Too Much Free Time

by Mike Masnick

Separating What You See On The Screen From What You See In Reality

from the take-a-break,-folks dept

Years and years ago, when I got my first Windows computer, I spent a good six months being addicted to the game Minesweeper (haven't touched it since...). I realized just how bad the addiction was, one morning, when my alarm clock went off, and instead of turning it off, I stared at the buttons on the top of the clock trying to figure out which one had the bomb under it. I remember hearing similar stories of people who were playing Tetris too much and started figuring out ways that everything they saw could fit together. Well, in the intervening years, computer games and computer graphics have gotten much better, but the residual effects of getting so involved in these programs continues to be an issue where people find that their minds just can't let go of the game they were playing. The article suggests that this is a dangerous after-effect of playing games -- especially first-person shooters or driving games -- but doesn't give any evidence other than some anecdotal stories. If it's just a little residual after-effect that people can shake when it comes to a real situation, it's probably not a big deal -- but it seems like actual studies should be done before people get too worried about it. One other thing that almost every one of these examples has in common is that the person in question is sleep-deprived when it happens. In other words, their brain is starting to shift into auto-pilot, and that's leading them to do things they wouldn't do when fully alert. So, perhaps the problem isn't so much the video games, but the fact that people should stop playing them and go to sleep.

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