Paralleling the evolution of computers and networking, online gaming has come a long way from single-player remotely hosted games via a dial up telephone line. Modern broadband has birthed ‘Massively Multi Online Role Player Games’ e.g. World of Warcraft which has left its beginnings way behind.
Originally located predominantly in university computer labs, the portability of computers now lack nothing in enhanced graphics featuring impressive three dimensions weaving a simple artificial intelligence through role playing action/fantasy games.
The community and their associated online forums and cheat/tips sites as well as the monetization involved in gaming could not have been foreseen. Equally the destructive effects of online gaming were no doubt a surprise to many, in terms of addiction, relationships and personal health.
Some scientific studies also suggest online gaming, as well as gambling, shares similar attributes to drug addiction – they both provide an artificial reward feedback loop. Dopamine is released as new levels unlocked or new challenges encountered. Similarly, drug addicts are seeking the next release of dopamine triggered by cocaine or other drug of choice.
Many references can be found which detail the addiction of online gaming, specifically collaborative multi-player games. “These games are played online with other people and are especially addictive because they generally have no ending . . . They often build relationships with other online players as an escape from reality. For some, this community may be the place where they feel they’re the most accepted.”
In seeking that high score or next level, gamers can sacrifice basic hygiene, food, drink and sleep. Addicts can suffer physical symptoms such as muscle strain in the hands, arms, shoulders and neck, as well as eye strain, headaches and more seriously blood clots due to inactivity, which in extreme cases can lead to death.
Estranged personal relationships and withdrawing from reality may seem a minor effect of the development of gaming technology but to those affected it certainly isn’t.