Logan Ansteatt

Is Video Game Addiction A Real Thing?

Much like gamers themselves, instances of gaming addiction are often stigmatized.

While stories of deaths stemming from three-day gaming binges in internet cafes are hyped in media coverage, gaming addiction in the United States is more often characterized by someone sacrificing their work, school and social life in order to progress in the digital space.

Psychologists such as Douglas Gentile at Iowa State University have studied video game addiction for decades and asserts that our access to broadband internet and the spread of technology have only increased addiction numbers.

Gentile believes that the global gaming addiction rate falls somewhere between 4 and 10 percent of gamers.

Who is and isn’t addicted is often hard to determine, as researchers offer contrasting definitions of what constitutes addiction.

In an interview with CNN, Gentile says games become compelling because they satiate our basic human needs for autonomy, belonging and competence.

Games put you in control, they can offer a sense of community and most games have skill curves that allow players to feel successful while playing.

Recent additions to modern games include systems designed to keep the player engaged through unpredictable reward systems.

Games such as Destiny have been called out for their random number generator (RNG) loot systems that randomize the rewards dropped for players after completing a mission or objective.

Photo Credit: patrick janicek/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Titles boasting millions of players such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League and Overwatch feature cosmetic items that are unlocked through a system that most closely resembles a slot machine.

In Call of Duty, items that bear a significant impact on gameplay are obtained through this same RNG system, giving an edge to players able to obtain higher-tier items.

Those unable to secure the best rewards are encouraged to keep playing or spend even more money on a micro-transaction system to gain an edge over others or secure coveted in-game items that hold little to no value outside of the digital game space.

Through these examples, one can assume that not only are modern games hooking players with feelings of empowerment and belonging, but the addition of systems that closely mirrors gambling has created a dual threat of addiction for gamers young and old.

But statistics and insights from psychologists only go so far in explaining the real-world impact gaming addiction can have on an individual.

Speaking from personal experience, I can recall how detrimental my teenage gaming binges were when I would sometimes spend more than 24 hours at a time playing a single game.

I would ignore school work, reject spending time with family and not leave my house for days.

The concept of these marathon sessions weren’t taboo in my friends group.

We would boast about having more than 1,000 hours logged in a game.

It wasn’t uncommon for us to lose literal days of our lives to these online experiences.

I’ve met people well into college with close to 3,000 hours played in an online multiplayer game.

They commonly have the propensity to brush off criticism about their time invested with explanations like “It’s the only game I play,” and “I still get my work done”.

But life isn’t a game, and too much time spent in the digital world can be detrimental to your health, work and social life.

This is all coming from someone who runs his own gaming website, who hosts a gaming and tech talk show at his college and has poured months, if not years of his life into video games and the culture encompassing them.

I’ve seen how gaming can foster creativity, establish connections between generations and empower the physically disabled.

But I’ve also witnessed the impact being too deeply enveloped in a particular game can have on a person.

I’ve seen friends fail classes, fracture relationships and miss out on amazing opportunities, all because they couldn’t pull themselves away from the TV or computer screen.

Although gaming addiction has no fixed definition, its credibility as a real issue in the present day should be undisputed.

The complications gaming addiction creates may originate from time spent in a digital space, but the effects are tangibly existent in reality.

There’s no reset button for the real world.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Cable News Is Dying And We Should Hope For A Swift Death

As a multimedia journalism student I should hope for the success of cable news.

After a steady decline in average viewership, the 2016 election cycle seems to have brought prime-time and overall viewership back into an upward swing.

Both revenue and newsroom spending for cable news has also steadily increased, a good sign for my personal post-graduation job prospects.

Local affiliate stations offer hyper-local news programs that provide information I’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere besides my local newspaper.

But I’m most likely to get my news online, just like 50% of my fellow millennials.

As someone who has friends and former co-workers in the cable news business, I wouldn’t wish for their stations and programs to be shut down.

But regardless of the statistics, advantages of the format and my friends in the industry, I firmly believe we’d be better off without cable news-at least in its current form.

I haven’t watched cable television since the Super Bowl and before that I only watched cable news for election night.

Most of the political coverage and debates were streamed online and I found no reason to stick around to get “expert analysis” from CNN, MSNBC or Fox News commentators.

While President Trump’s rise to power has been entertaining, his hyperbolic comments on the death of the media has fueled him and the industry he has targeted.

Still, the modern cable news program seems to serve no greater purpose than react to whatever crazy statement the Trump administration said that day.

The visual aspect of storytelling cable news used to have over newspapers and magazines has now been eclipsed by internet based news sites.

Cable news is looking as outdated as black and white in today’s world. Photo Credit: John Atherton/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Publications like Now This and TheBlaze have risen to prominence across Facebook and Twitter feeds for their easily digestible video content and controversial program hosts like Tomi Lahren.

Even the traditional cable news networks offer convenient links to the same videos and articles they talk about on television through their social media and online websites.

In a world of instant gratification through the internet, there’s simply no reason to watch cable news programs that require you to wade through the muck just to find the content you’re looking for.

One could argue that this new age of news is shortening our attention spans and encouraging the “rush to be first” breaking news mentality that stimulates inaccuracies.

But I would argue that news is headed this direction no matter what format we get our news.

The days of standardized local news “stand-up” stories and CNN pitting a panel of Trump and Clinton supporters against each other has done nothing but push me away.

I’m annoyed and exhausted with news programs that are driven through controversy for the sake of profits and attracting advertisers.

In an ideal world, I see the media being funded on a subscription basis, one that would allow the stories to be told without the outside influence of ads and sponsored products in-between every story.

Platforms like Patreon.com already provide a way for me to directly fund entertainment and programs I enjoy, while also giving me the power to influence the type of stories and content my favorite creators make.

This subscription based funding of media doesn’t facilitate a bright future for cable news, but then again neither does our current path of news digestion.

A 9-year-old with a smartphone and Facebook live can be considered a journalist.

Youtubers and vloggers can accrue larger daily audiences than many cable news programs.

Whether this is good or bad for the industry as a whole is a matter of perspective.

From my perspective, despite recent increases in viewership, cable news is on the way out.

Once the presidency of Donald Trump ends, cable news will become stale and ratings will settle into another plateau before declining again.

The journalism industry as a whole and those who engage in the content produced from it would be better off if the death of cable news was expedited.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Steven Depolo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Does Tinder Prove That “True Love” Is A Myth?

Online dating can be a minefield.

Fake accounts, bad intentioned users and conversations that can only be classified as cringeworthy.

But for those using apps like Tinder, finding a legitimate connection with someone can be hindered by a factor you don’t always think about; your location.

What happens if your search range on the app is 25 miles, but your “true love” is 26 miles away?

Sure, that may be overthinking it, but just like in real life, it’s a real possibility that you could be passing by your potential significant other simply because they’re located slightly outside your search distance.

There are 1.4 billion swipes and 26 million matches per day on Tinder.

One of those matches lead to Arianna Johnson meeting her husband Ben.

Arianna said she wasn’t expecting to meet her future husband through Tinder.

Photo Credit: @markheybo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

She had been using the app for a year on and off, going on a few dates, with three turning into what she considers actual relationships.  

At the time, Arianna had her search distance maxed out to 100 miles.

“I did it because it allows for potential matches,” Arianna said.  

Arianna recalls Ben being around 20 to 30 miles away from her when the two originally matched.

For Arianna, distance wasn’t going to be the biggest hurdle in meeting someone, but talking to a stranger might have been.

“When you go to a coffee shop…you don’t know if a person is single or taken,” Arianna said. “It’s ‘hard to talk to a total stranger…If I saw my husband in public without Tinder, I probably would have never gone up to talk to him.”

Unfortunately for the rest of us, cases like Arianna and Ben’s serve as an outlier to overall online dating statistics.

According to Pew Research, only 5% of Americans who are married or are in committed relationships say they met their significant other online.

The good news is, Pew Research also indicates that online dating has lost much of its negative stigma, with only 23% of American adults believing people who use online dating sites are desperate, and 59% now say that Online dating is a good way to meet people.

So now we can swipe away without the majority of people giving us the stare down.

Small victories right?

Arianna Johnson met her husband Ben on Tinder.

You should be worrying about the truly important things when using online dating.

Read More: RFK Jr And Donald Trump Might Team Up To Undermine Vaccinations

Things like coming up with a witty pick-up line they’ve never heard of before, or making sure your pictures and bio page describe you as the perfect match, straying away from the hyperbolic nonsense that would lead your date to realize you are way lamer than they initially thought.

In all seriousness, the biggest obstacle preventing you from meeting that special someone might still be starting that initial conversation.

Stressing about missing your “true love” because you didn’t set your search distance high enough is superfluous.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Connie Ma/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Does The Center Of No Man’s Sky Actually Hold The Secret To Life After Death?

One could easily argue that No Man’s Sky was both the most hyped and most disappointing game of 2016, if not ever.

A nearly infinite universe was revealed to be nothing more than a series of expansive but lifeless copy and paste jobs of pre-made assets.

What many found to be the game’s largest let down was what players found at the center of the universe.

Originally rumored to hold a secret to life, understanding, or just a bunch of in-game currency, what players found was essentially a reset button.

But what if the ending to No Man’s Sky showed us what happens when we die?

According to Biocentrism, a theory created by scientist Robert Lanza, Life and Biology create the universe and not the other way around.

The theory argues that our consciousness creates the world around us, meaning space and time aren’t actually things, but are tools of our “animal understanding”.

Along with this is the belief in multiple worlds, where our choices have split one universe into different outcomes.

Read More: Can This Video Game Change Your Ideology?

Basically, your choice to read this article occurred in one universe while an alternate universe exists where you chose to scroll past.

The final part of Biocentrism suggests that our souls are essentially immortal.

Your soul can exist outside and beyond your physical body much like a hermit crab can exist outside of its current shell.

The controversial orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR) theory connects to Biocentrism and supports many of the near-death and out of body experiences humans have reported having throughout history.

Some scientists argue that there are simpler explanations for these visions and experiences.

According to inquisitr.com, “Skeptics have long attributed near death experiences to physical phenomena such as the brain being deprive of oxygen, not the human soul or any interaction with God or the afterlife.”

But former skeptics like Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who was stuck in a coma for 7 days says his near-death experience revealed a consciousness after death.

In an article for Newsweek, Alexander said his profound experience during the coma gave him “a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death.”

“It exists, and what I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey.”

The “Orch OR” theory could prove scientific evidence of our consciousness being  “mere computations conducted within the neural networks in the human brain” while concurrently proving the long held belief of a separate mind, body and spirit in many religions.

So what does this mean for the ending of the game everyone loves to hate?

If your consciousness can’t die, but migrate as the Biocentrism suggests, the transfer and reset of your game once you reach the center of the universe in No Man’s Sky might be a realistic explanation of what happens when we die.

That blinding light and relocation to another universe with a clean slatemay truly be a glimpse into life after death.

That, or it could have just been a cheap way to insert replayability into the game.

Maybe in another universe, I also happened to put the $60 I spent on No Man’s Sky toward something I’d get more enjoyment from.

If you’re interested in learning more about the theory of Biocentrism, you can check out the book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe by Robert Lanza with Bob Berman on Amazon. You’ll also find No Man’s sky regularly discounted if you ever feel like seeing what all the fuss is about.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credits: Blake Patterson/ Flickr

Can This Video Game Change Your Ideology?

I’m a firm believer that interactive media can elicit stronger emotional effects than just reading a book or watching a movie.

But can playing video games change someone’s perspective on war and the refugee crisis?

Many video games feature war or armed conflict as a central inclusion to their story arc. War facilitates a reason to shoot people, defend a base, or just kick some ass.

And you’ll almost always be completing your objectives as part of the in-game military or government.

This War of Mine: The Little Ones uniquely puts you in control of those most vulnerable during war, the civilians.

Without much instruction, the game thrusts you into an abandoned house, one where you and your randomly selected group of survivors must hunker down until a ceasefire.

The problem is, you don’t know when that day will come.

Through my three playthroughs thus far, none of the groups I was given made it to the end.

The difficulty spikes in the game come from the unexpected nature of every encounter.

One night may be completely calm and routine, but following the next day, half of your group could be lethally wounded by raiders that also stole most of your supplies.

The setting of This War of Mine is all too real.

Gameplay from This War Of Mine: The Little Ones.

It’s inspiration comes from the Siege of Sarajevo, a battle for the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina that represented the longest siege of a capital in modern history.

Lasting for 1,425 days between 1992 and 1995, the siege claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people.

This War of Mine recreates the danger the Bosnian war presented by blocking off previously loot filled areas with fights and sniper fire.

The Little Ones add-on even subjects children to these perils.

The horrifically recognizable sniper alley of the Siege of Sarajevo manifests itself in “sniper junction” an in-game scavenger location, and tragic odes to the real-world travesty are seen everywhere in the game.

While slightly underutilized, the inclusion of  children into the game hammers home one of the game’s central selling points; “In war kids are still kids”.

I often used their inclusion in the game to warrant the atrocities I committed. I didn’t want to add to the bodies littering the city, but I soon realized I had to kill in order to live.

I found no joy in robbing an elderly couple in order to feed my group of survivors. I tried to morally justify it by saying that they had lived a long life and that my group was still young.

I often risked too much for a simple set of bandages or basic crafting supplies, and got my best scavenger killed in the process.

I gathered toys for the children instead of feeding my group for the day, causing one of the adults to become immobile from starvation for several days.

I chose not to intervene when a soldier was attempting to rape a woman.

I decided the supplies were more important and the risk of being shot was too great.

And those were the choices I had the most control over.

I didn’t get to choose who would attack me on sight.

I made no decision as to whether I would be raided multiple nights in a row.

I especially had no choice when my first playthrough ended because my final survivor killed himself.

Gameplay from This War of Mine: The Little Ones

This War of Mine: The Little Ones is not a fun, light-hearted romp.

It is a grossly realistic look into the human element of war, including the often forgotten or downplayed numbers of civilians trapped by shelling and snipers.

While the Siege of Sarajevo took place more than 20 years ago, present day wars still ravage humanity in places like Aleppo, Syria.

Video games existed two decades ago, but their arguably mainstream appeal today would allow games like This War of Mine: The Little Ones to have a widespread impact on our collective thinking.

Will one game alter the perspectives of everyone who plays it?

I doubt it.

But games like This War of Mine have created a new entry point to dialogues on touchy subjects such as the refugee crisis.

You can’t solve a problem without first addressing its existence and I see video games as a way to shine light on the iniquitous pieces of humanity, whether they dwell in the  past, present or future.

This story was originally published on ThePolyglot.net.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credits: 11 bit studios

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