(Discretion advicery: The article covers topics that some people might find sensitive)
How important is it really in today's society?
Gaming was prevelant ever since the ancient times where checkers and chess were played on regular basis from great strategists like Sun Tzu to your average folk, but how much has changed and to what extend does it influence mental health?
The prevalence of gaming
It is said that that there are around 45 million gamers in the UK alone which is a big number as there is around 67 million people in UK according to the office of national statistics. The gaming industry had its share of controversies as Wikipedia shows, from anti-social behaviour to stress and social anxiety caused by games and their communities.
The overall worth of the gaming industry in UK is more than 5 billion pounds and the industry it only going to increase with the improvements in technology including improved console releases, better computer parts and faster internet which allows gamers to play games with higher quality graphics, innovative mechanics and higher educational potential.
A large amount of games that the people in UK buy are highly competitive which includes popular franchises of FIFA and Call of Duty. The rise of competitive games is due to many reasons, this includes roleplay potential as well as a sense of accomplishment when doing well in games against different players or AI.
With such a tremendous amount of money involved in the industry it is bound to have benefits and negatives associated with it concerning the mental health. There are arguments on both sides which present valid points to the discussion.
The advantages of gaming
The overwhelming advantage that gaming brings is its educational value which covers a wide range of subjects, there are war games like Spec Ops: The Line which shows the horrors of war on civilians and soldiers participating in conflicts. There are different genres of games such as simulation such as Democracy 4 which can show different government policies such as taxes and subsidies and how it impacts the country picked by the player. The educational value helps gamers with mental health as learning new things can the mood as well as create a feeling of accomplishment.
There is a study done by Australian and Chinese research teams which suggests that gaming can improve problem solving skillls, this is a highly valued skill not only in gaming but in education and employment where problem solving is required to make effective decisions and influence their impact. The problem solving skills helps with mental health as it can help gamers look at different situations from a different angle.
Another study conducted by the in 2012 shows that gamers can see more detail, this can be useful in the workplace for those who need to see major and minor flaws for example a project manager has the responsibility for ensuring the project is completed on time, within budget and the highest quality possible which can only be done with proficient planning which requires planning every detail for the project. The attention to detail can help with mental health as it allows gamers to be more objective.
The disadvantages of gaming
The main disadvantage of gaming can be developing a gaming addiction which WHO classifies as gaming disorder if its severe, gaming addiction can allow a person to develop multiple unhealthy habits.
First unhealthy impact of gaming can be skipping a meal or a shower, a study shows that during Covid 30% of people surveyed said they skipped meal or a shower, this can develop into a habit making the gaming addiction more severe and more difficult to solve which can turn into a spiral of worsening mental health.
Secondly it can cause a neglect in responsibilites such as doing school work which can cause worsening grades, worsening the gaming addiction and in turn mental health.
Overall gaming can have positives but it's important to play games in moderation in order to prevent negative effects of gaming.