Men and women play too many video games

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For the first time in US history, video game sales for the holiday season will exceed $ 13.4 billion in 2021. Video games are virtually everywhere in American life. So, the reaction to US Senator Josh Hawley’s recent remarks on video games surprised me.

Although Senator Hawley’s statements have been multifaceted, one of his fundamental claims – “Spending your time on video games…. is not good for you ”- sparked a storm of criticism. He was attacked by a chorus of commentators, ranging from avid gamers to some members of the political left. But for unbiased observers who may wonder if video games are really a problem, let’s take a look at some statistics.

The 10 best-selling games for September 2021 (the most recent data at the time of this writing) are: “Madden 22”, “FIFA 22”, “NBA 22”, “Tales of Arise”, “Diablo II” , “Deathloop”, “CoD: Cold War”, “Ghost of Tsushima”, “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” and “Life is Strange: True Colors”.

Of the measurable playing time of these games, it takes an average of 24 hours to “beat” a game (ie complete all of the major objectives). For comparison, the original “Donkey Kong” (the game mentioned by Axios reporter Mike Allen in response to Hawley) takes around 22 minutes to beat.

Undeniably, video games are getting longer and more “escapist” (doing something in the virtual realm that could be done partially, if not entirely, in reality). The quintessential video game “escape” is sports games. And what do you know, the top three selling games are about real sports! How far has America fallen from spontaneously launching games with a stick and a ball to games with a joystick and chips?

The other seven games in the top 10 are mostly single player / co-op action games, the second best example of escape. These are the kinds of games that aim to hook you and keep you playing for hours (even at the expense of your mental and physical health).

In addition, the average duration of gaming sessions is increasing. A third of all respondents to a 2021 State of Online Gaming survey said their gaming sessions lasted five hours or more. Half of the survey respondents said they also play video games during working hours. In fact, 14% of those surveyed play video games at work on a daily basis.

When I worked on the United States Capitol in 2019, every faultless day I saw interns straight out of college playing the 2048 game during working hours on your tax-hard-earned computers. So it is no exaggeration to say that Senator Hawley probably sees this stuff as well.

Further validating Senator Hawley’s assertions, the age group with the highest average playing time is the 26-45 age group, who plays an average of nine hours a week – more than 30 minutes longer than the group’s longest. closer. People in this age group should be in the most productive period of their life. Instead, it is increasingly used for more recreation and escape.

Another negative aspect is the average financial cost of these games. By just looking at the top 10 games, you plan to shell out around $ 50 to $ 60 per game. For comparison, the average movie is two hours long, and the average ticket costs $ 9.16. Would you be willing to spend $ 60 to go see a movie? Financial stewardship is an important component of mental health (in fact, financial stress is the number one cause of overall stress).

So, ultimately, why is all of this a problem? The answer: emotional depression. Many players suffer from a condition called alexithymia, which is the inability to determine their inner emotional state. Men are particularly sensitive to it. Essentially, this condition develops after one suppresses one’s emotions too much for too long (such as while playing video games). It can lead to someone feeling disconnected from themselves – the ultimate accomplishment of escape. Alexithymia leads to uncontrollable mood swings that gamers say can only be cured by one thing: no more video games. So begins the destructive feedback loop.

The problem is so widespread that the American Psychological Association even coined a new term to identify the unique adverse effects of video games on mental health – Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). Combine that with the financial stress that buying video games can bring, and you have the recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, there is also an unquantifiable aspect to this – the lack of fulfillment in people’s lives that some players may be trying to address. In this sense, video game addiction can be compared to immeasurable religiosity.

As an avid gamer, I can say that I have also fought these demons of this addiction. For those who have no metaphysical goal beyond the fun of the moment, falling fully into video game addiction can be a real risk. For me, my Christian faith helps me give myself a purpose beyond the rush of a game. But whatever purpose you have in your life, Senator Hawley’s warnings are a timely and much needed warning to all of us. : we need to focus on the things that matter most in life – not the games.

Jackson Cargill, originally from Harrah, is a sophomore political science student at Stanford University.

Falling full-fledged into video game addiction can be a real risk.

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