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Are Online Competitive Games Really Harmless?

A gamer weighs in on the addictive nature of online competitive games

Tech and the online worldHobbies and InterestsMental health and wellbeing
By VoiceBox ·

Kye (not his real name)

A young writer from the Philippines

Are online competitive games really harmless?

I’ve been a gamer for most of my life. I started playing video games back when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. The first hand-held console I owned was a Nintendo Game Boy Advance. 

Back then, video games didn’t do much ‘harm’ unless you played something like Tamagotchi or Pokémon. Those games were the real deal. If you tried them out when you were a kid, chances are you were addicted like me.

Needless to say, gaming eventually became one of my favorite pastimes. Now that I'm nearly 22 years old, it's incredibly amazing to know that gaming is now a mainstream hobby.

Nowadays, there are so many different types of games to choose from. You can play ‘realistic’ games like Forza Horizon and Red Dead Redemption 2 or games that are highly interactive, like Detriot: Become Human and Among Us.

Perhaps the most popular genre of games that we have today is online competitive games. I'm talking about games like Dota 2, Valorant, Clash of Clans, and League of Legends. 

When I was in high school, I was a huge fan of those kinds of games. In fact, I have spent over 3000 hours on Dota 2 alone. At first, I thought playing too many online games was all worth it and harmless.

But it actually wasn't.

As a result of too much online gaming, I started to wear glasses because of my blurred vision. Gaming is perhaps also the reason why I have a bad posture or frail body.

So, if you ask me if online competitive games are harmful or not for teens, I'd say they can be harmful in some cases.

I think gaming in general, should be enjoyed in moderation. If I were raising a kid or teenager, I'd personally only allow 1-2 hours of gaming per day.

Online Competitive Games Can be Extremely Addicting

Although it's more controllable compared to drinking alcohol or smoking, gaming can actually become a very addicting, detrimental habit. 

Game developers' key goal is to get you to want to keep on playing. After all, it is a form of entertainment. You can get addicted to any game you play. However, I’ve found you’ll be more prone to getting hooked if you play online competitive games, as online competitive games just work differently.

Ranking systems in online games like Dota 2, for example, can persuade you to improve and maintain your skills as a gamer. As a result, you’ll have to spend countless hours just to reach a certain in-game achievement or feel a sense of satisfaction.

Online competitive games also normally don’t have any endings to offer. That means people can play them endlessly without getting bored.

In reality, too much online gaming can cause sleep deprivation, anxiety, physical health issues, etc.

What Happens When You Take Gaming Too Far

In my opinion, addiction is not exactly the most harmful thing in online gaming. The truth is, there are avid gamers out there that still manage to live a decent lifestyle.

They’re often extroverted in nature. Some of them also view online gaming as a job or career. Perhaps there’s a certain way for all of us to fit gaming into our lifestyle in a way that fits for us.

Anyway, I think social withdrawal is a much bigger issue than a large amount of time spent gaming.

A friend of mine spends most of his waking hours playing video games. His whole daily routine sounds lazy and empty. If he wasn’t in front of his computer screen, he would just lounge on his couch and scroll endlessly on his phone, looking at memes or watching videos. He doesn’t really go out as much as other people. He spends minimal time building and maintaining relationships.

I’ve seen firsthand what it’s like for a person to experience social withdrawal as a result of gaming, and it’s simply terrible. My point is I don’t want other people to experience the same problem that is causing too much stress for my friend.

So, if you know someone that plays excessively, convince them to read this article.

Educate them or help them realize that online gaming is not the only form of escapism they can do in this world. It might also help if you invite them to hang out with you in the ‘outside world’. 

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