Game Scholar: How students are affected with daily gaming

By Bethany Gallimore
On February 20, 2014

Video gaming has established itself as a prevalent facet of college culture. With ever-increasing graphic quality, storyline development and escapism opportunities, the legend and allure of video games can be a pitfall for students who are not careful to manage their time, effort and brainpower to encompass both their game and their life.

An online study conducted by Pew Internet Researcher Steve Jones, professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, revealed that nearly 50 percent of college students played video games.

“Rather than separating leisure activities like video games from the rest of their lives, college students stole (sic) time between classes to play or as a brief distraction from writing papers,” wrote MSNBC reporter Jane Weaver, who reviewed the Pew study.

Students can become engaged in video gaming initially as a way to pass the time.

“I used to play (video games) daily,” said Trent Cunningham, mechanical engineering major of Brookland and avid gamer.

The infrequent leisure games can be a pleasant way to wind down and relax, according to Cunningham.

“I like the friendly competition involved,” Cunningham said. For him, video games have become a bonding experience he shares with his friends and family.

However, the problem begins when the draw of the game overcomes the draw of life.

Jade Allen, sophomore creative media production major of Trumann, estimates that he spends between six and seven hours a day playing video games. He prefers role-playing sci-fi and fantasy games, or RPG. “It’s like a book or movie, but you can control what is happening,” Allen said.

Cody Crisp, freshman guitar performance major of Brookland, also enjoys playing video games.

“The stories in these games are so rich with excitement, tension, twists, heartbreak and emotion that is like reading a book, but you are living it,” said Crisp.

Beyond the computer screen, the attitude of living in the game can interfere with students’ social lives, romantic relationships and school work.

Results from a 2013 study by Walsh and Robert Morris Universities indicated that students with an average per-week gaming time of greater than 13 hours had lower studying motivation and GPAs than their more seldom-gaming peers.

“Higher video game usage does indeed have a negative correlation with students’ GPA,” according to the research “This research determined a drop in GPA of 0.19 (points on a 4.0 scale.”

In addition to lowering academic performance, excessive video gaming can have negative repercussions in a student’s social life, resulting in the ubiquitous epithet, “gamer nerd.”

Real-life interaction with college peers is cast aside in favor of the lucrative business of level-jumping, coin-earning and boss fighting.

“Some people care nothing for (video game titles), but other people live for it because they feel like they have accomplished something. It gives them a sense of achievement,” Allen said.

Not all games result in social isolation, however.

“You can talk to your friends (through the games), you’re not just alone,” Allen said. “I talk to a lot of people on there, some of them being my friends from college. I wouldn’t say it interferes with my social life, it adds to it.”

When virtual reality does interfere with romantic and social actuality, some gamers realize it’s time to pull out.

“There were people in high school that (video games) were their whole lives,” Allen said. “I didn’t keep in touch with any of those people.”

Prioritization is key when delving into the world of single-player, multiplayer and online video games.

“I usually get my work done and assignments completed before I sit down (and play games) for the night,” Crisp said. It can take practice to develop a good balance between school and video games, but Crisp says he has managed it well so far.

As with any activity, moderation is required when winding down with video games, so that the person holding the controller does not become the controlled.

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