Pros and cons of playing online games

Firstly, an advantage of playing online games is that it enhances critical thinking skills. Critical thinking refers to the objective analysis of an issue in order to form a judgment. Online gaming reflects this skill by providing multiple choices and options to gamers. This enables them to enhance their critical thinking skills by analyzing the situation provided by the game and working towards a way to solve the issue. As an example, Fornite Battle Royale is an online warfare game where players work within a team to try and survive the longest which requires players to utilize strategic thinking. Many other games replicate this strategy such as Rainbow Six, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and many more. Hence, online gaming is not a mind-numbing experience whereas a brain stimulating experience.

Furthermore, playing online games is advantageous as it sharpens cognitive skills. Cognition refers to conscious mental activities including thinking, reasoning, understanding, learning, and remembering while cognitive skills are foundational skills used by the brain to achieve these simple activities. An informative research was the one conducted by an international team of psychologist, led by the University of Geneva, Switzerland that assembled data from the past 15 years to quantify online gaming impacts on cognitive skills. After thoroughly analyzing the data provided from the cognitive test, the psychologist evidently found that playing online games increased cognitive skills when players did not engage in a large amount of gaming in a single sitting. This illustrates that online gaming does in fact sharpen cognitive skills through game mechanics that require fast reaction times and high attention capacity. An online game that greatly demonstrates this is Garry’s Mod Prop Hunt which requires players to remember the objects or ‘props’ in the game in order to hunt out other players that are disguised as ‘props’. Therefore, playing online games is not only an entertaining activity but a beneficial one.

Other than that, one of the advantages of online gaming is that teens can easily socialize over a common interest which is gaming. One example of teens socializing by online gaming is E-sports. E-sports is quickly becoming a worldwide phenomenon. With the popularization of games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, Rocket League, and more, E-sports is swiftly worming its way into the public eye. This is an advantage as E-sports can bring people together and teach the younger generation on how to work as a team which might be beneficial for them when they start work in their respective industries. Online gaming can help teenagers to build leadership skills and teach them how to quickly navigate through social obstacles. This is due to the fact that multiplayer games become virtual social communities, where decisions need to be made quickly about whom to trust or reject and how to lead a group. Also, contrary to popular belief, gamers do not live in isolation, a study has found that gamers are more social than non-gamers and are also more adept at multi-tasking. Professional gaming is a great way to meet, converse and build friendship with people from all over the world and to learn about various cultures and backgrounds. Therefore, online gaming can help us socialize and build better social interaction skills.

However, online gaming has its disadvantages. One of them is cyber bullying. With the influx of technology and ever increasing prevalence of the Internet, people have found different ways to inflict harm on others via cyber bullying. The media is a relentless source for blaming violent online games as the ‘cause’ of cyber bullying. A multitude of research suggests that violent video games are linked to aggression and cyberbullying. However as cyber bullying is a relatively new phenomenon, limited studies exist that explore the relationships between cyber bullying and gaming. Studies that are available however do show that online games have become a prominent area where children were experiencing bullying and harassment. ‘Aggressive language’, such as swearing or insults, was the most frequent encounter of victims of online game bullying, followed by name calling, violence against one’s avatar, threats, rumor spreading, and social exclusion. Nearly half of those victims of online game bullying reported feelings of being attacked. This poses a concern as many of the younger generation have been shown to be more susceptible to mental illnesses and cyber bullying might just be the last straw for a few of these teenagers. Hence, online games that are violent may cause cyber bullying and this might be the reason that mental illnesses are on the rise.

In addition, another disadvantage of playing online games is that it is not a good long term investment. Many of the online games are free, however, for serious gamers who intend to ‘level up’ quicker they are required to purchase items in the game. The gamer is required to obtain extra credits in order to purchase in-game items that are needed to achieve an objective in the game. Though it may cost a lot of money, gamers that are already hooked on the game will not hesitate to waste a large amount of money to feel the satisfaction of gaining an achievement. A person is more likely said to demand something physical to prove that their money is well spent, however, with gamers that are severely addicted to the game only seek the temporary pleasure gained from the purchase. As an example, in the online game Grand Theft Auto, players are given the option to spend real money to purchase in-game money. Though it does not provide them with any benefits, many players won’t hesitate to open their wallets. Hence, playing online games causes a large amount of money wastage and overall is not a good long term investment. Even though there are many successful online gamers out there, how many actually are able to win 1 million dollars from playing candy crush?

Lastly, playing online games leads to a serious gaming addiction which has been classified as a gaming disorder. Online games are either single or multiplayer and rarely last more than one level. The game is usually constructed in such a way that each level is more complicated and extensive than the previous one. This causes a player to push themselves to the limit in order to progress in the game. This makes a player more and more attracted towards the game and become obsessively fixated with completing the game. Online gaming disorder affects players in multiple ways, ranging from personal issues, family, academic, financial or work related problems that are similar to the effects of drug or alcohol addiction. The players relationships with their family members, friends and significant others suffers the most. As an example, a nine year old girl that lives the United Kingdom ‘wet’ herself due to her addiction to playing the game Fornite Battle Royale. She even went as far as trying to physically harm her father who was attempting to take away her X-Box. Therefore, playing online games with no restriction and self-limits leads many players to become addicted and are eventually diagnosed with gaming disorder.

In a nutshell, playing online games has its advantages such as enhancing critical thinking skills, sharpening cognitive skills, promoting socialization and disadvantages which include cyber-bullying, large money wastage and developing a gaming disorder. As with anything, online gaming can be beneficial to society yet also be harmful. Therefore, it is up to the users to practice self-restriction and discipline as to not abuse online games. Hence, the outcome of playing online games is entirely up to us. We have the responsibility to have self-control and be aware of the consequences of our actions.

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