Late-night gaming habits take toll on student

But video games help Tom Hui relieve stress and connect with friends in Vancouver

Tom Hui stays up late to play online video games with friends on the other side of the country.  Vy Tran/Toronto Observer

All-nighters have become a staple of university life, whether it be to catch up on late assignments or to socialize with friends.

For Tom Hui, overnights are for video games.

Hui, 20, is an environmental science major at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus (UTSC). Originally from Vancouver, he arrived in Toronto in 2016 to attend university. He sees gaming as a way to relieve stress, but also as a way to connect with his friends from home.  

The irony of isolating himself in his room to socialize with old friends isn’t lost on him.

“I don’t really talk to (my friends) much, but I always play games with them,” he says. “They play at 12 a.m., and because they’re from Vancouver, if I am going to play video games with them, I’m usually up past 3 a.m.”

On a recent visit to the dark room he rents in a house in Toronto’s Morningside neighbourhood, Hui is up at 4 a.m., bright fluorescent colours reflecting off his face as he shoots down other players in PUBG, a battle royal-style first-person shooter game.

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“The worst part about being awake at 4 a.m. is when you realize you’re awake at 4 a.m.”

– Tom Hui

While his friends across the country might appreciate his gaming habits, his local friends, especially his roommate Kevin Wu, another U of T student, do not.

“Tom’s gaming habits really do affect my sleeping habits,” says Wu. “He’d always play those first-person shooters, and he sometimes screams randomly in the middle of the night. I’d ask him to stop, and he’ll stop for a little moment, but then he goes right back into it.”

In response, Hui offers up a sheepish smile. “My roommate would text me about making a lot of noise, and usually I’ll be like, ‘Oh sh-t’ and try to whisper, but usually, the cuss words would still come out.”

Hui himself isn’t a fan of his gaming habit. The only benefit is playing with his friends, he says.  

“It screws up my sleeping schedule. I think it’s bad for my skin; I always break out if I play (past) 4 a.m. I played for the U of T team for PUBG, and I dropped out of the Dean’s List” — an academic award for students with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

A number of studies suggest there are consequences to staying up late: a higher risk of diabetes, breast cancer, and even early death. But all-night gaming sessions have become popular within the gaming community. There are numerous articles and forums with tips on how to carry out a perfect all-night gaming session. In 2017, Xbox hosted a pop-up sleepover in Sydney, Australia, for gamers to play all night.

Hui says his choice to game late at night comes down to one key factor: timing. He’s so busy during the day that unless it’s the weekend, night is the only time he has for gaming, he says.

“The worst part about being awake at 4 a.m. is when you realize you’re awake at 4 a.m.,” he says. “You know it’s probably too late to take a shower. You’re probably going to have to wake up early to go to school, and at that point, you probably feel like sh-t because you’ve been awake for so long.”

While other students are sound asleep or trying to teach themselves a whole semester’s worth of materials in one night, Hui says “being awake at 4 a.m. has (only) taught me that I need to get my life in check.”

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Posted: Jun 11 2019 10:01 am
Filed under: eGaming Features Toronto at 4 a.m.