As with any hobby in life, there can come a time where it starts to have a drastic impact on reality. The question that must then be asked is, would you know if your time spent gaming was ruining your life? Many gamers today consider themselves to be "Hardcore", usually meaning they spend upwards of 5 hours a day playing video-games. Other than the obvious health risks of sitting on your backside for that long, many in the industry are warning that the next generation of adults will have more knowledge of virtual worlds than the real world.
I have been playing video games for over 15 years; I've spent time on everything from the Spectrum to the PS3. It was only the last couple of years, after I started to get interested in MMORPG's, that I felt my gaming had gone beyond a hobby, to the "Hardcore" stage. I suppose it depends on your current social activities as to whether gaming can become a problem.
Younger Gamers Less Susceptible
Younger gamers that spend the majority of time at school quite often only play for a couple of hours a night. The older audiences often work and do the same after a hard shift, however there are quite a large number of people that are able to dedicate 10+ hours daily to their favorite gaming titles. I believe this is when it really starts to become a problem, a big problem.
I have known people to lose their entire family over gaming, wasting numerous hours every day increasing the abilities and reputation of their virtual version of themselves, and as a result they end up losing abilities in real life and the reputation among their friends and family. How long do you think your partner or family would wait if you never had any time for them over gaming? Many countries see gaming as an addiction and to be honest, I fully understand why.
The Appeal of Virtual Worlds
Spend your time in a virtual world where it doesn't take 20 years to achieve something, you have pre-determined goals and achievements to aim for and you get to do it all in beautifully rendered imaginary landscapes. When you compare that to the current social climate and total lack of humanity we see every day, I can fully understand why a virtual world can be more appealing than the one we live in.
General people in society have always mocked gamers, usually associating them with geeks or other non-social butterflies, but I believe it is humanity itself that is to blame for the current generation spending so much time in a virtual setting. Society is in a state where you can get robbed in broad daylight for something as silly as a phone, we're fighting wars and killing people with a hidden agenda, natural disasters are destroying 1000s of homes; if you asked all the people involved if they would like a magic wand to fix it all, I'd dare say 100% of them would take it. For a lot of gamers, this is what gaming is about, the escape from the general grind of reality, but how far can this go before it becomes unhealthy?
So what do you think? Has gaming reached such a life-like level that people are wasting years in virtual worlds? Do you respect what people want to do with their spare time or do you attempt to help a friend that is slipping into the 10 hour daily grind on World of Warcraft? I don't think we will see the impact of the current generation for years to come but one thing is sure, the adults of tomorrow prefer a virtual world over that of the one outside their window.
Article by - Blaine Smith