Debunking: Video Game Myths

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Only a few days ago I was at a Game Stop off of Mulberry which had a sizable crowd of active and enthusiastic gamers. Many were there to pre-order Dark Souls Remastered which created an exciting buzz around the store, causing strangers to talk and laugh with one another. I saw people exchanging Facebook and Switch Network names, sharing enthusiasm in the near release. I happened to be there observing this positive community flourish when it occurred to me: Why, in 2018, is there still any stigma about what we love?

If you are a fan of video gaming, you’re all too familiar with the judgment, stereotypes and lies that poison the video gaming culture. You’ve been nagged for how violent your video games appear to be or questioned about how you have time for gaming with your responsibilities. Video games carry a false stigma of making you lazy, antisocial and harming their brain health, when in reality gaming as a pastime can be more productive and “better” for your health than watching television. In this article I will debunk the most common misconceptions about video games.

Myth 1: video games are used for training military personnel, therefore they make you violent. Video games have been blamed untold for real violence. In 1999 video games were condemned for contributing to the horrific massacre at Columbine High School, and said to be the cause of numbing the shooters to their actions, supposedly.

These allegations aren’t entirely baseless. According to the American Psychological Association task force, they found a “well-established” link between short-term aggression and violence in video games. “People who play violent games in laboratory settings are willing to administer, say, more hot sauce to a stranger, or a louder blast of noise, than people who don’t play violent games” (Suellentrop, 1).

Although as it is true in many cases, correlation does not equal causation. Many scholars dispute these findings, describing these occurrences to merely indicate the violence influences our thoughts rather than our actions. Those whom would be more inclined to administer more hot sauce, are most likely predisposed to violence and violent thoughts. Whether or not these impressions minimally affect our thoughts, gamers are able to differentiate between reality and simulation 100 percent of the time. Despite these “well-established” correlation reports, it has never been proven that video games actually cause people to be more physically violent and therefore it is false.

Myth 2: video games are addicting and causes users to neglect their responsibilities. Addiction can be caused by anything. Binge watching Netflix has become a societal norm, yet watching television all day holds far less stigma than playing video games for a few hours. To say that video games should be blamed for being addicting and obstructing productivity is false, anything can become addictive and harmful if you don’t use it in moderation.

It’s easy to blame video games for bad grades and being late to work but over indulgence in video games is usually caused by deeply rooted problems like impulsiveness, and lack of social and coping skills. In this sense, the addiction lies within the root of the diagnosis not the actual game itself. Anyone who does not suffer from a mental instability will not become addicted to video games only based on the nature of the game itself.

Myth 3: video games rot your brain. This is a deeply rooted myth that people have believed for years and has even been claimed by US presidents. To an observer, gaming might seem mindless and trivial, but in reality is requires a lot of patience and skill. Video gaming has actually been proven to improve cognitive functions and problem solving skills.

Gaming can positively affect eyesight, fight dyslexia, improve coordination, increase concentration, improve your brain’s speed, enhance social skills, and flex your memory. One study has shown a correlation between dyslexics improving their reading by utilizing sessions of action-oriented video games. Researchers believe this helps dyslexia because the user must concentrate on a fast-paced environment that constantly changes requiring intense focus and patience. Scientists are also discovering that video games in moderation may actually strengthen your eyesight, not strain it. The focus and demanding nature of video games make them a useful tool for improving cognitive functions, not hindering them.

The argument can be made that playing video games for too long will eventually cause brain cells to die, in the same way that watching television all day will damage your brain health. Too much of anything is bad for you, and everything should be consumed in moderation.

There are two sides to this argument, and both contains some amount of truth. This article is very interesting to compare the science for and against this argument. It entertains the idea that “shooter” games might actually be bad for your brain, in comparison to other types of video games. It hasn’t been proven but it is an intriguing idea to think about, the effects of video games on humans aren’t black and white meaning anything is possible.

From the other perspective, this other article breaks down the many studies done about different types of games and how they affect the brain differently. The article explains that after researching a group of gamers playing action games, compared to gamers playing platform games, action games seemed to shrink the hippocampus located in the brain. The lead researchers, Gregory West and Simone Kuhn theorized that platform games exercised critical thinking and cognitive skills, whereas “shooter” games with repetitive maps activated a autopilot gaming response.

Myth 4: gamers are antisocial. There is a defined stereotype for the avid gamer which consists of a hermit adult hiding away in their parents basement playing games alone and not leaving for days. This stereotype simply is not true for all gamers. You can find slothful, antisocial hermits of all kinds in all walks of life, it has nothing to do with playing video games specifically.

A statistics piece from Dueling Analogs shows that gamers are actually 4 percent more likely to belong to a club, 2 percent less likely to forget a person’s name, and 87 percent of them have at least three friends or more.

Many new games are online-oriented which gives the player the opportunity to connect with new friends online and engage in a brain-healthy activity with friends. Video games can actually improve social skills by exposing children to social cues and how to interact with one another. Also, the gaming community is vast and well-established in many areas of the country. Gamers in all parts of the world can connect together at local events and bond over their shared passion.

For gaming cafés and events: Every Gamer Needs to Visit These 5 Fort Collins Gaming Cafés

Myth 5: video games are only for men. Many games target men, such as “Madden NFL” and “Call of Duty,” but there are almost as many women gamers out there as their are men. The Statistics Portal indicates that 58 percent of all gamers are in fact men, but that still leaves a staggering 42 percent of women gamers.

These numbers go unnoticed, because girls are much more likely to play video games by themselves. Only 20 percent of female gamers game online and use voice chat. More than 70 percent of male gamers who play online chat with others. Females make up a large population of all gamers and play a large variety of games, just like males do.

US Video Gamer Gender Statistics 2017

When you think critically about the stigma surrounding video gaming and you are able to debunk its pejoratives, it becomes apparent that video gaming is no worse — nor better than any other hobby. Gaming can bring unlikely friends together, or create a strong gaming community that can help others become friends. It can challenge you to think critically and push you beyond what you thought was possible.

Thus, video gaming can be productive and more beneficial than watching television if one does it in a moderate manner. Video gaming can improve eyesight, problem solving intuition, social skills, and can also help fight dyslexia. As these studies continue to reveal, moderate video gaming is not bad for your brain, or health in general, does not create violence in real life, and are made for males and females to enjoy together in healthy social situations.