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Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Playing Video Games

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In recent decades, video gaming has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide, with adolescents and young adults forming the most substantial group of consumers, spending an average of nine hours per day interacting with some form of entertainment media.

The growth of the Internet and access to high-speed connectivity has led to a shift from ‘traditional’ video gaming (one player versus machine) to sophisticated interactive multi-player video gaming, substantially increasing the proportion of time spent playing video games.

A young video gamer. Image Credit: Anton27 / Shutterstock

A young video gamer. Image Credit: Anton27 / Shutterstock

As the development of video gaming and its use has increased, apprehension regarding dysfunctional or problematic video gaming has grown in tandem.

One recently described phenomenon known as video gaming addiction (a term often used interchangeably with Internet addiction) has parallels with other forms of addictive behaviour.

Individuals with problematic preoccupations with gaming show similar patterns of behaviour to those with recognised addiction disorders, including compulsive use, decline in functioning and withdrawal symptoms.

Although the term is controversial, the growing body of evidence surrounding problematic gaming has led to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) deeming ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ (IGD) as warranting further study regarding whether it should be included as a unique mental disorder.

Population studies in Europe and the United States estimate the prevalence of problematic gaming at between 1.5% and 8.2%. Clearly, most gamers do not develop a dysfunctional relationship with video gaming.

The effect of gaming on non-problematic gamers

Media reports on the impact of gaming have been mixed, making positive and negative health claims about the effects of engaging in video game play, although these are rarely evidence based. Nonetheless, there is a growing body of scientific literature exploring the possible benefits and disadvantages of video gaming.

A recent systematic review analysed the results of over one hundred studies to determine if, and to what extent, playing video games can influence brain activity and behaviour, and grouped results into the following categories.

Attention

The most researched area with regards the impact of playing video games, several studies have shown that video game playing can lead to improvements in several attentional processes, including selective, sustained and divided attention.

More rigorous research is required about processes underpinning these advantages, but there is emerging evidence that regions of the brain implicated in attention are more proficient in gamers.

Resource allocation (the amount of resource within the brain recruited to complete a task) appears more efficient. Using brain imaging techniques, found that compared to non-gamers, gamers completing processing tasks during MRI scanning were able to allocate attention resources more effectively, possibly filtering out irrelevant information automatically.

Visuospatial skills

Visuospatial skills refer to the neural processes that allow us to perceive visual information and understand spatial relationships between objects.

Skills include navigation of the environment and judging distance, and visuospatial processing is predominantly controlled by the hippocampal region of the brain. Given that video games predominantly include interactive visual tasks, research has investigated differences in the neural correlates of visuospatial processing between gamers and non-gamers.

A series of MRI studies found positive correlations between the lifetime amount of video gaming and hippocampus volume.

Furthermore, comparisons of controls with people who completed thirty minutes of video game playing for two months showed a significant increase in hippocampal matter following training.

Cognitive control

Cognitive control encompasses skills such as reactive inhibition (learning to avoid certain actions), proactive inhibition (where learning is inhibited by previous memories), rapidly switching between tasks and working memory. Such processes which are controlled by the prefrontal cortex, are key skills in video game playing.

During game playing, increased activation has been observed in these areas, with the level of activation positively correlated with the difficulty level of the game. Moreover, studies which include cognitive training via video gaming have shown volumetric increases in this brain region.

Interestingly, different categories of video games appear to affect different cognitive processes. For example, a study examining the benefit of ‘brain training’ using video games with older adults showed a strategy game improved verbal memory span but had no effect on working memory or problem-solving skills. When training involved an action game, improvements were seen in problem-solving and reasoning.

Aggression

A regularly cited concern is the impact of gaming on aggression. Derived from theories of social learning, proponents of a link between the two have theorised that repeated exposure to violent material increases violent thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

Attempts to demonstrate a link empirically have been mixed, and reviews of the evidence base point to methodological shortcomings and publication bias.

Adopting a stringent methodology, these authors sampled over one thousand adolescents and their carers in the UK and found no association between time spent playing violent video games and likelihood of antisocial behaviour or aggression.

Physical activity

Adolescents and adults who spend large amounts of time playing video games or otherwise engaging in screen time need to be cognizant of their physical activity levels.

Most video game playing time is sedentary and even the use of active video games has not been shown to improve overall physical activity levels. Daily moderate to vigorous physical activity should be prioritized over screen time for both children and adults.

References

  • American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
  • Anderson CA, Bushman BJ, Bartholow BD, et al. Screen violence and youth behavior. Pediatrics. 2017;140(2):S142–S147. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1758T, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29093050
  • Bavelier, D., Green, C. S., Pouget, A., and Schrater, P. (2012b). Brain plasticity through the life span: learning to learn and action video games. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 35, 391–416. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-060909-152832, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=22715883
  • Izzetoglu, K., Bunce, S., Onaral, B., Pourrezaei, K., and Chance, B. (2004). Functional optical brain imaging using near-infrared during cognitive tasks. Int. J. Hum. Comput. Interact. 17, 211–227. doi: 10.1207/s15327590ijhc1702_6, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327590ijhc1702_6
  • Kühn, S., and Gallinat, J. (2013). Amount of lifetime video gaming is positively associated with entorhinal, hippocampal and occipital volume. Mol. Psychiatry 19, 842–847. doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.100, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=23958958
  • Kühn, S., Gleich, T., Lorenz, R. C., Lindenberger, U., and Gallinat, J. (2014). Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game. Mol. Psychiatry 19, 265–271. doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.120, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=24166407
  • Nielsen. Multi-Platform Gaming: For the Win! New York (NY); 2014, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2014/multi-platform-gaming-for-the-win.html
  • Palaus M, Marrón EM, Viejo-Sobera R, Redolar-Ripoll D. Neural basis of video gaming: a systematic review. Front Hum Neurosci. (2017) 11:248. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00248, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=28588464, Przybylski AK, Weinstein N. Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report. R Soc Open Sci. 2019 Feb 13;6(2):171474. doi: 10.1098/rsos.171474. eCollection 2019 Feb. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30891250
  • Weinstein A, Lejoyeux M. Internet addiction or excessive internet use. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2010 Sep;36(5):277-83. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2010.491880.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/screen-play/201810/how-much-screen-time-should-kids-be-allowed-each-day
  • An active video game intervention does not improve physical activity and sedentary time of children at-risk for developmental coordination disorder: a crossover randomized trial, Child Care Health Dev. 2016 Mar;42(2):253-60. doi: 10.1111/cch.12305, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26648488



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League of Legends: [Interview] Isurus Gaming on Bootcamping in Korea and Worlds: “At the end of the day, each team wants to be better than yesterday.”

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The League of Legends World Championship is like Christmas to all LoL fans around the world, because the best teams from every region gather to compete for the Summoner’s Cup. Liga Latinoamérica (LATAM), however, is a region that’s never had much success at Worlds. Teams that represented LATAM never have made it past the play-in stages, and the fans are avidly waiting for the region to step up their game.

 

Enter Isurus Gaming: the top dogs of LATAM, but definitely the underdogs in the 2019 LoL World Championship. While all the other Western teams went over to Europe to bootcamp before Worlds, Isurus decided to come to Korea for their bootcamp. On the 20th (KST), we’ve had a chance to talk to all the players about their time in Korea and the upcoming tournament.

▲ From left to right: Warangelus, Yeti, Seiya, Slow, KouZZe, Buggax, Oddie

Can you please introduce yourselves?

Buggax: Hi, I’m Buggax, the top laner for Isurus Gaming, and I’m a big fan of teemo players (?)

Oddie: Hi, I’m Oddie, the jungler for Isurus Gaming, and I’ve recently hit Challenger on the Korean server.

Seiya: Hi, I’m Seiya, the mid laner for Isurus, and I’ve been playing League for about 10 years now.

Warangelus: Hi, I’m Warangelus, the bot laner for Isurus, and I’ve once lost 3 finals in a row in LATAM.

Slow: Hi, I’m Slow, the support player for Isurus.

KouZZe: Hi, I’m KouZZe, the sub bot laner for Isurus. I’m a big fan of Uzi, and love playing Lucian.

Yeti: Hi, I’m Yeti, the head coach for Isurus, and I’m probably the best Qiyana player in the galaxy.

Isurus Gaming qualified for the Worlds Play-in Stage. How do you feel?

 

Buggax: It’s my first time heading to Worlds, so I’m very excited. I have much faith in this squad, so I’m anxious to start the tournament.

Oddie: Although my competitive career isn’t long, this is my second time going to Worlds. I didn’t perform well back then, so this year’s a chance for redemption.

Seiya: I also have a lot of regrets during my past Worlds appearance, so it’s a second chance for me as well.

Warangelus: I just want to show the World what I can do.

Slow: This is my third time going to Worlds, and I also want to show that I can perform on the international stage. 

KouZZe: This is my first time going to Worlds, so I hope to learn a lot from this experience.

Yeti: There’s high hopes for this squad from the fans, and every year, LATAM gets a little bit closer to making that big upset at Worlds, so this is our best opportunity to make history for our region.

How are you guys enjoying Korea? What do you like and/or dislike about here?

 

Buggax: Compared to our region, the quality of the solo queue is much better. If the players on this server know that the game’s not in their favor, they just open and don’t like to waste time and move on. I’m not a very patient person, so I love that aspect about the server, and I feel like I’m at home when I’m playing solo queue.

Oddie: I love playing solo queue, and love playing against other players in every region I go to. All the players here are mechanically good, and as I climbed to Grandmaster-Challenger elo, I can see that there’s a clear difference in skill as to other regions.

Seiya: We get to practice against teams from other regions that we’d normally wouldn’t be able to practice with, such as Vietnam and Japan, so I think that’s awesome. We’ve also visited LoL Park for the Regional Finals, and it was mind blowing, because the facility is something that we can only expect in LATAM in years. Going to LoL Park made me realize why the esports scene is so vibrant in Korea.

Warangelus: Everyone likes to surrender so early in solo queue, and as a bot laner, I can’t do anything until I get 2-3 items, so in some games, I can’t do anything.

Slow: Watching the Kingzone vs DAMWON game at LoL Park made me think about our finals, so it was very nostalgic.

KouZZe: Although the food in Korea is good, I don’t like spicy food, so it’s a bit of struggle. 

Yeti: Back home, if you were to talk to someone and say that you work in esports, they’d most likely be confused, but I like the fact that there’s a social acceptance here where having a job in esports is more of a norm.

 

 

What was the biggest obstacle that you faced during your bootcamp here?

 

Seiya: I can’t say for sure. We didn’t really have trouble finding scrim partners, and the quality of practice is much better than what we would’ve gotten back home.

Oddie: I think it’s a matter of reputation. If we get past the play-in stages, more teams would want to scrim us, and things will just get better.

Buggax: At the end of the day, each team wants to be better than yesterday.

Is there a specific player and/or a team you’d like to face at Worlds?

 

Warangelus: No, because Kingzone lost (laughter). Deft is the best mechanical player I’ve ever seen, and I’m extremely sad that I can’t play against Deft.

Seiya: I want to play against FunPlus Phoenix, and Doinb, but we’ve got to get to the group stages first. It’s also everyone’s dream to play against Faker on the international stage, so I’d also love to meet him.

Oddie: I want to play against Clid, so we’ll be working hard to get to the group stages.

Yeti: As a team, it would be very exciting to play against DAMWON, because DAMWON is looking to be the top team in the play-in stages, so I think it would be a very good experience. Whether we win or lose against them, it’s a win-win for us because even if we lose, we’d be able to learn a lot.

Buggax: Speaking of DAMWON, I want to play, but at the same time, not want to play against Nuguri. I think Nuguri is an incredibly talented player, and although I’d love the challenge, it’s not a bad thing to evade a tough opponent. If I do end up facing him though, I’d want to ask him before the match if we can just play tank champions.

Slow: I think BeryL is a really good player, so I’d love to play the 2 vs 2 matchup against Nuclear and BeryL.

KouZZe: As I said before, I’m a big fan of Uzi, so would love the chance to play against him.

 

 

Western teams (i.e. TL, C9) headed to Europe for bootcamping before Worlds. What made your team decide to come to Korea for bootcamp?

 

Yeti: At the end of the day, wherever we went, we were going to struggle with getting scrims against the top tier teams. If we went to Europe, we were most likely going to scrim against teams in EU Masters, but if we came to Korea, we would be able to scrim against teams from Japan, Vietnam, and teams in Challengers Korea. It was all about finding the best options as a team, and coming to Korea was a lot cheaper as well, so it was a nice change of atmosphere.

Seiya: I personally wanted to come to Korea for practice, because I’ve been to Europe many times. I think that while it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference, I’ve gladly accepted the administrative decision that the org has made.  People have been saying that European teams are the strongest, and Korean teams aren’t as good as before, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Korea is still an incredibly strong region, and we felt would learn more from Korea than Europe.

Buggax: Also, I believe that Korean solo queue is a lot better than EU, so even if we got practice against the best teams, Korean solo queue was well worth our trip here. 

 

 

Let’s talk Worlds. What are you most excited about this tournament?

 

Buggax: LATAM, as a region, has never made it past the play-in stages, and I believe that we have a really high chance to make past the play-in stages this year, so I’m excited to show what we can do.

Oddie: This is our first time bootcamping before a big international tournament, so I’m excited to see the results of our practice.

Seiya: There aren’t many words to describe how excited I am about it, other than the fact that it’s Worlds.

Warangelus: Because of our poor performance at MSI, it’s a chance at redemption, and I’m most excited to show off the results of our training.

KouZZe: This is my first time at Worlds, so everything about it is very exciting, but I think the thought that we really have a chance to make it to the group stages is what I’m most excited about.

Yeti: For competitive League of Legends, Worlds is the most exciting time of the year.. The best teams gather to play for bragging rights, and as a coach, to be a part of that is like waking up on Christmas morning.

 

 

Let’s try something a little fun. If you had to choose a champion that you’re so good at, that with it, you can beat anyone, which one would it be? Since a lot of eyes are on all the teams at Worlds, feel free to lie about it to throw people off.

 

Buggax: There are two champions that I’m really good at, Gnar and Gangplank.

Oddie: My go-to champion is Kindred. His kit is very different from a lot of other jungle champions, and finding his passive marks around the map is like a mini-game in itself, so it’s a lot of fun.

Seiya: Poppy, but no one will know until I pick her at Worlds.

Warangelus: I’m actually the best Garen in the World. No one can beat our Garen-Yuumi bot lane.

Slow: Our Garen-Yuumi combo is the best in the world.

KouZZe: I’m the best Lucian player in the world.

Yeti: I don’t know about Oddie’s Kindred (laughter). No comment on the Garen-Yuumi bot lane, and I’ve never seen KouZZe play Lucian (laughter). For me, like I said before, I’m the best Qiyana in the galaxy.

Team in unison: He has a 40% win rate in Gold (laughter), only because Qiyana was banned in his games.

Going back to talking about Worlds, what are your expectations as a team, or as an individual for this tournament?

 

Seiya: It’s every League of Legends team dream to win Worlds, but realistically, since our region has never made it into the group stages, we, as a team, have set our goals to make it past the play-in stages.

(To Yeti) From the head coach’s perspective, how well do you think your team will perform if the team makes it past the play-in stages?

 

Yeti: Historically speaking, there were instances where teams that made it past the play-in stages have made it into the knockout stages at Worlds. If we make it into the group stages, we’re definitely capable of making it into the semifinals.

Which regions do you feel confident against in the play-in stages?

 

Buggax: We’re confident that we can beat all the other regions, but these kinds of thoughts can lead to cockiness, so we’re going to treat every match like it’s our last.

Warangelus: I think we’re definitely better than Brazil [Flamengo eSports] (laughter).

Yeti: I think we are also stronger than Taiwan and Vietnam. Ever since Flash Wolves lost a lot of their star players, the region doesn’t look as strong. As for Vietnam, I feel that they’re a region with only one good team, so in that regard, they’re similar to us.

*Context: Isurus Gaming is on very good terms with Flamengo eSports.

Thank you very much for spending your valuable time for this interview, and would you like to say anything to your fans, family, friends, or to your competition, like Flamengo eSports, at Worlds?

 

Buggax: It may sound generic, but this year, we’re getting some very good practice in Korea, five solid players, and a very good staff supporting us. I won’t make any promises that I can’t keep, but one thing I’ll promise is that I’ll be giving it my 110% at Worlds.

Oddie: Thank you for all the support, and we’ll give it our all to deliver good performances for our region.

Seiya: I’ve been playing in this region for a very long time, and over the years, I’ve let the LATAM fans down many times. However, I really feel that this year’s different, and I’m confident in myself and this squad that we’ll be able to do well, so please keep rooting for us.

Warangelus: It was my dream to play against Deft, and I just can’t believe that he didn’t make it to Worlds (laughter). This message is for Deft: we’ll make sure to knock out DAMWON out of the tournament, just for you.

Slow: Thank you to all our fans for their support. I have much faith in my team, and everyone in this organization has been nothing short of amazing, so I’ll make sure to perform at my best.

KouZZe: Thanks to all my fans, family and to my amazing girlfriend. This team has sacrificed a lot to make it thus far, and I’m confident that we’ll do well at Worlds.

Yeti: Whether we succeeded or failed in the past, there were a lot of critics and memes, but there was a ton of support on the other end of the spectrum. I just want to tell the fans to enjoy this part of the year, continue your support as we head into Worlds, and overall have a fun spectating experience.

 

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