By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/1/2019 12:00:00 AM IST

 The very mention of the word video game evokes more negative responses than positive ones today. People are quick to dismiss it as a distraction and waste of time.  Gamers though think otherwise. Interestingly, gamers are more content playing it than defending themselves.  There are two schools of thought when it comes to the concept of ‘Playing’ or ‘Games’. The old school of thought believes in the great outdoors, bruised knees, sweat and a sun tan. The new school of thought, on the other hand,  has brought ‘Games’ right  into the comfort of our living spaces in the form of gaming consoles and now even mobile phones.

A lot has also been written about or debated on how video games can influence and trigger aggressive behaviour and violent acts. There have been arguments, findings, researches and the subsequent counter arguments by pro gamers and gaming enthusiasts. In more recent times, video games as a medium influencing violent behaviour was brought under the spotlight yet again by US president Donald Trump post the recent mass shooting at El Paso in Texas and Dayton in Ohio which resulted in 31 fatalities in a space of less than 24 hours on August 3 and 4. 

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” Trump said in a press conference,” while speaking about the mass shootings in Ohio and Texas. “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” Trump added, hinting at the need to curb/regulate/limit videos games based on warfare and battles.

 The El Paso shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius  in fact briefly referenced a widely popular video game “Call of Duty” in his manifesto. “Call of Duty” is a first-person shooter genre of video game which simulates the infantry and combined arms warfare of World War 2. 

Avid video gamers are however quick to dismiss any theory that attributes video games to mass shootings or violent behaviour.  They argue that Trump’s remarks are to deflect from the more pressing issue at hand which is the legislation and implementation of gun control laws. Strongly rebutting Trump’s claim, the executive director of the International Game Developers Association, the world’s largest advocacy organization for the industry, Renee Gittins said, “There is an overwhelming amount of research that finds there is no evidence linking video games to violence. Video games do not cause violence.”

Another man who swears by his exhaustive video games collections of 16 year comprising of almost every kind of video games right from the mid 80s, 36-year-old Tuden Jamir, son of SI Jamir from Darogapthar believes it all boils down to knowing your priorities and following a routine. He said, as opposed to what some people may assume, he does not game every day.  There are times he goes without gaming for close to two weeks, he revealed. 

Tuden Jamir’s house in Darogapathar has a room dedicated to gaming alone. It is a gamer’s paradise complete with the latest Nintendo switch console; a Sony playstation 4; other gaming console right from the mid 80s;  an LCD TV; a collection of gaming cartridges,  chips and disks;  a comfy couch;  and bean bags .  

Like hardcore gamer elsewhere, Tuden also downplayed theories/researches that suggest video games as cause for violence and mass shootings. He argued there are millions who play video games since the 80s and to nitpick and cherry pick a few cases and paint video gaming with the same brush is disservice to the vast majority of gamers. His other point of contention is that aggression is an inherent behaviour rather than a trait imbibed by playing video games.  

 He revealed that it is also interesting to note that much like how movies are certified or rated by the CBFC, games are scrutinized through a rating board before they are in the market. In case of graphic/obscene images or content, they are certified ‘Adults only’. 

How serious is gaming addiction?
While the debate on whether gaming affects mental well being and triggers aggressive will rage on, there is no denying the fact that gaming addiction is on the rise.  In November 2018, 120 cases of ‘Mental Health Condition’ have been reported to the Services for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore due to addiction to PUBG for the preceding three months. The patients reported symptoms of sleep deprivation, loss of interest in real life and dip in college attendance. 
What makes PUBG so addictive?
 Player Unknown Battle Ground (PUBG) has caught on like a wildfire in Nagaland and even other parts of India. Tuden said before PUBG took over mobile gaming, there was a version for the PC which was also popular but not like the mobile version. 
What seemed to have helped the mobile version of PUBG score over the PC version is the ‘Social’ aspect of the game. Unlike other first person shooter games, PUBG has the elements of interaction with other gamers online in planning, plotting, executing, rescuing, assisting with ammunition, reviving a player running low on power, and the use of vehicles to move from one area to another. 
Deaths due to gaming addiction
While gaming addiction is a global concern, most cases of death due to gaming is reported from the Asian countries. Gaming cafes are common sight in countries like China, South Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong. There are around 15 cases of death due to video games that have been reported and documented so far. 
In 2015, a 32-year-old man Hsieh was found dead inside an internet cafe in Taiwan after a three-day internet gaming binge. An employee of the cafe found him motionless and sprawled on the table. Though he was immediately rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead. 
Overcoming gaming addiction 
Tuden Jamir believes moderation is the key. “It is like any hobby or recreational pastime that people indulge in to relive stress and unwind,” Tuden said while pointing out that an hour or two should not affect mental well being or social life.  He however strongly cautioned against playing video games for 7 to 8 hours a day calling it unhealthy.  He opined video gaming becomes a cause of worry and concern when it starts to affect social life. That is when a person needs to acknowledge it and seek help, he emphasized.  
The history of video games 
Speaking to his writer at his residence in Darogapathar, Tuden said the origin of videos game can be traced back to the sixties, long before computer and internet came into the picture. It was developed by researchers in laboratories and facilities in the US for recreational purpose and not intended for the public or commercial purposes. 
In the 70s, Nolan Bushnell who is considered the ‘father of video games’ is accredited to making video games commercial. The first gaming system to hit the market then was the Atari 2600. 
In the early 80s, the gaming industry witnessed ‘The Great Games Crash’ as retailers lost faith in the gaming industry due to poor quality games. Retailers would only buy gaming consoles and cartridges on a buy back policy. This was the worst period in video gaming history.
In 1985, the Japanese company Nintendo then gave a new breath of life to the dying gaming industry with a console called the ‘FAMICOM’. It had a limited release in New York in the same year but was released a year later on a larger scale.  The ‘Super Mario Brothers’ was a revolutionary game at the time and quickly caught on. 
Spurred by the success of the Super Mario Brothers, the Super Nintendo was introduced in 1991 and Nintendo 64 in 1996. The Nintendo Game Cube that was introduced in 2001 was however not as successful as its predecessors.  
In 2006, the Nintendo Wii introduced the elements of action and virtual reality as gamers were now required to use the joystick controllers to replicate actions in outdoor games with games like Nintendo Wii boxing and tennis.  Nintendo Wii was a refreshing change and a 100 million units were sold. The Nintendo Wii U introduced in 2012 however was not as acclaimed as the Nintendo Wii. 
The latest Nintendo – ‘Nintendo Switch’ introduced in 2017 is a gamer’s delight as the gaming systems can be used both on a PC and the console for both single and multi players.  36 million Nintendo Switch units have been sold out in just 2 years. The other popular gaming consoles competing with Nintendo are the Sony playstation and X box. 
Genres of video games 
1. First Person Shooter (FPS): In the first person shooter video games, the player sees the games through the eyes of the protagonist. Some first person shooter games are Call of Duty, Doom and Counter-Strike.
2. Role Playing Games ( RPG):  Players assume the role of characters in a  fictional setting and take responsibilities for acting out roles within a narrative.  There are two types of RPGs; Western and Japanese.  Some RPG games are Monster Hunter: World,  Undertale and God Eater 3.
3. Platform games: These are a sub-genre of action games that requires the player controlled character to jump and climb between suspended platforms while avoiding obstacles.  The most popular platform game is the Super Mario.
4. Adventure games: In this genre, a player assumes the role of a protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving. Some examples are: Minecraft, The legend of Zelda, Night in the woods, The last of us.
5. Puzzle games: This genre places emphasis on problem-solving skills including logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion. Eg: Tetris, Bubble shooter and Candy Crush Saga. 
The benefits of video games 
Like most technologies, video game has it myriad advantages too.  Today, it is even used to impart education in a creative, interactive and appealing manner.  Parents worried about their toddlers hooked on to gadgets can infact introduce them to tons of educational apps that are available for free online. A few of them are Funbrain Jr,  Poptropica, Fish school, PBS Kids games, Phonic ninjas etc.
According to How Stuff Works, the top 10 educational video games are:
1. Scribblenauts,
2. Civilization 
3. Magic School Bus
4. Endless Ocean 
5. LeapFrog Leapster 
6. Professor Layton Series 
7. Dora the explorer
8. Big Brain Academy
9. Little Big Planet
10. Reader Rabbit.
 Tuden Jamir also said some video games require a lot of reading and it has helped him on his vocabulary and even improve his English. Games like ‘Breadth of the World’ and Civilization help you improve on your knowledge of history, he revealed. 
The bottom line
Video games are not bad but the excessive use of video games at the expense of more important things is bad.  To reiterate Tuden’s view, moderation is the key.  Video games can be used for recreation like any other hobbies but a line has to be drawn between passion and obsession. In the case of children, they should be regulated.  To sum it up, you play the game and don’t let the game play you. 
(Samuel Beech, NP feature)

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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