Online multiplayer games are popular around the world. But China is aiming to reduce its prevalence with a new policy limiting teens to no more than three hours per week spent playing online games. Since September 1, minors can only play online games from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on public holidays.
While some parents in China applauded politics, others wonder how it will be applied and think it is too strict.
Denver7 asked Colorado gamers and experts who study online games to determine who should set limits, how much is too much, and whether playing video games could actually be beneficial in certain settings.
At the University of Colorado-Boulder, esports are growing in popularity.
“Our esports teams are really focused on providing our students with the opportunity to compete and represent the school, and showcase their skills nationally,” said Joshua Sharpe, major junior business and director of esports at CU.
Colorado State University and the University of Denver also have esports teams, and some colleges even offer scholarships for players. But Nick Remple, who manages the recreational side of the game for CU Boulder, admits that gambling can be a problem.
“I failed Calculus 2 twice because of the game,” said Remple.
He called gambling addiction “scary”.
“It’s so much fun, it’s such a different world, it’s such an escape. But eventually you have to come back to reality, ”said Remple.
Denver clinical psychologist Nicole Cross said gambling addiction is similar to other behavioral addictions like gambling.
“We have endogenous chemicals that our brains release when we do certain activities that are very, very rewarding,” said Dr. Cross.
Signs that a person is truly addicted to video games include withdrawal, tolerance, concern, and continued behavior despite the risks and loss of relationships or jobs. She said many video game companies structure their games to be more addicting, with rewards that encourage more play.
“Not only do they know that these things are super rewarding and can be addictive, but I think a lot of times a business can intentionally enhance that effect or try to make it stronger,” Cross said.
Despite the fact that certain games can encourage addiction, Bethany Fleck Dillen, professor of psychology at Metropolitan State University in Denver, believes that it is still up to parents to set limits for teens.
“I hesitate to say that business should be doing it this way, or that the government should be doing it this way,” said Fleck Dillen.
Fleck Dillen said it’s important to make sure that play doesn’t replace other activities like exercise.
“We need to socialize our children so that they are healthy, grow up and do things that are beneficial to themselves and to society,” she said.
But Arturo Cortez, a professor at CU Boulder’s School of Education, said some modern gamers are using online games more beneficially.
For example, last year during the George Floyd protests, players of the controversial online game Grand Theft Auto held a virtual in-game protest. Cortez is working with Denver’s Youth Empowerment Broadcasting Organization (YEBO) to study how video games can be transformed to be more inclusive.
“What really intrigues me about video games is that people not only re-imagine who they are as citizens, but they re-imagine the kind of society they want,” Cortez said.
There are also more and more employment opportunities in games. A recent CenturyLink study found that 241,000 Americans were working in the video game industry in 2021. Zoi Galarraga, media relations specialist at CenturyLink, said jobs like programmers, data architects, as well as jobs in business and marketing, can pay six-figure salaries. Professional gaming is also growing.
“Even for professional players, who don’t quite earn the salaries of the wealthiest professional players, the average annual salary is just under $ 49,000 (per year),” Galarraga said.
For student players like Joshua Sharpe and Nick Remple, the opportunities for university experiences and future careers are an exciting development. But they say they mostly play online multiplayer games to connect with friends.
“For me, it’s really the social aspect, getting along with friends and having a good time,” said Remple.
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