Research studies

Asymptomatic Video Games Syndrome in Time of Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic on teenagers’ Character Traits

Prepared by the researcher  Dr. SAAIDIA Bachir  – Senior Lecturer – Mohamed Cherif Messaadia University – Faculty of letters and languages – Department of foreign languages – Section English

Source – Democratic Arab Center

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Video games are triumphing over time and education of teenagers. However, the caveat to this article deserves mentioning the side effects, grievous, as the consequences are not obvious, and a threat to the cognitive and social steady growth of adolescents. This position article dares to unveil the downside effects of video games of the intrinsic and extrinsic teenagers’ characters in the time of the Coronavirus pandemic. Thus, this research probes deep into the psychic realm of Video Game users and the effects engendered by time abuse and voluntary solitary confinement. The findings sustain the idea of the damage that may cause predicaments in character and social involvement of teenagers. An assessment of a bench of articles devoted recently to the topic along with a qualitative analysis of the available data. Data gathered reflect what extent side effects that are not obvious but engender significant consequences, are harming progressively teenagers’ characters; yet game designers, the most zealous defenders of video games, are trying convincingly to coax foes on their benefits on teenagers’ education.  An implication for teachers and educationalists is that video gaming should be apprehended in tune with the educational attainment of teenagers, but never a vacuum to fill in the time of coronavirus pandemics.


The side effects of videogames on male and female children, adolescents and adults harm substantially their characters (e.g., Buchman & Funk, 1996; Federal Trade Commission, 2000; Walsh, 1999). Their long-term effects discreet grievous consequences and tend to sustain the damage progressively. Growing number of video games users, in times of coronavirus pandemic, grab opportunities of entertainment and “edutainment”—the marriage of education and entertainment – (Buckingham and Scanlon 2001) provided by versatile games for all ages; yet the asymptomatic syndrome  is jeopardizing the normal growth of children’s cognitive development. (C Anderson, B Bushman, 2001)

Researchers hope to use the games to gain insight into the learners’ memory, reasoning, and socialization, which can aid efforts to protect them from being contaminated by the pandemic coronavirus covid-19. (Fischer & Bidell, 2006; Rose, Rouhani, and Fischer, 2013). Scholars from several disciplines have convincingly advocated the merits of video games as a pedagogical tool (e.g., Gee, 2007; Greenfield, 2009; Ritterfeld, Cody, & Vorderer, 2009; Squire & Jenkins, 2003).

Conversely, perverse effects are noticeable as time devoted to fill the vacuum of confinement, imposed by corona virus, is beyond expectation. Video games are pervasive in today’s culture, and the time kids spend playing them may seem, from a teacher’s perspective, as time that is lost to education. Besides, after school, millions of children and teens spend inordinate amounts of time immersed in virtual worlds that invite exploration and reward (Hutchison, 2007). Are Game designers aware of the grievous consequences engendered by the games? Video Games as a media of entertainment provoke a set of negative affective sentiments that is not obvious but their significant consequences are still a matter of debate among academic educationalists and video gamer designers.

Video Gaming a Controversial Issue

A substantial body of research throb into the subject of video games and its impact on teenagers’ characters during the confinement; yet they swung between two ostensible directions. This chasm is due to the outcome of each view. On the one hand, there is evidence that cognitive skills contribute to an individual’s educational achievement and success in the labor market, as measured by wages, employment, work experience, and occupational choice (Heckman et al., 2006; Fletcher, 2012; Currie and Thomas, 2001). Besides, the human brain mostly develops in early years, but important changes continue into adolescence, when the neural connections that are used are strengthened and those that are not used are cut off (Department of Children, Schools, and Families, 2008). Another supportive argument is that Video games design is an industry rather than a tool to enhance education and develop cognitive abilities of learners. A world of wild consumerism stigmatize the side effect of video games on the fragile containment of children mind. They should not be taken for granted. They are also big business in today’s economy. By several estimates, U.S. revenues from video games are now greater than those from movies and films combined, and in the fall of 2013, the video game Grand Theft Auto V broke all entertainment records by generating $1 billion of revenue in its first 3 days on store shelves (Fortis Inc. Annual Report Griffiths, 2013). In the United States, the commercial video games industry is a $9-billionper-year business (NPD Group 2005) the video game industry now rivals Hollywood as an economic and cultural tour de force in the United States.

 On the other hand, discontinuity in relationships is, in itself, stressful and can be counterproductive – especially for young people who have little continuity in their home and community environments. Furthermore, at a vulnerable time in young adolescence, when children should be developing greater competence and confidence to support their growing autonomy, they can stumble when placed into an environment that reduces opportunities for attachment and introduces comparisons among students that include negative attributions about competence, intelligence, and other talents. A growing body of evidence notes that underachievers are not the only ones at risk during this time: unusually high rates of maladaptive behaviours are found among affluent youth beginning around seventh grade, including substance abuse, eating disorders, and even suicide attempts (Luthar, Barkin, & Crossman, 2013). There is an important caveat to this article that also deserves mentioning: the notable downsides of video games. They can be highly addictive (Leigh 2005); they can lead children to play outside less; they are sometimes associated with repetitive stress injuries and other ergonomic problems (Wlazelek 2005). As far as education is concerned, children and teenagers jeopardize their intelligence and creativity through repetitive game patterns, and even risk their social ego. (Burgard, 2007)

The issue has raised considerable controversy. Most research on the effect of gaming on youth has focused on problematic gaming and negative effects like aggression, anxiety, and depression. Yet, they failed to display the hidden part of the iceberg; the intrinsic traits that shape the intellectual construct of video game users. These video games waned the users’ potentials; they set their intelligence at high risk, as users focus on predesigned games, recursive processes, static layers, and well-structured layouts. (Juul, (2005).

On the Nature of Video Games

The design of video games is the process of constructing the content and rules of games in different stages, environment, plot, and characters. Game designers create character sketches, hand-written sticky notes representing the video sequences, and the lines of code that translate these concepts into high-quality graphics. Actually emulating a fanciful world that is not possible to cope with reality. When designing the game content, a set of ideas cross the mind of the designer as which idea best suits children or game users. What are the challenging spots that could be inserted to excite and push to the extreme? Then comes the rules of the game; the stages of game development, i.e., from maps to characters, these games fulfill a reaction for every possible action.  Steps are set beforehand; the stages are finite and hermetically designed. Video game designers make that concept of gameplay and layout come alive, often through experimentation with several themes and genres, as well as developments and improvements on existing games. (Syah putra  2019). There are countless steps to account for a game, yet the principle is the same. One-step gained or fulfilled, another step is ahead…etc. Game designing is a routine based conception. Starting with the usual and ending in imbricated steps, challenging video game users. The more you play, the more you overcome steps through habit formation. However, the scope of intelligence and creativity go beyond this squared format of design. How could video games comply with the set of intelligences (see the Multiple Intelligences theory) Gardner and Coleman’s emotional intelligence? Designing video games could not cover the whole spectrum of human intelligences and creativity. Which intelligence is targeted? Do they enhance creativity? The closer they are connected to character traits, the more distant is the efficiency to these traits.

Advocates of Video Gaming

Researchers hope to use video games to gain insight into the learners’ memory, reasoning, and socialization, which can aid efforts to protect them from being contaminated by the pandemic coronavirus covid-19 (Lane & Yi, 2017).  Video games have a potential to improve children’s cognitive abilities. They may also positively affect such non-cognitive skills as the ability to sustain attention and pro-social behaviour. Scholars from several disciplines have convincingly advocated the merits of video games as a pedagogical tool (e.g., Gee, 2007; Greenfield, 2009; Ritterfeld, Cody, & Vorderer, 2009; Squire & Jenkins, 2004).

With such widespread popularity, video games have had a strong impact on the players themselves, altering the very ways in which they learn (Beck & Wade, 2006; Prensky, 2001)

Although educational video games are strongly supported, the research literature contains very few quality studies on how effective educational games are at promoting learning (Fletcher & Tobias, 2006). The development of a video game is a complicated and often expensive task, and there has been limited research in video game design in general (Bjork, Lundgren, & Holopainen, 2003) and educational video game design specifically (Dempsey, Rasmussen, & Lucassen, 1996). Advocates of the positive impact of games on educational outcome, claim that video games are not an end, rather, they help teenager to learn and get entertained. The reality of such experiments in “edutainment”—the marriage of education and entertainment  
The game does not require quick reflexes or particular cleverness at solving puzzles, nor does it feature dramatic cut scenes or surprising narrative twists. Studying history interactively is not simply more fun—it invites students to consider a new range of issues, such as identity, perspective, agency, and causality.

  Edutainment is an application compounded with educational aims and measurements and providing learners with regarding the value of life. The term usually refers to a form of education that seeks to captivate, instill excitement and evoke emotions-a “rousing of learners’ feelings” as Aksakal (2015Aksakal) puts it. However, the combination of education and entertainment is not unanimously seen as positive (Okan, 2003)

Game materials were designed to demonstrate to adults how playing an imaginative game with a child could contribute to preschool children’s readiness for effective school entry and cognitive, social, and literacy preparedness (Norman 1993), he has proposed, but also for reflecting and interiorizing the deeper meanings of events.

Video Games are also big business in today’s economy, and then they should not be depreciated. U.S. revenues from video games are now greater than those from movies and films combined, and in the fall of 2013, the video game Grand Theft Auto V broke all entertainment records by generating $1 billion of revenue in its first 3 days on store shelves (Griffiths, 2013). In the United States, the commercial video games industry is a $9-billion per-year business (NPD Group 2005) the video game industry now rivals Hollywood as an economic and cultural tour de force in the United States.

Video-game industry leaders deny the harmful effects of their products. For example, in a May 12, 2000, CNN interview on The World Today, Doug Lowenstein, president of the Inter- active Digital Software Association, said, “I think the issue has been vastly overblown and overstated, often by politicians and others who don’t fully understand, frankly, this industry. There is absolutely no evidence, none, that playing a violent video game leads to aggressive behaviour.

Character Traits and Video Games

During the time of confinement, we tried to confront teenagers’ character traits with video game contents. The character traits can be summed up to include internal and external factors. These dependent variables, like intelligence, creativity, anxiety, ego enhancement, inhibition, social ego, un/conscious thinking, motivation and self-esteem, get inclined, even lost ground when allied with video games.  (Skoric, Teo & Neo, 2009)

Studies consolidated the link between intelligence and game performance. The relationship is correlational and so the causality is unclear. (Kokkinakis, 2017). Despite a bulk of literature devoted to the topic, there is still no standard definition of intelligence. At the beginning of the 20th century, the intelligent person was one who executes orders competently, i.e. someone who behaves according to given instructions rigorously. Then, video games are likely to be time consuming rather than enhancing players’ intelligence.

Since game developers conceive a standard player, they could not cover the whole spectrum of intelligence. In Emotional Intelligence, Goleman argued that our world has largely ignored a tremendously significant set of skills and abilities. Moreover, Lippmann noted the risks associated with assessing an individual’s intellectual potential via a single, brief oral or paper-and-pencil method. To capture the full range of abilities and talents that people possess, Gardner theorizes that people do not have just an intellectual capacity, but have many kinds of intelligence, including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and linguistic intelligence.

Indirectly related, working memory can be inhibited by highly violent games, potentially because of the highly arousing nature of the games (Maass, Klopper, Michel, & Lohaus. 2011). If video games can disrupt working memory, it is not a far stretch to suggest that they may affect creativity as well (Dietrich 2004). Then, video games affect negatively ingenuity, as they are closed set of procedural steps; creativity is limitless and may be damaged when confined to predesigned games. Teenagers are spending more time distracting themselves on electronic devices and possibly inhibiting creativity. We do not expect creativity to develop within an addiction process to video games.

Another major trait that is worth noting is motivation whether intrinsic or extrinsic. Motivation matters in the construct of teens’ personalities. The pursuit of a challenge is the prevalent motivation reported by regular gamers of both genders. What motivates teens is the challenge to contest the game itself and to check their abilities to score and defeat the challenge. The difficult issue in this vein is how to sustain motivation. Game developers vary the scope of the video game contents by updating, creating new design to lure fragile brains.

Being addicted to video games, teens are left to loneliness; they grow insulated from their natural milieu. They jeopardize their social egos, even their communicative linguistic skills. Their language heritage sticks to rudiments, which may harm substantially their long-term education curricula. Studies warn against the time abuse that allotted to games (Wei,R. 2007), that they waned time devoted to revision and homework. Besides, the dislocation of family ties as communication is lost among its members. Teens are, thus, enclaved in a fanciful world where their presence is unconscious.

Discussions and implications

It is common sense to raise the issue of the side effects of video games nowadays. As stated  above, the still effects of video gaming run deep on children‘s characters traits. The harmful effects of video gaming are not obvious in short-term span; they are the smallest of all growths. The outcome of the present article warns against the long-term effects that can be disastrous. Teenagers, as well as parents should seek alternatives in due time, as to choose outdoor activities and manage a time schedule for tasks. The grievous effects of video games have been discussed exhaustively in articles and symposia, still measures and laws do not meet the needs of social changes.

Video gamers and developers have launched a new era in extravagant design that lure teens everywhere. They diversify the content and characters to overcome the dullness of previous games. They claim that they promote relaxation and ward off anxiety. Videogames have great positive potential in addition to their entertainment value. There has been considerable success when games are specifically designed to address a specific problem or to teach a certain skill. Griffiths, M.D. & Hunt, N. (1998).  To what extent do they succeed in convincing virtual players? A question that needs a myriad of theories and instructions.

Videogame industry is flourishing as consumers’ orders are increasing at an alarming rate. This industry shares are indexed in world trade centers, and employs hundreds of workers. Sometimes the income goes beyond expectations. This fact is likely to explain even the commitment of some scholars to praise the benefit of video games in developing skills and entertaining positively children.

Scholars and educationalists have emphasized the importance of control over video games recurrently, as they notice the long-term effects and their grievous consequences. They disapprove the lax state in decreeing some laws over the control of video gaming.


It is necessary that we continue to warn on the side effects of video gaming while remaining aware of the edutainment value of these means. Given current findings, it is reasonable to be concerned about the impact of violent games on children and adolescents. We do not believe that video games develop teens’ character traits. Even though, game developers insist on their positive effects on some traits, like intelligence, creativity, and ego enhancement…video gaming leads to addiction, form remote personalities, break family ties, and damage teen’s citizenship.

Some suggestions that could be considered in future research are promulgating laws and setting measures to wane the side effects of electronic games. When it comes to the games our children play, industry self‐​regulation and parental supervision, not government coercion, offers the optimal solution.


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