I stumbled upon this interesting article this morning and thought I’d share it with our possibly ‘brain turned violent' male gamers
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
I would like to hear what our male gamers have to say in their defence about the conclusions these scientist reached.