Gaming is a broad term: so, what do we mean by “gaming”?


Gaming is a broad term: so, what do we mean by “gaming”, and why are we focusing on it? Thanks to advances in technology, a lot of the gaming we do now is social gaming. From mobiles to PC’s and consoles, many games have us constantly connected to friends or strangers from all over the world.

Games have us competing, sitting on leader boards and interacting with others. Many of the places where we buy games, such as Steam, have become social media platforms in themselves. Suddenly, gaming is no longer the private experience it was in the previous console generations.

We have started thinking and talking about gaming, and often it can elicit the same response from participants as gambling. Moreover, many games have begun to implement paid add-ons, from down loadable content (DLC) to Loot boxes, many of which require luck, and have odds comparable to those of gambling.

It’s now more surprising that a game doesn’t have paid add-ons, where ten years ago, what you got on the disc was all you would ever have to pay for.

Esports has elevated gaming from an individual pastime to a hobby that can pay in the millions for a lucky few, and video platforms host thousands, if not millions, of gaming-related videos. From speed runs to walkthroughs to lore discussions, it is easy to sink hours into videos, many of which are sponsored or garner revenue through AdSense.

We are not here to make direct comparisons between gaming and gambling, but gaming has become an increasing part of student life for many, especially during the pandemic, and we are aware of the positive impact gaming can have. We are here to ensure you have the best experience while gaming!

Gaming at Uni

Gaming is far more common at university when compared to gambling: 79% of students have gamed, whereas 47% of students had gambled (YGAM 2019) From Fallout to FIFA to Raid: Shadow Legends, there are games for everyone, so this really isn’t surprising. Everyone’s view of gaming differs depending on what and how they play. 74% of university students play mobile games, which often automatically connect to any of the new numbers and Facebook accounts you add from a night out who also play that game! Meanwhile, around a third of students’ game on consoles.

Why do you game?

Because it’s entertaining and you want to pass the time? It can be a social experience, a great way to compete from your sofa, or a solo way to escape for a while into a whole different world?

And whilst you may have been gaming long before you came to university, it may be the first time you’ve gone completely unsupervised and not everyone has the discipline to stop at the end of the night when they know they should go to bed! 

For that reason, if you are not confident in your self-control, ensure it isn’t the first thing you do in the morning or the last thing you do at night.

It is also important you make yourself available to your new flatmates and friends, and don’t exclude yourself accidentally. So set some time limits for your gaming – or have plans set up before you start so that end point is already defined!

Our research shows gaming can improve relationships with friends more than have a negative effect. If this is with your friends at other universities, you should think about asking your Students’ Union there is a gaming society or similar. If not? Set one up. It’s the perfect opportunity to make friends at your university that you have a natural common hobby with!

E Sports

Esports has been a recent frenzy amongst young players especially since the 2019 Fortnite World Cup winner was 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf (aka “Bugha”) who managed to claim the $3 million prize pool. This competitive gaming industry has been able to rack in $1.4 billion worldwide and the highest earning gamer earnt $7.18 million from tournaments. Impressive figures to aspiring Esports professionals. The desire to be the next esteemed gamer, from competing as Ryu to becoming the king of the Battle Royale is a growing aspiration for many.

As tempting as this ‘career’ path may be, and the glamour of the bright colours and eccentric battle anthems, it has required a commitment to training for hours upon hours and to balance that with school and University blues can be a tad demanding. Nonetheless, playing for a bit of fun and a way to socialise after a day’s hard work is probably a way better option.

There are a number of universities and colleges in the UK now offering degrees and programmes in Esports, some offer scholarships if you’re really talented and it’s becoming a very fast growing market.

You might find yourself at one of these universities, or they might have Esports teams which compete in the national university competitions, there are lots of ways to get involved in Esports if it is something you enjoy, and not just as a gamer – there are a vast number of jobs within the industry which you could get involved in whether you’re creative and want a go at game design, or you like working with people and want to go into the event organisation and running – it doesn’t stop with being a pro gamer.

Gaming & mOney

We mentioned Loot boxes in our introduction but it’s important to be aware of the different forms of microtransactions which play an integral part of so many games. You might get a new game and think ‘win’ it’s free but not realise the quantity of in game purchases that may follow. To start with you might feel like you’re in control of your spending and you’re only going to buy something if it’s really good or essential for the game but because of how games are designed your adrenaline levels at the moment of purchase might be really high which can cause impulse purchases, those annoying push notifications that come through afterwards, they’re designed to get you to spend more, to keep buying, to keep up.

If you’re after a rare item, logically we all know that our chances of getting it are slimmer than they are for the rubbish item that no one wants, but the chance that you might just get it can be really tempting and hard to fight to urge.

It’s also really easy to get caught up in buying items because of how quick it is – you go in to buy one and without realising it you’ve bought a few, then you look at your bank account and realise how much money that actually is. If you haven’t gotten what you want by that point, to back out now would be a guaranteed loss but buy a few more and win and that spending was all for a reason.

We all know that in game purchases are not going anywhere anytime soon and that they can make games much more exciting and enjoyable so saying ‘I’m never going to buy one’ isn’t hugely realistic so instead what about a spending limit, or having one account for your gaming and limiting the money in that so you can’t go overboard.

Gaming Related Harm

At the core of YGAM’s Social Purpose is our mission is to inform, educate and safeguard young people against gaming and gambling-related harm. Now it begs the question; what exactly is gaming- related harm…


– Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones
Director of The Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorders and Royal College of Psychiatrists

After YGAM did some digging and published our extensive research on students and gaming habits; it was discovered 20% felt gaming had a negative impact on their feelings of social isolation. Chat parties aside, without turning on the PlayStation or the Xbox and of course we won’t forget you PC gaming folks, you would feel a void inside of you when you are not spending your time gaming. That is quite concerning.

Socialising aside, 28% of daily gamers have found their academic performance taking an ‘L’ at the expense of ‘quality’ gaming. When you have priorities or other tasks at hand, then take a step back and do what you got to do since there’ll be plenty of time for fun and games later once you’re done.

Plus no one spends their time productively and regrets it… as the saying goes; short-term pain, long-term gain.

Compared to gambling-related harm, gaming related harm is a fairly new topic. This means there is less formalised support available and it’s not as easy to source. Nevertheless, support is available.
We are working with universities to support them to support you. We are training campus staff to recognise the signs of harm and how to open up conversations with you.

The most important thing is that we all recognise that there can be serious gaming related harm and to be a step ahead of the game, we have a few tools below to test what you can look out for if you’re worried about yourself or a friend, or in other words, a gaming litmus test where you’re the judge of your gaming habits. Pretty neat right?

If you want us to visit your university why not head over to visit my uni.

Spotting the signs of gaming-related harm
  • Constantly thinking about or wanting to play the game
  • Feeling irritable and restless (fidgety) when not playing
  • Underreporting or lying about how much time you’ve spent playing or playing in secret (such as in the middle of the night)
  • Tiredness, headaches or hand pain from too much screen time and use of controllers
  • Not wanting to pay attention to things like your personal hygiene (e.g., washing) or eating
  • Not seeing friends as often or doing other things you used to enjoy doing as all your time is spent gaming
  • Not wanting to go to university/lectures or work so that you can game
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