There are games that can last for days. There have been instances of children sitting in front of their gaming consoles or computer screens playing online games for more than nine hours, according to this Guardian link. The gaming industry is so big that just three games, League of Legends, World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto are projected to make over $ 3.75 billion in revenues.
The situation of children playing online games for hours has become so grave that doctors have reported parents asking for sleeping pills for their kids. Strangely, researchers, doctors and maybe even parents hesitate to call this an addiction and hence take it as seriously as they would take the drug addiction. Playing video games for hours while constantly sitting in front of a computer or TV screen isn’t normal.
But it isn’t that all parents are sweeping the problem under the carpet. A charity organization called Action for Children says that among the parents surveyed, a quarter said that the problem of the children playing online games is more severe than many traditional issues like not doing homework or eating unhealthy food. The charity’s managing director Carol Iddon says, “We were surprised it came top. We hadn’t picked up that it was such a big issue. With gaming, children get a lot of satisfaction and positive reinforcement, it can build their confidence. But that can make it become addictive.”
So you can see, even organisations working for children don’t perceive online gaming as big a threat as they should.
Just imagine, if a young person is spending 9-12 hours playing online games when does he or she get time for studying, socializing and physical activity? It begins to take its toll. The person used as a case study in the above article has messed up his college studies and cannot hold on to a job. He himself knows the problem is serious but somehow cannot get rid of his addiction. “When I’m playing I know every hour I could be doing something else with my life, but it gives you a weird sense of fulfilment, like you are achieving something. It’s like smoking or drinking. It’s a very bad habit.”
It is difficult for the gaming industry to acknowledge the problem for obvious reasons. Complicated psychological twists are used to keep players hooked to the game. Almost all the games are designed to make you play more and more. The more addicted it gets, the more you want to play and the more you want to play, the more you get addicted. Games are here to stay and you cannot blame the gaming industry because it is supposed to create games that are difficult to put down. It’s the parents and the children who need to decide when to put a stop to it.