Does gaming have an effect on you, so much so that it’s affecting your health? Here’s the lowdown on all positive and negative effects of gaming on university students.
We’ve got a huge gaming culture here in Australia. The most recent video games studies report by The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) revealed that 91% of households own a video game console and two thirds of the population are playing video games on a regular basis. What’s even more surprising is that 78% of Australian players are 18 and over, contrary to popular belief that it’s mainly kids and teenagers playing video games. Clearly, university students are going to fall heavily into that category.
It’s fair to say that the gaming world cops a lot of blame from the media and experts about the detrimental impacts playing can have on young people both mentally and physically. Whether that be psychologists appearing on morning talk shows discussing with TV presenters the dangers of gaming and how it should be monitored or through its portrayal on shows like Law and Order, showing how a Grand Theft Auto addiction led to some pretty dark violence.
At university, when it comes to essays your tutors are constantly drilling it into you from the beginning the importance of having a balanced discussion that isn’t biased yet answers the question. There’s been a lot of focus on just the negatives. So we’re here to even out the playing field and shed some light on both the potential positives and negatives effects of gaming on university students. We’re also going to give you some tips on how to practice healthy gaming, what to do if you think you or a friend is addicted to gaming and even some of our favourite video games online and on the console!
Negative Effects of Gaming on University Students
We’re going to start off with what you probably already know, and that’s the potential negative effects of gaming. Like they say, people like to hear the bad news first before the good.
Addiction is the biggest concern surrounding gaming for students. As a young person, especially if you’re a student abroad, it can sometimes get lonely if you haven’t found your place of belonging yet. Hence why some students may resort to gaming in order to kill time, hang out with a community of players online or simply wanting to beat their last score. There’s nothing wrong with playing games for these reasons, so long as it is not happening at an unhealthy frequency that affects other areas of your life. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s all about balance.
If you’re finding that you’re choosing to not go out with friends constantly, lying about how often you’re playing, feeling irritable when you’re not playing and preferring your life online to the life you have in the real world, then it may be a good idea to have a chat with a professional to help install some healthy boundaries for you. There’s fears that obsessive playing can lead to significant mental health issues such as depression, anti-social behaviour and anxiety. And it’s not just mentally either, there can be serious physical consequences as well such as migraines from eye strain, weight gain, fatigue and even something called carpal tunnel syndrome which is caused by the overuse of your hands on a console controller or computer mouse.
If you’re finding that a lot of these signs apply to you or a friend then we highly recommend seeking out the support available at your university campus. They’re great at this stuff!
Procrastinating in general is a common issue. There’s just something about leaving things to the last minute that some of us never learn from. Sick of studying the same thing over and over or you’ve caught writer’s block and you’re just not going anywhere with this essay? Then why not play video games as a ‘short’ study break…Because at some point, you’re obviously going to get it done, right? This is a student experience that would sound all too familiar for many.
One of the reasons why it’s such a popular tool for procrastination is because it offers instant gratification. If you’re not happy about the amount of progress you’ve made on your assignment, a session on a video game can quickly combat that with an easy win. So, what was meant to be a quick game of 30 minutes can easily topple over into a couple of hours without you even realising. That’s the thing about procrastination with video games, it’s hard to contain. The best way to combat this is to set up a schedule that prioritises your studies to a high level of efficiency and productivity that allows for a mix of breaks across a range of activities whether that be simply napping, reading, exercise or playing a video game. Be strict and stick to it, that way you can enjoy yourself guilt-free and without it having an impact on your studies!
Positive Effects of Gaming on University Students
Let’s dive into some of the positive aspects of gaming that aren’t really spoken about. If you manage your gaming consumption correctly, there are plenty of benefits that can come out of it!
There have been a lot of studies surrounding gaming psychology and how video games affect the brain. One of the key positives of gaming for students is the potential cognitive benefits, it can improve brain development in areas such as memory, motor skills, concentration and quick decision making. It can essentially stimulate your brain like a Sudoku but in a way that often requires minimal effort. Playing a video game can require both visual and aural memory, you’ve got to remember the buttons and rules from the start of the game through the whole session. If you’re exercising these muscles even in your down time, it could even help you remember stuff during your exam period!
You’re also improving your ability to multi-task as well. You’ve got your eyes on the screen observing whilst switching your fingers up on the console or keyboard and you’re also using your brain to make quick decisions to whatever’s thrown at you in the game. This could be useful when it comes to lectures. You’re often required to watch and listen to what your lecturer is discussing whilst writing all the information down that your brain must decide fast what is and isn’t necessary.
Whilst gaming can lead to isolation, it can also push students to socialise. At its core, most games are designed to encourage social interaction. Whether that be playing in pairs on an Xbox console or communicating through a headset online. It has the potential to bring people together from all over the world and can provide those like students abroad, an avenue to connect with friends back home through a shared activity. You can even make new friends and join communities that may not be available or common near you.
You’ll also find that your university will have at least one gaming society or club you can join for a small fee each year! It’s a great way to meet people who have a similar gaming interest to you in person. The clubs would usually run weekly events centred on gaming but will also have other activities planned like movie nights, competitions and weekends away.
A Few Of Our Favourite Games…
If you want to make the most out of the benefits of video games, make a switch to any of our favourite video and online games. We like to think they’re games for the brain!
If you’re looking for a game that encourages creativity, problem-solving and a whole lot of strategy, this is the perfect game for you! Minecraft is your classic educational powerhouse, you’re using logic and physics through the planning and construction of basically your own world. There’s two main modes; creative which is purely building and survival where you need to manage resources and work out what’s needed to kill monsters. Minecraft has multiplayer servers so it’s great to play with other people. Depending on the server you could work together on design and build. Or you could make it a game of negotiating with others and building alliances!
#2 Civilisation VI
This is a conquest style game, it’s very heavy on strategy and involves a lot of politics and resource management. You begin as the leader of your tribe with the task of growing your population and improving the quality of life in areas such as culture and land. It’s a big game of communicating intentions diplomatically with others and keeping everyone on friendly terms with each other. Lots of skill is required when it comes to working out who’s planning to backstab you or who’s loyal!
#3 Portal 2
This is a classic puzzle game that requires heaps of problem solving. In the game, you need to escape an evil lab using only the portal gun which can only create one blue portal (entry) and orange portal (exit) at a time. If you go through the blue, you’ll come out the orange and vice versa. So you’ve really got to plan it out to avoid any traps. It can be played in both single player and multiplayer mode and can be a great discussion point amongst friends on how best to use the portal gun logically and creatively.