I came across some interesting articles today relating to video games, and I'd like to share my thoughts about them with you.
The first article is bad news:
Military parents neglect children to death due to game addiction
Parents’ video-game distraction a growing trend in deaths posted by the Army Times highlights three cases of the children of military families dying because their parents were too busy playing video games to take care of the children.
In two of the cases listed, the parents neglected their children because they were too busy playing World of Warcraft. The third case involved a parent violently picking up his child and shaking him to death because the child would not stop crying, and it distracted him from playing an unnamed video game.
First, three cases does not constitute a "trend". Give me statistically-significant numbers, or don't write your article as if its demonstrating a dramatic cause-and-effect relationship between video gaming and baby-killing.
Secondly, what's the deal with WoW players?! You guys need to chill out. It's nice that you have such a fulfilling hobby, but you need to keep aware of your responsibilities in the real world. I have several friends who have had a history of flaking out on social functions in order to stay home and raid on WoW. Although skipping out on board games or seeing a movie or whatever is not nearly as bad as murdering your child.
Video games are shown to be the first effective treatment for adult "lazy eye"
They've already been shown to help autistic children to better function and socialize, help soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, help stroke patients recover their hand-eye-coordination, and many other useful medical benefits. Now video games are being used to treat a previously untreatable disease: amblyopia ("lazy eye").
A new study from the National Eye Institute showed that 40 hours of video gaming helped amblyopia patients develop better depth perception and visual sharpness.
I thought this article was interesting because we usually associate gaming with deteriorating eye sight.
Video gamers have more control over dreams
According to a study published by Jayne Gackenbach from Grant MacEwan University in Canada, gamers have an increased sense of control and stability in dreams.
Her research found that gamers tended to report higher instances of lucid dreaming and would regularly have a greater degree of control over themselves and the dream environment. Additionally, many gamers are able to ward off nightmares because otherwise frightening and nightmarish events in dreams are often perceived as "fun challenges to overcome" by avid video gamers. Another interesting finding is that gamers have a tendency to switch between first person and third person experiences in dreams, without ever losing the sense of self.
I found this article to be very interesting because it was very relevant to my own life.
I always felt that my dreams seemed very "movie-like", but after reading this article and thinking about it for a moment, I realized that the dreams are probably more video game-like than movie-like.
I do tend to experience my dreams in a combination of first and third person perspectives. I've often wondered if I was the only one who had such experiences, or if third-person dreaming was commonplace. Whenever I would talk to people about my dreams, they would usually be surprised when I described the dream as having been experienced in third-person, so I always assumed that those experiences were relatively unique to my mind.
I'm not quite sure whether my dreams would qualify as "lucid dreams" or not, but I suppose that I have a relatively high degree of control in my dreams. Of course, I can't experience other people's dreams, so I can't really compare my experience to someone else's. One thing that i have noticed is that occasionally, when the outcome of a dream is something particularly undesireable, I have the ability to "reset" the dream to a previous state and take a different path. This is something that I guess is inspired by the "Continue" or "load from save" functions of most video games. But unlike in video games, whenever this happens in my dreams, I rarely ever repeat the same event over again. Instead, the "reset" dream goes off in a completely different direction.
After thinking about it for a while, I also realized that some of my dreams are formatted similarly to video games. In fact, last night I had a dream that included the need to navigate some environmental obstacles that reminded me of the platforming in the recently-released game Limbo. And now that I think about it, puzzle-solving and level-clearing are actually common mechanics in my dreams.
Similarly to the results of the study, I also do not seem to experience nightmares in the same way that other people do. Often, when I have "nightmares", I actually consider them to be fun and exciting, and I often actually want to go back to sleep so that I can continue to experience the thrill of the dream! This is another thing that has confused and surprised people when I tell them about it. I don't remember having any honestly scary dreams since I was a child. The only exception being illness. When I am sick (like with a fever), I do tend to have nightmares that make me not want to go back to sleep.
I always associated my enjoyment of nightmares with my fandom of Silent Hill. I always just assumed that those games had trained my mind to not be bothered by nightmarish images, and to actually find them interesting and fun.
So reading that enjoyment of nightmares is symptomatic of gaming in general is a bit of a surprise to me. I thought it was unique to my experiences with Silent Hill. Regardless, it is nice to know that there is a cause to my unusual dream tendencies, and to know that I am not alone in how I experience dreams. I'm not a freak!