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Another Study Decries Violent Games 86

Posted by Zonk
from the where-are-the-studies-that-say-games-are-good dept.
FST writes "CNN.com is reporting on a study which found that those 'who play violent video games show increased activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional arousal and decreased responses in regions that govern self-control.' The Reuters article goes on to discuss the study's details, which is fairly typical for these types of inquiries. After playing games, young people were required to do tasks requiring 'processing of emotional stimuli', and concentration. Their brains were monitored for activity, and the findings were presented at a recent meeting of the Radiological Society of North America." The article then gets a little preachy. From the article: "The $13 billion U.S. video game industry, with revenue rivaling Hollywood box office sales, is at the center of a cultural battle over violent content. Lawmakers' various attempts to ban the sale of violent video games to children have been blocked by courts in Louisiana, Illinois, California, Michigan, and Minnesota... Numerous behavioral and cognitive studies have linked exposure to violent media and aggressive behavior." Numerous studies have said just the opposite, too.
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Another Study Decries Violent Games

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  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:22PM (#17036890) Homepage Journal
    I admit that after I play a racing game and then drive my Civic I'm tempted to drive a lot faster and, if I have a CD on, even have moments where I forget whether I'm driving a real car. Violent games like Half Life or Resident Evil never make me feel like that though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by suparjerk (784861)
      Yeah... I remember back when I first got into the original GTA3, I'd play for hours and then go outside and see a cop car. My first thought would automatically be "Sweet! Steal it!".

      And sometimes after I play Pac-man I find myself running around trying to eat random spherical things while yelling WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        People still run around trying to eat random spherical things while yelling WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA. They are called raves.
      • by famebait (450028)
        But on a more serious note: I wonder if the recently fashionable sport parkour/street running would exist without a generation grown up with platformers?
    • by markbt73 (1032962)

      That's not necessarily a bad effect, though. Every try jaywalking across Ventura Boulevard? Just imagine there's a swamp full of lilypads on the other side, and away you go!

    • by vertinox (846076)
      Violent games like Half Life or Resident Evil never make me feel like that though.

      I take it you've never had to kill any zombies in real life have you?

      Trust me. It is not as glamorous or bloody as the games make it out to be.

    • by kalirion (728907)
      For a while after playing Duke3d, every time saw a vent cover I wanted to kick it open and crawl inside. Never actually went through with it, which means I must have tons of willpower.

      On the other hand when I went to a shooting range, I was slightly worried that I'd feel like capping people around me. And yet I didn't get even the slightest urge in that direction. Weird, huh?
    • by mooingyak (720677)
      I've always wanted to put Tetris pieces all over the place, especially people's faces.
  • Scientific (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frosty_tsm (933163) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:23PM (#17036912)
    All I have to say is at least this was scientific. They had them play two different games, and analyzed their brain activity. It doesn't necessarily tie it to acts of violence (not to say certain groups won't try it), but it's far more respectable than that study that said Pac-Man is 41% violent (or whatever % they gave it).
    • It may have been "scientific" but "Medal of Honor: Frontline," involving military combat, doesn't involve military combat, it involves the game developer biased and stylized version of military operations. In real combat anybody can kill anybody, and there are no power-ups or extra-lifes in the bank, so self-control and focus is also very necessary; the audacious behavior of the berserker highly prized in game play usually just gets you killed in real life. I wonder what they would have found if they used a
  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:24PM (#17036940)
    Those who played the violent video game showed more activation in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional arousal, and less activation in the prefrontal portions of the brain associated with control, focus and concentration than the teens who played the nonviolent game.

    Kotaku [kotaku.com] echoes my thoughts on this one...

    So the teens playing the emotionally rousing combat game were emotionally aroused, and the teens playing the precision racing game were more focused? Amazing. I'm no scientist, but this study seems like it was set up specifically with the goal of finding something wrong with violent games in mind.
    • The behavioural sciences is a fucking disaster, and I say this as someone who studied cognitive psychology as an undergrad. The kind of shit they publish would never fly in any other science except maybe environmental science. I am amazed at the number of studies that were designed to give the already arrived at conclusion.

      With video games, or any technology for that matter, it's even worse since in general those doing the research don't understand it. They design bad tests not only because they want to get
      • by timeOday (582209)

        The study I'd like to see, that of course probably will never be done, is on a group using a highly controlled game environment. For example pick an engine and have one group play a violent mod like a Deathmatch, and have another play a mode like Freeze Tag. In both cases you have a team based, competitive, fast paced game that works the same, however one is violent, the other is non-violent. See if there's any difference between those groups (probably not).

        So do it! It's a good proposal. And it could

    • Why is aggression made out to be some nigh-unnatural force of evil that corrupts people? Aggression is normal, and the level of aggression produced by playing Quake isn't even remotely enough to send a mentally stable person into a real life killing spree.

      It seems that aggression is only bad if video games produce it, otherwise it's a non-issue.
  • So? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kim Jong Ill (1033418)
    The same has been said of sex.

    Is it even worth asking on Slashdot if anyone has had sex and can verify this for me?
    • by Lordpidey (942444)
      I don't know, let me ask my partner. Hey, righty! Could you answer something for me?
    • by operror (832740)
      I would love to answer you but I have not finished my robot wife yet.

      will reply soon,
      operror
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:26PM (#17036972)
    Playing cowboys and indians can lead to heightened states of arousal too. So can contact sports. In fact, football's many times more likely to weaken your aggression inhibitors than playing Quake. Never mind that sport of kings, invading Third World nations for fun and profit.

    So if they want to ban things, why not start at the end of my list and work their way backward? Betcha that does a heck of a lot more to lower the general level of aggression than preventing me from owning my 'hood in GTA ever will. Far more children and psyches have been damaged by the real violence they experience in their homes and watch on the TV, violence set in motion by these very same protectors of morality, than have ever been or ever will be by a mere silly videogame.
    • by blueZhift (652272)
      Actually, I recall a story a few years back that said that incidents of domestic violence increased immediately following televised NFL football games. But I've never heard of anything similar following Quake Con or the release of new FPS or similar games.
      • by RsG (809189)
        Ay, but you can't make a sound bite of that now, can you? Football is a widespread, socially acceptable sport. Going up against it would be political suicide. Jack Thompson and his ilk would piss off tens of millions of people if his scapegoat was sports instead of games.

        That fundamentally is what this is all about. Forget about the question of whether games actually have a negative impact on mental health or not - what matters is that games are an extremely convenient scapegoat on which to pin society'
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bemopolis (698691)
      I totally agree -- if one more person puts out a study saying how playing HALO is making me violent I WILL FUCKING KILL THAT ASSHOLE!
    • by Threni (635302)
      Yeah, have they studied TV? Music? I'd imagine Wagner or Die Hard would have the same effect. I'm not sure what's more depressing - the idiots in power, or the fuckwits who voted them in.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        I'm not sure what's more depressing - the idiots in power, or the fuckwits who voted them in.

        Well, when a corporation can give ten million dollars to the Republican and ten million dollars to the Democrat, it doesn't really matter who you vote for, does it? Either way, the corporation wins and you lose.

        That's why I split my vote between the Greens and the Libertarians - "Well, I voted against the asshole!"
  • Great! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by EMeta (860558)
    So the article is saying that there is an easy and pleasurable way to increase my emotional arousal (or, let's say, passion) about things in my life, that is coupled with making me more daring and courageous?

    Certainly things need to come in moderation, but I see both of those as positive to my life. Am I missing something?

  • by mugnyte (203225) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:29PM (#17037024) Journal

      Seems obvious that a game with personification of the player into playfield, simulating injury and death would trigger more emotional "fight or flight" activity in the brain.

      Need For Speed is just driving, and vastly less interactive than a FPS. I'd like to see what the brain response was for a "virtual pet" type game, or a Black&White genre. When the player has an emotional connection to the game's results, I'm sure the brain activity is similar. In other words, I don't think the violence has much to do with it, but simply the emotional connection to success. Suspended disbelief to attach the gameplay to "death" is certainly going to be a strong correlation, but there are others.
  • They play violent video games! Let's KILL them!





    This content brought to you by people too self-righteous for words.
  • The games the subjects were playing were either "Medal of Honor: Frontline," (violent) or "Need for Speed: Underground" (non-violent). Could it be that Medal of Honor (being a first person game) was more immersive than Need for Speed? Although Need for Speed can be an exciting game, it doesn't attempt to engage your emotions like a story driven FPS does.
  • Selective quoting? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SNR monkey (1021747) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:38PM (#17037186)
    The article then gets a little preachy. From the article: [snip] Numerous behavioral and cognitive studies have linked exposure to violent media and aggressive behavior.

    There isn't anything preachy about that, it's stating a fact. Apparently, numerous studies have reached that conclusion. The very next line says something important that probably shouldn't be overlooked..

    Now, researchers are using advanced imaging technology to scan the brain for clues to whether violent video games cause increases in aggression.
    They aren't saying that violent video games cause increased aggression, they're just saying that there is a link. One shouldn't think that they are making the mistake of assuming that correlation implies causation [wikipedia.org], they're simply saying that they see a link, and now they're investigating it. Proving causation is no easy task, there are pleny of reasons why two variables may be related. For instance, perhaps people who have "increased activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional arousal" are more likely to play violent video games because that "increased activity" makes them more interested in such games.

    From the wikipedia entry:

    Homer: Not a bear in sight. The "Bear Patrol" is working like a charm!
    Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
    Homer: Thanks, honey.
    Lisa: By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
    Homer: Hmm. How does it work?
    Lisa: It doesn't work. It's just a stupid rock!
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
    Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
  • How many studies show the percentage of slack-jawed irresponsible parents that:

    a) Allow their children to play these games
    b) Don't pay any attention to the behavior/attitude their children exhibit
    c) Blame the media and games for the abhorrent misbehavior of their progeny

    Seriously, I love how skewed all of this is. Heaven forbid any parent is responsible for what their child does anymore; no, it's clearly because of games. Parents, pay attention to what your child does/watches/plays and what they do
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ShorePiper82 (1027534)
      I would have to agree here in full. I have dated a high school teacher who deals with teenagers on a very regular basis and periodically meets with parents. On one hand we have the students that act up and know they've done something wrong and through some reasoning you can tell they know the difference between right and wrong. The parents tend to inquire about their behavior and independent of their skill as a parent will lay blame with the child (the implication is that these parents have at least some g
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by russellh (547685)

      Heaven forbid any parent is responsible for what their child does anymore; no, it's clearly because of games.

      parents' and kids' social situations need to be included. True. My two-parent, well-off suburban kids don't have problem profiles; but the kids who do simply don't have the parental supervision. So "better parenting" as an answer to the problem is pretty much irrelevant. So then what? What are we going to do, legislate better parenting? How about educating people about the effects of video games o

      • legislate better parenting?

        Sounds like a damn fine idea compared to trying to legislate away every possible thing that bad parents could possibly blame their obnoxious kneebiter's problems on.

        What we need is somebody to do some germline genetic engineering, and make it so that people are infertile unless they take some special hormonal supplement. In order to get the supplement, you have to have a job, and demonstrate that you can raise a child, perhaps after demonstrating their competence by raising a pup
    • by CptPicard (680154)
      But in order for you to make informed decisions as a concerned parent, you will need to also know the impact various factors will (probably) have on a child... so having this sort of research is helpful. Of course, the best way to judge is to observe the particular child.
  • Another BS study (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Self control makes one worse at video games because it causes hesitation. Sure, video games may alter the way we think while playing them, but that doesn't mean they perminately change our psyche. Any activity that one involves themself in will change the way the brain is currently functioning to best adapt to the situation. Gaming isn't a problem. Excessive gaming IS a problem, but excessive anything is a problem. I personally oppose giving Grand Theft Auto to children to play, but it's not because I think
    • "Self control makes one worse at video games because it causes hesitation." I must completely disagree unless you're only looking at run and gun FPS. Even within the shooters, there are plenty of examples that require a huge amount of self control. Look at any Resident Evil game and you'll realize why you must hesitate. You'll just end up with an empty clip and the unpleasant feeling of zombie teeth in your brain pan.
  • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:42PM (#17037242) Homepage
    Shouldn't the influence of the parents not parenting their kids be taken into consideration? A radio announcer on Thanksgiving Day mentioned that parents can no longer rely on the school system to protect their children's health. Well, duh, aren't the parents responsible for their children's health, education and video game habits?

    When I was younger, a lot of these studies were focused on domestic abuse as being a major influencer on how kids turned out. Since when did video games replaced daddy banging mommy on the kitchen floor and in the bedroom?
  • by Amehcs (1019694)
    I'd be interested to know how they broke it up in terms of boys/girls. I know everytime I walk out of a kung-foo movie I think I can kick anyone's ass, but my girlfriend definitely doesn't respond that way. All this study is telling us is that good media leaves a short-term impression on people, who would've guessed?
  • Similar studies (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This falls under the category of studies that show that after your run a marathon, your heart beats faster.

    What does this study tell us? It tells us that after someone gets worked up, and no one in the industry questions that an action game gets you worked up, you don't perform as well in tests that require you to be calm and controlled. And that is a surprise?

    I think they need to repeat this study and do the same test for a non-violent driving game. I think they will find the same results, which mean ab
  • Just once I'd like to see a study that show video games are good for you. We need something like that. In the face of all the studies that decry the violence, we need on to show the counter point. Without it, well, they may be right...

    I'm betting on the Wii here. Those people complaining about sore shoulders and the wii exercise, will likely produce a study on the number of calories consumed while playing Zelda or some such thing. Stay Tuned.

  • If video games make people violent....what about

    Hunters
    People that work in slaughter houses
    (I think Ozzy worked in one so maybe this isn't as satirical as I think) ;) - kidding
    Ranchers
    Soldiers
    Police

    Personally anything can make people more violent...it just depends on their breaking point.

    I find it silly that people are surprised by this study though...it makes sense that our brains would be hardwired to process some signals as entertainment...take cats: They love the flu
  • I don't understand why these studies are funded. I guess since video games have gotten a lot more successful "with revenues rivaling Hollywood" they're the new low-hanging fruit for the conservatives who want everyone to "think of the children." It would do society no good to just put a ban on violent video games. Violent video games sell because humans have violent tendencies. If they didn't, we'd just play the Sims and games like Gears of War would drop to obscurity.
  • Pointing out that certain neurological centers are affected differently by sensory input based on its content (in this case video games that are violent) is a waste of our time. Giving it a weighted, biased, poorly cited spot on CNN is an outrage. Why aren't more people reporting on the therepeutic qualities of video games? Where is the study that shows there is a marked decrease in crime in areas where a highly anticipated violent movie is released? People are quick to draw cause and effect conclusions
  • Well, ok, so you play MoH:F (FPS) and your emotional arousal increase (amygdala), and your control, focus, and concentration decreases (prefrontal portions) MORE SO then if you play NfS:U (Racing)...

    That says to me that both of them have these effects. It also does not state how long this effect LAST (does it stop right at the end, 1 min? 10 mins? an hr? a day?).

    Now, can any bio/psych people tell us EXACTLY what those 2 portions controll?

    Are we wimply seeing that it takes greater concentration to play a ra
    • Well, ok, so you play MoH:F (FPS) and your emotional arousal increase (amygdala), and your control, focus, and concentration decreases (prefrontal portions) MORE SO then if you play NfS:U (Racing)...

      That says to me that both of them have these effects. It also does not state how long this effect LAST (does it stop right at the end, 1 min? 10 mins? an hr? a day?).

      Now, can any bio/psych people tell us EXACTLY what those 2 portions controll?

      Are we wimply seeing that it takes greater concentration to play a racing game then it does an FPS?
      How does brain activity like this play out in real life? (what causes it?)

      The abstract says that this is the next stage that they are planning on investigating. If it turns out to be an entirely transitory thing, then the correlation between violent entertainment & physical violence is minimized outside of that lapse period.
      One interesting thing to see would be the comparison between violent games, movies, and competitive sports - basketball/football. Lets see how everything stacks up, not just viewing things in isolation. After that, we can move on to see if there is a corr

      • by Thansal (999464)
        Heh, I missed that part of the article.

        as for:

        One interesting thing to see would be the comparison between violent games, movies, and competitive sports - basketball/football. Lets see how everything stacks up, not just viewing things in isolation. After that, we can move on to see if there is a correlation with events/behaviours later in life.

        I like the idea alot actualy. We get the data and then compare it to data from activities we are more familiar with....

  • What happens if, instead of playing video games, they read that fine piece of Shakespearian family literature Titus Andronicus [wikipedia.org]?

    I have yet to see a video game approach anywhere near that level of gore or otherwise objectionable material, but I don't see any scientific studies on the effects of the Bard on the minds of the young.
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:17PM (#17037850)

    >those who play violent video games show increased activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional arousal

    I would be far more concerned about the sociopathic tendencies of people who did not show emotional arousal than I am by anything reported here.

    • by Beolach (518512)
      It's probably more the "and decreased responses in regions that govern self-control" that worries people. My question is were these measurements done while they were playing the game, or when they were going about their daily life? Somehow I wouldn't be surprised that "self-control" goes down while playing a game.
  • And in another recent study, teens aged 13-18 were found to think about sex more after watching porn, versus a different group of teens who watched only cooking shows. Film at 11.
  • Scientists have discovered that jazz causes brain damage. Seriously.

    "While regular rhythms and simple tones produce a quieting effect on the brain... the effect of jazz on the normal brain produces an atrophied condition on the brain cells of conception."

    The ladies' home journal has the rest of the story here. [pittstate.edu]

    This is scary stuff. We need to protect our kids before it's too late.

  • in the same river twice.

    Conslusion :

    Stick ban.
  • How about looking at the people who went berserk and see where they come from and why they went nuts. Without fail, you have school dropouts and people who we currently term "loosers". You have people without a positive outlook for life, because all they see is a "want fries with that" future looming for them. They know that you have to have money in today's world to be part of it and they also see that they will never have more money than what fits into their back pocket.

    And that money will be for their mo
  • Aggressive behavior != violent behavior.

    Aggressive behavior in all its loosely defined glory is used, no, key to business and sports. We highly value business, sports, and competitiveness in general yet fear aggression. What a mixed message.

  • How 'bout we do a study that looks at the places children actually learn that violence is good/cool/acceptable-response-to-affrontry?

    Namely, professional boxing and wrestling, which glorifies fighting and shows kids that it's cool and fun to beat on each other?

    How about the daily/nightly news, which shows them constant streams of violent outbreaks around the world?

    How about their own parents, authority-figures, government officials and other adult role-models, who routinely demonstrate--and reinforce--that
    • You are aware that wrestling gets more than it's fair share of this crap too, right? I'm a fan (fuck off, before you even start) and just today there were two news stories about how wrestling is bad for kids etc...

      I like my son watch it. I've told him from day one that if I EVER see him copy it, hear that he has copied it, he never gets to see it again. He knows it's all predetermined and choreographed and they're not trying to hurt each other.

      That's why society amuses me. "Oh wrestling is fake" say the MMA
  • Numerous behavioral and cognitive studies have linked exposure to violent media and aggressive behavior." Numerous studies have said just the opposite, too.

    There are far more studies that link violent media to aggressive behavior (and I'm talking about true, scientific study, not something dones by Christian Science, etc) than there are of those that disprove it. I'm willing to admit that ever since I've gotten heavily into FPS games my temper for things has changed a bit to where I have to control myself
  • CNN.com is reporting on a study which found that those 'who play violent video games show increased activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional arousal and decreased responses in regions that govern self-control.'

    So does a pretty girl. Their point????
  • ... how my brain is running while I am playing a game, its how the playing the game affects my behavior afterwards.

    While i'm playing an emotionally involving game in which the normal laws of society don't apply, I am both emotionally arroused, and I find myself letting go of self control (because it isn't necisary in said virtual enviroment).

    In the real world, I do not let go of self control.

    Playing games, by their nature, allow you to explore otherwise forbidden behaviors in a non-real enviroment. Weith
  • by Psyjack (1034078)
    I have a 15yr old son who plays FPS, driving, 1on1 combat games...and he has no trouble determining the difference beterr good and bad. He has no behavior problems, in fact, he's often used by teachers as an example of how students should behave. He doesn't like fighting, but will if he has to, and knows when to stop. Perhaps if parents were as active in their children's rearing, there would be no need to rate games as too violent for kids of any age. His favorite comment, "It's a video game, I'm not th

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