13 Gamer Problems
There are many gamer problems. Negative perceptions of gaming in the eyes of parents, loved ones, and the media can make us question if gaming is good for us. In this article we dispel some outdated myths. We also outline 13 evidence based gamer problems you should take notice of.
In the eyes of many gamers, the mainstream media holds an agenda against gamers and the video game industry. Outdated and often baseless tropes around the negatives of gaming are often rolled out. Claims such as video games leading to violence are mentioned whenever a young person commits a crime. Ignoring the fact, of course, that almost all young people game to some extent or another in countries such as the USA and UK.
Over the past decade, the scientific evidence has largely dispelled the notion that violent games lead to violent behaviour. Findings from large scale meta analyses have shown the relationship between violent games and violent behaviour to be so minute that it cannot be discounted that the effect generated isn’t purely what scientists call noise. A person with an automatic weapon killing people is not a gamer problem. It’s a society problem.
Parents and loved ones are often influenced by these outdated and baseless claims in the media. We understand that parents have concerns and some are legitimate. Whilst claims about violent behaviour are largely without substance, there are negatives of gaming that need to be discussed. We have created a Parents Guide to Gaming which may be of use to share.
In this video we outline 13 evidence based problems with gaming you should take notice of. With this in mind, here are 13 gamer problems that are backed by science.
Gamer Problem 1. Sedentary activity- There’s no denying that gaming is a predominantly inactive hobby. Prolonged hours at a desk or on the couch in the short term can lead to postural issues (especially if the desk/chair setup is improper). In the long term, the prioritisation of gaming will undoubtedly lead to a lack of physical activity, which can lead to a multitude of physiological issues (e.g. Obesity, diabetes, muscular atrophy).
Gamer Problem 2. Repetitive strain injuries (RSI)- These occur from frequent movements (think Tennis elbow). Most RSI injuries from gaming are hand and wrist related, the repetition of mechanical movement over a long period of time can make you more vulnerable to an injury of this nature.
Gamer Problem 3. Sleep- Sacrificing sleep to game is an unfortunate social norm connotated with video games. The irony is that sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce the efficiency of cognitive functions when gaming. So sacrificing sleep for the grind is actually counterproductive.
Gamer Problem 4. Nutrition- This is a subjective factor, but to generalise, if you spend long periods of time gaming you tend to let other facets of your life fall by the wayside. Eating is a necessity of course, but with the ease of accessing fast food and delivery services, the current world facilitates ordering out over taking the time to prepare a balanced meal.
Gamer Problem 5. Alexithymia and emotional suppression- Alexithymia is the inability to recognise or describe one's own emotions. Excessive video gaming has been associated with symptoms of Alexithymia. This can lead to a lack of emotional awareness, both in oneself and interpreting the emotions of others. Games can also be used to suppress or avoid negative emotions, this can be a viable coping strategy when used sparingly, but issues can arise if you become reliant on this mechanism.
Gamer Problem 6. Dopamine- Games by design are ‘dopamine inducing’. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which controls pleasure regulation in the brain. This is why gaming is fun and perceptively fulfilling. However, over time you can develop a tolerance due to the regular dopamine dumps from playing games. This means you’ll require even more dopamine in order to enjoy yourself, which usually leads to more game time. This is one of the main contributors to gaming addiction and there is more on our website www.gamersvsdepression.org on this topic.
Gamer Problem 7. Motivation- Motivation to do things is more psychological than physiological, and video games create the perfect system for positive reinforcement, rewards and excitement. Usually as humans we would need to venture out and pursue the unknown to feel these sensations. Now we can achieve that state from the comfort of our homes. The downside is that if we can attain this sense of achievement so effortlessly, one may not feel the need to pursue more tangible opportunities, such as learning a new skill, improving health or career development. That’s not to say gaming doesn’t teach useful and transferable skills and we will have a video on this shortly. As with all activities, being deliberate around the skills you wish to develop and why you’re performing the activity is key.
Gamer Problem 8. Negative escapism- Escapism can be positive or negative, it’s an effective way to take a break from reality and ourselves for a short time. However, the behaviour starts to become negative when the duration is increased significantly and it becomes a reliance. It is essentially another coping strategy that can be misused for avoidant purposes.
Gamer Problem 9. School or work- As I previously mentioned, if your game time increases, other activities tend to fall off. School and work performance are one of the most common facets of one’s life that start to be neglected from excessive gaming. This can result in stress, anxiety, jeopardise your future prospects or your current financial situation.
Gamer Problem 10. Hobbies- In similar fashion, prioritising game time can cause you to become disinterested in activities that used to be enjoyable. Interests do change over time, but if you find yourself giving up positive activities such as sport/exercise or hobbies with high social interaction, it may lead to lifestyle imbalances.
Gamer Problem 11. Stagnation- Linking with motivation, playing games too much could lead to a feeling of plateau and stagnation in life. Creating a negative cycle of not feeling like you’re progressing in the real world, so you double down on gaming to experience that feeling of achievement and satisfaction.
Social and Relationships
Gamer Problem 12. Social disconnection- Games (particularly online) are a great way to meet like minded people and connect with others. This can actually improve social connection and reduce feelings of loneliness. However, spending too much time in the virtual world could negatively affect your social connections in real life. Socialising in the flesh is still an important part of social wellbeing.
Gamer Problem 13. Relationship issues- Prioritising games can result in potentially neglecting the important people in your life. Whether that’s close friends, a partner, family and in some cases your own children. These relationships are vital for overall wellbeing and need to be preserved and maintained.
To summarise, excessive video game usage can lead to a variety of gamer problems that span across multiple aspects of one’s life. Just like everything else, too much of a good thing can become an issue, learning to achieve a balance between playing time and other activities (essential and nonessential) is integral to achieving and maintaining overall wellbeing.
That’s enough gamer problems for one video. If you want to hear about some of the many positives of video games, visit our YouTube channel where we cover many of the positive ways gaming can impact your life. Links in the description.