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MU Psych Central – Gaming (Part 1)

Dr. Mayo explores students' thoughts on the pros & cons of gaming


by Dr Nicolle Mayo, , - October 26, 2016

Gaming, whether playing games on a phone, computer, or TV, has a certain tenor to it for those young and old. There are those who think gaming is a “waste of time”, “fascinating”, “weird”, “challenging”, “artistic”, “relaxing”, “a good distraction”, “addicting”, “insightful”, or “problematic”. These are a few of the descriptors people use when they hear the word “gaming”. We all make different associations to this word, depending on how we interpret and experience it. Some love it, some hate it, and some don’t really have any opinion.

Gaming has both positive and negative qualities according to college students at MU. According to our small poll of public opinion, some students don’t find it worth their time to spend doing. They would rather invest in other activities they are more interested in. Others are too busy. For those that do enjoy it, they find it relaxing, challenging, strategic, collaborative, helpful for coping, and artistically inspirational. Depending on interest and lifestyle factors, students choose to spend time in different ways. Gaming is one way to do so.

Because we are continuing our series on technology addiction, gaming is, of course, a part of this conversation. Just like with cell phone use, those who play and enjoy games for the variety of reasons mentioned above could develop an addiction or dependence on it. Like cell phone use, this dependence involves many chemicals in the brain. The major one we are familiar with that has an impact on continued playing is dopamine. This chemical is released when we play games, particularly when we feel challenged to problem-solve and like the challenge, make an accurate choice, or develop a prediction that results in reinforcement (like added points or a promotion to the next level of the game). If we are successful in playing the game, we keep playing. It can be difficult to stop. Dopamine release is what promotes addictive tendencies when we play games, a potential we should be mindful in considering.

Outside of this enjoyment (and potential dependence), playing games has also been debated in terms of its educational value, but also its potential to desensitize us to our surrounding environment. Games can teach us a host of skills in a short period of time, and cater to our individual problem-solving styles. Depending on the game, they can also desensitize us to violence, or hamper the development of environmental awareness. When looking at this debate, which one wins? Well, we have some opinion from MU college students, that sort of hits this issue, but we cannot really make any inferences. We need to crosscheck with what research studies have shown. Stay tuned for our next and last feature on technology addiction to find out more about this debate.

MU Psych Central is supported by the Mansfield Psychology Department, which includes Dr. Gretchen Sechrist, Department Chair and Associate Professor, who specializes in Social Psychology, Dr. Brian Loher, Professor, our Human Resource Management specialist, Dr. Francis Craig, Professor, expert in Mind/Body Health, Dr. Karri Verno, Associate Professor, who specializes in Lifespan Development and Forensic Psychology and Nicolle Mayo, Assistant Professor, expert in Marriage and Family Therapy.


Idea/Concept: Dr Nicolle Mayo

Videography: Andrew Moore

Video Editing: Andrew Moore

Writing: Dr Nicolle Mayo, ,

Anchor: Dr Nicolle Mayo

Photography: N/A,


Produced by Vogt Media

Funded by Matthews Motor Company, Grubby's Games

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