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Effects of Online Gaming

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With the technology of a civilization becoming more and more advanced, the people demand that their entertainment become more advanced as well. After a long hard day at work or school, people like to come home to relax and just lose their mind in meaningless entertainment, be it television or even a video game. Video games provide an escape into a virtual world, where you can forget about everything that is happening in real life and just enjoy yourself, even play with your friends in a multiplayer game. In the past, for a group of video game players to play multiplayer games, it was necessary for them to all be together and all their computers or Xboxes connected to one another. Not only were they just playing a game, they were interacting on a personal level. Now with online gaming becoming a component of most every video game on the market today, it is possible for gamers to have this same multiplayer action in the privacy of their own home. This anonymity comes with a cost however, and it is becoming increasingly common that both the social aspect of gaming and the gamers’ social skills themselves are degrading as online gaming becomes more prevalent.

One of the dangers that society faces from video games is their anti-social ability to suck players in and not let them go for hours, even days at a time. Such an example of this is World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online game where a player’s character exists in a worldwide virtual land. This fantasy land has its own economy, politics, and jobs for you to do once you are in, and it is because of the sheer number of things to do that many people remain trapped in this online world. Players spend hours leveling up their character to make him more powerful, or collecting gold, or even just searching for a special magic sword they need for their character. Currently the World of Warcraft is populated by over ten million active players from both sexes and from every walk of life, preteens to businessmen. With so many people playing this game, it would be proper to think that some of them are addicted to the game. Driven by Warcraft’s ultra-competitive nature, players hunt for weapons and farm gold with an intense fervor not normally associated with games.

This competition can lead to addiction to the game, and from these budding addictions stem several problems. A child can lock himself in his room for hours collecting gold, or a college student could skip classes to keep searching for that magical mace. In the case of the child, this addiction can be very damaging to his or her development to adulthood. As a parent, neglecting to spend time with your child and not forming familial bonds can distance yourself from your child (Kiefaber). Such bonds are formed by taking a family trip to the park or the zoo, not by letting the child lock himself in a room to play a video game. Addiction can even cause problems of a more serious degree; health related issues. The college student who sits playing might not drink enough water and become dehydrated, or become malnourished over time from forgetting to eat regular meals. Personally, I can attest to this statement, as there have been times where I have spent a whole day just playing through a game, unable to stop just because it was so engrossing.

In 2005 in South Korea, a 28 year old man “playing Moving away from the addiction factor of online gaming and massive multiplayer games, the concentration now shifts to communications between players during the game play. In certain games, squad tactics and strategy are very important components to being successful and winning the game. Players can use voice chat to report on enemy positions and relay commands, streamlining the action. However, it is found that most gamers do not use the voice chat for these purposes, instead using it to annoy and curse at one another. On paper the voice chat is a very appealing feature that seems to create an aura of unity, but similar to how an automobile can be viewed as just as efficient as walking in terms of time spent in transit, in most cases the microphone no more effective in communications than silence (Illich). Silence is something that would be preferable to hearing the cursing coming from other players in the game. The primary culprit in determining the cause of this swearing is anonymity.

A lack of face to face contact during a game makes the gamer feel he is alone, creating a false sense of anonymity. Anonymity is a dangerous thing online as it desensitizes players from their actions and words. Unfortunately, just as practice makes permanent, this desensitization becomes ingrained in the gamer’s head and can permanently change how they behave in society. Lastly, perhaps the most telling problem with online games is the way they alienate people from their surroundings and cause essential social skills to become lost. Coming full circle, the child playing World of Warcraft example can be used here again. Since the child spent most of his time in his room playing the game instead of out interacting and socializing with people, he is more likely to become alienated from society. One example of this alienation is how the person dresses or even smells. When playing a game, it is not necessary to wear deodorant or even dress properly, for you are usually alone your appearance does not affect the game. But when these gamers try to go out in society like this, smelling of body odor and looking disheveled, people judge them as socially inept or even strange. Culturally, we find that online games are even indirectly changing the way we express ourselves.

According to Sven Birkits, “spoken and written expression…will gradually be replaced by a more telegraphic ‘plainspeak'”(Birkits 128). Since most online games without voice chat use text based communications, the problems that plague instant messaging also plague video games. People who talk only in chat boxes can have difficulty in real life forming sentences and expressing themselves because they no longer have the ability to write out a thought and look it over before sending it, something done only in a chat box. While not an immediate problem, lack of verbal skills can prove more problematic if the gamer is in a job interview, or in a position where they are dealing with an angry customer. If the person is fumbling and stumbling over words, they are not going to be very convincing in either situation. Also, due to the rapid typing of messages in online games, many words are spelled wrong, and over repetition, these incorrectly spelled forms of words can replace their correct counter parts. A classic example of this is the world “you’re”, which is now constantly replaced with the grammatically incorrect “your”. My father especially is deeply annoyed by this social faux pas, as he has witnessed this grammatical error over time become more and more commonplace, proving that Birkits’ views on our language’s development are substantiated.

Personally, I can see what my father means and recognize that while it is not a problem solely caused by video games, they have served as a catalyst, hastening the problem’s spread. As evidenced, it is found that the online interactions provided by video games are not only dangerously addiction forming, but they also lead to social awkwardness and desensitization. All of these things are changes that are slowly taking hold of our society and becoming ingrained in our culture. Swearing is becoming more commonplace and occurring at earlier ages because of the false sense of anonymity that online games create. Just because you cannot see the person does not mean they are not there and should be treated just as if both were face to face.

Also, gamers are becoming more and more disconnected from common society because of their habits and lifestyles, which can evolve into causing real problems in communicating later in life. Finally, the addiction forming habits of online multiplayer games can result in damaging bonds between family and friends, while also making the player dependent on his or her computer more than other people to remain entertained. One thing that must be reinforced is that while technologies are here to stay, and able to entertain us in new ways, they must never be allowed to become more entertaining than real life.

Works Cited

Birkits, Sven. The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. 1. Ballantine Books, 1995. Kiefaber, Matt. “Implications of Online Gaming .” 17 Apr 2002 10 Oct 2008 . Illich, Ivan. Toward a History of Needs. Paperback. Heyday Books, 1987. “S Korean dies after games session .” BBC 10 Aug 2005 10 Oct 2008 .

http://www.academia.edu/1980022/An_investigation_into_the_effects_of_online_gaming_on_young_people_and_children

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