Online games are the new trend, and their prominence has meant that traditional retailers of video games are hurting. But with the popularity of online games comes the warning that too much of a good thing can really be bad.

With the advent of newer technology and accessible Wi-Fi everywhere, most gamers are taking the opportunity to simply purchase and download new online games instead of going into a store to buy them. The Knoxville News Sentinel interviewed a video game store manager, Logan Myers of Game Haven, on this current trend.

“Now, every single game that comes out, you can go into a store and buy a copy of it or you can buy it at home [online].”

Big companies in the video game industry have recognized this trend and are happy to encourage sales of online games as they charge the same amount of money for a game, whether it is online or on a disc. Online sales mean a larger profit margin to companies like Sony (who makes the PlayStation consoles) or Microsoft’s Xbox consoles.

Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the Online Audience Business Group at Microsoft Corp., speaks during Microsoft Xbox news conference. Leading game consoles – such as Xbox – are leaning on their online stores to sell games to new consumers. [Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]

Unfortunately, smaller retailers have taken the hit and stores like Game Stop have started to shift their focus to mobile devices in an attempt to keep making money. In fact, the NPD Group, which is a market research company, reported that overall video game retail sales were down 13 percent in 2015 compared with the previous year.

There is some good news for smaller retail stores, however, as adults who grew up with the first generation of video games have now become nostalgic for simpler times. Business in used games from the 1980s and 1990s are a hot commodity. Manager Logan Myers summarized this new trend as an attempt to recapture youth.

“A lot of people are in a sense, I guess, buying back their childhood.”

In addition to the rise in nostalgia games, there is also a rise in online puzzle games. While traditional video games can be violent and action packed, new online games are designed for people that just want to unwind for a few moments.

Websites like Friv2Hub.com offer a wide variety of online games with categories ranging from arcade to board games to puzzles. Made for all ages and genders, sites like this target people who want to be occupied on a road trip or while commuting to work.

[Photo via Friv2Hub.com]

Whether you choose to play video games or online games, however, moderation is still important. The organization that regulates what is deemed a mental disorder included a possible new illness: internet gaming disorder. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, The American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that it’s the key to ward off harmful side effects.

“When these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by a particular substance. The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behaviour.”

The role that online games should play in our lives is still debatable. While there seem to be benefits for children with autism or adults with dementia, the average person that is looking for increased cognitive function by playing online games may need to look elsewhere.

The role of online games is further cast into doubt when the issue of extremely violent games is brought up. There have been studies on both sides of the issue as to whether playing violent games in turn makes you violent. So far, a lot of debate uses anecdotal evidence, usually from parents arguing that their children either have or have not become more violent after playing online games.

Online games have a secure hold on our leisure time, and whether it is playing the latest shooter game, heading down memory lane, or passing the time with a fun puzzle, online games should take up some of our time but not all.

[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

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