A systematic review of research concerning the impact of video game noise exposure on hearing has revealed a potential risk for gamers of experiencing permanent hearing damage or tinnitus. The review, compiling data from 14 studies involving over 50,000 participants globally, indicates that both the volume and duration of exposure to game sounds are crucial factors in determining the risk of hearing impairment.
The World Health Organization‘s guidelines suggest that adults can safely be exposed to 80dB for up to 40 hours per week without harm. However, the intensity of noise in many gaming environments, especially in shooting games and gaming centers, often exceeds this safe threshold. The review found that average headphone volumes in shooting games range from 88.5 to 91.2dB, with impulse sounds in games potentially reaching 119dB, far exceeding safe exposure levels. Studies highlighted in the review also point to a significant number of Americans potentially being exposed to harmful sound levels through video games, with an associated increase in the odds of reporting hearing loss and severe tinnitus, particularly in gaming center environments. While mobile gaming seems to pose less of a risk due to lower average sound levels, the research collectively underscores the need for heightened awareness and preventive measures to protect gamers’ hearing. This is particularly pertinent for professional gamers, who rely heavily on their auditory senses for performance and spend extensive periods engaged in gaming.
In conclusion, while more research is needed, the current evidence strongly suggests that gaming can be a source of unsafe listening, warranting interventions focused on education and promoting safe listening practices among gamers.