Hi, all.A Our community has an online forum.A The newly-appointed editor just happens to be a near and dear friend of mine.A I was asked to write something about today's video games...something which would have particular relevance for parents of younger teens.
Here is the story.A It was posted on the site on Friday but will be much more visible come Monday (Aug. 13).
[center]The New Generation of Video Games
Pleasure for One, Problem for Another[/center]
Kids these days have many options for leisure and entertainment.A One which has steadily gained popularity over the past decade is video gaming.A Most parents are familiar with Game Cube, PlayStation and Xbox.A Many others have seen their children get a good physical workout with DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and in the past months, Guitar Hero.A But there is a distinct difference between the aforementioned games and the newer generation of video games that have been launched in the last decade.
PC games were the first to be played online; Xbox Live came out in November of 2002; it enabled an internet connection and the opportunity to play console games online.A Wireless technology added another unique capability to video gaming; keyboarding (in-game text messaging) was replaced with software technology which allows players to communicate via headset.A Kids no longer have to sit next to one another in front of a television set with long cords leading to a gaming controller.A They are online, each in the comfort of home, competing as individuals or in groups and with players all over the world.
There is no profile of the typical video gamer; they come in all ages, colors, sexes and sizes.A Many children, as young as preschoolers, are investing hours and dollars on Webkinz, which merges together online gaming communities, plush toys that kids love to care for with interaction on the Internet.A A most popular style of computer game is the MMORPG (Massive, Multiplayer, Online Role Playing Game), in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world.A Players create fictional characters (commonly referred to as avatars) and work to make them thrive.A The most popular MMORPG to date is World of Warcraft (a.k.a. WoW) which boasts 8.5 million subscribers worldwide.
In most cases, video games provide the player with nothing more or less than simple entertainment, a form of relaxation or a short-term escape.A But there are dangers involved with this new generation of games that did not exist previously.A MMORPGs are often more compelling than other video games.A The social aspect of the games allows players to thrive on communication and teamwork.A As you reach higher levels, you are rewarded.A Reward comes in the form of in-game loot.A Reward also comes in the form of recognition from other gamers.A But even more compelling is the ability to continue; the captivating landscapes of these virtual worlds constantly evolve and wait to be explored.
You donaEU(tm)t have to be good-looking, courageous or intelligent in real-life to be successful in a virtual world.A As your level of skill increases, so does the required investment of time.A At the higher levels, increasing levels of participation are the only way to maintain that success.A A MMORPGs such as WoW have no real ending.A After months or even years of killing monsters and exploring new worlds, expansions of the game continue to broaden the virtual world.A There is no way to lose; characters who aEUoedieaEU are easily resurrected.A Likewise, there is no way to win; with each quest, each success or failure, comes another, different and possibly better opportunity.
This pleasure becomes a problem when game-playing continues and/or escalates, despite negative consequences on health and hygiene, school, career, or relationships.A Warning signs range from playing more than several hours a day, to becoming increasingly isolated from social activities and becoming irritable or restless when away from the game.A A common characteristic is extreme anger caused by abrupt removal of the game.
Internet gaming as an addiction/compulsion is a new phenomenon.A Many discount its legitimacy, suggesting that it is no different than watching television, playing golf or spending time reading.A But how many people watch television, play golf or read to the detriment of their physical health and well-being, their education or career, their relationships?
Cases of people affected by the downside of excessive gaming are becoming more and more widespread.A Internet sites are springing up for spouses, family and friends affected by gaming.A Some sites exist so that gamers can find camaraderie in their attempts to detoxify.A Addiction treatment centers see an increasing number of gamers who exhibit the same behaviors as those addicted to substances; some treatment centers have been established for their sole purpose.A
In late June, the American Medical Association refrained from classifying video gaming as an addiction.A However, the Association stated a continued concern about the behavior, health and societal effects of video and internet game overuse and has sent its report to the American Psychiatric Association for review and consideration in its next revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DMV).
What can a parent do?A First of all, know and recognize that there are vastly different types of video games.A The link http://www.aspenacademy.com/addictive_games.html#continue_video_games provides a very clear explanation and description and categorizes games by their addictiveness.
The best time to address gaming is before it becomes excessive.A Keeping all home computers in locations visible to more than the gamer (not in a bedroom) is a good first step.A Next, make sure that usage is limited and do not allow gaming to take time or precedence over other, real-world activities and forms of entertainment.A The following link comes with information and advice from a therapist who, at one time, found herself being consumed by a need to play video games.A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esJi4YfGKyk&NR=1
For this parent, what this phenomenon is called, or how it is classified, is not important.A What is important is that the public be aware of the insidiousness of these games and be prepared to manage or limit their use before they are forced to deal with devastating consequences.
Joyce Protopapas has been a Frisco resident for over 13 years.A She has recently become a staff member of Online Gamers Anonymous, a twelve step group for anyone affected by excessive gaming, be it the gamer, parent, spouse, family member or friend.