From the intense development of technology through time, people have gotten more and more addicted to the entire concept of video gaming. With people devoting more and more time, for many gamers, the key is to get as good as possible. Many gamers spend significant amounts of money on ensuring their gaming setup is perfect owning the best possible Gaming PC.
Although gaming for many creates great entertainment and is an enjoyable hobby, overdoing it can cause many issues. Simple to do, you would be surprised to note that without intending, you can over-game without intending.
With symptoms and reactions to be aware of, be alert when next gaming and be sure to take breaks regularly.
The problems caused by over-gaming
As it is very simple for a person to become captured by the thrill of gaming, they can become susceptible to various different social and physical issues.
For example, one major problem over-gaming causes is overstimulation of the sensory system. The way in which this happens is when a person plays a game, their brain produces overstimulating messages to the nervous system (from the bright colours and quick movements). This then triggers the persons fight or flight response. What the brain doesn’t realise is that you aren’t actually fighting in real life, however your body is preparing itself for it as the game you are playing is increasing adrenaline. Then, when you are not playing a video game, the brain experiences sensory deprivation. This can lead to irritability of the person as their body needs to experience the thrill of playing the game, but at that moment in time they cant get to their game station.
A similar attribute that can cause an addictive state like the example above, is the way in which your brain reacts when you turn on a game. If a person begins to really enjoy a game, their brain will release a hormone called dopamine- somewhat like a happiness hormone because we are enjoying ourselves. The more a person plays and enjoys the game, the more dopamine is produced. This feeling of the hormone can become addictive over time, especially when experienced by a young child or teenager.
Another major issue caused from constantly playing a game is sleep disturbances. This is very simple for someone to experience if they have been sitting looking at a screen for a very long amount of time. The reason why this happens is due to the amount of blue light you are subject too. The blue light emitted suppresses melatonin our body produces which is the chemical your body needs to sleep.
A study recently conducted at Harvard University, found that exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin twice as long as green light did, causing an extremely disruptive and challenging sleep.
Impaired social skills
Lastly, playing games can cause slightly serious impaired social skills for a person. This is because playing games can be very isolating. Without realising it, the person playing the games may not have left their room all day, let alone the house to socialise with family and friends. By not using your time wisely when it comes to social interactions, you can cause a delay in the skills you receive from being socially active. These are simple development and interaction skills that may seem like nothing to some, but these are important opportunities that should be taken.
The advantages of gaming
While there are a fair few issues caused by over-gaming, there is also a handful of positive skills a person can pick up from video gaming-if the game play is timed efficiently.
Some attributes picked up from gaming include:
- Improvement of hand-eye coordination
- Improvement of problem solving skills
- Enhanced memory
- Improvement of attention span and concentration
- Improvement of the brain’s speed
- Enhances multitasking skills
- A great source of learning
Ensuring game play is within an effective time frame, a person can pick up these skills rather quickly, and practice them while playing. These skills can help a person in the future, possibly when trying to get a job, or most certainly will help someone trying to problem solve and develop in a job they already have.
Even though it probably isn’t great for someone to prove they have these skills by using video gaming as evidence, it is still a very good way to practice them in the privacy of their own home, and become a really effective gamer and confident person.
Why taking a break is important during gaming
Apart from the issues above caused from intense over gaming, there are some other slightly less serious outcomes that make taking a break from gaming important.
If you are someone that takes gaming very seriously, then you will understand that overtime, or nearing the end of the day, you will find your game play is not as strong as it was 5 hours ago and your skill set is lagging. This is because you need to have a break from playing and change your scenery for a small amount of time, to almost ‘reboot’.
The skill sets a person can receive (listed above) from gaming are very positive. However, these will only be effective if you time your gaming well, and take beneficial breaks. Otherwise, it will be very easy to fall into the trap of overplaying, where you will really only receive issues rather than practise in your skills.
Not only can skills and game play be benefitted from taking a break, there are a few other things too. Such as:
- Less mental strain
- Less strain on the eyes
- Release of tension in the neck and back
- Increased sleep quality
- Relief of stress
How long should a gaming break be?
It is found that a person should take around a 15 minute break after every hour of play. It is apparent that gameplay of more than one hour but, anything below three hours, puts a gamer on a level playing field with amature, beginner gamers.
However, studies show that a person’s break should correspond with the amount of time they have spent playing a game. This was conducted as it was evident that games had various different lengths. For example, some have quick sessions of around a 10 minute length (such as Fifa), or some have a single player continuous gaming that can last up to at least 50 minutes per gaming session (such as call of duty).
It was simply concluded that the more time a person spends per session paying a game, the longer the break should be. Anything between 5 to about 40 minutes, would gain a lot of benefits from a 5 minute break after each session ends- about every half hour. Anything around the 50 minute plus mark, will suggest a 10 minute break after every session.
What to do on your gaming break
It’s all well and good deciding to go on a break after you have finished a big gaming battle. However, if a person does not do anything, rather than stay seated in their gaming chair, the break won’t be of any benefit.
The first suggestion for something to do on a break would be to get up and take a small walk. This can be as minimal as walking down your stairs, standing in the garden for a minute, or going a making some food. As long as the movement consists of at least 30 steps, then some benefits will be seen
Walking around is a good thing to do as this will promote blood flow around the body. As silly as it sounds, from sitting down in a chair for a vast majority of time, the blood in a person’s body to pool in their legs. This can cause aching or loss of feeling in the lower half of your legs. So, the movement will stop the pooling and allow the feeling of energy to return.
However, it’s easy to want to rush back to the game and believe that the 5 minute run down the stairs was beneficial- it is not. The aim is to take it slow, and enjoy the time away from the gaming station to see the full effect.
Focus on your breathing
Something else that would be of benefit is a deep breathing technique. Playing an intense game can cause an increase in a person’s adrenaline levels, which can lift heart rate and breaths taken. So, allowing to calm down and taking slow inhales through the nose, exhaling through the mouth, will allow the heart rate to drop down gradually and will make returning to gameplay very successful (as the person will be fresh minded and chilled out). It will be very easy to see how much the gameplay increases in success, once you have returned to a calm yet energised frame of mind.
Keep up with the water
Staying hydrated and well nourished is a simple yet very important attribute for successful gaming. It’s remarkably easy for a person to forget to have breakfast or lunch if they just want to start playing their game station, or have a few drinks throughout their session. So, making it a priority to eat and have a drink in the breaks between sessions, will hopefully decrease the chances of dehydration. Dehydration can cause concentration issues and will cause your reactions to act a lot slower, and when playing competitively, these need to be working harder than ever to rank highest in the game!
While playing games are very enjoyable and can allow a person to practice a wide range of skills, it is still very important to not over do it. It is something to remember that your game station will still be in your room after your break, simply pause and take some time to yourself. You will reap the benefits by winning all of the following games once you return.