Breaking the taboo: Should we be shunning gaming?

Top of the morning folks! I have had just about enough caffeine in my system to venture into my weekly harangue. So this week I thought I’ll talk about a controversial topic that has securely placed itself smack in the middle of the generation gap.

Should children, and teens, be kept away from games? While I have a clear one-sided opinion on the subject, I shall, for the sake of being neutral, give you an overall picture. It was timely for me to pick gaming as a theme as, I’m sure you already know, Sri Lanka Cyber Games 2018 took place over the weekend and comes to a close today (Sunday) during the Play Expo 2018, at SLECC.

Is gaming healthy?

Since I have absolutely no qualification in psychology or behavioural sciences, I shall tread on this carefully.
With the change in mindset over time, along with more Gen X-ers and millennials becoming parents nowadays, it is evident that they view gaming similar to how they view fast food: It is okay as long as it is in moderation.

However, the best study I could get my hands on, pertaining to gaming, begs to differ. Dr. K. Przybylski conducted a study on “2,436 male and 2,463 female young people, ranging in age from 10-15 years”, titled “Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment,” where he looked at how different amounts of gameplay impact gamers.

Now hold on to your horses when I tell you what the study discovered.

It found that in some cases, gaming is beneficial: “Compared with non-players, children who typically invest less than one-third of their daily free time showed higher levels of pro-social behaviour and life satisfaction and lower levels of conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, and emotional symptoms.”

To give a balanced perspective, do note that the question of whether gaming is healthy depends largely on what we agree on as “healthy”.

While this study uses the widely accepted SDQ (strength and difficulty questionnaire) method, some might argue that this by itself is not enough empirical evidence to support anything. Welcome to the world of scientific research where we rarely have universal consensus.

The gaming industry (!)

No, that exclamation mark is no mistake. The gaming industry is expected to be valued at nearly $ 138 billion at the end of this year! Yes, the market is that lucrative. While there are thousands of jobs created due to this explosive growth, one cannot forget ever-expanding competitive Esports events. PGI 2018, or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a gaming tournament, brought competitors from around the world to Berlin in July this year for their chance at a $ 2 million prize, the largest in the tournament’s history.

Most AAA (pronounced triple A) games are those that garner high spending for development and marketing, and already far surpass budgets of major Hollywood productions. GTA V is the single most expensive video game in history. Its budget is even more than Hollywood movies, second only to the highest budget film ever made; “Pirates of the Caribbean 3”.

The Sri Lankan perspective

If I was to get input from the one authority for the promotion of Esports in Sri Lanka, it is none other than my friend and fellow disrupter InGame Entertainment CEO Raveen Wijayatilake.

“With over a decade of Esports growth, we are on the way to establish Sri Lanka as the hub for Esports in South Asia. We have a very well structured governance system for the sport that is used as a benchmark by other countries in the region. Sri Lanka has very active Esports clans competing in large-scale tournaments with attractive prize pools today, which keeps the scene very competitive. We’re taking Esports to South Asia this year with the INGAME Esports South Asia Cup – a five-nation League of Legends Championship with a $ 5,000 prize pool.”

Speaking about the pros and cons, Raveen further noted:

“InGame Entertainment is working with the Sri Lanka Esports Association and the International Esports Federation to promote healthy competition when it comes to Esports. It’s all about awareness and education when it comes to balancing Esports as a healthy career, or even a casual past-time. For our younger demographic, we work to educate parents on how to manage their children’s video gaming play time with studies and other extracurricular activities. In the end, Esports is very similar to a traditional sport – it’s just a matter of getting the right guidance from parents and guardians, with the help of Esports promoters in the country.”





By Janeeth Rodrigo

Janeeth Rodrigo is the General Manager, Digital, of the Derana Media network. He is also the General Manager of IdeaHell, the first and only YouTube MCN and Creator Space in Sri Lanka.