You approach a very strong opponent; one which tries to attack you on psychological levels. To beat the level, you have to use a new technique: The Wombo Combo! A Wombo Combo is used when two or more players with different damage abilities do a lot of damage, while stunning or knocking out their opponent with consecutive moves, because the opponent is stunned they can not do anything about it, other than to take the hits, which often results in a loss for them.

In this chapter I will talk about what psychological effects and consequences are related to playing video games, such as violence, addiction, disorders, but also the ability to heal people from traumas.

Joseph Delappe, Gta usa gun homicides (2018).


→ violende in video games

Theories of the negative effects of video games are mostly focussed on what behaviour is displayed in the video games itself. A well known theory is the General Aggression Model (GAM), the model proposes that playing violent video games will affect the player’s thoughts and would activate aggression when a player thinks people around them are hostile. In America there has already been a multitude of blames towards violent video games for the increase of gun violence. In 2019 another mass shooting took place at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The gunman who killed 22 people and injured 24 others made references to video game soldiers. Many politicians saw a good opportunity to blame video games again for his and other mass shootings. This leads to the fact that there are people who believe and claim video game violence affects aggression of children. However, these claims appear to lack evidence, since the shooter later confessed his primary motivation was his hatred towards Hispanics. For other shootings, evidence is also lacking to bring up good arguments for linking gun violence to violent video games. Christopher Ferguson, a professor at Stetson University and a member of the APA, has researched the connection between violent video games and violent behavior for years. Through longitudinal studies, he has concluded that "there’s no evidence of a correlation, let alone a causation" between videogames and violence. [12]

Pippin Barr, The artist is present (2011).

In our teenage years my brother and I would always play a lot of video games together. While my parents were fine with us playing, there was one restriction: No Shooters! Our dad especially forbade us to play this genre, since he thought simulating gun violence would be bad for our development. In the summer of 2008 we went to visit family in the valley of San Francisco. Arriving at their house our cousin introduced us to Team Fortress 2 (TF2), a 3rd person shooter. My brother and I were super excited when my cousin fired the game up and we could watch as he was killing other players, defending the payload and winning the game. A few days later our dad walked in on us whilst we were watching and he got angry, as this was certainly not allowed. From that moment on we could not hang out at my cousin's room when he was playing TF2. This only planted a seed for me and my brother, when we got home we installed the game in secrecy. Even though the game had an age restriction of 16+, we showed our dad the game was not that realistic and graphic as he thought it was and he accepted that we could play the game. He probably realised we would play it anyway.

With the roaring gun violence in America I think it's only fair to question and make the comparison. But that problem already existed before video games were played by such a big amount of the population. In the end research shows violent games are not linked to real world violence. In my opinion violent video games have too weak rules for age restrictions, it is too passive. A minor can easily register a fake age for their online account and be able to play video games not suited for their age. In my opinion game companies should be stricter and set more active rules for who is able to play their games, in the last chapter you will gain more experience on the topic of restrictions and regulations.


→ addiction in video games

Ocean Albin, Exhausted (2020).

In 2009 a scientific paper was released by a group of scientists proposing how playing video games can reduce the traumatic experiences early on.[13] In their research the video game Tetris was played by subjects who were just shown traumatic video. Their paper concluded by playing the game, flashback frequency would be reduced by more than one week.

Ocean Albin, New Explorations (2020).

While reading this research it immediately made sense to me. In 2012 I lost my father, at the time I was 15 years old. Playing video games was the perfect shelter for me to take refuge and escape reality. Video games offered me a place where I could sort things out in my head or to turn my thoughts completely off. While playing video games it felt great to lose track of time, to forget for a moment who I was and the things I had to deal with. Sometimes I played video games for whole days. While also living a normal life, making friends and going to social gatherings I did not realise I was playing so much.

Now that I look back on it I recognise that there was a coping mechanism in my way of gaming. The coping mechanism worked in such a way that I would sometimes play for 16 hours on a day, go to sleep, wake up and start playing video games again, to completely numb my mind.

Although this might sound problematic, this is what I used to give my brain time to rest and process things that happened. In the end the excessive use of playing video games helped me get my life back on the rails and help me cope with my loss. If I look at my brother I recognise the same use of video games as a coping mechanism. For both of us this helped a tremendous amount in the process over the years.

Ocean Albin, Chained Up (2020).

Since 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) recognises video game addiction as an official psychological disorder, despite opposition from academics and the industry, such as Entertainment Software Association (ESA). [14] The ESA stated:

"The WHO is an esteemed organization and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts. 'Gaming disorder' is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO's most important norm-setting tools." [15]

The statement from WHO does mention that being an enthusiastic gamer or spending a certain amount of hours a day will not be classified as a gaming addict. The WHO states signs of a video game addiction is when one is not being able to stop playing video games after interferences with relationships, study, work or sleep—normally a gaming addiction is not something one can have in a week, it usually spans over a year or more. But how can gaming become an addiction? When playing video games you are constantly rewarded for your actions, therefore triggering the release of dopamine to your brain. The same dopamine released when taking alcohol or drugs.

The recognition helps contribute to a shift in the perception of video games and their addictive properties. With this information parents can take better notice of when their children seem to be addicted. To be able to state gaming addiction as a real addiction is good news. Now the game developers can not deny this information anymore. Fortunately parental controls have been added to big game platforms, such as PC, Playstation, Switch and Xbox. With the parental controls parents can set time limits for their children. But these kinds of time limits never stopped me or my brother in our youth. Although we did not have an in-game timer, our parents used to place a kitchen timer dialed in at 30 minutes for our playtime. If there were 5 minutes left on the timer my brother and I would always add 10 or more minutes, to be able to play video games for a longer period of time. Now that parental controls can be very strict it is not as easy as back in the day, to just dial in some extra minutes. I think that these parental controls are a good add on, but I think big gaming companies should have a more proactive standpoint.

In 2018 Riot games, a game development studio in Santa Monica who made big hits League of Legends (LoL) and Valorant, which are games known to be played compulsively for longer amounts of time. Now suddenly wanted to force part of their player base to play less. This initiative only did not come from Riot itself, but from the Chinese tech giant Tencent, who owns Riot. Tencent was pressured by Chinese state media to take a more responsive role in the rising problem of video game addiction. Tencent needed a way to track the playtimes of every individual playing LoL, while also making sure to implement a “anti-addiction system” for letting minors not play more than 2 hours a day. Otherwise they could get kicked out of the Chinese market. Over the course of the last years more companies were pressured implementing anti-addiction systems in their games, now games like LoL, Fortnite and World of Warcraft (WoW) are tracking players their game time through their national ID number. Whenever players below 18-years exceed their 2 hour limit they face serious in-game penalties, or even getting banned. In the last level you will encounter what other problems these new rules create.


→ stigma in video games

Addiction is a real problem in modern society with people becoming more technology dependent and using it as an escape from reality. While the video game medium is rather mainstream nowadays, there are also stigmas present in video games.

Michael, The Future Gamer in 2040.

In popular media, the representation of the gamer appears rather one-dimensional; the young adolescent sitting all by himself in his parents dark basement, only illuminated by the screens, anti-social, does not have friends in school. Earlier this year a speculative research came out about how a video gamer would look in 20 years from now, this grotesque being came from research of how gamers are living in the worst case scenarios for an extended period of time. While the stigma on gamers might be somewhat decreasing, the findings of a recent research indicate that it is still very much present. But still most movies make use of the gamer look. For instance the glasses always seem to be a character trait of a person who either hacks or plays video games.

In the first chapter I mentioned how VR can be used to enter your own reality, but there is also another potential hidden in VR. In 2019 I tried out multiple VR experiences during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. One of the experiences was a parachute drop, another one was a rollercoaster ride, but the one which stuck out to me the most was a shooting simulator, while walking on a 360 treadmill. Which made it feel like you could walk on forever. While this is a great upgrade from having no treadmill and bumping your head into every object in your room, which I had the pleasant encounter with multiple times. This is a great potential to keep gamers fit, since a lot of gamers miss some form of physical output.

A 360 VR treadmill, the Virtuix Omni One.

While most of the time I consider myself as a proud gamer, sometimes when telling non-gamers about my fascination with video games I would hear the argument that gaming is such a waste of time. These remarks would make me ashamed of my passion and when meeting new people I would not actively tell about my passion, unless when asked about it.

“I understand people becoming obsessed with videogames, that is why I don't play them, but to me this—I'm a bit of a cunt when it comes to video games, to me that is a child activity. You know what I mean? What is this person working towards? What don’t they have for a fucking job? They just come from the job and they just play videogames for the whole fucking rest of the day, that does not sound like a driven man. That’s another fucking red flag.” – Bill Burr, a American stand-up comedian, actor and podcaster. [16]

In the Monday Morning Podcast American comedian Bill Burr got an email in which a girl tells how her boyfriend has been non-stop gaming for the last 8 months and how it put a strain on their relationship. Bill Burr likes to tell his listeners that he is a massive sportsfan. Watching sports is regarded as a social activity, you become part of a community. Therefore, being a sportsfan is a healthy occupation. While watching sport you are not learning anything new, unless you are not familiar with a sport, in this case you are learning the tactics.

Playing video games on the other hand actually activates your brain, while gaming you are interacting with your entertainment, giving input and getting feedback in return. It pains me to hear one of my favourite mediums is considered childish, while other hobbies are considered adult.

After you made your Wombo Combo in the chapter you are filled with knowledge on how psychological, violence and coping mechanisms are present in video games. You are ready to progress to the next level and learn a new technique.