"But he didn’t know how the real world worked. He didn’t know what to do. He’d spent all his life in the Maze."
Reality and games
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeReality and games - Credit: Bright Meadow on Flickr

Much of the criticism that surrounds online gaming claims that the games are damaging and addictive. Players spend so much time in the online world, interacting with computer generated people and environments, that they become socially inept and do not know how to act in the real world. Others will argue that most MMO players know that they are just playing a game and do not take it too seriously, and that it is only a very small minority who become so addicted that they actually live their lives online. Besides this, MMOs have a strong social element and players can find themselves making friends with people all over the world. However, it is perhaps this social element that makes the games so addictive. It can lead to a kind of ‘peer pressure,’ in which a player feels the need to log in regularly because of commitments to help their team or guild complete certain group missions. Arguably, though, completing group missions does help people to learn certain skills such as working together in a team, and how to be a good leader.

 

Intense gaming area
Creative Commons AttributionIntense gaming area - Credit: Mahoro on Flickr
Whichever view you take, it is true that there are some players who take things too far. Some become so addicted that they spend far too much time in front of a screen without sleep or toilet breaks. This can cause serious health problems. Other players might lose jobs, friends and family because they are always on the game. Online feuds can even lead to real life murder in very rare cases. The dangers and benefits of online gaming are fiercely debated, and it seems that there are no easy answers. Below are some articles demonstrating the benefits as well as the problems of online gaming.

 

The Good:

 

Games are great self-esteem builders.

Game guild leaders make excellent IT leaders.

Blizzard raises almost $2 million for Japanese earthquake victims through online gaming.

Online gaming good for teens?

 

The Bad:

 

Online games more addictive than crack cocaine?

Girl starves to death while parents raise a virtual baby.

Online game ends in murder.

Gamerwidow. A site for those affected by gaming addiction.