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Are video games bad for you?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/22/2013 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,974 times Debate No: 36917
Debate Rounds (5)
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Anyone willing to debate me, feel free.
My first debate here, however not my first debate overall. Don't take me for a fool.

My stance is that video games are NOT bad for you.
5 rounds, so it can be set in concrete.


I accept. Your position is not well defined so I'll leave the first argument to you. My position is that playing video games exessively isbad for you overall.
Debate Round No. 1


I do apologise. But thank you for accepting. Let the argument commence!

I will begin with outlining why video games are beneficial, then in the next round I will attempt to argue your points. (I assume this is how it goes, bare with me.)

Firstly, video games can relieve pain. This has been proven with tests on medical patients, as it efficiently distracts them from any pain. It has also been proven with soldiers; many soldiers have come back from war, traumatised, and have then reported playing video games have helped them immensely. An NBC News article experimented with giving soldiers video game packs, and one of the soldiers reported, "You really cannot put into words how they helped. It helped me a lot coping with everything. There were many times where stress was building, but after sitting down and playing a couple of games it just reminded me of home."

Secondly, video games improve core skills, such as multitasking skills, reaction time, team building skills, ability to make fast and appropriate decisions, and more. Obviously, many of these skills can either get you into a career (some employers are even looking for players to hire now), or even go as far as saving your life in situations.

And lastly for this round, video games greatly delve into the imagination and creative side of people. It's just like reading a book, however you can write your own ending.

That concludes my round 1 argument. I look forward to yours.


Hello, I’ll keep it brief but my main problem is with your stated position. You are setting up a false dichotomy between good and bad. There are obviously potentially bad consequences even though there are also benefits. Arguing that video games are not bad for you is very difficult.

I concede that video games can be beneficial

I’ll hit your points real quick but I do not see how they support your position. You are arguing that video games are not bad for you but you have supported a case that they can be good for you. I am not arguing that they are always bad for you or that they are not at times helpful. When used in moderation they may be helpful as much as other forms of entertainment but carry the same risks and problems so they can also be bad for you.

I’ll concede for the sake of argument that video games may help a certain small portion of returning soldiers but I may refute this point if it becomes relevant (in this case you would need to provide a source link). This does not mean that video games are not also bad for you. The same thoughts apply to your comments about improving reaction time, team-building skills etc.

It’s clear that video games are often bad for you:

Sedentary lifestyle

The average young gamer spends 10,000 hours playing video games by the time they are 21 [1]. Assuming they begin at 8 years old this is 15 hours a week or roughly the amount of classroom time spent throughout middle school and high school. Video games contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to obesity, blocked arteries/cardiac arrest, several types of cancer, reduced brain activity and poor socialization skills [2].

Gaming can be addictive

WebMD identifies compulsive video gaming as a psychological disorder [6]. Gaming can take on all the regular symptoms of addiction including needing more and more of the behavior to keep going and anger, violence or depression when the behavior is removed [3].

This is especially true of MMOs, around 40% of wow players are likely addicted. I’m sure we’ve all seen the hilarious but slightly disturbing video of the kid freaking out when his Wow account was suspended. Gaming addiction can be a serious problem swallowing up all of your time there is even an online support group at and various treatment centers in Korea, China, Canada and the United States.

Poor life skills and relationships

People who play excessively (4-5 hours per day) have no time to socialize, study or or develop other life skills. People who spend more time gaming then spending time with there loved ones can cause a serious strain on relationships and cause gamers to withdraw from meaningful social activity and social isolation[3].

A 2009 study linked high video game use to poor relationships with friends and family and low self-worth [4]. Studies have linked video games to poor academic development and slower accumulated reading and writing skills [5]


I am not arguing that gaming is bad overall but that there are a lot of potentially bad effects that stack with excessive use. Gaming carries all the risks of other forms of entertainment with a higher risk of addiction.







Debate Round No. 2


I was originally unsure what kind of stance you would take when you said, "My position is that playing video games exessively isbad for you overall." So instead, I thought I should wait until I could see what your opinions were before I could begin to actually disprove any points against it, and so I showed points FOR video games.

You mention, "Video games contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to obesity, blocked arteries/cardiac arrest, several types of cancer, reduced brain activity and poor socialization skills [2]."
This is highly dependent on the individual, and the same follows with everything else in this world. Also, "reduced brain activity" is clearly a point I disproved in my opening argument alone. With all the brain benefits I have listed, I do not think I need to revisit that point.

For a sedentary lifestyle overall, consider this:
"Active involvement in video game play sparks positive motivation in a way that watching and hearing information does not. All participants in the study received the same information. It was the active participation in gameplay that made the big difference in motivation. This study helps refine our 'recipe for success' in harnessing the power of play in the service of health." [1]
i do not mean to bring a particularly personal side to this debate, but for this point only, I will.
I find that when I see something on a video game, such as Assassin's Creed, with people being able to jump, climb and sprint amazingly, I feel the want to be able to do the same thing. This leads to the player (or myself, in this case) becoming more active to achieve these goals.
You may be thinking, "oh but, if you feel compelled to do the same things as the video game characters, you must want to assassinate people from haystacks, too!" Which leads to the all too common argument of video games causing violence and unhelpful/rude behavior.
Attempting to solidify long-held theories that violent video games can negatively affect the mood and personality of those who play them, the University of Queensland conducted an experiment involving gun-toting games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.
After a 20-minute gaming session, a researcher pretended to drop some pens in front of players and noted how many helped pick them up.
The experiment showed that regardless of whether the game played was violent or not, only about 40-60 per cent of participants helped pick up the pens.
The authors suggested the results, published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, showed there was no correlation between violent game play and unhelpful behaviour. [2]

You stated video games also lead to poor socialization skills.
Xbox Live, PSN, Steam and more are all made to push players closer together to achieve the same goal. This is evident particularly in multiplayer games, such as League of Legends, where you not only HAVE to interact with peers to win, but because you're fighting alongside them, rather than just 'talking' as every day life would involve, you get to know the player in a whole other way, learning things like their approach to the situation. Basically, I'm saying what you could learn about someone over 5 years in real life, you could learn in five minutes in-game.

"Gaming can be addictive"
I love it when people bring this up. You can be addicted to everything. The show 'My Strange Addiction' proves this far too often. People are addicted to eating rocks and drinking nail polish. Basically, saying that video games can be bad because they're addictive, is parallel to saying you shouldn't try your best at work because you might become a work addict. Might. Maybe.
Some people are more susceptible to addiction, clearly.

"Poor life skills and relationships"
I played Minecraft with my mother for a few hours last month and it was the most we'd talked and laughed in years.
I'm really not sure how they got the result of video games linking to low self-worth. People are made equal when they game; you're not judged whatsoever, until you play, and people judge whether you're a god or bad player.
Most video games include lots of words; whether that be in subtitles or if it's a text-based game. There was a study earlier this year which involved dyslexic children and video games. The dyslexic kids who played the video games' reading skills greatly improved. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, also found that the children who played the action video game for 12 hours saw a larger improvement in reading skills than they would have from an average amount of reading during an entire year. The authors hypothesized that action video games rapidly honed players' visual attention spans and taught them to extract critical information from the environment -- two skills that are crucial to reading. [3]
From the theory they created, it is made clear that video games would hold reading benefits for kids even without dyslexia, as well.

In conclusion, while yes, video games can hold some bad effects, these effects are no different from everything else that goes on daily in our lives. There are no video game exclusive bad effects. Walking can have bad effects, breathing oxygen has bad effects - everything does. You cannot say excessive video-gaming is a bad thing, when clearly everything around us is.





You have conceded my case that gaming has bad effects. If your debate set up concluded that video games can be helpful to some while causing damage to others or that gaming is overall a better source of entertainment than say, television, I would not have accepted. If you chose to argue that gaming can be good for you or that gaming in moderation is overall helpful I would not have accepted. It is arguing that gaming is not bad for you that is difficult. I would hesitate to argue that virtually anything is not bad for you.

Everything is not addictive

People can get addicted to a lot of things but I am not comfortable with your broad generalization that everything is addictive. You understand that certain addictions are ‘strange’ because the addicts are compulsively repeating some behavior that others would not consider addictive. If addiction is common it is fair to say that the activity is addictive.

Gaming addiction is a real problem and the risk of addiction is a bad thing associated with gaming. A 2009 survey indicated that 10% of students from ages 7-12 played at least 7 hours a day [3]. A 2007 study by Harris interactive concluded that 8.5% of tweens, “can be classified as pathological or clinically 'addicted' to playing video games.” A 2006 survey in Korea indicated that 10.2% of males from 9-39 were at risk of gaming addiction.

There have been several cases in Asia where compulsive gaming led to tragic consequences. In China in 2007 Xu Yan died after playing online games persistently over a 2 week holiday, the same year Guangszhou died after playing games for 3 days straight both neglecting there health and all other concerns.

In Vietnam a 13 year old confessed to murdering an 81 year old woman because he needed money to play online games. In 2005 in Korea Seungseob Lee died after playing Star Craft 2 for 50 hours straight. Qiu Chengwei stabbed another player for selling a virtual MMO Dragon saber that he lent him on ebay. Compulsive gaming is clearly an addiction that can have severe effects in extreme cases and common enough that all gamers should be aware of the risk.

Sedentary lifestyle

You have given no credible reason as to why this is dependent on the individual. I’m glad that you feel motivated when you game but the hours spent gaming are still spent sitting on the couch. Games are designed to be as entertaining as possible which in turn will keep you planted on that couch as long as possible. reports that the average adolescent from 8-18 spends 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media [7]. After an 8 hour school day there simply is not enough time in the day to achieve the recommended minimum of 60 minutes of exercise.

Your source refers to a study of a game specifically designed to motivate cancer patients and concludes that the game was beneficial in teaching and motivating patients. Games are not conventionally designed to motivate anything other than repeated play resulting in inactivity. I don’t deny that games could serve as an effective teaching tool but for now they are mainly used to entertain. The article does not comment at all on gaming in general but on a specific game designed by a medical organization.

Violence in Video Games

I didn’t want to bring this up because I hate that after every school shooting video games are inevitably blamed even though study after study fails to form a connection. Since you brought it up I will point out that there is strong evidence that there are some bad side effects to violent entertainment.

There is a link between violent entertainment and aggressive thoughts and behavior[8]. There is also a strong argument that since you are actively involved, rewarded for and identify with the violence that gaming can have a stronger effect than a violent movie for instance. This article sites several studies and there is a wide consensus that violent gaming contributes to aggression. I’m not convinced that this influence alone would ever lead to violence but an increase in aggressive thoughts and behavior is a negative effect that gamers should be aware of.

Poor social skills and reduced brain activity

I have cited credible sources that point to these problems. I understand that many games require cooperation but many games do not. Many games require you to solve puzzles and include intricate plots others are bland shooters on rails where there is nothing to read, no puzzles to solve and no plot to follow. Some games require some intense brain activity and others do not.

This goes back to your position. Just because there are good things that games can provide does not mean that there are not bad things. Moreover, the hours spent chatting virtually with other players has nothing to do with the skills developed with close friends and family or a part time job. You simply cannot equate the two. Chatting virtually with people you have never met will not help you relate to your coworkers or understand the social dynamics of an office or even get you through a job interview.

Even if you play with a tight nit group you are often sitting alone in your room chatting into a headset about a game. If you think you can build any useful social skills like this than I would need some evidence. How does this teach you to read body language or gauge the mood of a room? Even if useful social skills can be formed others are neglected and social isolation from closer relationships is a real risk.

Gaming helps dyslexic children

I have conceded that games may be helpful. My position is that there are bad effects as well.


Like any other form of entertainment gaming carries with it several negative effects and potential problems that gamers should be aware of. I just finished Far Cry 3, which I thought was great even though I’m not partial to sandbox shooters. I was surprised how much fun you can have building in Minecraft but I understand that video games have negative consequences and I am careful not to spend too much time playing and neglecting other areas of life.



Debate Round No. 3


You too, are guilty of this. I clearly asked the plain question, 'Are video games bad for you?' to which you replied, 'video games are bad for you excessively. I was not speaking excessively, I was looking forward to a debate with someone who thought video games were bad for you FULLSTOP.

In the future, please make sure you're clear of the question before you accept a debate.

"I would hesitate to argue that virtually anything is not bad for you."
You have just proved my point of this argument; everything can be bad for you, but nothing exclusively to video games - you're therefore agreeing with my entire debate.

Your third reference, when you mention, 'A 2009 survey indicated that 10% of students from ages 7-12 played at least 7 hours a day' is incorrect.
Clearly, the article says that 10% of students in GRADES* 7-12 spend at least 7 hours a day with SCREEN TIME**.
Now, this matters greatly. For one, saying ages 7-12 is MUCH different from grades 7-12.
Screen time, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary Online, is as follows; "Time spent using a device such as a computer, television, or games console."
Now, you said that they spent 7 hours 'playing'. This is a lie and twisting words to mean what they do not. Also, students grade 7-12 have a lot more homework than say, ages 7-12. They more commonly use computers for this homework, and even at school; like I am now.
The next point you used to try and prove this was saying 8.5% of tweens can be classified (...) as addicted'. The article says young people, in brackets, aged 8-18. A tween is ages approximately 10-12.

For your point about the people in Asia, this isn't meant to be racially connected or anything, but nowadays, most people in Asia who play video games excessively are professional gamers. This is commonly shown in many tournaments, such as LCS and such, where the vast majority of succeeding teams are compiled of men of Asian origin.
As for the people that died, I don't really have anything to say to that, other than the fact that there would have been something wired a bit..differently, in their heads.

Just because of a few cases of violent people that happen to play video games, does not mean you should judge everyone that plays games by that standard.
Feb. 11, 2011: In the Western Siberian village of Zhukovka, a 13-year-old boy shot his 17-year-old sister point-blank in the face with a hunting rifle during a fight over possession of the remote control. [4]
These people are clearly mentally ill. Studies have shown that 183 million Americans play video games, including 99% of boys under 18 and 94% of girls under 18. [5] Mentally ill people are not excluded from this percentage.
Enough said.

An addictive personality refers to a particular set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to addictions. [6] There's your credible reason.
People from ages 8-18 often do P.E. at school, walk everywhere (as they do not have a licence to drive) and walk between classes and at lunch and/or recess. This would add up very quickly, probably more than 60 minutes.

On average, it took 41 minutes and 44 seconds for students to master Algebra skills during the Washington State Algebra Challenge using the DragonBox App. [7] Many schools and other education institutes already use games. My own school, in fact, does this. I have heard many teachers come to me and ask me what some other games for learning are, because the kids are learning too fast with the games. If you count learning 'too fast' as a 'bad effect', then yes, I will forfeit and accept that video games are bad for you. But clearly this is not the case. So this debate will continue.

I will stick with what I always say; violent people play violent video games - violent video games do not make people violent. Going back to my proof with both the addictive behaviour and the remote control thing, it's been made evident again that it is dependent on the person.

"I understand that many games require cooperation but many games do not."
One thing you must understand, is people who are addicted to games are usually addicted to MULTIPLAYER games. n your first argument you said that 40% of WoW players are likely addicted. WoW is multiplayer. League of Legends is multiplayer. Plus, back to the point I brought up before, to be a pro player, you can't not be addicted. And pro tournaments cannot happen with single player games. Single player games end, they force you away from being addicted; if you play again and again you get bored because it's repetitive. Multiplayer games, you do not, because there are different people every day, different quests, etc.
Even for the 'bland shooters on rails' you mention, there is a puzzle to solve, but not a direct one. You must create your own strategy or approach to the problem. I hate bringing this game up, but Call of Duty (ugh I shudder at the thought), you pick a gun, each gun needs its own approach - I'm an excellent sniper, for example. To be the best sniper, I find a vantage point where I can access the majority of the map through the scope, but also flee if need be. This requires sneaking through the map to find this point, using quick reflexes, etc.

"Chatting virtually with people you have never met will not help you relate to your coworkers or understand the social dynamics of an office or even get you through a job interview."
Relating to people on the basis of video games works. No you cannot read body language, but you become much more attuned to reading the mood in the room. What proof do you have for any of this? No references or anything, you're basically just making it up from your opinion. There is no proof for such a thing.






Make sure you're clear of the question before you accept a debate

Your debate premise is very clear, it is just a weak position to take and I doubt you’ll make the mistake again. What I did not understand was how you would defend it and you have really argued for a different position all together. You have argued that gaming provides benefits not found in other forms of entertainment.

You would have to define, ‘fullstop,’ but it sounds like you are saying that you wanted me to argue that video games are 100% bad for you and that you assumed that good and bad are mutually exclusive qualities. This is a weak position and if you make this clear in a second debate I think you would have a very difficult time finding someone to accept. If you want to restrict the debate to someone who will adopt a specific position you need to make this clear in your set up. You can also restrict who can accept your debate so you can get a feel for their position ahead of time.

If you do not define your terms then standard dictionary definitions are used to define your position. Good and bad are not mutually exclusive qualities. One definition from Merriam Webster defines bad as harmful or injurious [9] and it’s clear in context that this is what you intended. Something can clearly be harmful in some areas and beneficial at the same time.

You have just proved my point of this argument; everything can be bad for you

Yes, how does this prove your argument? You agree with me and will likely not try to argue that something is not bad for you in the future. Virtually anything can be a little harmful, yes, but the answer to your question, “are video games bad for you?” is clearly yes. They also can be good for you. This isn’t some technicality; there is severe harm in extreme cases and real risks associated with gaming as I have demonstrated.

As I said before there are several ways to set up a similar debate that does not lead to the unreasonable position that you presented in round 1. Arguing that gaming is not bad for you is just a poor position and it is not my responsibility to reinterpret this into a stronger case. I saw the flaw in your position and accepted the debate. If you had opened with an argument that gaming is overall beneficial or that the pros out way the cons I may not have accepted.

A 2009 survey indicated that 10% of students from ages 7-12 played at least 7 hours a day' is incorrect… They spent 7 hours ‘playing.’ This is a lie and twisting words

I did not intentionally lie or twist words and I do not appreciate you accusing me of this when it’s clear that it would have been easy for me to make this small mistake. There are multiple of examples of real harm caused by gaming addiction in the Wikipedia article entitled, “Video game addiction,” and I referenced several. That I misread a detail in one example is no surprise.

The fact that many 7-12 graders (not 7-12 year olds) spend 7 hours a day means that the gaming addiction carries over to older students and I don’t see how this effects my case. I assumed by, “screen time,” they were referring exclusively to gaming given it was an article about video games which would likely be the main contribution to the sedentary activity for those addicted to gaming anyway.

Wikipedia provides a link to the original source and the survey makes it clear that the seven hours are spent in entertainment and not doing homework as you suggest. See question I4 on the survey [10]. Your tweens comment points out that a higher number of, ‘young people,’ are addicted to gaming, which improves my case.

Your exclusion of Asians and the mentally ill is not warranted

So was this debate directed at non-Asians who have no mental health issues? The examples I brought up are extreme cases of harm caused by those who play video games excessively contributing to their degrading mental health and life skills. How is it relevant that those who struggle with addiction are not perfect examples of mental health? Is the harm gaming can cause those with mental health issues not relevant to the debate?

If gaming is more harmful to those with pre-existing physical health issues (I’m guessing that’s what ‘wired a bit differently’ means) than why does this example of a harmful consequence not apply? The same is true of your assertion that more Asians play professionally. None of the examples I brought up indicated that these were professional players and the harm caused is still real.

Children and adolescents are not getting enough exercise as you suggest

The trend has been towards inactivity and increased obesity. Since 1980 obesity rates in children and adolescents nearly tripled [11]. A poor diet and lack of exercise leads to obesity. The sixty minutes of exercise refers to aerobic activity, not walking, and only 15% of High School students get the recommended amount of exercise [12].

Health is a real problem for this generation and inactivity is a major cause. For gamers they are gaming instead of exercising leading to real harm.

DragonBox app and other games can be used to teach students

I have conceded that games specifically designed to teach can be helpful and that there may be benefits to gaming. Was it games designed specifically to teach algebra or motivate cancer patients what you were referring to when you asked if video games are bad for you? There is no reason to suspect that by, “video games,” you meant teaching tools designed to inform.

Violent video games do not make people violent

Yes I made this point last round. Video games are, however, linked to increased aggressive behavior and thoughts which would not be good for those disposed to violence. Anyone who struggles with violent aggression should avoid anything that stimulates aggression and violent video games could cause real harm to someone predisposed to violent acts or with anger management issues. You cannot assume that all players are mentally healthy or discount the harm caused to those who are not.

Multiplayer provide cooperative skills that may be useful

Say I agree, for the sake of argument, that multiplayer games provide some benefits as far as cooperative skills. What does that get you? I don’t need to provide evidence that multiplayer games do not provide the majority of social skills needed in life and this is a shifting of the burden of proof. If you are going to claim that they do than you need to provide proof. I am just spreading some doubt on an unjustified claim.

My point is that talking to someone online that you have not met personally about a game is very different from the majority of social situations that you find yourself in on a regular basis if you are not planted in front of a computer with a headset on. Why should I believe that the majority of skills transfer to anything than another multiplayer game?

You have also conceded that these multiplayer games are addictive leading to real harm. If you can prove that they have some social benefits, great. They still provide hurt people. Fans of multiplayer games have known this for years referring to Everquest as Evercrack [13]. Other types of games are also very addictive and nearly every gaming category is now available with the addictive multiplayer mode.

Problem solving and gaming

I’m not a fan of the military shooters like Call of Duty either and I’ll concede that there is a very small amount of problem-solving initially. Again, there are obviously some benefits to gaming.


My arguments demonstrate real tangible harm that gaming can cause. Gaming contributes to inactivity leading to poor health, carries a risk of addiction and poor socialization and other developmental skills. You insist that I must argue that gaming is completely bad for you to be effective but I disagree, a one sided view like that is rarely true. Clearly there are destructive consequences that need to be considered when choosing how much time you spend or whether certain games should be avoided completely.






Debate Round No. 4


AlphaSnailTrail forfeited this round.


Well, welcome to It’s a shame to go four rounds for a forfeit. With a stronger set up this would have been a more difficult position to challenge, there are likely a lot of gamers on the site. I think your arguments were strong but unfortunately I was able to undercut many of your intuitive arguments with articles readily available online, particularly last round. For instance, you argued that students normally get enough exercise throughout the school day when this just not accurate. You suggested that multiplayer games develop useful social skills but were not able to provide a credible source.

I do not think video games are completely bad for you but they are bad for you in many ways that stack with the risk of long hours of game play. Playing casually, on and off, the pros likely out way the cons but since games are designed to be engrossing, keep you playing and buying additional content this is difficult for many people. Video games are clearly bad for you in some ways even though there are clearly benefits and potential to develop teaching tools using the technology. Video games may even be better than other forms of entertainment but better still is a healthy, active lifestyle.

I just got Bioshock Infinite, which looks good so far. When I play I make it a point not to go overboard and make sure not to waste a weekend on the couch neglecting friends/family, exercise and other activity. The bad effects of gaming can be moderate if you ensure that you don’t play excessively. I’ve met few that play who would suggest that they have never experienced the bad effects particularly when getting sucked into playing for several hours a day.

Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Mikal 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: ff