Issues Gamers Should Think About

Mark J Kline

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Issues Gamers Should Think About

Dr. Mark discusses some of the effects that games have on gamers.

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Roxas1359

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When it comes to the gaming an mental health part it really depends on the person. I for example have bipolar disorder, technically manic-depression, and video games help me relax and stay calm when I'm always stressed out and help me get out of the depressions that hit me ever 2 or 3 weeks. I will agree though that some gamers tend to be irritated after playing games, but that really depends on what game they were playing. But in the end it really depends on the mental state of the person who is playing the game and if they know that they have a problem.
 

redknightalex

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I find it interesting that this article mainly points out specific problems within the gaming culture and not the positives. How many people decided to learn a new language to be able to understand and play a game they imported form another country? Do games promote bilingualism? How many people have better reading and comprehension skills from reading all those lines of text in a mass RPG? Do video games help with reading skills? How many have learned the value of math while trying to min/max their characters in WoW? Do video games help with math and statistics scores? And how many innovations have been brought on by video games? Remember when the PS3 had their [email protected] app?

Ironically, a topic that is meant to look at ways to calm a culture brought up only the points that might enrage it.

From my point of view, video games have been a real life saver. Played them when I was depressed and, as a way of coping, I now use them when I get particularly anxious or angry over something. I calm down pretty quickly and no longer have to worry about taking a stupid pill to stop my shaking. When you have instances like this, it's hard not to be defensive.

Also, as a parting thought, throughout the majority of this article all I could think was, "they'll never find a correlation." And they won't. There may be a tendency, or even a majority, who do both but I cannot remember the last time I saw a true correlation in psychology. With all of the other variables to account for, you just can't pin anything on any one thing anymore.

Or, let's just blame the parents!
 

Kururu999

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If whoever wrote this question is reading the comments, just go to Rock Paper Shotgun. They ask enough questions for all of us and then some.
 

CardinalPiggles

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I definitely agree that gaming is a frequent catalyst for these "adversities" but the underlying problem is still a lack of mental health.

And I still think it's up to the parents to pay attention to what their children are exposed to. Problem is most parents will blame the catalyst rather than fixing or barricading the underlying issue. It's like blaming the match instead of cleaning up the gasoline before it gets lit. It's lazy and irresponsible.
 

Full

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Dr. Mark, dangerously thought provoking as always.

Anyway, I was actually thinking to myself about the mental effects of gaming the other day, and as someone with mental and physical struggles throughout their entire life, I'd like to think that my life wouldn't be much different have I never picked up video games. I've had issues before I was into gaming as I am now, so I don't think my hobby caused much of the problems I have.

However, I can't argue against that some of these questions should be asked. I can't help but think those issues might have been partially resolved by now if I didn't play games as much, or I might have worked on being more productive had I not been involved with online communities.

I also discovered some great experiences, memories, and people, and hearing others opinions around the world gave me a new perspective on things. As redknight said, it's hard to not get defensive at something that has given me so much. I think that's partially to blame for how we react at the general public. A "light" or "casual gamer" would hardly get up in arms. We're more than average entertainment consumers, we are involved in it. It can most likely happen to anyone with a passion.

Gaming might be seen as pointless in the public eye, and I would personally be heartbroken for it to be obscured.
 

Therarchos

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I think that one of the basic questions that we need to ask is wither people who are prone to these illnesses are so because of gaming or play game because of it. Either answer results in different obstacles
A person who plays games because they are socially troubled might need help to get out of their "addiction" while a person who is socially awkward because of their lack of real life interaction might need help to get said interaction.
 

thejackyl

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redknightalex said:
How many people have better reading and comprehension skills from reading all those lines of text in a mass RPG?
I know for a fact that that's how I learned got motivated to read. I had about a 4rd grade reading level by the end of 1st grade. I just didn't have the motivation to read the stupid things in 1st grade which treated the reader like a moron. Which I guess is understandable since they ARE meant to teach the reader how to read, but I digress.

I read through The Hobbit in 2nd grade, and The Lord of the Rings in 3rd.

Gaming as Mental Paralytic
About the only problem I have with this is thinking: "What do I do now?" when I get done with a game. Mainly out of boredom when I don't have the options to go out with friends. Mainly due to work schedules. Also, gaming is really the only thing I enjoy doing by myself. So when I get bored with gaming I don't know what to do next.

Gaming and Pleasure
Not at all. Gaming has it's own unique form of pleasure. Accomplishment and the Adrenaline rush are very different from the same sense of accomplishment you get from learning to play guitar, or scoring a game winning Home Run in your works softball league. Doing the same thing through an avatar in a game is different. Think how easy it is to hit a Home Run in Wii Sports as opposed to MLB 2012 (or whatever the licensed baseball games are called), now compare that to the feel of an actual bat in your hands as it comes in contact with the ball. It's a MUCH different feeling.

Gaming and Community
Video games for me are about escapism. I enjoyed WoW when I played, and I played LOOOOONG past it being fun for me due to the guild I was with. Now, if I had been in a hardcore raiding guild, I wouldn't have lasted long. I had a job, and I was constantly leaving the game to hang out with friends of mine locally. I've left a League of Legends match to go out drinking with a (female)friend of mine. Had it been anyone else, I would have told them "Sure, I'll be there in about 20 minutes." That being said, there have been moments where I decided to stay in and game instead of hanging out with local friends, but that wasn't because of game addiction. I was just hanging out with a different group of friends, and we happened to be playing a video game.

Gaming and Social Skills
Considering my time on the internet and gaming made come out and face my past... I would say it helped. I'm still socially inept, but it's more due to damage that certain childhood trauma can cause.

Gaming and Intimacy
As far as I know my libido is pretty healthy. I'm not the kind of guy who goes out every night and tries to get laid, but I would still enjoy it. Hell, if I was in a relationship and my partner was willing, and she came up to me why playing a game (any game), and told me she wanted to have sex (I hope she'd be a little more subtle than that ;) )I would drop whatever I was doing, quickly say bye to friends I was talking to, and hop to it.

Gaming and Health
Depends on multiple factors. I know when I first played "The Darkness", I was in one area around midnight and said to myself "After I complete this objective, I'm going to bed. I didn't get to bed until 4am and I completed that objective about 3 hours prior. I won't do this unless I know I can get the sleep I need overnight. If I have to work at 6am, I'm not going to be gaming. Also my current job has me working shifts where I get home at 1am and have to be back in at 7am. On top of school (when I went.) Hell, when I was in College I hardly ever gamed. It was just work, school, homework, sleep, repeat. One of the reasons I dropped out. The other being the tanking economy and the fact that I hated the work my degree was going towards, and I hadn't found out until I started interning for it.


Gaming and Mental Health
Well, recently this girl I was trying to go out with blew me off for a close friend of mine she hardly knew... Imagine how depressed that made me. Now, as I said earlier. Gaming for me is about escapism, a way to get away from your problems and get your mind off of them. I wouldn't say gaming can get you over your depression, since the problem is still there (Mine was constantly being asked about this girl who I just wanted to forget.) You know what actually helped? Thinking about it, and dealing with it. I could have just started pretending this girl and my friend no longer existed and ignored the problem, but I didn't. The result? I'm still a bit disappointed she didn't go out with me, but all three of us are still friends. And I have moved on. Gaming can't do that entirely. It just helped me get my mind off of my depression, which allowed my brain to process it in the background. (I'm making it sound like my brain is a computer... I swear I'm not SKYNET). Mainly I guess what I needed was some hindsight. Yeah, it sucks that it turned out that way, but it's not the worst outcome. White Queen... and moving on.[footnote]Inside joke from a stream called 2 Sense. Someone would get off topic or the topic would get weird, the host would hold up his hands like the White Queen(I forget what the character is from) say "White Queen" loud enough to interrupt peoples thoughts and than say "And moving on" and go into the next topic... It's funnier when you see it.[/footnote]

All in all, a good article. Yes, video games can cause issues with these I'm sure. But the psychological issues aren't really with the games, but the players themselves. At least that's what I think.
 

Lance Icarus

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First of all, it's great to see a new article from you Dr. Mark. They're always a pleasure to read.

When it comes down to the issue of gamer's reactions to those who "attack" their hobby, I think a lot of the knee jerk reactions from the game community are retaliation for the knee jerk reactions that come from the opposition. It's really more of an eye for an eye scenario than a situation where gamers are simply refusing to be introspective and can see no wrong in what we do. While I enjoy how the Obama administration is taking steps to create their own studies on the affect of violence in gaming instead of depending on bias third party studies, I can't help but feel that there is so much being missed in all of these debates. The questions Dr. Mark presents in this article are the same questions leaders of the industry and leaders in the field of mental health should be sitting down and discussing, not being so narrow minded as to make violence seem like the only factor games can play in the development of a teenager. It would be like saying the only affect movies can have on a person is how much fear they invoke. It effectively eliminates entire genres out of the discussion.

We as gamers shouldn't act like violence isn't an issue in gaming, but we also cannot allow it to be the only issue on the table or else it will seem like we're defending just Grand Theft Auto instead of the industry as a whole. If we're going to discuss the affect of video games on our culture, we need to put everything on the table. That alone will show just how diverse and wonderful gaming can be.
 

Groenteman

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Interesting questions indeed, though sadly its allmost impossible to determine where gaming is the cause, the effect or simply not related. Even when asking these question myself I have no sure-fire way to determine which is which.

The easy answer a lot of people come up with is 'just stop gaming', apparentely expecting boredom to magicaly fix deeply rooted psychological problems. I can say from experience that it doesnt. I read a lot more books, found other ways to entertain myself, and learned/produced no more than I did when I did game.

Gaming can be a hobby, a way to make problems easier to ignore and can in some cases aggravate existing problems but I do not believe it to be the cause of any serious problems. (besides a borked day/night rythm. I swear Civ 5 messes with the flow of time).


Still, honest self reflection is healthy and these question could help a lot on that end.
 

Nieroshai

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I find that this article confuses cause and effect, such as: Simply because antisocial nerds tend to be drawn to gaming, does not mean by any extent that games turn gamers into antisocial nerds. Meatheads gravitate towards sports, but that does not mean playing soccer will turn a valedictorian into a macho frat boy who hates books. The same principle applies to gaming.

I take your challenge to think critically on your questions, and the results I find are that either not enough or too much critical thinking went into your what I can only call assumptions. You raise questions, but do not go back and answer them in any sort of convincing and backed-up manner. At their face, they are easily countered by mere moments' thought, so I would hate to have done further research before commenting on your delivery. I have actually, my thesis was on the socialogical impact of gaming. I just won't put my weeks of research and careful writing on the internet to be plagiarized. I do not wish to belittle your skill and knowledge as a doctor, but most of this seems based on old assumptions long dispelled.
 

Mark J Kline

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These are interesting questions, although heavily loaded.

I'm concerned that the defensiveness of gamers against criticism of our hobby has become knee-jerk and automatic without any real critical thought on the matter, that the gaming community's response to concerns about the hobby ranges from rigidly defensive to venomously hostile.
That is a typical, non-commited parent comment, based on a cursery glance at the gaming community and mostly at the medias depiction of it, especially online articles such as those found here on the Escapist.

It's preconception and bigoted views that take all the worst comments and just paints the community in broad strokes, just because there are so many of them.
Not once have I seen a journalist go in-depth and actually hit the core of a controversial issue, brush aside the obvious immature comments and strawmen and present the pro's and con's of the issue in a remotely non-biased way.


So, well aware of the irony, I'll put people into two boxes.
There are those who get it and there are those who don't.

Either you have perspective to see the bigger issues, the actual problems and the joys in life.
Or you don't and you fucking nitpick and every little thing in an attempt to look smart and mature.

Are games detrimental to your well-being? Yes. They are, moreso than most hobbies up until the point where you do hard drugs.
Is it necessarily true for everyone? Certainly not, because if you're one of the rare gifted individuals that has commoon sense, you'll see that you shouldn't spend all your free time in front of the computer, every day of the week.


In relation to knee-jerk reactions:
Is sexism rampant through the gaming culture? Yes.
Is it of any significant consequence? Hardly, because almost all people have school and work to mature at, and draw a basis from. Those who don't or fail to do so, have more pressing concerns than games teaching them values, because parents are handing them games that they shouldn't be playing, as well as not teaching them not to be completely biased douchebags.
This is a symptom of something worse, not a direct result of "bad values" in games.

So why do we see knee-jerk reactions all the time?
Because it's an easy escape from worse things and there are people out there telling you that your only safezone is the cause of all evil in todays society.

On the other hand, we have another type of knee-jerk reaction and this is in my opinion the worse one.
White-knighting, defenders of all good and just, people who have clear boundaries of what's right and wrong, saints who respect both genders, all races and all sexualities and always have the answer to everything.
These people are rampant through these forums especially.
They are typically people who have not had any particular issue in life other than not getting that smartphone they wanted for their birthday.
They are low self-esteem people, who can't take the chance that they might be wrong and stick to clear values.
They need to show their knowledge of things at all times and need to tell you just how wrong you are for even thinking that controversies in games might be worth keeping or should at least tolerated.

They, are the bandwagon do-gooders who quickly stomp out EVERYONE with a blunt instrument called "Righteous Values".


Let me just throw a few sayings at you, at this point: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions", "There cannot exist shade without light and how would we tell what's light without darkness", "Yin and Yang - No good without evil and vice versa"
(Heavily compressed, I know - Just look at the point and avoid the semantics)

We keep repeating these phrases and sayings for a reason; The fact that everything is part of a whole and there are no clear boundaries when it comes to human morality and values. Whenever we think we find a clear definition of an action, such as killing someone, there are always exceptions and the end sometimes justifies the means.
(I would've used rape as an example, but it's almost impossible to justify with even under the most bizarre of circumstances.)
Humanity has struggled for thousands of years with morality and none of us, especially not our current gaming culture or any aspect of it, is in any way better than the ancient philosophers before us, so we can't simply dismiss any negative part of games as only bad or games as a whole as bad for anyone or everyone.

As gamers who play games often and ardently, shouldn't we be the ones asking questions about the activity and the subculture surrounding it? Are there issues related to videogames and their usage that we should be thinking about that we aren't?
In short:
While these questions that Dr. Mark wrote are interesting and even relevant for certain individuals, they are as a whole not necessary if you're a well adjusted person with an open mind and some world experience.
This should be the common denominator, ground zero, the basis of human values.
If we lower the bar to accomodate the white-knights and immature creatures that yell at the top of their lungs, then we will not evolve socially. If we raise the bar too high, the result is non-relevant to society and is a wish for utopian circumstances, which are impossible until we at least develop a single consciousness.

The gaming community as a whole, is too young and too inexperienced to answer these questions with any certainty.
Any progress that we hope to achieve, is through genuine introspect and hard work and none of us are qualified as of yet.
Of course we should strive to improve ourselves and encourage a more open community and a broad subculture, but not at the point of the white-knights sword or the battlecry of the raging fanatics.

Addendum
I do not pretend to know everything, I just try to sift through the bullshit and get to the core.
I will neither read nor respond to anyone who quotes me out of context or chops up my post to suit their points.
If you've read my rant, I am grateful, if you understood my point, even better, whether you agree or not.
If you want to debate with me, I appreciate it and I welcome any introspect to the matter.
 

Dastardly

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Mark J Kline said:
Issues Gamers Should Think About

Dr. Mark discusses some of the effects that games have on gamers.

Read Full Article
Timely and well-framed discussion here. It's incredibly important for any person, in any hobby or subculture, to be able to withstand the critical eye. And "withstand" doesn't mean "resist," either. Scrutiny is important, and gamers in general could do with a little more... scruting?
 

sammysoso

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Nice to see you again Dr. Mark :)

As usual, very thought provoking. We should always be evaluating ourselves and our hobbies. It's just good mental hygiene, as opposed to seeking out specific problems.
 

Groenteman

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These so spawn some interesting discussion!

Smilomaniac said:
'I am not crazy, thus I do not ask myself questions about whether or not I am crazy. Thus I would never find out if I were crazy.' See the flaw here?

Self reflection can be treacherous. Everyone would like themselves to be a 'well adjusted person with an open mind', and it becomes very easy to ignore bits of reality that dont fit that image.

Which is why, when you or someone else thinks you have a problem, it is important to ask yourself accurate questions without skipping any awkward parts. Which is realy all Dr Mark seems to have intended this list for. Something to think about. And if you dont like to think about it, all the more reason you should.

They are not accusations, they dont have to be researched in every detail, and likely they dont hold true for the vast majourity. That does however not mean you automaticaly shouldnt think about it.


Captcha: I want control. You know me well captcha, too well!
 

jon_sf

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(Caveat: this isn't directed just at you, Groenteman. You just stated this clearly in a way that was quotable.)

Groenteman said:
Interesting questions indeed, though sadly its allmost impossible to determine where gaming is the cause, the effect or simply not related. Even when asking these question myself I have no sure-fire way to determine which is which.
Actually, researchers do have techniques for distinguishing between correlation and causation. They use control groups, factor in those variables and try to hold them constant, and use a large enough group to be statistically significant. But developing and executing studies that can make any definitive statement is tough, especially if you want longitudinal data to see what happens years later.

Also, claiming that gaming doesn't have some effect on you personally doesn't invalidate a theory. [I'm no longer responding to your comment, Groenteman.] You could say, for example, "I don't have any problems with alcohol!" And you might be right. (Or you might be a raging alcoholic in denial.) But either way, it doesn't invalidate the fact that alcohol has a slew of demonstrated effects on people's physical and mental health. Doesn't mean that it should be illegal, but it means that it should be treated with caution and respect, especially if you or your family has a history of alcoholism, depression, etc.

Personally, I'm glad that gaming is getting some more attention, and hopefully more funding and research on the effects of gaming, especially to young people. Human brains are going through a lot of changes all the way up into the early 20s, so it's not insane to think that intense gaming could have some non-trivial effects. Potentially both positive and negative effects, as a few of you have mentioned.

All in all, I think Dr Mark asks good questions, and it's okay that they don't have clear obvious answers yet. We have more to learn, collectively.
 

BloodRed Pixel

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Here is a nice one:

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world?

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html?utm_content=addthis-custom&utm_medium=on.ted.com-twitter&source=twitter&awesm=on.ted.com_bOJq&utm_campaign=&utm_source=t.co#.URHy2twMDr1.twitter

Seriously watch this! Very thoughtful and facts based.
 

tautologico

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redknightalex said:
I find it interesting that this article mainly points out specific problems within the gaming culture and not the positives.
The question was about issues the gaming community may be ignoring, not about the benefits of gaming (of which there are many, as you mentioned, but gamers are mostly familiar with them).

OT: I've been thinking about the "Gaming as Mental Paralysis" thing recently, especially because I'm responsible for the education of a youngster who likes video games a lot. I worry that the ease with which you can feel "accomplished" in games can, for some people, lower the drive to go after "real-world" accomplishments, which tend to be harder to get. I say this based on my own experience: for about a year where things were not going well for me professionally, I started playing World of Warcraft a lot more, and I think that part of it has to do with wanting to compensate the lack of accomplishment in my professional life.

Gaming is great and I love it, but sometimes I worry that people may spend too much time training to be good at games and pass on the opportunity to learn other skills and be creative. Of course, maybe the person wants exactly to be good at games or spend most of his/her time playing, but some people may feel, later on, that they could have used part of their time "better".

So, for some people, there might be a competition between the instant feedback and sense of accomplishment you get in games, and real life where it often takes a lot of time and effort to feel a similar sense of accomplishment.
 

Mark J Kline

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Groenteman said:
Of course I see the flaw in your quote, it's blindingly obvious, however that's not my message. Your description of self reflection, self-realization or introspection is correct but it's a semantic, because that's obviously not part of what I mean.
If you ignore reality, you're not openminded. One step on the way to being that, is to realize that you're not and need to improve and to learn how much experience and knowledge you apply to critisize and disregard, or when.


I have already answered his questions, in a broad stroke, and agreed to a degree that there are issues and consequences. However, I do not agree with the significance of these.
This is a matter of where the problem is as big as you make it. Putting the issues in context and holding them against the big picture. I believe the questions asked here are the wrong ones.

I refer you to Nieroshais comment before mine, which concisely explains why the questions are inadequate. Not invalid, just inadequate.

If someone gathers a larger significance from those questions, gains an introspect that could lead to relevance, then I would love to hear it, until then it's all idle speculation, as is your response.

I'd like you to think about your response to my post, what was the point?
To tell me that you have an insight in introspection?
Did you contribute or did you go on a sidetrack in order to challenge me or what I wrote?

If you don't reply to this, then you understand.
 

Groenteman

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jon_sf said:
I stand corrected on the research point then ;)

Good to know actualy, that in enough time we might have an at least somewhat conclusive answer to some of these.


Smilomaniac said:
No need to be defensive. You seemed to miss out on a certain aspect, I elaborated on it.

Hard as it can be to believe on this forum I was not claiming you didnt allready know it, or invalidating everything you said.

As for a 'point', I dont realy need one. This is discussion is for the sake of it, starting at the article, and when I quote someone the subject is something they did (or didnt) say.
Its defenitely not to 'prove insight' or 'challenge you'. That is a petty and childish way of thinking. Not every discussion needs to be a constant back-and-forth of increasingly unreasonable debasing and invalidating of every point the other typed.