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Violence and Video Games

 

I stumbled upon this interesting article this morning and thought I’d share it with our possibly ‘brain turned violent' male gamers Wink

PROVEN: Violent video games mess with your head. Brain boffins show how shooters deaden your soul.

“CHICAGO, Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis of long-term effects of violent video game play on the brain has found changes in brain regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control in young adult men after one week of game play. The results of the study were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)”

 

I am no scientist but I would like to look at this debate from another point of view that these learned men seem to have overlooked in their zealous quest to link the increase of violence in young men to them playing aggressive games.

The discovery at a glance

  • Using functional MRI, researchers have found that playing violent video games for one week causes changes in brain function.

  • The brain regions affected by violent video game play are associated with cognitive function and emotional control.

  • The change in brain function was reduced after game play was discontinued for a week

Let's ask the right question and understand what they are actually saying by way of implication. Can playing a video game cause such a change in behaviour that it becomes habitual?

If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.” Marcus Alexander Brigstocke

The process of habit forming is complicated

It doesn't just involve exposure to a specific type of visual input. It depends on various factors that influence choice, e.g personal reference, values, social pressure, religion, emotional and mental IQ (to name but a few).

The second thing I want to point out with regards to this is that gamers are exposed to not only their personal interaction with a game, but also to a much wider slice of life. Let me explain.

Our behaviour is socially constructed

The social aspect of gaming along with online media has shifted the way in which people interact on a global scale. A gamer is no longer merely a nerd who locks himself away in his room; a person incapable to interact with other people, unable to articulate his thoughts or converse in a mature, intelligent manner. On a daily basis, gamers find themselves faced with such an influx of choices on how to respond socially, be it in an online game, participating in a heated debate on a forum, raising opinions on new game releases or even while learning about teamwork as part of a clan.

Playing a violent video game does not override normal cognitive function

Cognitive function refers to the brain’s ability to process information and its ability to exert emotional control. One cannot assume that exposure to a violent video game twists the way an individual is able to process the information he is exposed to, e.g. 'This is not real life; this is a game.' If one were to assume this, then surely by now the world would have been filled with men and women running around with guns, mindlessly killing for the sheer joy of it. This is in fact, not the case. Various scientific studies have also shown the opposite; that playing video games can be good for us.

For a long time the Doom series was the poster child for video game violence. The cause for the terrible Columbine massacre in 1999 was placed squarely in the barrel of Doom's BFG ;) (big F@#ing Gun). The absurdity of this claim and the need to find a scapegoat in order to avoid the social crises of a broken society is very obvious.

My counter arguments are thus as follows:

we are exposed to violence on a daily basis in a gaming environment and even though it might have an effect on our brain function,

  • the forming of habitual bad behaviour will require input from other aspects that cause behavioural change (such as violence portrayed in the media as discussed below)

  • the social aspect of gaming and the positive effects that it has on gamers are overlooked

  • we, the hardcore gamers are living proof that playing violent video games does not necessarily turn us into mindless killing machines

The same argument can be applied to people watching violent movies. I remember the disturbingly violent and emotionally charged movie 'Fatal Attraction' (let’s boil a rabbit anyone?). Women whose husbands were cheating on them didn't watch that movie and turn into a Glenn Close psychopath; it's absurd to assume that.

Lastly, I find it very interesting that this test was done only on male gamers. If playing violent video games has such an impact on the player’s ability to execute proper emotional control, then surely women are better test subjects and mixedchicks are a breeding ground for real life assassins Cool

I would like to hear what our male gamers have to say in their defence about the conclusions these scientist reached.

Turkish
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Re: Violence and Video Games

I would like to see a source for the article and read the entire thing through myself. The info provided doesn't indicate a directional change, merely 'a change'. That is, was the change positive (did subjects improve their cognative ability, for example), was was it negative (increase aggression, etc). I've read through multiple article written by less than credible sources both arguing the massive benefit and drawbacks of playing video games.

Beside the above, good work. I like how you drew from your personal experiences :)

seamonkey
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Here is something relevant if anyone's interested to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlSIqJpXI5A

Also, good read.

Lola
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Hey my old friend :)

Just linger over the text, all the links are there :)

Also ty Seamonkey that is an epic video!

 

Turkish
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Lol its totally hidden :)

seamonkey
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Why is it so difficult to see links. I have to read with my mouse :/

Lola
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Yes it is hidden (Kradenko?)

Also Turkish, I did say it's by way of 'implication', as you point out they didn't say it outright. If you look at the article The registrar wrote, they took the implication and ran with it, here is that link again

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/30/violent_video_games_mess_with_your_head/

I don't know if you've followed the attempts at actual policy making regarding gaming, this is in fact taken very serious. Look at this comment

"These games train children's brains to react agressivly almost automatically" Hillary Clinton

...

 

acrobat
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Link the source article or it didn't happen :)

1. "In the United States, unverified figures of up to 1,200 road rage-related deaths a year have been reported." This was posted on AA Foundation's website(http://www.aaafoundation.org/resources/index.cfm?button=agdrtext#Road%20Rage) . Where is the blame to lay for this? What I like about this article though that it doesn't provide excuses for the environment in which such violent acts are happening, but how one should take responsibility for your own state of mind to navigate through and avoid such events.

2. There are many preconceived ideas about games and gamers that are simply not true and for the ignorant it's an easy target games as the only source, and ignore the wellbeing of the homes where such behaviour originates.

3. "It is likely that the cause of the road rage extends beyond the immediate incident" - if you don't have all your pigs in the sty your car or your computer can be a doorway for violence to erupt. It is not necessarily the source, but the outlet.

4. Another thought I had is that both these phenomenon are mainly first world problems where there is a level of social stability. This enforces the fact that one should be accountable for your own well being, and also look out for those within your immediate community, whether it be physical or online. This is one of the reasons I enjoy TF2, the public community is great, and they seem to somehow manage themselves.

MacWazzy
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Re: Violence and Video Games

I started reading this, but decided to pull out my dgl and headshot my colleagues instead!

Male gamers are the friendly ones. Anyone seen Zerox and Divine! Those girls rape men(killing, not physically raping cause CSS doesnt involve phsyical raping) on a daily basis and then put a smiley face as if to say it was fun to shoot your brain out of your skull!

Ok back to my massacre! 40seconds left of this round. Got to rush the next office and plant a bomb! Byeeeeeeee

Lola
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Kekekek MacWazzy ^5

I apologise for the links being hidden, here are they.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/30/violent_video_games_mess_with_your_head/

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/violent-video-games-alter-brain-function-in-young-men-134591303.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Brigstocke

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/2744449.stm

http://www.industrygamers.com/news/doom-creator-games-are-cathartic-reduce-aggression-and-violence/

roskii
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Re: Violence and Video Games

None of us have the scientific background to comment on the factuality of this study, but also, the legitimacy is questionable. Many of these studies have been done, all varying wildly in their results. The industry is still too 'young' in my opinion for any credible evidence to be attained. But hey, like all of us, I'm no scientist. So screw the study (it's zzz) and lets get back to nuke'ing tanks in BF3 =D

razerfox
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Good stuff but I will only worry if I become an "assassin creed"

Lola
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Re: Violence and Video Games

I don't have to be a scientist, I can be an observer and use logic

plut
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Re: Violence and Video Games

I think the test was done primarily on male gamers because male gamers dominate the numbers. Having said that, a more rounded test including females would have been far more useful and accurate too. As for my opinion on violence, our society in many ways still reveres violence, whether in movies or the latest MMA fight. Having games as a scapegoat seems to be a deliberate tactic. I have seen first hand where watching violent movies leaves children doing violent actions. Examples of this are in amateur criminals who hold guns sideways to imitate movie gangsters / rappers / whoever does that crap, as opposed to professionals who hold their guns in a supportive way to prevent gun recoil. Still, regardless of male or female, violence has no doubt an effect on people. Whether it's simply desensitising people or provoking violence. I think the only way to truly measure the effect is to drive people to their emotional and mental extremes, and watch for difference but even then things would be inconclusive and unethical.

DoD0
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Re: Violence and Video Games

Hi,

Will have a look at highlighting the links so they show correctly in the future.

Site is still a work in progress ;)

Krad.

seamonkey
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Re: Violence and Video Games

You again. Hello :)

-This reply thing is also crazy.-

Lola
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Re: Violence and Video Games

I love the Krad.

GO HAVE HOLIDAY! ./points repair tool at Krad in a threatening manner

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