Online Gaming

Since the early 1980s children have been obsessed with playing computer games – Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, Space Invaders, Atari, Sega, Nintendo are games and companies that we are all aware of and grew up with.

Contrary to public opinion computer gaming is not all bad. Some of the benefits are:

  • Improved spatial awareness;
  • Improved multi-tasking and problem solving skills;
  • Better health, through sports games such as those on the Nintendo Wii;
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem, through victories;
  • Increased sense of community, teamwork and collaboration.

Of course, there are negatives and balance is the key to a happy gaming experience.

Whereas games used to be played on consoles or computers where games pitted their skills against the CPU, with the internet they can now play other gamers around the world at any time of the day. There are several types of online games and issues that can affect our children and adults too:

Flash Games

Flash games are small computer games that are played within a website using the Adobe Flash Player. They often have a simple graphics interface and games strategy, and are repetitive in nature.

Issues:

  • time spent online;
  • easy to play when you should be doing something else – class or homework.

Console Online Gaming

Despite the rise of the PC games consoles have continued to be popular amongst gamers due to the amazing graphics, speed, multi-player experience and now the online component. With motion sensors the Nintendo Wii now appeals more to female gamers and those seeking to get fit.

Issues:

  • time spent online;
  • gamers playing online with a headset can involve abusive language and cyberbullying;
  • excessive levels of violence in the games;
  • many children are playing MA 15+ rated games when under-age. For instance Call of Duty is rated MA 15+ for Strong Violence and Course Language.

Online Role Play Games

These are complex online games in which large numbers of players interact within a virtual game world, also known as Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). You may have heard of Runescape or World of Warcraft and Wikipedia has a complete list of these types of games http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_MMORPGs

Issues:

  • time spent online;
  • children getting up in the middle of the night to compete against European gamers, which results in lack of concentration at school, neglect of basic hygiene, lack of real exercise.

In addition, many children will state that they want a future career in the gaming industry. Whilst there are university courses available in games development, the reality is that few jobs exist locally with development studios or games console manufacturers.