Problem Gaming

Like most things in youth culture things in the gaming world have moved fast in recent years and this has in most cases lead to a gap in knowledge and values between adults and young people about this issue. This means gaming, whether on PC, console or mobile device, can often be a point of conflict in a lot of homes. So if you have ever heard your parent say something like "just pause it or turn it off and get outside and do something" or if you have ever heard your young person say something like "I can't just pause it, I don't want to go outside and my mates are online" or if you want to know more about this industry and issue keep reading!

Did You Know?

The Gaming industry is bigger than the music or film industries and professional competitive gaming, known as esports, is a rapidly growing global phenomenon worth almost a billion dollars, with professional players earning potentially millions of dollars a year while tens of millions of viewers log-in to watch them train, play and compete. As well as this the weapon-skin gambling industry grown out of such games is also worth billions of dollars and furthermore free-to-play games earn sometimes more than a million dollars a day despite being 'free to play'. Even in New Zealand we have national high school esport competitions developing from which players have already been drafted to overseas teams to play professionally. For more information about the gaming industry and some of these facts, please see our resources below about esports, Massively Multiplayer Online games and the Monetisation of Gaming.  

Why Game?

Games are awesome. They are fun, challenging, immersive, and interactive, and can be incredibly social. Some franchises have developed amazing worlds and detailed characters with in-depth and interesting stories.

As well as these things games can provide:

  • A sense of purpose and goals - games provide clear milestones and tracks for progression. They create a sense for players of having a meaningful impact on the game world.
  • A sense of achievement and mastery - games provide competition and challenge, and give clear feedback about achievement and success.
  • A sense of belonging and community - games create a sense of being needed and valued by others in the game world, including opportunities for leadership and team work.
  • A sense of freedom and escape - games are fun, and also enable players to become fully immersed in the game and escape difficult feelings such as stress.
  • A sense of identity - games provide players with an alter-ego, and the opportunity to create a new identity for themselves without judgement.

When is it a problem?

None of the above needs games can meet are wrong or bad but it can become a problem when gaming becomes the ONLY or primary way to meet these needs. This is when more and more time is often spent gaming, people can become disconnected from any face to face friendships or activities, commitments such as school begin to suffer, sleeping patterns can change and all of this can impact on mood and relationships as well as behaviour when not gaming.

Games themselves are designed to keep you playing for longer and often also designed to try and get your $ through micro-transactions in the game (through loot-box mechanics for example or other psychological techniques). To learn how to keep your gaming in balance and to be aware of the crafty tricks game developers use to hook us gamers, have a look at the Being Game Savvy resource below.


If concerned

If you are concerned about your own or someone else's gaming please give us a call or complete the My Gaming questionnaire to have a conversation or a think about this issue.

Last updated: November 6, 2018