Is Gaming Bad For You?
One of my favorite gaming blogs is Tobolds MMORPG blog http://tobolds.blogspot.com/. In a recent entry entitled "World of Warcraft all or nothing?" he defends MMORPG playing against accusations of addictiveness by comparing it favorably to the alternative of watching TV.
There is no doubt that a lot more time is wasted by a lot more people watching TV than playing computer games. According to the US 1995 time use survey (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.t11.htm) the average American spends 2 to 3 hours every day watching TV but spends less than half an hour playing computer games. Of course these are averages - they don't nessecarily tell us about individual behaviour. Gaming is still in its infancy and the number of gamers is still much lower than the number of people watching TV. The average hours put in per computer gamer vs the average hours put in per TV watcher might present a very different picture.
However on a personal level I find computer games far more addictive. I get a buzz or high from gaming that I never get from watching TV. In fact I watch very little TV and I can take it or leave it. On the other hand I can easily lose myself in the virtual world of a computer game. When I am immersed in a particular game I am reluctant to put it down.
Perhaps it is not a fair comparison to compare gaming to TV. Its a bit like comparing cigarettes to cocaine. Overall given the huge numbers who smoke cigarettes may do more damage o society but cocaine is certainly a much more serious proposition for the individual