NEWS Here are 4 Dangers That African Gamers Should Be Aware Of 2 months ago MDM Post Views: 107 Africa is home to the fastest-growing gaming sector on the planet. Its size has grown by almost 150% since 2015, and millions of gamers are getting wider access to an ever-increasing game selection from all four corners of the globe. Yet, with greater possibilities comes danger. More games and playing time mean that the chances of gaming-related problems also rise. A Springer study in 2022 found ‘mounting evidence’ of addiction issues on the continent, and there are several other things that African gamers should look out for. Cyberbullying The internet has opened up a world of opportunities for Africans. But it’s also increased the risk of cyberbullying. Cyberbullies are usually children and teenagers who bully other children and teenagers on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, but the in-game chat features built into many popular titles mean that the phenomenon is growing in the gaming sector, too. The issue affects online people all over the world, and Africa is not immune to this problem. In 2019, 1 out of 3 young people in Africa said they had been a victim of cyberbullying, according to a UNICEF report. Some of the most common forms of cyber bullying are name calling, rumor spreading, threats, embarrassing photos or videos posted online without permission, and sending messages with hateful words such as homophobic slurs. One way that African countries could combat this issue is by educating children about the dangers of online play while they are young, so they know how to stay safe online when they get older, but these initiatives are still in their early stages compared to many Western countries. Loot boxes The increase in online video games means intense competition between gaming providers to get and keep the attention of players. Making games as entertaining as possible helps, but sometimes makers turn to sneakier ways of keeping their audience with them. Loot boxes are a feature that can be viewed in two ways: from a gaming perspective, they’re an enjoyable way of discovering new weapons or in-game funds that let them upgrade their capabilities. But the fact that players often must pay for them, not knowing whether it will help them win the game, means there’s a clear link to gambling. An online casino, for example, doesn’t guarantee you a prize after depositing money, and it’s the same with loot boxes. There’s also a crucial difference between the two when it comes to awareness. Often, those casinos are obliged to inform you that playing with them involves risks, even when you’re not actually spending money by claiming that ‘free’ offer you saw on a ‘no deposit casino bonus 2023’ list. Loot boxes, on the other hand, are often dressed up to look like important parts of the game, which can mask the gambling element of spending money on them. Privacy issues Privacy issues are an important consideration when it comes to online gaming in Africa, as it is all over the world. The data collected by game developers can be used to identify the gamers’ location and personal information or sold and shared without the gamer’s knowledge or consent. While this is extremely unlikely to lead to anything harmful for the player, it does mean that third-party companies learn your likes and dislikes, and other aspects of your online behaviour, which they can then use to sell you stuff. We also don’t know what things will look like in a few years’ time, when gaming evolves further. People who value their online privacy have a right to feel concerned, not just in Africa, but the whole world. Gaming-related disorders The expanding use of mobile devices and high internet penetration, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, has not only fuelled gambling addiction, but huge increases in the amount of game-playing time, too. While games clearly have benefits in terms of improving cognitive skills, there are fears that Africa’s quickly growing gaming industry, worth $590 million in 2021, is deterring youngsters from studying or searching for work. An hour spent playing Call of Duty could be an hour spent working on an academic project, for example. Also, like gambling, games can be very addictive. We all want to succeed at the games we play, but the immersive nature of modern games means it’s very easy to lose a few hours playing them. Without the relevant addiction awareness material, gaming disorders could rise as video games grow in popularity. The upside Reading this article may make you think that playing online games is a minefield for African players, but it also has many advantages. With lower costs for online games and more affordable game consoles, gamers on the continent will have a source of entertainment and education for both kids and adults that gives them a different perspective of the world. Like with any other industry, African countries with the right player protections can make it a force of good for decades to come, but, as ever, players need to be on their guard against the issues that endanger gamers around the world. 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