It’s way past midnight and you are glued to the computer screen… eyes blaring red, blood pumping hard, veins jumping around, fingers frantically pushing at keys, headphones playing out an assortment of techno sounds interspersed with several intermittent blasts and jingles and cracklings… Sound familiar? Well, if that describes you, chances are you might be suffering from computer video game addiction. An increasing number of parents are reaching out to seek advice from professional consultations concerned about a child who doesn’t like making friends, or spending time with the parents- the only pastime being computer games. This trend, however, isn’t limited to just children alone. A lot of adults these days are getting hooked on to free online games as well and an increasing number of them end up being hooked on to them to the point of being addicted.
Even though addiction to computer video games does not (yet) qualifies into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), excessive gaming is something that is something that has begun to receive widespread attention and there is a raging debate on its harmful side effects. Efforts are underway to have computer games addiction incorporated in the future editions of the DSM. In any case, the fact remains that people (young boys and girls, teens, adults) are now increasingly spending more and more time in front of their computer/TV monitors playing play video games. The amount of time spent is far too much, enough to start debating the unhealthy and negative impact of this addiction and whether it affects the function of an individual in any unprecedented manner.
Let’s take a step back and think about why people find these games so appealing in the first place. First off, if you want to play online games, it is extremely easy. Whichever kind or style of arcade game you happen to be a fan of, one is right there in front of you, available at the click of a button! Dressing up and driving down to the nearest arcade game house to play your favorite and the best arcade games is now a thing of the past. Technology has since improved by leaps and bounds and all your favorite games have now been ported over to the personal computer right in the comforts of your home. Mario, Donkey Kong and such have a new address now: your computer study room! Apart from the portability, the games themselves have improved tremendously over time and are attracting more and more people. Games aren’t confined to simple levels with even simpler controls any more.
Another reason these games are becoming such a rage is their availability. With the widespread use of Internet enabled computers and the availability of mobile internet, the games are always there at your fingertips. In world that continues to move at a frantic pace and where people have a lot less time to socialize, a computer game is always there for you to help you bide time. You get bored at work- log on to your favorite arcade games site and play away. Get back home from work and find yourself alone- Mario and team are around to give you company.
Another reason people like these games so much is the fact that they don’t cost you a dime. The web is full of quality sites that offer you thousands of free games to download and/or play online. There is a mind blowing collection of games ranging from all genres- action, arcade, shooting, driving, racing, adventure, board games, casino games, dress up, you name it. So you always end up being spoilt for choices when it comes to picking up a game you like. Besides, you also get to choose whether you want to play a game against the computer or against online opponents who you can invite to play against. There are also some multiplayer games available where you can invite your buddies to go head to head, in an all-out declaration of virtual war. Whichever way you choose to play, you can rest assured of innumerable hours of heart pumping, vein popping.
Now, there is another side to this coin as well. Not everyone who likes to play these free arcade games ends up being an addict. There are millions of people around the world, young and old, who enjoy these games and use it as a means to relax, purely as a form of entertainment. At the end of the day, it’s all about exercising control on your gaming habits. It’s about not allowing these games to take up the center stage in their lives. When played as they are meant to be, games can no doubt provide a lot of entertainment.
By Lida Fingir