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Thread: Why video games really are linked to violence

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Why video games really are linked to violence

    Why video games really are linked to violence. - By Amanda Schaffer - Slate Magazine

    On The Daily Show on Thursday, April 26, Jon Stewart made short work of the suggestion that the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, might have been influenced by violent video games. (Cho may or may not have played the popular first-person-shooter game Counter-Strike in high school.) A potential video-game connection has also been dangled after past killings, to the irritation of bloggers. The reports are that shooter Lee Boyd Malvo played the game Halo before his sniper attacks around Washington, D.C., and that Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold loved Doom. Does the link between video games and violence hold up?
    Pathological acts of course have multiple, complex causes and are terribly hard to predict. And clearly, millions of people play Counter-Strike, Halo, and Doom and never commit crimes. But the subtler question is whether exposure to video-game violence is one risk factor for increased aggression: Is it associated with shifts in attitudes or responses that may predispose kids to act out? A large body of evidence suggests that this may be so. The studies have their shortcomings, but taken as a whole, they demonstrate that video games have a potent impact on behavior and learning. Sorry, Jon Stewart, but you needn't be a fuddy-duddy to worry about the virtual worlds your child lives in.
    Three kinds of research link violent video games to increased aggression. First, there are studies that look for correlations between exposure to these games and real-world aggression. This work suggests that kids who are more immersed in violent video games may be more likely to get into physical fights, argue with teachers, or display anger and hostility. Second, there is longitudinal research (measuring behavior over time) that assesses gaming habits and belligerence in a group of children. One example: A study of 430 third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders, published this year by psychologists Craig Anderson, Douglas Gentile, and Katherine Buckley, found that the kids who played more violent video games "changed over the school year to become more verbally aggressive, more physically aggressive," and less helpful to others.

    Finally, experimental studies randomly assign subjects to play a violent or a nonviolent game, and then compare their levels of aggression. In work published in 2000, Anderson and Karen Dill randomly assigned 210 undergraduates to play Wolfenstein 3-D, a first-person-shooter game, or Myst, an adventure game in which players explore mazes and puzzles. Anderson and Dill found that when the students went on to play a second game, the Wolfenstein 3-D players were more likely to behave aggressively toward losing opponents. Given the chance to punish with blasts of noise, they chose to inflict significantly louder and longer blasts than the Myst kids did. Other recent work randomly assigned students to play violent or nonviolent games, and then analyzed differences in brain activation patterns using fMRI scans, but the research is so far difficult to assess.

    Each of these approaches has its flaws. The first kind of correlational study can never prove that video-game playing causes physical aggression. Maybe aggressive people are simply more apt to play violent games in the first place. Meanwhile, the randomized trials, like Anderson and Dill's, which do imply causation, necessarily depend on lab-based measures of aggression, such as whether subjects blast each other with noise. This is a respected measure, but obviously not the same as seeing whether real people hit or shoot each other. The longitudinal work, like this year's elementary-school study, is a useful middle ground: It shows that across the board, playing more-violent video games predicts higher levels of verbal and physical aggression later on. It doesn't matter why the kids started playing violent games or whether they were already more aggressive than their peers; the point is that a year of game-playing likely contributes to making them more aggressive than they were when they started. If we had only one of the three kinds of studies, the findings wouldn't mean much. But taken together, the body of research suggests a real connection.
    The connection between violent games and real violence is also fairly intuitive. In playing the games, kids are likely to become desensitized to gory images, which could make them less disturbing and perhaps easier to deal with in real life. The games may also encourage kids (and adults) to rehearse aggressive solutions to conflict, meaning that these thought processes may become more available to them when real-life conflicts arise, Anderson says. Video games also offer immediate feedback and constant small rewards—in the form of points, or access to new levels or weapons. And they tend to tailor tasks to a player's skill level, starting easy and getting harder. That makes them "phenomenal teachers," says Anderson, though "what they teach very much depends on content."
    Critics counter that some kids may "use games to vent anger or distract themselves from problems," as psychiatry professor Cheryl Olson writes. This can be "functional" rather than unhealthy, depending on the kid's mental state and the extent of his game playing. But other studies suggest that venting anger doesn't reduce later aggressive behavior, so this thesis doesn't have the most solid support.
    When video games aren't about violence, their capacity to teach can be a good thing. For patients suffering from arachnophobia, fear of flying, or post-traumatic stress disorder, therapists are beginning to use virtual realities as a desensitization tool. And despite the rap that they're a waste of time, video games may also teach visual attention and spatial skills. (Recently, a study showed that having played three or more hours of video games a week was a better predictor of a laparoscopic surgeon's skills than his or her level of surgical training.) The games also work for conveying information to kids that they will remember. Video games that teach diabetic kids how to take better care of themselves, for instance, were shown to decrease their diabetes-related urgent and emergency visits by 77 percent after six months.
    Given all of this, it makes sense to be specific about which games may be linked to harmful effects and which to neutral or good ones. Better research is also needed to understand whether some kids are more vulnerable to video-game violence, and how exposure interacts with other risk factors for aggression like poverty, psychological disorders, and a history of abuse. Meanwhile, how about a game in which kids, shrinks, and late-night comics size up all these factors and help save the world?

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    1) Playing a game where adrenaline and fast reflexes are necessary for victory will OF COURSE RAISE YOUR AGGRESSION LEVELS

    2) If your kid went out and blew a slew of people away after playing some stupid videogame, he had DEEP SEATED PSYCHOLIGICAL PROBLEMS and most likely PSYCHOSIS to begin with! NORMAL PEOPLE DO NOT DO THAT. People who can tell fantasy from reality DONT DO THAT.

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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Study finds stable personalities unaffected by violent games

    By John Timmer | Published: April 03, 2007 - 12:09PM CT
    Those of you who have followed the literature examining potential connections between violent video games and real-world violence know that the evidence for such a connection is pretty tenuous. Studies purporting to show such a connection appear on a regular basis, often alternating with other studies that suggest that the connection is illusory. If it's any consolation, researchers in the field find the contradictory results just as confusing as you do, and some have called for efforts to be focused on understanding the reasons underlying the confusion. A paper that's in press at Psychology, Crime & Law claims to have accomplished just that.

    The authors of the study note that the literature contains a combination of studies that show a connection between aggression and violent games, others that showed no such connection, and a few studies showing that gaming reduced aggression. They claim that their study is unique in that it considers the possibility that these represent three distinct responses to gaming, and suggest that prior studies may have produced conflicting results by trying to shoehorn these into a binary classification.

    They designed a study in which measures of anger levels acted as a proxy for violent behavior. They recruited 135 children, but were forced to kick some out of the study due to bad behavior, leaving them with about 110 boys and 15 girls with a mean age of 14.6 years, all of them familiar with the game of choice, Quake II. The children were given personality profile tests and measured for anger levels, at which point they were set loose for 20 minutes of gaming. Anger levels were measured again following the gaming session.

    Crunching the numbers indicated that there were three clear groups. The anger levels of 77 of the subjects remained unchanged after the gaming session. In 22 of the subjects, anger levels nearly doubled from a starting point similar to that of the unaffected children. But 8 of the test subjects started out at this high anger level; for them, 20 minutes of gaming dropped them down to levels similar to those seen in the unaffected group.

    The research team then correlated these groups with the personality profiles, and an clear pattern emerged. Those with personalities that were scored as stable largely wound up in the unaffected group, while the remaining two groups were populated by personalities that were considered less stable.

    The authors propose that gamers fall into two groups: stable personalities, and those with emotional states that are susceptible to being influenced by game play. Within the latter group, the response to violent games largely depends on the emotional states of the gamers when they begin play. Angry gamers will cool off, calm gamers will get agitated. They also note that only two of the cases of rising anger reached levels that would be considered cause for concern, suggesting that dangerous levels of anger were rarely triggered by gaming.

    The authors made it clear that their study should not be viewed as the final word on the matter. The link between anger and aggression is far from clear, and they would like to see similar results reproduced with other test groups and using different games and experimental setups. It's also worth noting that they attempted to measure a wide range of additional factors during their study, but many of these measurements produced statistically insignificant or contradictory results. Nevertheless, the study appears to be significant in that it is the first I've seen that attempts to move beyond adding to the large body of confusing results that already exists, and instead tries to identify the reason that it's so easy to produce contradictory findings in the first place.
    Study finds stable personalities unaffected by violent games

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    which reminds me of Chris Rock's 'Whatever happened to crazy? Fuck the records, fuck the games, cra-zy'
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


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