Sitting for Extended Periods of Time
First, when you play video games you are sitting in a chair and staring at a screen. Doing this for extended periods takes its toll on your physical health. Furthermore, majority of individuals have jobs where they sit and stare at screens. Students sit at desks at stare at their laptops. Sitting for long durations contributes to lumbar and hip pain. It is important for us to get up and exercise, which is why there is a huge market for standing desks. Gaming is time consuming. There is a finite number of hours in the day and many of our daily activities involve sitting for extended periods of time (work, school, transportation, etc.). To make this problem even worse, time flies when you are having fun and a three-hour gaming session feels more like fifteen minutes.
Instant Gratification and Dopamine Abuse
Video games are an audio and visual explosion on your senses. Everything that happens in a game taps into the reward center of your brain. Gaming hits this reward center at faster rate and frequency than the average activity in everyday life, which is why gamers play for extended periods of time. It feels good. The downside is that it makes real life feel less stimulating and exciting. Reality hits the reward center at a slower rate. Thus, gamers feel less motivated to accomplish goals in real life and more motivated to achieve goals in gaming. They prioritize gaming over workplace or academic accomplishment. Activities outside of gaming feel dreadfully slow and unfulfilling. Real life accomplishments don’t trigger bright colored animations and cool sound effects.
Benefits of Gaming
Video games are very challenging. They increase hand eye coordination, problem solving skills, and spatial reasoning skills. Many games require the user to solve complicated puzzles and navigate complex menus for resource management. Timing and precision are integral components of being successful. These tasks require active engagement and focus, which exercises the brain in a positive way.
Gaming can promote a sense of community. Sometimes these communities are toxic, but other times they are supportive. Gamer’s should seek out the latter. Many gamers suffer from social anxiety, which is why they hide behind their screens and play games alone. However, there a massive world of online gaming that can help with social anxiety. Fore example, twitch streaming has become incredibly popular over the years. Many gamers who suffer from social anxiety have stepped out of their comfort zone by broadcasting their gameplay while being filmed with a webcam. They essentially put on a live show for people, which is a form of exposure to their fears. Negative attention is a concern here, but gamers have the power to ban people from their channel who are not being supportive to the type of environment they are trying to promote. Gamers suffering from social anxiety should not stop there though. They should also expose themselves in face-to-face interactions with others in order to continue working on their social anxiety. A great way to do this is by meeting up with people to play board games in-person.
Putting It All Together
Gaming has a lot of benefits. However, time disappears while gaming because it is overly stimulating. Balance is the key here. If you are noticing that real life is starting to feel less meaningful than your gaming habit, then you may want to decrease the amount of time that you play video games to boost the pleasure you get out of non-gaming life. In addition, real life responsibilities should never take a back seat to your gaming habit. Make sure you are living a balanced life and be mindful of potential side effects from over indulging in gaming (i.e., feeling fatigued, depressed, anxious, unfilled, etc.). Furthermore, because gaming is not a physical activity (unless your playing virtual reality while standing up and swinging your arms around) it is essential that you have an exercise routine in your schedule (at least 30 minutes 3x per week, I suggest more than that). Set a time limit to your gaming sessions and pay close attention to how you feel after you log off.