“Psycho-Social Impact of PUBG”
PUBG is one of the most widely played video games today. According to an estimate, 227 million people play PUBG every month. People from all around the world play this game as it is one of the easiest and conveniently accessed games with simple controls and addictive features which makes an individual play it again and again.
There are multiple reasons why PUBG is the most played game in the world. Let’s focus on a few important aspects which make it so widely used in order to develop a better understanding of how it affects our mental health in the longer run. First, the user interface of the game is simple and convenient. This means that PUBG can be played on any simple smartphone and heavy gaming systems are not required since it is basically a mobile game. Secondly, while playing the game, you can connect with your friends via voice link or chat and this makes it even more fun and interesting to play. You can talk to your friends and make plans and strategies while playing the game. This interaction makes it even more fun and engaging and people tend to play it for a longer duration than average.
The above-mentioned fact clearly shows how PUBG is a different and more easily accessible game as compared to other shooting games. It makes PUBG more addictive and today millions of people play this game. The traffic on PUBG servers is so high that they run 24/7 and you can access the online portal anytime. This makes it even easier for a person to play. Just like everything have its pros and cons, so does PUBG. The biggest drawback of PUBG is that it is so addictive; people play it for hours continuously, without having any break and this is where the problems precipitate.
It is estimated that on average, an individual spends 3 to 7 years playing PUBG. With so much time being spent on just a game, it disturbs our daily routine and the sleep cycle. Our sleep-wake cycle is also known as the circadian rhythm. Disturbed circadian rhythm is associated with mood disorders and increased aggression in individuals.
Pakistan telecommunication authority has recently banned PUBG in Pakistan because of its addictiveness and its negative impact as young gamers have committed suicide recently. Apart from that, the same patterns of deaths have been identified all around the world. For example, in UAE, a 16 years old boy was reported to have lost his life due to cardiac arrest. The boy was said to be playing PUBG for the past 6 hours when the incident took place according to the father of the child as reported by Khaleej Times.
PUBG has already been blamed to have indirectly influence violent incidents around the world. People get inspired by the game and develop a tendency to apply their gaming experience in real life. An example of this is a mass shooting incident that occurred in a mosque in New Zealand in which a shooter dressed and equipped as a PUBG player murdered 40 plus people. The shooter had a webcam with him and he was recording the incident and was also carrying a modified gun similar to the one we see in the game.
Talking about mental health particularly, in 2018, the World health organization included video game addiction as a mental health disorder. According to the report published by the world health organization, video games are known to be the reason for depression in many people and people who are addicted to PUBG might get easily stressed out or face anxiety issues in public due to less social interaction.
With excessive time spent playing the game, the social interaction between friends and peers has deteriorated drastically. Now friends connect with each other through the game rather them meeting each other in the park or at some meeting point. According to a study published in the united states, around 5% of the patients with anti-social behavior turn out to be PUBG addicts. This is an alarming situation given that the PUBG users are growing day by day. Playing excessive video games makes you occupied with the game only and you won’t be able to carry out your daily tasks effectively. Excessive gaming can also result in social isolation, inducing social phobia and sleep deprivation which has its own consequences.
Apart from mental health, sitting in one place and playing video games for hours affects our physical health too. Playing the game for hours and hours without a break can affect eyesight, chronic daily headaches, backache, and other health issues.
If we zoom out for a moment and look from a broader perspective, PUBG although having interesting features, is just a video game. In other words, PUBG is a medium and it is not the medium but how we use that medium affects our lives. We should try to bring balance to our routine. If someone is interested in playing video games, a routine should be set and followed so that rest of the time can be spent on other productive tasks.
Written by Umer Sultan (Clinical Psychologist)
Thoughts: Dr. Sadaqat Ali