Are Video Games Your Problem?

Are Video Games Exacerbating Your Issues?

I’m going out on a limb here and saying if you play enough video games that you feel this is a possibility than yeah probably they are making things worse. But lets dig before we come to conclusions.

When I was between the ages of 11 and 15 video games were life. I loved them, I played them on Xbox, PlayStation, Sega (Yeah I’m that old), Wii, Nintendo, PC etc. Now I definitely had ridiculous binges where leaving my room was reserved solely for ablutions and sustenance. But at the same time I retained contact with the outside world through sports and exercise multiple times per week. This is vitally important. Otherwise I’d have been playing video games all day long every day.

Video games are a fantastic form of escapism, whether you’re a soldier invading some totally innocent country or you are building a bad-ass, fearless version of yourself in Fallout or Elder Scrolls it can be seriously fun. Some people rely on escapism solely to survive. They do this by drinking too much, drugging too much, eating too much comfort foods, watching too much TV or film, playing too much video games and even exercising too much! There are countless ways people can escape from life. And the vast majority of these ways are absolutely fine and even healthy.

Ones that may stick out are drug use. Depending on your personal/moral views on drugs, certain drugs are used by many people as occasional escapist remedies. Alcohol is the same, many people will occasionally use alcohol to escape and I think I’m not alone when I say sometimes I want to eat a large pizza, a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and wash it all down with Coke Zero to make myself feel better. That’s okay too. Everything in moderation as they saying goes.

Video games are the exact same. When I hit 15 I discovered real life girls and within one month I sold all but two of my video games and consoles. I retained my Call of Duty and my Fallout for Xbox. I didn’t play as much, but when I did I could play those games for days! And sometimes it was exactly what I needed.

Sometimes I needed a weekend with no friends, no talking, just me and my virtual world. But the thing is come Monday I showered, put on my uniform and dragged my ass into school. Not because I value institutional education, which you know I don’t, but because it was removing myself from my escapist hermitage and put me back into society.

Now that I’m in my 20s I rarely get time to play video games. Being older means more responsibilities and unfortunately finishing university means even less time to play. I still study every day, I’m language learning, working, working on a crappy blog about lifestyle and health…. studying and trying to fit in a full summer of backpacking into all this. But video games still hold a very special place in my heart.

Video games have benefits such as quickening a players reactions, increasing creativity, releasing dopamine, relaxation, and even diets! Yes there exists such a thing that uses video games to help people loss weight. The reason being, people who play video games often become so immersed they forget to eat and at extremes will forego food rather than put the controller down. Now as creative as this idea is it shows the problems with video games. When escapism becomes so powerful you forget to eat then it’s probably gone too far. Now and again forgetting to eat is fine, it happened when I wrote my dissertation, I often forget I needed to eat or drink.

Even playing video games I occasionally look at a clock in shock that I’ve forgotten dinner or to feed my dog. But this is incredibly rare. The problem with playing too much video games is that like the heroin addict or alcoholic or food addict, you are escaping your real life. And although I’m a huge fan of escapism, when it becomes chronic you have a problem.

When you play too much video games the negative effects are horrible; sleep deprivation, malnourishment, blood clots from lack of movement, weight gain from poor diet due to not wanting to be away from the screen too long, weight loss due to forgetting to eat, losing relationships, straining relationships, carpal tunnel, headaches, dehydration from forgetting to drink, dropping in school grades, forgetting or opting out of sports or other social commitments etc. the list truly goes on.

If you have any of these issues related to video game use then you may have a problem. And the biggest problem is all the above issues lead to a worsening of preexisting mental health, emotional or mood issues. Like any bad habit the best way to deal with this is to kick the habit. Over the years I have personally learned to play a game for a few hours and then turn it off and get back into life. Sometimes, I mean maybe a handful of times a year I may have a binge of playing for a day or two. That’s healthy, it doesn’t have any sort of impact on my life.

I’ve spoken to psychiatrists who have voiced their concerns not just with young men playing video games but even middle aged men and women staying up all night playing. Grown adults, foregoing sleep, eating, sex, washing, drinking, working etc. to play video games. It’s a very serious modern issue that worries many doctors, yet there doesn’t seem to much awareness of this phenomenon being raised on social media, society or by the government.

If you think you have a video game addiction take it as seriously as you would any other addiction, go to a counselor or a doctor and get help before video games ruin your life. You wouldn’t allow Krokidil or alcohol to ruin you so don’t let video games do it.

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