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Opinion: Gaming, life and creating a bit of balance

April 13, 2012
The Herald-Star

Gaming, I'll admit, can become an addiction - as absurd as that sounds to me.

When I think of turning on my Playstation 3 or PC, I hardly equate that with holding a flame to a spoon, or to the inconceivable amount of people locked up for drug crimes.

However, as with anything, too much of it and problems can arise. Games can trigger endorphins and an escape to an alternate reality possibly more vivid and enticing than a drug induced slumber. Or, to most of us, it's a fun diversion from daily responsibilities or a passionate hobby and we continue living our normal, productive lives.

I think the problem stems from the individual - addictive personalities and what have you - more than the industry or its marketing practices.

While this is usually just something in the back of my mind, accepted as truth and let go, recent events have started to draw my attention and honestly, make me sick.

In April 2008, a 2-year-old girl died after being beaten with a video game controller by her mother's boyfriend.

In February 2010, a 4-month-old infant was shaken to death by his father after the baby's crying interrupted his play time online.

In March 2010, a South Korean couple killed their 3-month-old daughter with malnutrition after being ignored in favor of an online child they were raising in "Second Life."

The incidents go on, leading to the latest this month when a 3-month-old boy was shaken so hard by his father that he later died.

Don't interrupt daddy's gaming time, I guess.

As I'm putting my nausea aside, allow me to say that there are millions of people on this planet that are avid, hobbyist gamers - and casual ones, too - that don't succumb to ignoramus tendencies and live fulfilled, productive lives with healthy and happy children.

It doesn't take much to spoil a reputation, though.

Gamers have generally been targeted as slackers, juveniles and lacking in overall motivation. Well, I guess there are probably more of those than murderers, but it's still an unjust stereotype.

I'm tired of seeing this extremism - this polarization of a culture - by the mass media.

Just once I'd like to see a story on someone's life success that mentions he also likes to play games in his spare time. That rarely happens.

Most of us fall in that middle ground, just like most do with any kind of hobby. Something to accentuate our lives, to add some flavor to life and accommodate our interests. To be passionate about. To relieve the societal burden thrust upon us.

It's about balance. Finding time to take care of work, other responsibilities and indulging in some fun, free time. There are more important things than video games - even to those that work with them for a living - and I think that's just common sense.

There is more wrong with these individuals than just their game consoles, and that's something I think more writers, and people in general, need to remember.

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