The first instances of digital games being introduced were in the early 1980s and it was never such high stake ventures at the start. Most people took to gaming to just vile away time and it must be said of the early games that they were rather tame presentations that rarely took on sinister overtones. As is the usual case with habits in people, the start of an activity could be rather a tame affair. It is when companies and enterprises recognize that there is serious money to be made in a certain activity that the trouble starts.
Games have moved on from the tame versions to a more cult following as time went by. In many ways the games did become habit forming with the players often sitting hours on end playing. It would be worth the while at this point to understand how the addictions typically work on people.
People of all ages and ethnicities tend to find certain activities pleasurable. For instance, people have made a habit of drinking tea at certain fixed times during the day. The start of this habit would not have been all that an issue. It is when the practice of drinking tea became habitual that people started noticing the practice of tea drinking closely.
Thus the inevitable studies are conducted and the path of addiction or of forming a habit is analyzed. The constituents of the tea are broken up to find the single element in them that causes people to have a craving for the substance. In the final reckoning, it is more to do with the pleasure centers in the human brains that cause people to keep repeating an activity often. And so in quick time, the practice of having a cup of tea at a particular time during the day comes into force.
This is very similar to the way people take to gaming. Often the games are started as mere avenues for passing time or at best a form of entertainment. But as the pleasure centers in people’s brains are triggered and people take to playing often to satisfy the craving that the activity brings about, the gaming then becomes addictive.
It could thus be seen that games tend to be addictive for the very fact that they trigger certain chemical activities that provide a sense of satisfaction. The fact is that each game does have a different satisfaction level and the people that introduce the games to society, tend to take maximum advantage of this very human nature too.
As has been outlined in the above, the act of addiction is brought about by certain complex chemical reactions. It is possible to control the urge to keep playing a game or to take to serious gaming activity if the very process that causes folks to take to the games is understood. The player would then be able to control the urges better as he would be in a good position to know when the tipping point comes about that causes the addiction to the game.
So the best situation is for the people that take to serious gaming to recognize the patterns that tend to form while playing the games. But this would be a tall order in the younger children who would not have developed a sufficient maturity of thinking to consider the gaming activity objectively. Thus it would be a good idea to keep some kind of check on those vulnerable sections of the society as would be the case with access to alcohol and tobacco.
If in the first instance, people are not willing to acknowledge that a problem does exist, then a start to controlling the situation would not be done. So in order to control the habits of people, the first step is to recognize that gaming can be addictive. As any addiction, there is bound to be some negative aspect to it and it is bound to be seen in people that take to the activity.
One of the strong effects of gaming is that the activity takes precedence over what can be taken as normal behavior. Secondly, gaming takes on a serious turn that people tend to ignore the negative warning signals most of the time. Finally, the gaming causes disruptions in social functions of people and that their very health can be affected by the activity.
But it is pertinent to note that as any activity in people, the effect of the same activity differs with each individual. So the same game might bring out a stronger set of feelings in a particular person as compared to another.
Most people involved in health care and more importantly the mental health care personnel, would narrate instances when the simple game took on more sinister overtones. These could well be the early signs of a more serious and disruptive set of actions in people and must be controlled before it can be damaging to those involved in the gaming activity or the society at large.
So far, there has been little control on the contents of games and how they are used by the vulnerable sections of our society. But it would be advisable that a start is made to control the contents of the games and the act of creating games. No doubt, games are a means of entertainment but the very possibility that games can cause serious conditions in people must be understood. It is this harm that society can be subject to that needs its understanding and hence controls put on the development and use of games in general.
That the early days of gaming are well and truly behind us is understood. One of the strong features of games is the addictive nature of the offerings and there must be some form of control being exercised on them. A balance has to be achieved that allow people the individual freedom while at the same time ensuring that a certain activity does not prove harmful to society as a whole.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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