Game Over

January 27, 2010
You just scored thirty-two invisible points. Or maybe you defeated the desperate sorcerer. Perhaps you even beat Luwigi in two out of three intense races. The only problem is, you still haven’t finished that essay.
Video games are a booming industry in America today. Surveys show that approximately 65% of households in the U.S. play video games regularly. With the introduction of new hits such as Mario Kart and Guitar Hero, people are spending more and more time with their gaming consoles.
While video gaming software can definitely be entertaining, it is often used as a safety blanket. Games provide an escape from the outside world. They take your mind off of the girl who just dumped you for the dude on the basketball team, or the C you just got in geometry. They help you forget that your best friend is smoking marijuana on the weekends. The only problem is, you have to stop playing eventually. When you turn off the Xbox or the Wii or the PS3, you still have to face her at school. Your parents are still going to flip about that C. Your friend still has a serious problem, and it’s still up to you to do something about it. Teens often try to bury their stress in video games, but it’s almost like trying to seal a stab wound with a band-aid.
The mental picture that comes to mind when we say the word “gamer” is typically a fat guy sitting on his couch surrounded by empty soda cans, crunching potato chips while holding a joy stick in one hand lazily. This depiction is becoming quite inaccurate in today’s world. Gaming products such as Nintendo’s Wii Fit have made leaps and bounds in the entertainment industry. They disguise physical activity as a game or competition. These games, however, are often seen as a replacement for exercise when, instead, they should be used in moderation to complement other activities.
What do gambling, cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate, infomercials, and video games all have in common? They’re addictive. If you think that isn’t true, you obviously have never played Mario Brothers. While an addiction to video games does not result in consequences nearly as severe as does smoking, it is still unhealthy. Picture this: a teenage boy barges home from school, throws down his backpack, and turns on the Xbox 360. He resumes his game from the day before and never hits the pause button except to get a snack. Is this an example of healthy behavior? I don’t think so.
All things considered, video games played in moderation can be a great source of entertainment. They should not, however, be used to ignore social problems or replace a healthy lifestyle of exercise. Players must also be careful to ensure that their enjoyment of the game does not turn into an addiction.

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