Is gaming actually bad for you?

This is a question that is frequently debated. This especially happens when a news report comes out of there being an accident or a murder in which the person who caused it all was a gamer. The simple example is something that happened in my country a few months back.

A child around the age of 12/13 stabbed one of his class mates to death in an argument they had. It was said about the child that killed his class mate that he played a game (the name of which I can’t quite remember) frequently. The connection was made that the child playing this game was the reason why he stabbed one of his classmates. But that sparks the question whether it was actually because of the game that the child stabbed his classmate or whether the child already had some qualities that would cause something like this?

If you look into cases like that the games are rarely the actual cause of the death in the news stories. Another simple example, in November ‘05, a man pleaded guilty after his 10 month old twin sons drowned in the bath after he left the bathroom to play on his Gameboy Advanced. 3 rooms away! In this particular case, it’s not the game, but it’s the irresponsibility of the parent leaving a set of twin babies alone in the bath that caused the death of his children.

 

I could go on and on about cases like this but let’s get back to the question at hand: Is gaming actually bad for you? Personally I think the answer is no. Gaming isn’t bad for you and I intend to explain exactly why I think that being a Gamer isn’t bad. But first I’ll have to explain what sparked my motivation of why I want to address this problem.

The reason for it is because there’s an article out on Reddit which was written by a mother of an 11 year old boy. In this article, the lady describes how games are bad for children and that she’s given the boy a 100% ban on gaming. She’s also described in the article that her son is only allowed his smartphone when she sees fit and is only allowed to use the computer when he needs to do his homework. She even went as far as banning her son’s school friends, which she drives to school sometimes as well, from using their smartphones/tablets in her car.

Personally I think such a ban is a bit drastic. The reason that the lady did this was because her son played Minecraft all the time. She also describes that her son played Minecraft if he was unable to sleep at night. After the ban was in place, she and her son came up with things he could do instead of playing games when he’s unable to sleep. This is the only point of the entire article that I do agree with if I’m completely honest, but again this is not what I want to discuss.

As we all probably know, Minecraft is an online game based around gathering materials and building. This is what the woman has to say about Minecraft

“At first glance, Minecraft seems like it an innocent online Lego-like game where you build things. Harmless enough. Sure, Minecraft monsters come out at night, but those weren’t the ones I was worried about. I worried about the perverts who pose as other 11-year-old boys and want to play Minecraft with my son — those monsters.” (source: http://pastebin.com/PRXJVspv )

This quote seems to suggest that all people who play Minecraft online are paedophiles intending to bait children into meeting in real life and do whatever it is that pedophiles do.

 

The opposite is in fact true. Minecraft is a game for all ages, from the moment a child is able to use a computer to 80+ year old people. There’s an option to play single player or online multi player and while I agree that parents of children below 14 should be supervising the server that their children play on, I don’t agree with the reasoning that all people who play it are pretending to be younger than they are or that they’re trying to bait young children.

Of course having said this, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who try to take advantage of the systems to be able to bait young children or otherwise have bad intentions, but that is just a small percentage of the entire gaming community.

 

I’m not the only one who disagrees on this. The article of this lady was brought to my attention by the members of the LoadingChunks.Net Minecraft Server. We ended up going onto the Server’s TeamSpeak server to properly discuss this.

This lead to members, Vics, Sam, Matt, Owen and myself discussing it at length.

It’s safe to say that at first we all resented the article and started to joke about how we were all 11 year old children playing it or that we were pretending to be 11 to bait children. Although after the initial resentment of that article passed, we started discussing it more seriously on why we were against this article.

We all pretty much agreed on an important reasoning why gaming can be a good thing:

‘Gaming can bring people together and it’s the one thing that you can always rely on to be there and help people get rid of stress.’

What we mean by this is that if you play a game online like Minecraft on a server where everyone is friendly and actually helps one another, you can always rely on someone to talk to if you’re going through a rough patch in your life (or had a rough patch during your day) without having to worry about being judged, simply because of the reason that people won’t know you other than what you’ve shown yourself to be online.

 

Sure online gaming can become a bit of a bother sometimes seeing that you sometimes can’t escape people who come online just to troll or grief but that doesn’t mean that all servers are like this. Good things can actually happen. But the most important argument we had against the article was this:

“Games can bring good things to people; it makes people come together as well as bringing people from different cultures together.”

The ultimate proof of this are Matt Dunn and Asia Ramirez. Fans of Minecraft will probably recognize these names as being the couple that got engaged to be wed at MineCon 2011. They met by playing Minecraft together and in 2012, the pair of them got married.

The argument stated above is much a fact. People from different cultures do come together through gaming. If it wasn’t for Minecraft, I wouldn’t have met some of the wonderful online friends I’ve got today and I certainly wouldn’t be writing for Games-Tec.

Personally, I’ve met people from Sweden, the UK, America, Germany, Belgium and loads more people from different countries all with their own culture. None of that would’ve ever happened if I hadn’t started playing Minecraft. I also wouldn’t have learned the things that I know now about different cultures without playing games.

 

So I’ll ask again, is gaming actually bad for you? Again my answer is no, gaming can actually be a really good thing.

You’re able to make wonderful friends who you can rely on in online games whether they’re PC games or console games, if you are willing to take the time to filter out the [email protected]$^ards/trolls/grievers/bullies etc. but remember, the bad apples are just a small portion of  otherwise great communities and it’ll be like that in all communities, whether you’re playing Minecraft, Dota, LoL, Call of Duty or any other online game that you know/play/can think off.

But don’t get me wrong, just because I think that gaming can be a good thing, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care of yourself. While playing games remember to take regular breaks, drink enough, eat regularly and get enough sleep. Otherwise you might run the risk of ending up like people in news stories that died from exhaustion (which in my personal opinion is just their own fault for not eating/drinking/taking breaks etc. Not related to the game itself) and of course the common sensible thing; don’t reveal too much personal information to people on the internet as you never know that you’re dealing with the actual people they make themselves out to be.

Of course, this article was based on my personal opinion and I would like to thank the lovely people over at the LoadingChunks.net Minecraft server for helping me formulate the arguments quoted above.

 

But there is one final question that remains.

What do you, the readers, think of this?

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