Video Gaming: How a Screen Turned Into an Addiction
When was the last time that you have gone into a home or practically any place and did not see a computer or television? I believe that it has been quite a while. This topic begs the question: how did technology become so prevalent in the American household? If we go back a century, we will find a man named John Logie Bairds. He believed that the television had been bleak and not very useful, yet some thought it was revolutionary. Aldous Huxley, an author of the time, wrote about television in his novel, Brave New World. As stated in The Guardian, “he described a hospice of the future in which every bed had a TV set at its foot. ‘Television was left on, a running tap, from morning till night’”(Anthony 1). Slowly but surely, television grew to be a commodity and by the end of World War II, it was no longer only the upper class that had access to this technology. Within the next few decades, television evolved into a household item and with the invention of satellite, everyone could enjoy entertainment from the comfort of their home. Eventually, the television became somewhat of a centerpiece of a home. It almost seems to have a magnetic effect that sucks you in and makes you want to watch more. As stated in an article by The Guardian, “ I'm not sure if there's another piece of footage that I've watched more times in so short a space of time than that of the two planes smashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center … There was something disturbingly pornographic about the need to see more and different angles of the impact over and over again. Yet television fed that insatiable need”(Anthony 2). It was hard to take your eyes off the television as it keeps feeding you what you want to see. It is able to bring everyone together from their own abode and homes without having to be physically together.
This idea of togetherness brings up the modern computer. In the 1970s, the computer was still a dream of the future and was only imagined as a large “brain” with thousands of trinkets and gadgets within. This all started to change as Clive Sinclair, an Englishman, entered the computer scene. He brought with him a new idea of what a computer was. Instead of a large machine, his machine, The Sinclair ZX80, was compact and had a screen with 1 kilobyte of memory or 1/1,000,000 of a gigabyte which is the memory used on an iPhone. His invention rapidly made its way into British homes, and the idea of a computer changed drastically. It still remained as if it was science fiction in the sense that people were suspicious of the capabilities of such a device. However, with this boom of computers, people began to wonder what this could mean for education, and they were right to think this. Immediately after computers were brought into the home, video games were introduced to the public eye. The idea of a video game became extremely prevalent, and there was an immediate backlash towards the producers of computer companies everywhere. This especially became a problem when computer companies realized that instead of computers being used for the initial purpose of computing data and solving complex problems, they were becoming mere toys.
Now, this boom did not just happen in England, but it also occurred within the United States. Statistics show that by 1982, 621,000 computers had been sold to customers within the United States(Home Computers 1). This technology boom became part of everyday activities, and even politics began investing resources in the internet and infrastructure of campaigns and in the government of America. Within the United States, IBM and Apple became household names. They developed processors or systems to process information as well as interfaces to make the user able to navigate the code of the program. These creations are commonly used almost 40 years after they were invented in the mid-1980s. It was common at this point for companies to begin thinking of a console or a device made specifically for the purpose of playing video games. Companies like Nintendo, as well as Sony and Microsoft, began to take full advantage of this boom in computers in the early 1990s. These companies flew onto the scene with devices such as the Nintendo entertainment system (NES) as well as the Xbox (Microsoft) as well as the Playstation (Sony). Within these systems, games were readily available for anyone at any age, with no laws on age and restrictions. These “consoles,”as they have been referred to, went hand in hand with computers, which caused skepticism about how these devices could cause mental health issues in children. This was brought to further attention with the Columbine shooting in which 2 armed students killed or wounded 33 people. Both students enjoyed playing violent video games, such as games from the “Doom” franchise, which many believed could have been the reason for their anger and violent tendencies.
This led to many people rioting against these companies, who they believed were producing content that was perceived to be evil. However, when any rule is placed, someone is going to break it. With these new rules, as well as a combination of new games and more enhanced graphics, children and adults alike began to play video games more than previously. Just like Prohibition in the early 1900s, once alcohol was removed from the scene, people craved it more, until it became more of a problem than ever. Once a simple contraption, the computing device had now become an epidemic that nobody could have predicted. From here, the computer addiction just got worse, and during the 2020 COVID pandemic, it only worsened. Due to many people being stuck at home, people everywhere began to play video games more than ever before. I experienced this addiction myself and realized how horrible a screen can be to your life. My life shifted and instead of going out, I stayed inside and talked to my friends through games. Although these games brought us together and taught me so much about technology, I also lost interest in the world outside the screen. After much time and self-improvement, I realized that the screen has no value, and I began to take my life outside the screen back. This just goes to show the power of technology in one person's life. It is truly an epidemic.
Anthony, Andrew. “A History of Television, the Technology That Seduced the World – and Me.” The Guardian, The Guardian, 19 Dec. 2017, www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/sep/07/history-television-seduced-the-world. Accessed 6 Nov. 2022.
Mason, Emma. “A Brave New World: The 1980s Home Computer Boom.” History Extra, History Extra, 24 Feb. 2016, www.historyextra.com/period/20th-century/a-brave-new-world-the-1980s-home-computer-boom/. Accessed 7 Nov. 2022.
Wikipedia. “Home Computer.” Wikipedia, 7 Oct. 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_computer#:~:text=By%201982%2C%20an%20estimated%20621%2C000. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.
Lucas, John. “Mental Health: New Research Shows Playing Video Games Is Bad for You, except When It Isn’t.” ECentral Sports, 13 May 2020, ecentralsports.com/mental-health-new-research-shows-playing-video-games-is-bad-for-you-except-when-it-isnt/. Accessed 7 Nov. 2022.