Do online games call for time limit?

PUBG sent a six-hour time-out warning last week, and withdrew it when gamers protested. So how exactly is Bengaluru coping with online gaming addiction?
Last Updated 03 April 2019, 19:08 IST

PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG) has been in the news ever since the online game was rolled out in September 2017.

With more and more youngsters getting hooked to the game, attempts to curb the addiction are also being made.

Last week, Twitter was flooded with screenshots of a pop-up box showing a health reminder alert.

The alert restricted gameplay after six hours for Indian PUBG Mobile players. They could resume playing 24 hours after receiving the health reminder.

Indian players were outraged, and PUBG soon apologised for what it called an ‘undisclosed issue’. Metrolife spoke to PUBG players and an expert to understand the controversy.

Kriti Subba, PUBG player
Kriti Subba, PUBG player

“I think PUBG limiting game time to six hours a day is fair but gamers will find a way to cheat the system and play the game for however long they want,” says Kriti Subba, analyst and gamer.

There was a time Kriti used to play PUBG for four to five hours a day.

“I slowly started losing interest because the graphics in the phone version were not up to my expectation. I used to mostly play for my friends,” she says.

Bhandavya Gowda, team coordinator at GrabTaxi, has been playing PUBG for about five months.

“I play every day but it is only on weekends that my game time increases. PUBG is no doubt an addictive game; people tend to get hooked after just a couple of levels,” she says.

She has seen how it makes players forget even to drink and eat.

“Anyone playing any kind of online game should be responsible and not get into the habit of continuous gaming,” says Bhandavya.

Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, professor of clinical psychology, SHUT Clinic (Service for Healthy Use of Technology), Nimhans, sees eight to 10 cases of people with PUBG addiction every week.

“The players are predominantly in the age-group of 15-20 but we do see 11-14-year-olds too. Most spend seven to 10 hours a day and that involves playing the game as well as streaming videos on YouTube to improve their skills,” he told Metrolife.

This affects their sleep time and leads to other problems such as loss of appetite and stress.

Are Indians prone to digital addiction?

“This is a problem across other countries too. The age-group getting addicted to online gaming remains the same across countries,” Sharma says.

Though PUBG is currently ruling, a few years ago, games such as ‘Clash of Clan’ held a similar sway on players. Sharma says a game can become popular because of peer pressure.
“Having a time limit will have positive implications,” he says.

Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma
Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma

What docs do

- Assess gamers on severity of addiction.

- Based on assessment, they give feedback.

- Tell gamers: ‘With lifestyle balance, you can still play.’

- Stress importance of breaks in game sessions.

- Advise gamers to blink, move head, wrist and ankles.

- Encourage parents to spend time with children.

- Introduce children to offline hobbies and interests.

Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, SHUT Clinic, Nimhans

(Published 03 April 2019, 12:55 IST)

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