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Games Science

Gamers Are More Aggressive To Strangers 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the xbox-live-proved-this-years-ago dept.
TheClockworkSoul writes "According to NewScientist, victorious gamers enjoy a surge of testosterone — but only if their vanquished foe is a stranger. Interestingly, when male gamers beat friends in a shoot-em-up video game, their levels of the hormone plummeted. This suggests that multiplayer video games tap into the same mechanisms as warfare, where testosterone's effect on aggression is advantageous. Against a group of strangers — be it an opposing football team or an opposing army – there is little reason to hold back, so testosterone's effects on aggression offer an advantage. 'In a serious out-group competition you can kill all your rivals and you're better for it,' says David Geary, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, who led the study. However, when competing against friends or relatives to establish social hierarchy, annihilation doesn't make sense. 'You can't alienate your in-group partners, because you need them,' he says."
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Gamers Are More Aggressive To Strangers

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  • by PakProtector (115173) <cevkiv@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:25AM (#29590769) Journal
    pause for a moment and say, "And you're just now realising this?"
  • by Darbacour (1606895) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:29AM (#29590787)
    Nowadays, there too many jocks passing themselves off as "Gamers"
  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:23AM (#29591047) Journal

    No, it's just news because it finds some way to make video games seem tied to bad behavior.

  • Sample Bias? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:23AM (#29591049) Journal
    It sounds like they are counting gamers as 'people who play games online' which naturally biases the sample towards people who enjoy beating strangers. I enjoyed LAN gaming a lot, but never got in to online FPS games because beating some random person who may or may not be a bot (or using various cheats) didn't seem as satisfying as beating someone in the same room (and, conversely, being shot by someone in the same room gave you a chance to express disbelief at their skill, or complain about their camping tactics). People who had the same reaction as me would not have been counted as 'gamers' for this study.
  • I wonder... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:27AM (#29591069)

    I wonder how long until we find this study (mis)quoted in another of those 'Video Games Turn Innocent Children Into Violent Killers!' type articles.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:34AM (#29591099)

    Nowadays, there too many jocks passing themselves off as "Gamers"

    Huh? Aren't games based on pro sports among the most popular/best-selling video game categories? Would it not stand to reason that the more detailed and realistic these games become, the more interest they will hold for people who play the games in real life?

    And come on, let's face it... what does it take, really, to "pass oneself off as a gamer"? Videogames -- and especially casual video games -- have become a multi-billion dollar industry. It's not like it's 1978 and you're meeting in your friend's basement to toss around 20-sided dice; entire Hollywood movie franchises are being built around videogame characters. Face it -- it ain't geekery anymore, it's mainstream... just like pro sports.

    But a nerd trying to pass himself off as a jock... Now, That's Entertainment!

  • by interactive_civilian (205158) <mamoru AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:34AM (#29591103) Homepage Journal

    Can I be the first to say:!*(&^$*&^@!(&*)%&*)%&*1!@&
    For the love of DEITY$ when will researchers stop doing stupid research!

    Am I the only one that hopes you are also the last to say that? You know, for a "News for Nerds" site, there seem to be quite a few people who pop up for stories like this that seem to be against research for the sake of research. You'd think such a thing would be valued on this site. These are people trying to figure out what makes human beings tick, and this research seems to be showing a correlation between the intensity of an unconscious physiological response (hormonal, in this case) to nearly identical behavior (i.e. the game) in differing social situations. That may not be a big deal to you, and in the long run it may turn out to be a very small thing in our understanding, but it still helps to expand our body of knowledge and possibly provide directions to be looking in future research. How can you call such a thing "stupid"?

    And here I thought nerds were the type of people who would support the seeking of knowledge and the establishment of data. :-/

  • by interactive_civilian (205158) <mamoru AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:41AM (#29591129) Homepage Journal

    And psychologists and endocrinologists are responding to that by saying, "If you knew this, then show us the data you have correlating testosterone response to a near identical stimulus in varying social situations."

    I wasn't aware that there were people out there studying anthropological endocrinology. Feel free to link to the studies upon which they base their knowledge. Because otherwise, this "common knowledge" had not yet been established as data, and history shows many examples of common knowledge failing in light of actual empirical observation.

    Even if this particular study isn't complete or perfect (I haven't read the actual paper, but only the abstract, so I cannot say), it is a start at establishing data and helping us gain an empirical understanding of how we function.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:56AM (#29591213)
    That's one reason why I probably would not make a good soldier. I once watched a news item about a US pilot who had accidentally attacked British ground troops (I think this was in Iraq). They played a cockpit recording of the incident where the pilot was told to abort a seccond attack. You could tell from the pilots voice he was shaken, he said "my God, what have I done". My first thought was how could he not feel the same way when attacking Iraqui troops too. These would also be men with families, probably enlisted without choice. Many of them would have little interest in the politics of the region. Some wife and kids would be left to grieve. When I said this I found that only one other person present thought they would feel the same way as me (fortunatley that was my wife!). I am not a pacifist but I think that most recent wars are unjustified. Even in necessary defense I would find killing other people very hard.
  • by Chatsubo (807023) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:06AM (#29591273)

    Indeed, ever notice how such a big deal is made over "civilian" casualties, but soldiers, they almost don't even count. Oh well, 10k soldiers died, but HOLY MOLY! You killed a CIVILIAN!!!

    I think I'd make just as bad a soldier as you.

  • Re:That is why... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Firemouth (1360899) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:21AM (#29591367)
    Even if soldiers knew their enemy, there would still be war. Soldiers aren't necessarily the ones who decide to fight. Case in point, the American civil war. Families were split on the issues and consequently were on opposite sides of the war when war broke out.
  • by pjt33 (739471) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:26AM (#29591395)

    Would it not stand to reason that the more detailed and realistic these games become, the more interest they will hold for people who play the games in real life?

    No. It's at least as reasonable to expect an uncanny valley effect whereby the more realistic the game becomes, the more its unrealistic aspects jar for people who are familiar with it in real life.

  • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:28AM (#29591405)
    So it does the same as e.g. football. So it's the same as sports. So computer games are no more or less dangerous than sports in this aspect. So I hope anti gaming advocates don't conclude something to their advantage from this.
  • by interactive_civilian (205158) <mamoru AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:34AM (#29591445) Homepage Journal

    Knowledge, yes. Data, no. Data is something you'll lose if you don't have backup. Knowledge is information you can use to obtain more knowledge or useful things. We don't need research to tell us what we already know, we need research to tell us new things.

    You cannot do science without data, and by data, I very specifically mean empirical observation. Anecdote has never been and will never be the singular of data. Common knowledge should never be mistaken for data unless it has empirical backing.

    As for not needing research to tell us what we already know, I'm sure people said the same thing when Galileo took a heavy object and a ligher object up the tower of Pisa to drop them: "Look, Galileo. This is obvious. We know this. A heavier thing will fall faster than a lighter thing. Why are you wasting your time?" The history of science is filled with people seeking data to show empirically what we "already know" and then finding that what we "knew" was wrong.

    I'm sorry if it bothers you or if you think it slows our progress or wastes our time, but we simply cannot draw scientific conclusions or increase scientific knowledge without DATA. Even for things that are "obvious" or things that we "already know".

  • Re:That is why... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:41AM (#29591473) Homepage Journal

    Sorry but that's just utter BS. History is filled with examples of people who knew each other going to war against each other. The US Civil War is one good example, as is almost every other Civil War in history. The American Revolution is another. Knowing someone doesn't mean you won't kill them if you are given the chance and situation to do so.

  • Re:That is why... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:47AM (#29591505)

    bah, dueling says otherwise. I know that if it were legal, there are at least 3 people I'd have already challenged. As it is, I had to find other outlets to express my displeasure.....

  • Partly useful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by insomnyuk (467714) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:52AM (#29591529) Homepage Journal

    Indeed, very often the thing about good science is that what they discover may seem obvious in retrospect; in this case the notion that in social situations or warfare men treat enemies or strangers differently than friends and family is directly correlated to testosterone levels. Certainly the concept of social cooperation and distinctions are made between different groups of people is not new. However, coming up with data to show a cause for why this is so can be very useful, it can provide a model for making predictions, and can perhaps be applied to other areas of research. I think it's interesting that the video gamer's social interactions through the digital medium were just as 'real' to their bodies as it would have been to someone in a physical setting.

  • Re:That is why... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @08:05AM (#29591605)

    How are civil wars an example for this? Do you know everyone in your country? I certainly don't. I could fight in a war against the next town and never meet an enemy soldier I knew, let alone a war against different parts of the country hundreds of miles away.

  • However, to equate it with pseudo-science is a disservice, and with advances in neurology, psychology is getting closer and closer to completely "hard" science every day.

    I disagree. I have seen no reason to believe that any of those professions have made any progress whatsoever towards rigor and objectiveness. In fact, they've probably moved even farther into the depths of pseudoscience as time has gone by. Sloppy studies are still with us [slashdot.org], and the softer sciences have done little and less to deal with them.

    Ask yourself; how did intelligent design manage to convince so many people that it was a legitimate scientific discipline for so long? The answer is not to be found in fancy PR campaigns, prominent proponents or actual studies done. The truth is, it managed to masquerade as a science for so long because that's just how low the bar for modern science has sunk. This is the path we have set for our society, and when the homeopaths and astrologers start showing up in university departments we will have only ourselves to blame.

  • Re:That is why... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @09:16AM (#29592293)

    Despite the talk of brothers fighting, most soldiers in the civil war didn't know very many people on the other side. In the case of smaller civil wars, it's often that you know them, but you have specifically relegated them to an out-group. Like Democrats vs Republicans.

  • Re:That is why... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amplt1337 (707922) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @10:15AM (#29593035) Journal

    I find it highly unlikely that every soldier in the Confederate Army knew every Union soldier personally.
    Obviously, people kill close relatives and loved ones all the time, so familiarity is not sufficient to prevent killing; but it's psychologically a lot more difficult. I've heard (though anecdotally) that in still-existing hunter-gatherer societies, when people encounter strangers, they sit down and try to figure out whether or not they're related and in what way, to decide if they're going to kill each other...

  • by snowgirl (978879) * on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @10:19AM (#29593083) Journal

    Indeed, ever notice how such a big deal is made over "civilian" casualties, but soldiers, they almost don't even count. Oh well, 10k soldiers died, but HOLY MOLY! You killed a CIVILIAN!!!

    I think I'd make just as bad a soldier as you.

    Actually, I'm cool with the differences between civilian and military deaths. Thing is that there are certain people who have consented by Geneva Convention to risk their life in military conflicts. It's the same as boxing. I don't get sad when two boxers fight, and one of them gets beat up. I don't get upset when a football player gets tackled in a football match in a fair play.

    I do get upset when a boxer chews another's ear off, because that's not what the other person consented to, and I do get upset if a football player is injured outside of the rules of play.

    The whole issue here is consent to harm. A soldier has consented to harm and death, while a civilian has made no such choice. That's why it's reasonable for us to treat their deaths in combat differently. Now, say a group of soldiers step over the line and kill five prisoners of war for no reason at all... the POWs vacated their consent to be killed indiscriminately by laying down arms... they are thus "protected".

    It's a sad thing when any human dies, period... however, some people take explicit consent to involve themselves in dangerous activities that may result in their death. If that choice is made willingly, then such be their choice... free-will and self-determination to me is more important than any presumed "sanctity of life".

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:07AM (#29593837)

    >A soldier has consented to harm and death, while a civilian has made no such choice.

    Historically, soldiers are draftees who server under the penalty of treason, which is traditionally punishable by death. The US's professional military is the exception, not the rule. So when youre shooting Nazis in any of the hundreds of WWII games, you're killing the virtual equivalent of some kid who was drafted by leadership and forced to fight under the penalty of death.

  • by Don_dumb (927108) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:26PM (#29595167)
    No perhaps not. It was difficult to guage how effective units were or not. As it didn't really matter how effective the units were being as they were walking towards machine guns.

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