Computer Games: The Good and The Bad And the Ugly

Computer Games: The Good and The Bad And the Ugly

Gaming is a very controversial subject, many people think that all gamer's are lazy slobs who spend all their time in doors player games- this is not really the case for the majority of gamer's, many people make a lot of money playing games. But even in modern times, not everyone can see the positive side of gaming, many people think it causes real world problems like crime and violence. In this report I will discuss the good side of gaming and the bad side of gaming.

Good Things Gaming Brings
1.      Hand- eye coordination
There are some very good benefits to gaming, one of these is improved hand to eye coordination. There are reports of surgeons that play games, become a lot more skilled over time, this is a very good benefit because people’s lives can be saved in the hands of these surgeons-"In order to prepare for complex medical procedures, surgeons in a Florida hospital have taken to playing video games as a warm-up prior to surgery. In a recent study conducted at the hospital, physicians that played video games for six minutes prior to attempting a virtual surgery actually improved their patient outcome results".

You don't have to be a surgeon to gain the benefits of computer games, this can improve a number of day to day activities, for example driving relies a lot on hand to eye coordination, when playing a first person shooter a players reaction times are improved, this could help them with sudden braking in a car- because their brain has been training to react more quickly to danger."Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have discovered that playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster. The researchers found that video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, and this benefit doesn't just make them better at playing video games, but improves a wide variety of general skills that can help with everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town.". A quicker reaction time is good whilst driving because it could reduce the amounts of car accidents- saving car owners money, and most importantly saving lives; fatal collisions on the road cause much more psychological damage to a loves ones of victims and survivors of fatal crashes, than any of the negative effects of video games.  

2.      Strategy Skills
Games can also improve one’s thinking and strategy skills. Strategies used in war games are used by the military to help train soldiers for real strategic battle, this is brilliant because it can help the military resolve situations quickly and with less lives lost. The video game America's Army is a game created by the United States Army, they use this game for training purposes- but is also on sale to the public. The game focuses on the real life tactics used by armed forces, this is a good substitute for real training exercises because it's much cheaper. There are many First Person Shooter games on sale, a lot of these give people an insight to strategy, the Battlefield series is about taking control of objective, Counter-strike has a lot to do with teamwork, the Tom Clancy games like Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six teach players about sneakily breaching into buildings; the players of these games psychologically have a rough idea of what to do if they were ever in a situation, this does not mean they are ready to fight in a war, it just means they have an idea of what to expect from these situations- because a bad thing to do would be to join the army and then discover you're a pacifist.

3. Training Programs
Outside of the army there are training simulations which help people of specialist professions like: pilots, drivers, and astronauts. Gaming has helped to develop these training simulations, and this has helped train people with specialist skills more quickly; therefore improving efficiency within these industries. Some simulations are very realistic, for example the simulators pilots use- the F-35, feels quite real, this is because they use all the controls what you can find in an actual plane, “Pilots often share that the F-35 simulator is so realistic they forget they aren’t actually flying- Mike Luntz, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Training System director"

4. Application Development

Gaming has help develop the tech industry in many ways, many years ago computer operating systems were very complicated and hard to use-a lot of this is to do with the interface of the systems, they were not obvious so it would take time to train people how to use them. Video games helped develop the interface of computer programs, they have inspired a more graphical interface, as opposed to the old MS DOS style of operations. This easy to use interface has got more people using technology as a whole, mobile phones have taken ideas from games- for example the "Press Start" screen at the beginning of old games, is similar to the easy swiping methods of smartphones. If you have ever looked at an old computer which is filled with what seem like random characters and figures, you will know that looking at it is boring- video games brought fun and colour to computer screens making staring at a screen less mind numbing, therefore making us happier.

5. They stop some real world violence
Not all violence will be stopped by video games, but the type of violence and crime caused by boredom has definitely dropped since video games started to become popular. Home video game consoles started to become popular in the 1990's "Total US sales of video game hardware and software increased 204% from 1994 to 2014, reaching $13.1 billion in 2014, while violent crimes decreased 37% and murders by juveniles acting alone fell 76% in that same period." This quote is based on the United States, and the United States has more than enough violence. 76% murders by juveniles acting alone has fell since 1994- they mention acting alone because of gang violence- this shows that since 1994 something has happened to make a 76% drop in murder, I think that it is video games that have occupied these people, because boredom and loneliness can lead to violence.

6. Video Games are Stress Releasing
Video games are a very good way to release stress, because they can take people away from the real world, and the problems which come along with the real world. "A peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that children, especially boys, play video games as a means of managing their emotions: "61.9% of boys played to 'help me relax,' 47.8% because 'it helps me forget my problems,' and 45.4% because 'it helps me get my anger out." Video games have a cathartic effect on the people who play, cathartic means providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions; causing catharsis" this cathartic release can help people with a number of things including schoolwork and generally make a person more happy; and less likely to be depressed.

7. They can improve teamwork
When playing on an online multiplayer game, teamwork is important, if you don't play in a team you are less likely to succeed in the game. MMO and FPS games are brilliant examples of this, on FPS multiplayer sometimes people don't even know they are working in a team- but they are, even if you are running around as a lone wolf stealthily killing enemies, someone is killing the enemies who would probably overwhelm you otherwise. Multiplayer games encourage the use of microphone headsets to interact with other players- and to make teamwork easier, this also improves social interaction.

8. Violent Video Games are a deterrent to real life violence
Video games help children learn the consequences of real life actions, and help them to develop and understand morals. A lot of popular video games are based around war, these games could help people- particularly teenagers- understand more about the cost of war, for example when you play a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield the maps you play on are places where civilians would have lived once, these places are destroyed by the battle going on there; people can relate to this as would not like it if war came to their home. Some games directly show you the consequences of your actions, for example in The Red Dead Redemption, the player has a metre which shows "Honour", when the player kills an innocent person they loose honour, this causes the player to build a bad reputation, and the character they play as will become more rude and unpleasant as the metre goes down. 
9. Some Games Promote Exercise
Games like Wii Fit and Kinect fitness games encourage people to exercise, because the fitness games make exercise seem more fun to do, it also helps people keep fit when the weather is not so great- this is very good during winter.  "A study reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine of 39 Boston middle-school children who played with six different interactive gaming systems found that the games "compared favorably with walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour, with four out of the six activities resulting in higher energy expenditure."
10. Building Confidence
Anyone who has played a video game will tell you that it feels good to win at the game. Achieving video games helps boost self esteem, and improve confidence. And this can help a person with many things in their live, for example with relationships, work, sport, and hobbies. "Through puzzles, exploration and discovery, players learn to succeed in ways that some researchers say our brains actually prefer. Most games are designed to introduce a concept, such as jumping, and then provide players with an opportunity to master it. Players are then free to explore and utilize and achieve success with this new skill, growing in self-confidence all the while."Games which let players create and develop their own character, are good for boosting confidence, this is because the player relates to the character they have made, and every success they have is like their own.

Bad Things Gaming Brings
1.Health Risks

Playing too much video games is a risk to physical health, people have suffered serious medical conditions like blood clots. Other health conditions caused by gaming include Migraines, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Backache, loss of sleep- which could lead to back grades in school, and can cause people to eat easy to eat junk food instead of health food- causing obesity, which can lead to an unhealthy future.

Social Isolation
People who spend too much time gaming tend to have poor social skills, this is because they spend most of their time in the gaming world, this is bad because they might mix up the gaming world with the real world- for example if they go to shops they could try to “Barter”.
Children who play too much video games are likely to not develop the social skills they need in life, games might also effect a child’s education- for example they might not finish homework, or they will skip school days.
“Among addicted gamers who are married, up to 50 percent report a strain in their marriage as a result of their addiction. Addicted gamers also neglect the responsibilities of everyday life such as school and work.”

3. Separation from reality
Video games have the potential to turn someone into a recluse, and when someone is alone for large periods of time they become a bit insane, they might mix up reality and the fantasy world in games, they might lose human interaction skills, they think they could use in game objects in real life.
“Linus, 19, said he thought he could use a search button in World of Warcraft when he tried to look for his older brother in a crowd. Others said they unwittingly acted out situations inspired by games.”
4. Peer pressure
There is a lot of peer pressure created by gaming, for example a friend might pressure another friend into buying a game they have, so they can play together- this may have a good intention to it, but the friend without the game will have to spend money just to shut their friend up; this is quite unfair, as if they do not purchase the game there relationship could fall apart. This can be bad for people will poorer backgrounds, as they might have to spend a lot of their money to purchase a game. “It is often made more difficult to control the games children play owing to the peer pressure they come under. If there is a dominant child in their friendship group that plays more violent games it can make your life harder to restrict the games your own child plays.”

5. Games Can Cause Bullying
Online games are a very easy target for bullies, this is because it's the easiest form of cyberbully. Gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation offer online service, on these services users don't have to give as much information as they would do on social media websites like Facebook- people go by usernames not real names- this means there is less of a risk in causal cyber bullying. On games with voice chat bullying is very easy and hard to report- because you have to record the evidence yourself.
6. Violent Games Can Cause Violent Behavior in Young Children
 Children under 7 have trouble telling the difference between fantasy and reality, this is because their minds have not fully developed, so if a child under 7 years of age was exposed to a violent video game, they might copy the things they have seen in the game, making them more aggressive. "A 2014 study published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture found that 90% of pediatricians and 67% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that violent video games can increase aggressive behavior among children. More than 98% of pediatricians in the United States say that too much exposure to violent media heightens childhood aggression." The quote says 90% of pediatricians agree that violent video games can lead to aggressive behavior in children, this quite an alarming statistic, as pediatricians are experts in the health and welfare of children. 

7. Mass Murderers Have Played Video Games
It is not correct to say that mass murders and shooting sprees are caused by video games, simply because it's not true- if anything video games have prevented mass murders. People tend to think this because whenever there is a mass murder the media wants someone to blame other than the perpetrators. However when Anders Breivik killed 77 people in two terrorist attacks in Norway, he said he used Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as a "Training Simulation", it is quite shocking that a video game had maybe aided in such a tragic event- however this does not mean that video caused it, the perpetrator would have still carried out the mass murders with or without video games.
8. Video Games and Violence Against Women
There are many video games which sexually objectify female characters, games like the Dead or Alive series which is a fighting game where women are all scantly clad and have exaggerated appearances. Video games have been said to have created hostile attitudes towards victims of rape."Exposure to sexual violence in video games is linked to increases in violence towards women and false attitudes about rape, such as that women incite men to rape or that women secretly desire rape".
9. Video Games Reward Players For Violent Behaviors
Video games have always rewarded the player for violence, this ranges from Mario getting points by jumping on an enemy, to unlocking new weapons because of the amount kills you have got in Call of Duty. This might have links to aggressive behavior in teens- "An analysis of 81 video games rated for teens ages 13 and up found that 73 games (90%) rewarded injuring other characters, and 56 games (69%) rewarded killing. People who played a video game that rewarded violence showed higher levels of aggressive behavior and aggressive cognition as compared with people who played a version of the same game that was competitive but either did not contain violence or punished violence."
10. Muscle Pain and Strains
 Playing games for too long can cause players to get strains, hand strains could be caused by controllers, eye strains and migraines are caused by looking at a screen for too long, there are also back strains caused by poor posture while playing video games- which could lead to a change in physical appearance. A players thumbs could be affected by gaming for too long, for example there is a condition known as "Nintendinitis" and "PlayStation Thumb". "A 2004 case report in The Lancet, authored by a 9-year-old boy, mentions the Playstation thumb, which features numbness and a blister caused by friction between the thumb and the controller from rapid game play"