PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds aka PUBG is a word that everyone understands. Even if one doesn’t play this game, one is sure to have heard about it one way or the other. This online multiplayer game is a battle royale game where the players are dropped via parachutes on a remote island. The players then have to scavenge the island for weapons and equipment to kill other players all the while avoiding getting killed in return.

This online game is becoming a favourite pastime for many generations. The word generation here is to signify the fact that it is not only limited to the millennials for it has reached a wide plethora of audiences with varied age groups. Such is the allure of this online game that has many entrapped.

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Now it is always great to do things that one enjoys and online gaming is an easy way out of the cumbersome reality. But when you spend your entire time and even days on a stretch, you surely know that that is not a hobby anymore.

Add to it the common occurrence of deaths and suicides which are related to PUBG and this game does not seem to be so innocent anymore. But then again, the question still rises that if the root cause of all the deaths were just the game, then the ever-increasing population of India would have been halved by now.

Loya Agarwala, author of A School Counsellor’s Diary and an experienced student counselor and personality development consultant,  sheds some light on the issue.

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“To know about the causes of suicide or harm towards others due to this game, one must first understand the psyche of an addict. In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter which is a major component of reward-motivated behaviour. Now as the player steps up a game level so does the level of dopamine in the brain. So, it’s just like when you stop a drug addict from taking more drugs, the immediate effect of it is anger which can be towards their selves or to someone else. Similarly, when you confiscate or stop a PUBG player abruptly the only way out for them is to lash out in anger,” she says.

Addiction comes in various forms, be it in the form of substance abuse or gambling or stealing or even constant online gaming. The World Health Organization in 2018 has added “gaming disorder” to its medical reference book, International Classification of Diseases. Moreover, in 2015, a review by the American Psychological Association found that violent video games cause a rise in aggressive behaviour.

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So is there a way to curb this addiction? Anindita Nath, senior consultant at ABACUS Management, says ‘yes’. “Parental supervision is a must in cases like this. If you take away one constant source of engagement directly and do not give any alternative in return a child is bound to lash out. Hence frames and alternatives must be made available for the students. For example, if the parent or even the supervisor just bring a stack of books and start reading and enjoying it near the child, he or she is bound to capture the same habit.”

A child is easily impressionable. They copy actions from their role models in the form of seniors and parents and when positive reinforcement occurs in the games in the form of level-ups, they are bound to get addicted to it. Hence supervision is a must from their guardians which seems to be the only way out of this continuous and horrific chain of PUBG deaths.

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