Just a down town boy on a Saturday night

lookin’ for the boss fight of his life

In the real-time world no one sees him at all,

they all say he’s crazy

Mashing buttons to the beat of his heart

changing stories into life

He has gamed his way into the danger zone

where the gamer becomes a game

It can cut you like a knife, if the gift becomes

the fire

On a level between will and what will be

He’s a maniac, maniac on the console

And he’s gaming like he’s never gamed

before

He’s a maniac, maniac on the console

And he’s gaming like he’s never gamed

before

Are you living your life from cutscene to cutscene? Has your in game character’s health taken precedence over your own? Are you too immersed in your quest to improve your character’s damage rating, to be aware of the damage it’s causing to you? Are you in a world where despite playing football, basketball and other sports everyday, the only muscles that you really exercise, are your thumbs and fingers? Do all the birds that you know, need a catapult to fly? Do you feel that living virtually in Los Santos is more rewarding and uplifting than living for real in Los Angeles? Does the only family you care for, consist exclusively of ‘Sims’? If your answer to any or all of these questions is ‘Yes’, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to ‘debuff’ yourself as an avid gamer because it’s doing more harm than good to your life. We’ll tell you how and why.

In the past, research into the negative health impact of spending too many hours each day glued to a TV set, video game console or computer screen has focused on “tweens” and adolescents, generally between the ages of 8-18. While this age group certainly earns their reputation as gamers—with 59–73% manning the controller on an average day— a research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine turns the microscope on a different class of video game enthusiasts, adults.

In a study of 562 people between the ages of 19–90, 45.1% said they played video games regularly. Unsurprisingly, the research highlighted a strong correlation between regular gaming and internet use, and increased risk for depression, higher body mass index (BMI), and other negative physical and mental health issues.

Women who regularly played video games had both higher levels of depression and lower overall health status compared with women who didn’t play, and men who concentrated time on the console were more likely to have elevated BMI and report more time spent on the internet than men who weren’t gamers. Overall there were more male than female video game devotees (55.9% of those who reported playing regularly in this survey were men), but for both men and women, regular gaming was strongly correlated with a higher dependence on the internet for social interaction.

While this is among the first major studies to analyse the adverse effects of excessive gaming among adults, its findings are consistent with previous research in adolescents, which also found a significant correlation between hours spent logged on and elevated BMI, higher numbers of “poor mental health days,” and lower levels of sociability and assertiveness. The factors driving those negative physical and mental health outcomes may have to do with the real world activities gamers forgo in order to spend more time in the virtual world. “Internet community support and time spent online also distinguished adult video-game players from non-players, a finding consistent with previous research pointing to the willingness of adult video-game enthusiasts to sacrifice real-world social activities to play video games,” the researchers write.

So set the controllers aside and shut down the window to virtual reality for a while. Head out in the real world, interact with real people and start playing some real sports. It’s what your brain and body really needs. Reclaim reality for yourself today, get busy livin’, get busy tryin’!

What do you think?

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