Students say gaming reduces stress, but managing time playing is key

Kevin Kazura and Michelle Masperi relax by playing a video game in a dorm room in Dalrymple Hall. Both are freshmen.

Kevin Kazura and Michelle Masperi relax by playing a video game in a dorm room in Dalrymple Hall. Both are freshmen. Photo by Evan Bowley

The gaming industry hit a record-breaking worth of $91.5 billion in 2015 sales, and there is no doubt gaming has its avid fans at Norwich University and among students nationwide. 

Junior and senior Corps of Cadets students and all civilian Norwich students have been allowed to bringing their gaming devices on campus. As gaming equipment provides features that include both facial and voice recognition and new products, gaming technology is being produced in mass quantity for an affordable rate. 

“In a week, I’ll usually play about four to five hours every weekend,” said Christopher David Reardon Jr., 20, a junior Chinese major and math minor from Burke, Va. “I don’t really play during the week because I’ve got homework. But after managing my time, I have some down time on the weekends to play.”

Many students like Reardon use gaming as an incentive or reward for accomplishing homework or other tasks. These incentives may be relegated by the student to weekends or after a certain goal is reached, such as completing a certain amount of studying each day.

At the same time, students recognize the dangers of the independent lifestyle in college and the potential to easily become overwhelmed with making their own time management decisions.

“I’ve never skipped class but I know plenty of people that when a new game comes out, they go to a midnight premiere or showing and then they buy it. Then they don’t go to class for the next week because they’re playing it” said Chase Hainey, 20, a communications major from Fryeburg, Maine.

In a 2013 study by Jordan Weaver on the impact of video games on the GPAs of college students, there was a distinct difference in the GPAs of students that played a total of 13.38 hours or more of video games per week, according to the study (published at iacis.org). The results of the research showed a drop in GPAs of .19 on a 4.0 scale for students playing video game for 13.38 hours or more per week. 

For many students, maintaining their GPA and the daily stress of academic life requires some form of stress relief. With the growing capabilities of gaming devices, students find that relief in their gaming consoles by watching movies on Netflix, playing multiplayer games and searching the Internet. 

“It keeps me focused, it’s an outlet actually, kind of like my writing. It’s an area to go to, to mindlessly do nothing,” said Charles Dodos, 20, a junior studies in war in peace major from Worcester, Mass. “It doesn’t take really much thought process to play a video game, in fact it relaxes me.”

The concept of video games providing an opportunity to relax, unwind and de-stress is a common theme among college gamers. These stressors at N.U. are not limited to the classroom but include being in the corps, sports, military commitments and the financial obligations of school. 

In research conducted by Emily Collins and Anna L. Cox at University College London, they confirmed a clear correlation between playing games and handling stress better. They found that individuals that played digital games were “more recovered and experienced less work-home interference than those who didn’t.” Collins and Cox also found that the more time people spent playing, the more recovered from stress they felt. 

Sharing a game enhances the experience as well, broadening the social contacts that students have with one another. Sharing may include online multiplayer gaming with people throughout the world, or a group of friends that play a co-op game in a dorm room. The different games dictate the number of players that can participate but the reality of online gaming is that it never closes.

This experience of playing games can also lead to expanded social contacts with individuals that are not playing and are merely watching the games being played. At the same time, a group may leave for something as common as eating a meal and a single player may be left playing alone. 

Writing for the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewinternet.org), Steve Jones states that “gaming appears to play a surrogate role for some gamers when friends are unavailable” According to Jones, “Nearly 60 percent of students surveyed agreed that gaming, either moderately or strongly, helped them spend time when friends were not available.”

The most significant challenge to the undisciplined gamer may be that gaming goes on non-stop, and the release of a new game can lead to the sight of a sleep deprived, snack fed, un-showered gamer who only put the game controller down to go to the bathroom. 

Games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 are games classified as Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). The MMORPGs are deemed “heroinware” in the gaming industry because of their addictive nature, according to Jonathan Crafton in an article. “The Effects of Videogames on Student Achievement,” (www.acsd.org. ) 

“Students can become obsessed with these games and become disengaged from schools, friends and life in general,” said Crafton. 

The trick is to avoid addiction and use moderation in playing. 

“I know there is a huge stigma against people playing video games and how people would say it’s like a waste of time, or it’s a distractor,” Dodos said “If you can control yourself and focus down on academics first and get that out of the way, then you have all the free time afterwards to do whatever you want. If you’re a gamer like me, and this is the only thing you should do up here, get all your work done, then you can go game.”

Speak Your Mind

*