December 17, 2013:
Video games have caused many unexpected problems, and opportunities and this is especially true in East Asia. Adolescents and young men find them addictive and this often interferes their studies, work or family life. South Korea has been the worst hit, because of their rapid economic growth and quick acceptance of cheap and widely available high-speed Internet access. It’s gotten so bad that South Korean politicians are trying to change the law to regulate video games as other addictive activities (gambling and some drugs, like alcohol) currently are. There are already some laws regulating video games, like a 2011 rule that prohibits anyone under 16 from playing video games between midnight and dawn. Research has shown that about two percent of the population (125,000 people) are addicted to video games and there are sufficient extreme cases to keep the media going on slow news days.
The Chinese armed forces has also had problems with video games, finding them to be one of the reasons why at least 60 percent applicants trying to join the military fail the physical. The most common problems were being overweight or having bad eyesight. Some of the blame was put on the growing popularity of video games. China has been censoring and limiting the use of video games for over a decade, but this has not diminished their popularity.
Back in the United States, where video games were invented and the first addicts created, benefits, as well as problems have been found. This has been particularly true in the military. Conscription in the U.S. ended about the same time that personal computers and video games began to show up. So there have been three decades of troops who grew up with both. Because of this it was the troops who led the effort to computerize many military activities, and video games evolved into highly realistic training simulators. The automation eliminated a lot of drudge work, while the simulators got troops up to speed before they hit the combat zone. Computers also made possible doing things with information, especially about the enemy, that was not possible before. A lot of troops understand operations research and statistical analysis, and they use it to good effect. Research has also shown that heavy use of video games trains the user to make decisions faster. That's a lifesaver in combat. All that time spent playing video games also made it easier to train troops to use a lot of new gear, like micro-UAVs and remote control gun turrets. After several years of heavy combat in Iraq surveys also found that troops who spent 2-4 hours a day on the Internet or playing video games (even violent ones) had far fewer stress problems.
The U.S. Air Force also found that video games led to health problems. There was something of a generation gap here, with those who came up before everyone had video games and Internet, were, and remain, in better physical shape. The air force had to introduce a new physical fitness test and enforce it vigorously to counteract the bad effects of video game addiction.
The U.S. Army also discovered what a lot of large corporations already know; the current generation of young officers is quite different than previous ones. Being raised with PCs, video games and the Internet has created a new kind of officer (and corporate manager). The 21st officer wants more information, more autonomy and more responsibility. They are more adaptive because they grew up in a time of more technical and social innovation and coping with all that meant you either adapted or fell behind.