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Ayooluwa Odeyinka and Radhika Damle: Think you know all about video games? Think again!

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Ayooluwa Odeyinka Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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What do you think of when you hear the words “video games”?

Based on your past unique experiences with these, we’re sure the two words, “video games,” have different meanings for you. For some, like the authors of this article, video games serve as a break from our busy lives. For others, like our parents or teachers, video games are a source of annoyance perhaps due to a fixation on them or witnessing others doing so.

You might not have known this, but video games are considered a sport and can serve as a source of income!

For people who have not personally experienced anything related to video games, a common stereotypic image of a teenage boy sitting close to a TV screen with a fixed gaze, smashing buttons incessantly, comes to mind, but the reality is that video games are for everyone.

Nowadays, the person sitting in front of the screen can be from any gender and usually fits a slightly larger age demographic between the ages of 14 and 34.

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And gamers can play on many different devices such as a computer, mobile device, TV, or in virtual reality.

Long gone are the days of pixelated Pac-Man and Pong. With better graphics and memory storage, gamers can play longer games with realistic objects and a complex storyline. These improvements in video games have created a more interactive game for players, which creates a truly immersive experience. Other types of media can offer enjoyment, but none can fully match the immersive level that video games have to offer.

These new attributes have caused more people to turn toward video games. Did you know that in 2020, the video game industry’s revenue surpassed the revenue from film and North American sports combined? You might also be surprised to know that the popularity of games has turned gaming into a professional sport called eSports which operates similarly to professional sports such as football and soccer. These teams train for more than six hours a day, sign player contracts, are sponsored by companies such as Intel and Red Bull, and can win money in the hundred thousands and even in the millions of dollars! There is even a mad rush to get tickets to these events, which sell out in mere minutes.

One doesn’t need to go into eSports to earn money, they can also live stream themselves playing the game on a popular streaming platform called Twitch, where they generate money through views and advertisements, similar to vloggers on YouTubers. On Twitch, streamers can make between $3,000 to $5,000 per month, with popular streamers making millions per year!

Clearly, the video gaming industry is going to be something to look at in upcoming years. If you’re still on the fence about playing video games, or if you are a current player or an observer looking to learn more about the effects of video gaming, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will discuss some benefits and drawbacks of video gaming.

Video games are great for learning how to barter and relieve stress in a healthy way. In the game Hay Day, for example, farmers must trade products such as milk, cheese, lavender, or even clothing in order to make money or clear up storage. With this money, they can then expand their barns or silos, purchase more animals, or decorate their farms.

This trade of goods for money is something that children will become more and more exposed to as they grow older, so an early exposure to how that process works will help them get a better understanding of what is and isn’t a fair trade. We often see elementary school kids make the mistake of accepting an unfair trade. By playing video games such as Hay Day, and understanding the value of the items that they produce, children may stop making the mistake of trading their bag of potato chips for two pretzels and an almond (speaking from personal experience).

In addition to teaching the inner workings of trading, gaming can also help with stress relief. Last school year, while we were still in distance learning, we used video games as a way to help get our minds off school and relax until it was time to do homework. After sitting in front of a screen all day, we hopped onto an even smaller screen and played games together for stress relief.

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As ridiculous as that sounds, it truly made the difference during that virtual school year. Oftentimes, learning virtually felt like we were learning alone, rather than in a classroom setting. Due to the nature of virtual meetings, there were limited interactions among students. By playing video games, we were able to reset for the afternoon and become mentally relaxed enough to begin our homework, and also feel like we were interacting with others.This interaction helped us maintain our sense of normalcy during a trying time.

So far we have only discussed the stress-relieving and trade teaching benefits of video games. There are many more benefits such as improved hand-eye coordination and collaborative skills, exploration of new experiences, and more.

Of course, you can have too much of a good thing. As we mentioned earlier, video games are very interactive and focus on the engagement of multiple senses, so it's easy to get caught up in the fantasy worlds of the games on our screens and let time slip away. This is a common experience for gamers across the world, and we will admit that it has happened to us on a few occasions, which has ended up being quite problematic for us in our academic lives. Unfortunately, for some people, these few occasions become a daily occurrence and brutally affect their lifestyle, leading to failed classes and weakened relationships.

Telling ourselves to detach our eyes from our screens and our hands from the controllers is easier said than done, so to avoid falling into this situation, something we like to do is set a time limit for games on our devices. This has helped us balance life with gaming, so that we may keep a healthy work-life balance.

The saying “all things in moderation” applies to almost everything, especially video games. Gaming can be great for stress relief and learning how to conduct fair trades, but it can also be detrimental to a person's academic performance and social life. Video games have their pros and cons, but as long as we don’t become too invested in them, they can really improve a person’s quality of life!

Ayooluwa Odeyinka and Radhika Damle are seniors at John Marshall High School. Send comments on teen columns to Jeff Pieters. Email jpieters@postbulletin.com.

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