work, effort, sacrifice and talent. But in the make-believe world of video games, you can pretend to be and do things that are completely unrealistic.
This is further complicated when the person faces problems such as a broken family, depression and addictions. Take the case of Elliot Rodger. This 22-year-old student lived a frustrated life. He despised social interaction, did not have many friends, and became obsessed with World of Warcraft. Rather than overcome his shortcomings, he withdrew and filled the void with gaming and pornography. He later killed six, injured thirteen, and committed suicide. His video game addiction was considered a factor in his tragic course.
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