Thousands of people around the world love coming together, online, to play video games with, and against, each other. Are these healthy? In a recent press release, Syracuse University announced that the negative consequences of playing these games outweigh the positive benefits.
Researchers found that online video games enticed players into playing them for much longer times, at more frequent intervals than single-player video games. Online video games have thousands of users around the world.
Part of what makes them more fun and interesting for players is also responsible for making them less healthy than single player video games. Because people are having so much fun, they tend to spend considerably more time playing video games online than they would if they were the only player.
When video games are played over a computer network, players can interact with thousands of different players. Computer networking has changed the face of video gaming from being an activity that players do alone, into a social experience.
Smyth determined that when people participate in social video games online, players experience multiple negative byproducts. Some of these include losing sleep, decreased health, losing socialization, and poorer academic work.
The negative consequences outweigh the positive benefits of online gaming. Traditional video games do not present the same opportunities to interact with other people or form friendships, so most people who play video games by themselves spend less time playing them than those who are involved in multi-player games.
“Video game play does interfere in some aspects of real-life-such as academic performance, health and social life-but game play can also foster strong feelings of virtual support and new friendships,” said Smyth.
There are benefits of social gaming, including making new friends, and having more fun playing the multi-player game. There is little doubt that playing a game online, with thousands of other players, is a more enjoyable experience for game players than playing a solitary game.
“The most striking result of this study is that playing online multiplayer games had much greater positive and negative effects on people than playing traditional single-player video games. Students in the study who played online multiplayer games did so about three times as much as those playing single-player game types, averaging over 14 hours a week,” said Joshua Smyth, associate professor of psychology in The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University.
For this study, Smyth utilized 100 volunteer college students. One of four different video games was assigned to each student. The four video games were single player computer games, traditional video games, console games (like the Sony PlayStation), and fantasy-themed online multiplayer games.