Are video games really bad for us?

Updated: Mar 29


Art by Wendy Bello Mata

Too many video games aren’t good for you– a sentence heard from parents by children all over the world. In this day and age, most kids have been told the spiel of how video games are bad for us and our mental health. However, how does it TRULY affect our brain? Do first person shooters and open world RPGs really make us more or less violent? Prior to beginning this article, I’d like to mention that I’ve played all the games mentioned here, and will probably be speaking from personal experience in some cases.


Let's start by covering the games that pollute the minds of many concerned parents: shooting games. Filled with guns, violence, and war, most believe that shooter games promote negative themes like racism, murder, harmful stereotypes, and criminal behaviour. Obviously, these things wouldn’t pair well with young children in any scenario. Exposing people to violent themes at such a young age can desensitize them to these serious kinds of subjects. However, on the other hand, researchers at the University of Rochester say that first person shooting games can actually improve the mind and its functions. By fixing attention to hand-eye coordiantion, using quick reflexes, and making decisions, subjects were able to greatly improve cognitive functions in 2 weeks.


Shooting games don't necessarily make us more aggressive or violent outright–a part of it is how you perceive the media you're consuming. Along with violence, there's the danger of wasting all your money on certain games–which brings me to the dangers of gacha.


Gacha games aren’t too familiar to everyone, but they tend to be some of the most addicting games there are. Gacha pulling games follow a system similar to gambling–to put it in simple terms, it IS gambling. Gacha games implore players to use in-game currency to randomly receive an item of some sort, be it a character, weapon, or outfits. Let's use one of the most popular gacha games right now as an example: Genshin Impact. Genshin impact encourages players to earn (or purchase) primogems, which can be used to wish for characters or weapons. To most it sounds innocent enough–what can be so bad about it? Now introduce the pity and star system. Some characters and weapons are worth more than others: five stars. Every ten wishes is guaranteed a four star character, and after 70 wishes the probability of rolling a five star character increases by a lot. Now let me clarify–the in game currency, primogems, are quite hard to obtain. But what's the easiest way to get them? Money, of course. So if you don't want to wait, you’ll need to spend a good 100 dollars to increase your chance and pull a five star. As sad as it is, that's the case for many–much like gambling addictions, gacha addictions are very real and pretty serious. It's incredibly easy to fall victim to these games–even I myself have devoted quite a few hours (and dollars) into them.


Then there’s sandbox games. This includes games like Minecraft, Terraria, Roblox, and many more. Sandbox games allow players to do whatever they please. In terms of negative effects, there seem to be very few, and these games are generally positively looked upon by parents and concerned critics. Games like Minecraft serve as a therapeutic outlet for many, with the resources to build whatever you please and fun mini games to play with friends. To a certain extent, Minecraft can also be used for educational purposes. What makes the game educational isn’t its real world substances or need for self direction. Much like first person shooter games, Minecraft has been seen to improve creativity and problem solving skills for young kids.


Again, video games are perfectly fine to consume in moderation. While that's a hard concept for many (including myself), it's important to take a break from our electronics, especially when we spend so much time on them every day. As difficult as it may be, a break every now and then is pretty good for you.


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