Monday, April 19, 2021

Is Gaming Really Bad for Us?

https://pixabay.com/photos/child-play-game-technology-3264751/

It’s no surprise that during this COVID-19 pandemic, kids, teens,  and even adults are more into mobile games or online pc  games. To some, it is their method of passing time since they’re unemployed, no school, or simply got nothing to do. But for others, it is their way to socialize to other people especially their friends who plays the same game. According to an article in BBC, online gaming has become a social lifeline.

 I used to be an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) player before I got married. The game I used to play was Rose Online. It was a very popular online game in the Philippines, probably second to Ragnarok at that time, both from the publishing studio, Level Up! Games.  At first I was just curious and playing around with the game until I got addicted to getting my character at a high level at the shortest time possible because the higher the level of my character, the stronger it gets and the more other characters will want me in their group. The more you play as a group, the more you are capable of killing difficult enemies giving you more level-up points fast. It was very enjoyable being part of a party, leveling-up together, chatting with other players, you name it. It’s something that gave me purpose of coming home from work early, eat, rest a bit, and then log in to the game.

R.O.S.E Online poster
R.O.S.E Online poster

So in my case, playing online game was a positive experience at first. According to an article from Science Daily,  healthy gaming experiences are detectable from players who experience gaming as engaging rather than addictive.” At first, yes, I was engaging at the game and I was there to check if my boyfriend was online or if my other friends are online, too. But as it went on, I got addicted to the point that I don’t want to work anymore nor do I want to go out. I stopped when I realized that I’m broke and I really need to find a job to support myself.

Games Evolving

I remember my old Nokia mobile (monochrome)  phone has that Snake game where you feed the snake as it moves, gets longer as it feeds, and the player loses when the snake runs into the screen border, a trail, other obstacle, or itself. It was a very simple game, but it actually did its job of helping us pass the time back in college.  The game was so simple that you rarely see people get addicted to it.

Snake game from Nokia
Snake game from Nokia phone

Then PC games started to get popular even though they’ve been around for a long time, but not everyone has a computer of their own at home so they’re not as popular as mobile games in 3rd world countries.

Nowadays, more and more mobile games with increased visual settings, storytelling , and even better graphic user interface have emerged and with just a simple click of “Download” from Google Play, the game is theirs to play at the comfort of their mobile phones.

Games As A New Way to Connect To Others

 Among the games that captured my kids’ interests are Roblox and Among Us. I personally played both games and they’re actually quite fun.  My 8-year-old daughter has been playing Roblox for 2 years meaning she’s been playing it since she was 6. I admit I’m one of those moms who allow their kids to play mobile games, but at a limited time in the day only. She has speech delay and had a hard time to express her thoughts through words and one of the reasons why she doesn’t have any friends in class before during kindergarten. At the start of the school year, she was still very shy during their online class and this went on until the 2nd quarter. 

Roblox
Roblox poster

But during the 3rd quarter, something unexpected happened. One time when they had free time to talk to their classmates, a classmate asked my daughter, “Do you play games? What game do you play?” And she immediately answered Roblox. Her classmate got very excited because he, too, was playing the same game and immediately asked for her username. My daughter and I looked at each other and got excited. They added each other as friends and from then on,  once or twice a week after class, the two of them played Roblox while they’re online and talking to each other. It actually helped developed my child’s speech and she eventually became more talkative. As a parent, I was really glad that her love playing Roblox opened an opportunity for her to make friends and get closer to her classmates that share common interests despite the pandemic where children are not allowed to go outside. 

Kid-Friendly Games

Though there are a lot of rated and violent games we see around the internet, I really want to focus on the kid-friendly ones. I’m really happy that as games evolve, so does educational and kid-friendly games! I really thought I could only get kid-friendly games by purchasing them, but surprisingly there are plenty of games out there that are educational, fun, and free! One of the sites my daughter’s teacher recommended was Arcademics where a child can practice their math skills (addition, substraction, multiplication, division), English skills, and even science skills through racing games. It was really fun. 

Open Restaurant from Plays.org
Open Restaurant game from Plays.org

Among other games we’ve tried that are kid-friendly are National Geographic Kids (for dinosaur/reptile/shark lovers) and Plays.org (for those who love to go back time and play retro inspired games). Speaking of retro games, I tried this Open Restaurant game in Plays.org and I almost got addicted instantly because it’s very similar to the game I used to play and it’s named Restaurant City, a classic game in Facebook around the year 2005. The site houses a lot of games for the whole family so it's also worth a visit. The sites I mentioned are absolutely free and no nasty ads popping up. I personally recommend them.

Conclusion

So is gaming harmful for us? Well, I think the quote, “Too much of anything is bad,” applies here. Playing games is really not a bad thing. It can be a way of relaxation, too. I say that because when I’m bored, which happens very seldom, I play Roblox with my kid and we had a fun time and it's one way of bonding time. But playing too much is never good at any age.  Sometimes the universe will just give a person hints that they’ve had enough like not having money to buy their basic needs, the house is a mess, or the kids are already crying because they’re hungry!  Same goes with youngsters that if  you see their grades failing, poor school attendance, or simply shutting you out as a parent then there's probably something that needs fixing. 

Thanks for the time reading my article. Got any comments, suggestions, feedback about this article? Got something to add? Drop them in the comments and let’s discuss it.   

 

 

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