Aim to be the best, even in virtual world
I REMEMBER when I lived and breathed MapleStory in Secondary 4 - I spent close to 24 hours at a stretch on it, minus meals and toilet breaks.
My parents went nuts. They scolded me, took away my keyboard, even ripped out the power cables.
Why was I so hooked? Well, the desire to be the best in society manifested itself in the virtual world - I wanted to be the best in MapleStory, too.
The prestige of owning the character that had attained the highest level was just too tempting - not unlike the motivation to get the most As in school, own the latest piece of technology, or even that Mercedes-Benz E class.
Furthermore, stressing out over the O levels made me feel that I deserved as much time as I wanted on games after all the trauma.
A desire to win, be it at exams or games, coupled with high stress levels and a high computer literacy rate, are a potent concoction for high gaming rates.
But parents, don't fret. Like any other activity, we get bored sooner or later. You know us - try to stop us, and we'll play even more, just to prove how good we can be.
Ng Yi Xun, 20, is currently serving national service.
Up to the individual to explore limits
WHILE I see no appeal in playing computer games, my 14-year-old brother thinks otherwise.
On a weekday, he clocks at least three hours, which goes up to five hours on a weekend, on his favourite games Defence Of The Ancients and Counter-Strike.
I have learnt not to disturb him when he is gaming as he becomes irritable: I have been snapped at countless times. Expletives are also commonplace when his gaming character is killed.
Yet, his grades have remained consistently above average. He also engages in other activities, road biking being his main interest.
Although gaming is generally frowned upon as a waste of time, those who indulge in it consider it like any other hobby. It can sometimes be a delicate balance, but I believe it is up to the individual to explore these limits and set his own constraints.
We should trust him, and step in only when gaming begins to overtake basic needs such as eating and sleeping. Otherwise, he will only see it as parents trying to stop what is, for him, a perfectly harmless hobby.
Kerri Teo, 18, is a first-year business student at the Singapore Management University.
Real-life lessons from some games
ONLINE games can be a viable and sustainable platform for human interaction - as long as we can draw a line between the real world and the virtual world.
The Facebook game Mafia Wars is my firm favourite. I started playing it religiously from May this year, when it was hugely popular among Facebook users.
To me, the thrill of building a reputation in the online gaming world, where possibilities are endless, is unrivalled, compared to the boring humdrum of everyday life.
In the process, I became close friends with people from various walks of life, including a prominent entrepreneur and an Italian chef. I even rekindled my friendship with a long-lost kindergarten classmate.
What connected us? Our love of the game, and our knowledge of the ways and means to 'level up'. It was like joining an exclusive club.
Mafia Wars has also taught me financial concepts like investing in property and making tough choices amid conflicting aims - a real-life example of opportunity cost, something we always learnt in Economics class.
We were actually grasping relevant concepts and social skills.
Nicholas Lim, 20, has a place to read business at Nanyang Technological University.
Virtual reality takes over human touch
YOUTHS certainly have more pressing activities to attend to than whittling it all away gaming.
After all, this is Singapore - where pursuing a proper education takes a physical and mental toll on us.
As I run about frantically trying to strike the perfect balance between grades, co-curricular activities, family and what little social life I can squeeze in, I can never understand how my peers find time to game.
Some rush home after school with one thing on their minds: Counter-Strike. Others speak of World Of Warcraft like it was the only thing that mattered in their lives.
Unsurprisingly, something's got to give. Those peers of mine gradually lost interest in their social life, grades, even family - and the ability to communicate efficiently with others as virtual reality took over the human touch like face-to-face meetings and a human voice.
So, for those addicted to gaming, please, get a life.
Christel Gomes, 21, is a third-year English literature student at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Parents should teach moderation
BACK in secondary school, I was enthralled by the sheer excitement of gunning down enemy soldiers in war games like Battlefield 1942 and Red Orchestra: Ostfront.
Unfortunately, my exam results suffered from it.
My parents could have slapped a ban on the computer. Thankfully, I managed to assure them that I would game only for an hour a day and completely abstain during exam periods.
I chose to lay down my own rules because I wanted them to trust me.
I suggested forfeiting a luxury if I broke the one-hour curfew. That meant not being allowed to use the air-conditioner when I sleep.
Thanks to this agreement, I have not gone overboard with gaming.
Parents should encourage their children to take responsibility, and let them decide on the duration of gameplay and penalties for playing overtime.
Simply pulling the plug on gaming only makes youths more rebellious and stubborn.
Jonathan Liautrakul, 19, has a place to read arts and social sciences at NUS.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.