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Video games can be addictive, distracting

By Richard Macris
On March 30, 2010

Video games can be a student's favorite pastime and they can help students deal with the stress of day-to-day life. But video games can also become a problem for students if they become a distraction to school and getting work done.

Video games are one of the many distractions that students deal with at Norwich University.

"So I think anything can distract a student; the problem with video games is that they can be really addictive and I think video games can be a bigger distraction if you happen to like video games," said Dr. Peter Stevephenson, the chair of the computing department for the Norwich School of Business Management.

Nearly 10 million children and teenagers visit virtual worlds, according to The Ecomomist, which gave an estimate from emarketer.

What often attracts students to video games is that they deal with competition and reward, which makes students come back over and over again. This addictive quality can be dangerous.

"I think it's a big diversion and it allows you to do something and it's something to get your mind off the daily grind," said Matthew Castle, a 22-year-old senior political science major from Chelmsford, Mass.

Video games are a perfect stress reliever for students who have to deal with the daily life of the Corps and difficult homework. Video games may also be a distraction for students who are not involved in any campus activities.

"Part of it I think is that there is not whole else lot to do and Northfield being such a remote place there is not much to do," said Mike Anton, a senior history and studies of war and peace major from Waterbury, Conn. "It's something that is fun and easy to access."

"Video games have goals and they [have] rewards which are not tangible but which may be sufficient to repeat the activities such as a clear winning of bells, lights and sound displays," said Miche Kabay, associate professor of information assurance.

As Corps students transition from freshman to sophomore then junior year, they have more free time. The Corps privilege system allows upperclassmen to have video game consoles.

"If people are not careful about it they can be completely distracted and for example there are a few corporals now that are playing video games for the entire day," said Richter Snelling, a 21-year-old studies of war and peace major from Cincinnati, Ohio.
It's the competition that drives students to video games and when it is against other players that is what drives people to come back and play video games. People get a rush when they beat someone face to face.

"The one observation that I have made is whether they are competing with each other or whether they are competing with a computer it's a competitive thing," Stephenson said.  "I found that gamers tend to be very competitive."

College is known for its academic loads depending on which majors that people are taking. Some students shy away from academics to go and play that game with World of Warcraft or Call of Duty; Modern Warfare 2 or Battlefield Bad Company 2. When it comes to choosing between schoolwork and video games, some students are going to find video games more exciting.

"It's all about personal responsibility. One of my rook buddies from when I was a freshmen failed out because all he did was play World of Warcraft and [not] focus on his grades," Castle said. "I really think it all depends on personal responsibility."
Some students get too distracted and put their classwork aside.

"It probably is a problem for some students but it's being able to control your impulses and you have to finish the assignment first. It's all [about] self discipline, really," Anton said.

Norwich is in a location that is known for its long winters and short summers so students don't have many opportunities to go out in the winter as they would in the summer.

"Compared to most schools and down south you can get out," Snelling said. Here, "you have cabin fever and there is [nothing] else to do but play video games," Snelling said.

"When our brains process video games they tap into deep neurological responses in our brains, which makes them very appealing," according to Kabay.

"I think they tap very deep Neurological responses to stimuli and video games have a goal and rewards," Kabay said.

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