Alex Haragan answered on 4 Jun 2018:
penguins4life I think we talked on live chat earlier today!
I should start by saying I love computer games and have definitely spent far too much time playing them.
Computer games by themselves are rarely dangerous (some people with epilepsy can’t play due to the bright lights – but even that isn’t the computer game in and of itself).
I can say by themselves they don’t cause heart problems no.
However – sitting down for long periods of time, doing little exercise and not getting outside is certainly not good for you. Heart problems vary, but for many the best way to help them is to be a healthy weight, have good amounts of exercise, good diet, don’t smoke and so on.
Computer games might encourage you to sit down for long periods – and the fact is its bad to spend 12 hours a day for many days sitting down, drinking energy drinks and junkfood (all of which do happen with computer games – I know from experience!)
But it isn’t the computer games in and of themselves – if you did the same thing watching TV or doing nothing it wouldn’t be any healthier.
For the good side – computer games (depending on what type of game) can help motor-skills, management, reflexes, team-working, problem solving, resource skills and many other things besides.
So, as with most things in life – they can be good for you, but in moderation!
Hannah Farley answered on 4 Jun 2018:
Computer games themselves don’t cause heart problems, they just might encourage people to sit still for long periods of time and that’s a big risk factor for lots of diseases. BUT VR is being used as a tool to help combat PTSD in army vets and people are looking into using it for helping with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, so they could actually be ways to treat other conditions (and at the moment we are not v good at treating things like schizophrenia that well)
Lauren Burns answered on 4 Jun 2018:
I love playing computer games (league of legends is a personal favourite). I have not heard of research that suggests they do cause heart problems. However, if there is a link, it may be to do with being in a high-stress situation over a long period of time. Although, if another scientist out there knows more on the subject, I’d be delighted to know!
Joey Shepherd answered on 4 Jun 2018:
It’s not really computer games that are unhealthy in themselves, it’s sitting down for long periods of time, not exercising, maybe snacking on salty fatty snack food and sugary drinks while you’re doing it that is the unhealthy part. But computer games are undeniably fun and are a major hobby for many. They can also be used in therapy – a friend of mine has a company which is starting to use virtual reality to help people with things like agoraphobia which will massively improve their lives. So I think it’s all in balance really!
Ashley Akbari answered on 5 Jun 2018:
Anything in moderation is fine – it is important to take regular breaks and if you are not enjoying or having a positive experience then stop and think about whether if there are other activities or hobbies which you would enjoy more
Laura Hemming answered on 6 Jun 2018:
I’ll just start my response by disclaiming that I recently purchased a Playstation 1 and all Crash Bandicoot games so I’m a bit of a vintage gamer as such haha.
From a Psychological perspective, computer games can be both a help and a hindrance. There is some research which shows that violent computer games can increase levels of aggression in those who play them. However, there is also an emerging section of research which shows that it’s possible to develop therapeutic computer games which can help people to recover from their mental health problems.
I think, as others suggest below, that computer games in themselves are not bad, but maybe we should think a bit more carefully about how we regulate games and ensure that they are not harming people’s mental health.