Video games are awesome — everyone knows
But what the heck happens to your puny body
when you play an excessive amount of them?
There are cases from all over the world of
gamers playing too much for too long, and
not surviving to actually reach the end credits.
But despite a few tragic tales of gaming gone
wrong, video games aren’t all bad.
There are plenty of ways that video games
can actually make you a better person… and
a few ways that they can turn you into a useless
husk of a human.
So let’s dig into the good, the bad and the
ugly of going into the deep end of video gaming.
Marathon gaming sessions aren’t uncommon,
but all of those all-night killstreaks might
be endangering your life.
A condition called deep vein thrombosis can
result from frequently sitting still for too
One British gamer died of blood clots formed
by a lifestyle of frequent, 12-hour gaming
sessions, and he’s not the only gamer that’s
damaged their circulation system by prolonged
Deep vein thrombosis, sometimes known as “economy
class syndrome,” typically affects travelers
of extremely long-haul flights, since there’s
nowhere to move around, and involves the formation
of blood clots due to extended periods of
sitting in one place.
Your body needs to move, so don’t be afraid
to hit pause or skip a match.
You have the rest of your life to get fragged.
But this isn’t the only reason to get up while
you get your game on.
For a while, motion gaming platforms like
the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation Move were
starting to push the boundaries as far as
what it meant to “play” a video game.
But for the most part, gaming is still defined
by kicking back on the couch and pushing buttons.
Turns out that sitting around for hours on
end with minimal movement can make you fat.
Studies have shown largely mixed results.
Some say that active video games don’t really
have a negative effect on your body, as long
as you keep your hands off the snacks while
you’re sitting there.
Other studies have found that those who play
video games a lot are more likely to gain
No matter what, playing button-mashers is
not a net positive for your bod.
The best approach?
Try to mix in a little exercise and healthy
snacks every few levels.
Even if you keep your body active between
gaming sessions, the repetition of using a
controller for weeks on end can still take
Gaming typically requires a lot of repetitive
hand motions, and tons of players have developed
repetitive stress injuries thanks to gaming.
The condition happens when you repeatedly
do the same motion over and over, and typically
affects the wrists and hands, but can move
up to the forearms and elbows depending on
the person and the playing style.
You’re not even safe if you’re famous, or
using a non-traditional controller.
Injury-prone MLB pitcher Joel Zumaya was sidelined
by playing Guitar Hero II a little too hard
and messing up his wrist.
In other words, put the controller down sometimes.
If you play video games enough, they can start
to mess with your mind.
A 2011 study published in Translational Psychiatry
surveyed brain scans of 154 fourteen-year-old
children who played more than nine hours of
video games each week.
Hardcore gamers had much larger reward centers
in their brains than the average kid — which
prompted the desire to play even more video
And if you’re prone to seizures, you need
to be very careful with your gaming sessions.
A report published by the National Institutes
of Health in 1994 noted a study in which the
majority of patients with epileptic seizures
suffered from photosensitivity while playing
For 27 of the 35 seizure patients studied,
their first seizure came while playing video
Since 1994, however, there have been standards
put in place to prevent unnecessary photo
stimulation in video games.
That doesn’t mean that every game publisher
follows these rules, however, so proceed with
Of course, It’s not all bad news.
Let’s talk a little bit about…
According to a 2013 study at the Max Planck
Institute, “areas in the brain responsible
for spatial navigation, memory formation,
and strategic planning” could all be positively
impacted by video games.
Looking beyond just those perks, the study
noted there could be great potential in using
video games as a form of therapy for patients
who suffer from mental disorders, ranging
from Alzheimer’s to schizophrenia.
And when it comes to getting your hands to
match your brain, there’s more good news.
You usually have to be fast to be a good gamer.
And not surprisingly, those skills can translate
beyond video games.
In 2014, Tech Times reported on a study that
found playing action video games helped gamers
learn new motor skills, as well as develop
their eye and hand coordination.
Career-wise, the report notes those abilities
can come in handy if you want to be surgeon.
So remember that next time you’re flying through
Halo, you’re also prepping for med school.
Can’t get enough
Douglas Gentile, a psychologist at Iowa State
University, has been tracking video game players
According to his findings, about 9 percent
of kids who play video games are addicted.
So what’s the cause of video game addiction?
Gentile broke it down to what he calls the
“The A Is Autonomy, we like to feel we’re
B is Belonging, we like to feel connected
to other people.
And the C is Competence, we like to feel that
we’re good at what we do.”
Psychologist Mark Griffiths, director of the
International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham
Trent University, added that the addiction
can also be related to the constant rewards
built into video games, from hitting high
scores to merely the sense of accomplishment.
Those game achievements you’re striving for?
They’re totally playing you, bro.
The sweaty loner sitting in his room playing
video games in the dark is an old cliche,
and these days, it’s actually an outdated
Online gaming has managed to connect people
in ways we never could’ve dreamed of decades
ago, and it’s actually helping potential solitary
players find new friends.
According to a 2013 report by the American
Psychological Association, more than 70 percent
of gamers play with at least one friend.
And millions of people have joined virtual
worlds through social games from Farmville
to World of Warcraft.
These types of games encourage cooperation
And considering the typical Warcraft player
logs more than 22 hours per week online, it
stands to reason that most players would find
Along with virtual friends, video games are
also popular among real-life pals to throw
And that’s pretty undeniably awesome.
“You know what you guys should do?
Try being around other humans every once in
awhile, because humans don’t hug like this.”
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