02 February 2011

The Pros and Cons of Online Games


The universal appeal of online games is huge. Research shows that one in four Internet users visit online game websites, which translates to about more than 217 million online game players worldwide. These players, coming from all age groups, spend time playing strategy, board, and trivia games online. But is online gaming healthy?

Here are some points to consider before embarking on the world of online educational games for your students.
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  • Research shows that playing online games can help boost memory and improve cognitive skills. Problem-solving has long been known to improve brain function. Online games such as Mahjong, Sudoku, Slingo MatchUms and Quiximity, which can help improve one’s process of thought, are readily available and accessible.
  • Online games foster social interaction. Game players like mental challenges, cooperative play, and rich story lines. But the main draw is the social interaction with other players, allowing them to build both casual and meaningful relationships.
  • With all of the time spent in multiplayer games and online game communities, players get to strengthen existing relationships and meet new people. Games where players can compete in tournaments, such as sports games or chess, foster great team spirit. Talking with partners and competitors create camaraderie and some find relationships online are as satisfying as it is in the real world.
  • People can stay connected with their loved ones through online games.When friends and family members are miles apart, they can stay connected by battling it out over online games such as chess, backgammon, 8-ball, and even checkers or bingo.
  • Online games help the sick deal with illness.Online games can possibly help families deal with health problems. In 2006, Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation released several online games to help children understand and cope with their illnesses. From battling cancer cells to understanding bone marrow, games open the door to understanding and recovery.
  • It can serve as stress reliever. Moreover, online games can relieve tension and stress after a hard school day, or escape the hustle of home or school life by entering a virtual one.
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You might have heard about the addictive qualities of online games, or its effects on social relationships. If we look at China, for example, 40% of its 60 million netizens are regular visitors to approximately 5,200 online game websites.

In April 2002, The Legend of Mir II attracted 250,000 simultaneous users and became the world’s most popular online game. It earned up to more than US $20M in the domestic market. But compulsive obsessive players were attracted to it excessively.

A 31-year old player literally dropped dead after playing the game nonstop for 20 hours in March 2004. Soon after this, the first case of online virtual currency fraud was exposed.

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