The trend of online gaming is on the rise, with children spending multiple hours sticking to their mobile screens. It is time such addictive games are weeded out of our system. MUSBA HASHMI and ISHAN DWIVEDI bring you a report on such addictive games like PUBG
Be it Mario, Super Sonic, Jewel Tetris, Snow Bros or Contra, these 90s games are our guilty pleasure. Fortunately or unfortunately these games were the only escape for children back then because online mutliplayer gaming was an alien concept. Remember the time when we used to visit a game parlour and pay Rs 20 an hour to play these super exciting video games?
Things have drastically changed from those good old days. From play stations to Xbox, everything comes easy to today’s generation. The latest trend that took the gaming industry by storm is Player Unknown Battle Grounds (PUBG). This game has proven so addictive that everyone is falling prey to it, with disastrous fallouts.
For those who still don’t know what the game is all about, it is a violent one where everyone strives to be alive till the end. A total of up to 100 players jump in with the help of a parachute on an island. The players then do search operations in nearby houses for weapons and safety gears. The safe area of the game’s map keeps on decreasing and the players need to be in the safe zone till the end.
In between this, they have to do an encounter of a rival opponent in order to increase their chances of surviving in the game. The players of every team are given individual rating, the more people one kills, the more the rating. If a player or a team successfully manages to stay alive till the end — it is a chicken dinner for them.
PUBG was developed by PUBG Corporation , a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. It was inspired by a Japanese film Battle Royale and expanded into an independent game which released worldwide on December 20, 2017.
The game’s highlights include grenades exploding, a gang of 100 people running into one direction which is no less than an action packed movie and players killing their rivals from a distance of 500-600 metres and successfully managing headshots (killing the person in one go) which gives them a feeling of pride and satisfaction.
A seven-year-old boy Sachin Mathur, who studies in Class IV, started playing the game a month ago after hearing about it from his friends in school. Now, he spends more time and energy into online and mobile gaming which is leading him into a vicious circle of addiction. Whereas his parents, Joy & Sujata are more concerned about his physical & mental well-being as he is becoming prone to such games and turning into a couch potato.
N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research, who has studied the impact of this game deeply, says that in an anxiety filled world, youngsters look for instant gratification and that is the reason behind them falling prey to these games.
“We are becoming an anxious society, living in an anxiety filled world. The younger generation wants instant gratification and more and more of it. Creators of the game have designed it to give a high dopamine rush (the I-want-more hormone) and keep the youngsters addicted to the screens,” he tells you and adds that PUBG invokes a feeling of grand victory which increases its addiction among the youngsters even more.
“Imagine a child of 12-14 years, shooting. Now, imagine the feeling behind pressing the trigger and getting that physical jerk associated with shooting. So when children start playing these games, they lose empathy over time. And it definitely impacts their psychology,” he explains.
He says that in order to stop your child from getting addicted to this game, parents must themselves know the risks associated with the game. “Parental education about the dangers of such games and their control over what games their child is playing, is much needed. Strict ratings must be given to such games so that the parents can understand what type of game is it and why it should be avoided,” Chandramouli tells you adding that everything should be in a limited dose, extremities of anything can prove harmful.
“Everything must be used in appropriate doses, and the same goes for gaming. Most boys dream of making it big as a gamer. But they should know that for millions who try only a handful succeed. Play to enjoy, but know that there are many things to experience than just the game,” he tells you.
Meenal Arora, Founder Director of Shemford & Shemrock Group of schools and education experts and a parenting expert says that parents should make sure that they should not keep computers and other electronics in a private area but instead in an area where it can be easily accessed by all members of the family.
“The first and foremost thing that parents are doing and should do to keep their children away from such games, is to keep the computers and other electronic devices in a public space, where they can be used by all members of the family and they can keep a check on the child while s/he plays the game. The other thing is the parents should restrict the playing time of the children. If they are giving half an hour to the child then they should make sure that their child is not exceeding the prescribed time limit. The idea here is to restrict their timings instead of asking them not to play it at all,” Arora tells you.
Twenty-two-year-old Mohit Singh says that he started playing this game because of his friends and since then there is no stopping.
“I got to know about this game from my friends. Initially, I was not willing to play the game but my friends used to ask me to atleast give it a try. One day I decided to play it and since then I play it regularly. There were days, when in my free time I have played this game for five hours continuously,” he tells you. The feeling of being the winner and surviving till the end gives a feeling of pride, he adds.
“The thing which I liked the most about the game is that it is an online multiplayer game where you can interact with your fellow players. This game has helped me reunite with my school friends , whom I lost contact with after Class XII,” he adds.
Each game can be as long as 30 minutes.
“Once you start playing the game, there is no stopping in just one round. You want to play it again and again. If you win, a feeling of immense happiness runs through your body and you feel like having the chicken dinner once again. If you lose, there is an certain amount of aggression inside you and you would want to play another round and win. It is a continuous process. It turns into obsession in some people. Though now, I try to not play the game for more than two hours a day,” Singh explains.
Manisha Dubey, mommy blogger, Momspresso, says video games and online mobile games can be a major reason behind the sudden mood swings among children.
“Any kind of mobile games, video games all prove to be addictive for your children. Once they start to play, they become super engaged with the game and they have a curiosity to get to the next level in game. These games are the only reason for your child’s irritational behaviour and mood swings like being aggressive all the time. It also results in lack of concentration which leads to low grades. It also caters to certain health problems like weight gain and lack of proper sleep,” she tells you and adds that parents should try to engage their children in various outdoor and indoor activities and skilful learning and for youngsters they themselves have to be the stakeholders and avoid getting addicted to such games.
Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO & Co-Founder, Next Education India Pvt Ltd tells you that parents should consider playing online games with their children so that they can monitor their playing habits.
“Banning or stopping children from playing online games is not a solution. Parents should monitor the screen time for their children. They must also monitor what kind of games their children are playing. Children get addicted to gaming because parents are not able to give proper time to them. Therefore, parents should bond better with their children so that they do not become socially withdrawn. Parents can also consider playing online games with their children. This would allow them to keep track of their child’s interest and help them steer their children towards educational games such as Minecraft,” he tells you.
PUBG’s growing craze and excitement among the youngsters do not seem to stop anytime soon. It has been more than an year since the game was released and it still attracts and interests the young generation with the same zest.
This unnatural craze for the game has urged the government to ban it. Reportedly, Nepal has officially banned playing the game. It has been banned in some parts of India too.
PUBG moulds smartphones
On October 12, 2018. A 19-year-old-boy, Suraj, a resident of Mehrauli, New Delhi, murdered his parents and sister in the early hours of the day by stabbing them multiple times. The reason being his anger over the frequent quarrels that used to happen between him and his parents because they used to stop him from playing PUBG and asked him to focus more on his studies.
To make the murder look like a robbery, he ransacked the house, washed off the fingerprints from the knife and alerted the neighbours. However, Suraj was arrested byt the police on the same day.
The police said that he used to bunk his classes and spend the time in a rented room, playing PUBG with his friends. His parents didn’t like his habit of playing PUBG which was slowly turning into an addiction. He used to fight with his family when they stopped him from playing the violent game.
This case shows how addiction to such violent games can prove dangerous for youngsters. It can also turn into a mental disorder urging youngsters to take violent steps and opting for crimes.
Though some people think that along with the disadvantages, there are certain adavantages of playing such games.
“It has some advantages too. It is the kind of game which consistently excites the player without letting him having a feeling of boredom. The other good part of playing such games is that it increases our imagination,” Amleash Dwivedi, who is an avid player of the game tells you.
PUBG has been so trending that even the software and mobile companies are launching devices which can increase the mobile storage upto 500 GB. So, that people can download such big games without worrying too much about their device’s space. ASUS has recently launched a gaming phone which comes with a range of gaming-focused hardware and software features including the cooling mechanism.
This theoretically means you will face no lags when playing graphic-intensive games such as PUBG or Fortnite.
The following measures can be taken to stop the ingrowing addiction of these games in youngsters:
nAwareness of the cons: Focus on telling children and youngsters the disadvantages that comes with it and spreading awareness on how severely it affects their physical and mental well being can be the stepping stone in stopping the addiction from further growing.
nCounselling: If the child has already been too addictive to the game, counselling from a good child psychologist can be considered. Psychologists can analyse the child’s behaviour and can come up with strategies to prevent the child from spending too much time playing the game. Exercise and yoga can also help.
nSelf-control: Self control is key. Being one of the most difficult way, it is the best thing to opt for. Once, one gets addicted to the game, it is difficult to have self-control and not play the game. But if you have made your mind, nothing is impossible. Look for alternatives, consider going out and endulge in various outdoor activities. Talk to family and friends. Remember an empty mind is a devil’s home!
CHALLENGES THAT HURT
Apart from online mutliplayer games, there are various dangerous challenges that are doing rounds on internet. The latest one being the Momo challenge. A user named Momo used to send invitations to people through social media to perform various dangerous stunts or dares, including self harm. The challenge spread worldwide in 2018, including India, Europe, North America and South America, but came to light only in February, 2019.
The photo of a sculpture of an ubume (ghost) produced by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa was used to depict Momo.
The other challenge which also gained popularity was the Bird Box challenge. It was inspired by a Netflix thriller movie Bird Box. The challenge was to get blindfolded and complete your everyday tasks. People got so influenced by this challenge that they filmed themselves doing this dangerous stunt.
The year 2018 also witnessed some other dangerous challenges , including the Blue Whale challenge, where the player has to complete 50 tasks over 50 days, with the last one being, drawing a whale on your hand with a knife and attempting suicide. Many cases of suicide were reported, with a whale drawn on the victim’s hand.
Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO & Co-Founder, Next Education India Pvt Ltd tells you that unrestrained exposure to the internet is the reason why children are falling in the trap of these dangerous challenges.
“These challenges target youngsters who have the compulsive need to prove themselves to their peers. Today, children have an unrestrained exposure to the internet, and coupled with the emotional stress and conflict common to that age group, it is not surprising that they are so ruthlessly manipulated into self-harm. Additionally, cyber bullying is a reason for children to be prone to taking up these challenges. Lack of knowledge on these aspects of social media consumption, especially in elders, is another reason for the proliferation of these incidents,” he says.
These challenges often blackmail the victims that if they will not follow any of the instructions or dare given to them or if they ever try to back out, then the user will harm them and their family.