Life beyond the screen: Gamers highlight the importance of healthy game-life balance

Jan. 16, 2024

By Camille Echols

This article is part of an in-depth reporting project about video games.

Whether one plays video games to develop real-world skills, gain inspiration, improve teamwork, relax or socialize, students and faculty say there are many benefits to this pastime. 

There are approximately 3 billion people worldwide who play video games, according to a study done by the market analysis group TrueList. Some people prefer calm games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, while others favor intense games like Destiny and Fortnite. 

Art teacher Mr. Petruzziello, who plays video games two to three times a week, said video games help him destress. 

“When I first sit down to play, I feel great, and it helps me forget my worries of the day,” Petruzziello said. “I only [feel] negative emotions from video games if I play too long.”

Petruzziello said after about three hours, he feels he has played enough. He said it is important to monitor how much time one spends playing video games.

“I set time limits for myself, and I don’t ever play video games if it takes away time with my family or my work,” Petruzziello said. “Every generation of gamers is different, but the way you interact with the games needs to be balanced.”

“If they are playing games at the expense of their schoolwork and any responsibilities at home, then it can become a negative influence.”

Petruzziello said video games strengthen his creativity.

“Because my mind is not thinking about the issues of the day, my mind is free to wander a bit, and thoughts begin to open up,” Petruzziello said. “I’ll often stop playing and grab my sketchbook to sketch out an idea for a project or some other concept that I was working on earlier that day.”

Guidance counselor Miss Truncellito, who played video games during her childhood, said they taught her life skills.

“The Nintendo games that I played when I was younger could be played as two-player games, and it helped my friends and [me] develop cooperation and teamwork skills,” Truncellito said. “It helped me develop a positive mindset of not giving up and not quitting until I succeeded.”

Truncellito said scientific research from the American Psychological Association concluded that violent video games can lead to aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviors, particularly because of their engrossing and interactive nature.

Despite these findings, Truncellito said violent video games are not the only explanation for a child’s violent disposition or aggressive tendencies.

“There are many factors which influence a child’s psychological upbringing,” Truncellito said.

She said video games can become dangerous if they cause children to start neglecting their responsibilities.

“If they are playing games at the expense of their schoolwork and any responsibilities at home, then it can become a negative influence,” Truncellito said. “However, if used responsibly and as part of a balanced lifestyle, I believe it can be helpful and a positive influence [on] a child’s development.”

Junior Ariana Feliciano, who plays video games two or three times a week, said video games can be addictive.

“Those who play video games for hours [on] end lose all motivation for their real-life goals. They are so caught up in winning their game that they don’t care for simple things like basic hygiene or keeping up with their homework,” Feliciano said.

She said video games are a good way to connect with friends while staying at home. 

“During Covid-19, when I couldn’t see any of my friends, we would all just call each other and play Roblox for hours,” Feliciano said. “Having those times made quarantine bearable.”

 Feliciano said children sometimes rely too much on technology to communicate and have fun.

“The younger generation’s idea of socializing is FaceTiming each other in their bedroom and not going outside to actually have a face-to-face conversation,” Feliciano said. “More kids are slacking off and are just focused on getting home to play video games.”

Senior Thomas Hiel, who plays video games daily, said video games have changed his life for the better.

“Video games have given me a sense of community, [a] better ability to work as a part of a team and made me better at real-world activities like driving,” Hiel said. “Video games help with issues like media comprehension because of the way many important games in the landscape tell their stories.”

Hiel said the positive effects of gaming outweigh the negative outcomes.

“Gaming has this almost magical ability to make a community out of people from totally different backgrounds and make them great friends,” Hiel said. “Too much of it could be a bad thing, but I truly believe that it brings people together in a way that no other hobby does.”

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