Again, this is by no means intended to be law. I am offering my observations, experiences, and personal opinions on the matter. I hope you will read objectively, and at the end, share your thoughts, be they in agreement or disagreement with the following statements.
This post, I'll be focusing on several aspects of playing video games I think can be rather harmful if not watched for. You can find my post about things I think are beneficial here.
“Wait, which is it? Good or bad?”
Well, both. To learn social skills you really need to use them. You can learn some lessons from online gaming, but it only goes so far. To really learn, you have to be, well, social. Go out. Meet real people, or at the very least interact with them in some way. Gaming is a start, but it can't match the interaction with real people. Even the best of voice chat online won't allow for the back-and-forth you get in person. You say something funny, the best you'll get is "LOL", either in text or spoken (often pronounced "laul") after they've gotten up off the floor. Anything else would kill the conversation. Text only, now you often miss the chance to make your point or say what you wanted to say because while you were typing, the conversation went on without you, or took a turn that invalidated what you were going to say. In person, it's more fluid and adaptable. Plus you get to see your friend rolling on the floor after your punch-line.
In addition, in the online world, social mistakes have very little consequence. You don't get the shock that teaches you what things you can or can't do because in the online world, reactions can often be quite muted. You piss someone off, well that’s too bad, but the most they’ll do is not run with you in squads, or if you do player vs player games, he might target you when he sees you. All in all, not a big deal, though some games are starting to develop ways for the jerks to be found and punished. In real life, you may not get off that well. A miss-step in the real world can cost you a friend, a sale, a date, a break, or much worse. However it come, the error becomes a lesson that stays with you, makes you better. You insult your faction leader online, there will always be another you can go to if you get kicked out. You insult your boss, you get fired from your job, then you may have a hard time finding another, especially if they know why you were fired. Even if you find another easily, the mistake will still cost you current employment. Chances are such an error will not be made again. Lesson learned, all-be-it painfully.
On the flip-side of that, you don't get to see the positive first-hand. There's nothing better than seeing someone's face light up when you've cheered them up, or given them their first laugh in days, or sparked an idea that gets them excited. Oh you might see the results online. A couple tips on combat change a guy from dying every minute to the one making the kills, but it's like seeing a report card change. Okay, warm feelings, yet not the same when you see them light up and realize they can do it. Maybe for the first time, they really believe in themselves, because of you! You don't get to see that change online. You do in person.
It’s not all sunshine and roses in the real world. If you don’t listen and learn, you’ll learn that the hard way. That and how fun is it to only have friends you meet online? How fun is it hanging out with the ones you see in person? Both can be nice, but I bet the in-person is better.
Yeah, it’s a distraction. Sometimes a good one. But if one is not careful, what was supposed to be a “quick battle” turns into hours of farming (doing things to in-game gather materials/money), questing, and other activities that eat up your day. Suddenly, your day is gone, and you did nothing productive. Now I have allowed myself a day to do exactly that when I really needed a day off. We’ve all done that in our own way. The down-side comes when it’s not planned, and not controlled. A quick quest is fine. One that keeps you from doing anything productive, not so much.
You can also run the risk of coming away from it in the wrong state of mind. The right battle could leave you juiced like you just scored the winning touchdown of the Super Bowl (been there, felt it, man that’s fun!... err, the feeling, not the Super Bowl). This over-excitement can get in the way of things. Or, if the battle goes horribly wrong, now you’re in a rotten mood (been there too). It’s a risk, though life as a whole is risky too. Still, it can be a problem if not managed properly.
You’d better sit down for this. Ready? Okay.
The very best gear you can get in Perfect World International is called “Rank 9”, or “R9”. It’s a set of armor pieces, a belt, and a very powerful weapon. It is not easily farmable (obtained by playing the game). Technically you could do it. Some have. It just takes many many many hours to do so (file this one under the previous note). Most elite gamers however, use real money to get it. Guess the price tag. Go on. Guess.
Guess in? Here’s the real answer.
*Change to infomercial mode.* Wait, there’s more! That’s not including gems to give you extra stats, or refinement orbs to make the gear better (each level increases damage or Health Points bonus ect). To achieve what’s known as “Full R9 +12 (refinement)”, it will only cost you $2,500. That’s what it takes to get the very best gear possible. But wait! There’s more! Then there are all kinds of other things you really can only get with real money. Mounts, flight gear, vanity pets, fashion (you’re going to war in a Cinderella dress, or a swim suit, for $10-$20 each), the list goes on, and on, and on. Buy now! *End infomercial mode.*
Yeah, you can already see where that can go wrong. I’ve heard players talk about spending over $10,000 on the game. Think about that. Can you imagine having that kind of cash to throw around? Makes you wonder where they get it. Now some do so incrementally and well with-in their budget. Our faction leader for example had the funds to afford such an expense. So for those people, no harm done. They can handle it.
That said, one who is not so wealthy could lose control and spend far more than they can afford on such things. Some no doubt have. Even I’m guilty of heading down that road before I caught myself. This must be watched, or you won’t have any money to do other things with.
It needs to be said. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the digital world (insert Digimon music). Time passes, things go undone, and you find you’re spending more time on your computer than where you should be. The money goes there too, when it really should go elsewhere. Unchecked, this can become a serious problem. So be careful with your gaming habits. It’s a lot of fun, but can be hazardous if not watched.
Remember what I said about social skills? What if you're playing so much you never go out? Not once. I've heard of people playing for 18 hours straight, multiple days! Which by the way, brings about it's own problems. You sit in the same position that long, you can develop blood clots, which can be fatal. It's happened. Some guy does nothing but game all day, he sits still for so long a clot forms in his leg, it travels up to his heart, heart attack, a death he won't be coming back from follows.
Others have gone hours without going to the bathroom, or eating/drinking anything. I think we can all imagine the hazards there. Don't get me wrong. I've talked about my "gamer's bladder" a few times. I'll fight a good two-hour battle without so much as a twinge. Then when it's over, it becomes "gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now". Which by the way, I do. The battle ends, and I instantly type in "brb" (Be Right Back), followed by a dash for the bathroom (ahhhhhhh). This becomes an issue when you don't take a break for twelve or more hours! Add the lack of exorcize, which causes obesity, and thus it's own list of health problems, and a gaming addiction can become a real problem.
That’s it. That’s both sides of the coin as I see it.
So. Agree? Disagree? Got a point or two I missed? Do share. I wouldn’t mind this becoming a discussion on the matter.
Till next time, to quote my farewell from my days in Nemesis,
Good hunting to you.