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Games Entertainment

Are Games Turning Kids Into Jocks? 205

Maybe it's time to think about becoming an expatriate. Those who still harbor illusions about the accuracy of what pols and the popular media tell us about "geeks," gaming and cyber-culture ought to read one of the most interesting series of studies yet on computer games and the young, published this weekend in the Times of London. The government-funded study by the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), finds that computer games are giving a "young Britons a level of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes." Beyond that, gamers are smarter, more likely to go to college, have more friends, read more, and get better-paying jobs than non-gamers.

Do not look for the results of this study to be reported on your local evening news in the U.S., or on the front page of any newspaper. It will not be there. Those spots are reserved for frantic stories about pedophiles, pornographers and online identity thieves.

So much for the popular view of gamers as oddballs and outcasts, cut off from the world and deprived of healthy social interaction and intellectual activity. That's the portrait widely promulgated in American media and invoked by U.S. politicians, from so-called liberal Democrats like Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, to Republicans like Attorney General Ashcroft and the President.

The British researchers, perhaps unencumbered by uniquely American pandering to so-called "moral" political interests, see it differently. "People who play games regularly seem to develop a mental state that we have seen before only in serious athletes or professionals such as astronauts, whose life depends on concentration and co-ordination," found Jo Bryce, who led the team. "Their minds and bodies work together much better than those of most other people."

Bryce conducted her research by visiting gamers, usually during regional or national competitions around England, and administering a series of psychological tests and questionnaires to nearly 100 of them. The results were then compared with those from similiar tests of athletes and others.

A separate study by the British government's Home Office indicated that those who regularly play computer games when they are young are more likely than non-gamers to go to college and get a high-paying job. They also, said the Home Office study, tended to be more intelligent. The Times also reported that Mark Griffiths, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University and an expert in computer gaming, found in a study of 800 children that those who play games "moderately" -- generally defined as no more than two hours a day -- had more friends, were better adjusted, and tended to read more.

This rational approach to kids and gaming -- a government actually providing useful information to parents and educators -- stands in jarring contrast to the post-Columbine hysteria still prevalent in America, which holds that gaming commonly leads to addictive, anti-social behavior, even sometimes to violence.

The British researchers did discover that children who use computers to excess could, in fact, develop emotional disorders. One 16-year-old boy spent 70 hours a week at his computer and suffered severe psychological problems. But then, we don't really need a study to tell us that. The same would be true of bicyclists or chess players.

More typically, the ESRC study found, subjects were averaging approximately 18 hours a week on computer games; interestingly, these kids were spending similiar amounts of time on sports or social activities.

"They seemed able to focus on what they were doing much better than other people and also had better general co-ordination," said one of the researchers. "The skills they learned on computers seem to transfer to the real world."

As gaming spreads and becomes mainstream, such findings become important. They are valuable and useful -- not only to gamers, who already know much of this stuff, but to public policy. Parents, employers and educators often appear woefully misinformed about gaming's true and increasingly significant effects. More and more, these studies suggest, parents should be encouraging their kids to game, not to stop. You have to particularly appreciate the comparison to superjocks. The nerds' revenge only gets sweeter.

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Are Video Games Turning Kids Into Jocks?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    i find it interesting that Jon blows off every study showing a link between violence in the media and violent behavior, but as soon as a study is published saying something positive about the video game industry, he hails it as the gospel truth.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    from the I-wish-Katz-would-stop-plagiarizing-other-peoples- work-dept.
  • No, it's almost certainly true.

    Have you seen what counts as a "top-level athlete" in the UK?


  • I would say it's a sign of misplaced intelligence. That is, placed somewhere other than the troll's brain.

  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:53AM (#2191991) Homepage
    You are misusing the term "jock". An athlete is one who enjoys sports. A jock is a meathead who enjoys sports and beats up geeks in high school. I assume gamers are not aspiring to become the latter.

  • Hey stop screwing around reading slashdot and get back to work!
  • "it's: contraction of "it is"
    its: possessive form of "it" "

    Thank you. I didn't proof read. I also keep catching myself typing "you're" instead of "your". Perhaps I should just avoid contractions althogether and then there'll be no chance of the wrong thing coming out of my fingers.
  • How about it's true title: "The Times". Americans get a bit confused because their Times has a city name in its title: "The New York Times".

    Anyway, is anything outside London of any significance? Doesn't London define Englishness and all things of any cultural significance?! ;)

  • I think the bottome line hovers somewhere around the idea that if a child can learn to enjoy the active and competitive elements of video and computer games, they have a higher likelihood perhaps of willingness to undertake/approach (mentally) active and competitive elements of life.

    Most games involve some degree of reading and most encourage some sort of fantasy/ideation in the mind of the player, tapping near if not quite into the same vein that a good story taps into.

    There's also the idea of Flow, which is thought by some to be crucial for our mental well-being. Flow is the senation of 'forgetting yourself' in an activity, which could be meditation, sex, rock-climbing, a good book, movie or video game. People who can't find flow in creative activities may find it in crime and acts of aggression instead or, most commonly, in drug and alcohol abuse.

    It may even lead to small improvements at the physical reaction level. Visualization techniques are fairly-well accepted to be of measurable benefit to training for physical and athletic activities. Video games in many cases might prove to be a sort of active visualization.

    Are video games the ultimate cure for everything? No, but they may prove to not quite be the idle time-wasters they are commonly assumed to be. This is not a professional study by any means, but it provides some interesting food for thought.
  • ...make you turn Scottish?
    Some of us were just born that way.
  • A separate study by the British government's Home Office indicated that those who regularly play computer games when they are young are more likely than non-gamers to go to college and get a high-paying job.

    Ah.. And that's not because kids whos parents can not afford to buy a computer/console and games also have trouble paying for a good education? A child on the lower end of the social ladder is likely to end up with a poor education, that's not all that new.

    Seems a lot like the studies where eating lots of butter is proven to be really bad for you. Oh, it is, but the study does not take into account that the people that do eat lots of butter more often than not stuff themselves with other health degrading junk food whenever they get the chance.

    I can't help but to squeeze this in.. I have enjoyed Slashdot for a long time now, and still do.. But please, go easy on the self-glorifying content. Yeah, growing up and being a computer nerd wasn't all that socially accepted, and it did not make you the coolest dude in school. Does that mean we have to pretend like we're all-knowing just because computers happened to go mainstream? I for one am not a bit cooler than when I was in school. I'm still just as shy and my social skills aren't any better either.

    Don't bother commenting on my grammar or spelling. English is not my first language.
  • And sitting in front of your computer all day will really impress the girls...

  • You too, huh? :)

    Although I often have to be careful if I go out driving right after an hours-long GT session. I live exactly one block away from a police station.
  • I think computer games are just another source of information (and entertainment), and you can do whatever you want with it. You can view many movies (Easy Rider, The Graduate, One Flew Over the Cookos Nest, and half a dozen others), and only find commic value. Then again, the person next to you will see the anti-govermental, anti-traditional themes of these movies.

    And some people will try to refute this movies, or try to have them banned, because it offends their senses. There are lots of things that offend my senses, but I don't neccessary go around trying to have them removed from society.

    On the other hand, you wouldn't be watching those kinds of movies, playing those kind of computer games, reading those kind of books if it wasn't something that you had as a pre-existing interests.

    Do you really think reading McGovern's "A Time of War, A Time of Peace", the was sole cause me registering as a democrat? No, I had to have some pre-existing interest in the topic, and some pre-existing bias, or I probably wouldn't have even picked up the book. I probably would have never seen "Easy Rider" (or known what it was about), if I wasn't interested in freedom loving counter-culture and prejudice.

    In conclusion, your beliefs and ideas will make you predisposed to lean a certain way, even before you get propaganda that reinforces it. At any point you can change you mind, such as recent events happening around you, other propaganda getting you lean the other way, and other events.

    The best way to deal with this, is be open, give equal information on all sides of the issue, and the let the person make the best decission possible.
  • The Canadian Discovery Channel had thing a few weeks agin on about how music helps atheltes get into "The Zone", a frame of mind where mind and body are one, where the athlete is working on pure instinct. They said that athletes get by far their best performance when they are in this state of mind. I know that I have gotten in that frame of mind several times while playing games, where I just seem to do everything right without thinking about it, everything becomes instinct. It's probably because gaming hones reaction times and concentration, when you're playing a fast-paced game, there is rarely time to think about what you are going to do, you just have to do it.
    They also mentioned that it usually takes years of training to be able to get into this state of mind, gaming probably provides good mental training because reaction speeds need to be just as fast for alot of video games as they do for many sports. I have also noticed this sometimes when I'm coding, but not as often as when I'm gaming.
  • Does this now mean that we have to beat ourselves up? This is a lot different than beating off ourselves.:)
  • Your comment is interesting but also peripheral to the main point -- that a study without a control group is severely flawed to the point of being almost useless.

    Since the study did not record information that would prove or falsify your conjecture, this and many other questions remain unanswered.

  • I'd heard about the report before Katz got to it and when I read his headline I flashed to a different theme.

    You equate jock with the meathead who enjoys sports and beats up geeks in high school. OK, let's go with that definition of jock.

    Pick pretty much /any/ online multplayer action/role playing game and log in. Ya there? Good. Now see how long it takes until someone boasts about owning you. How long it takes to find someone who is TKing for the hell of it. How long it takes to find dozens upon dozens of outright pricks and assholes who are there for the shere pleasure of causing other players grief.

    Grief. Just like the meathead who is good at sports and beats other kids up. These players are good at their game and while they aren't phsyically beating others up, the same trend for abuse is clearly present.

    It is for this reason and no other that I never, EVER got into Quake online. I can only tolorate Unreal Tournament in small doses. It is why I dropped completely out of CS after my clan tore itself apart. I'd like to get serious about DoD but I know the grief players are there as well. 9-10 months of AC and you know how much role play I saw compared to the amount of grief I saw before I quit because it was clear that Turbine/MS would do nothing against the grief players? I'd say the ratio is on the order of 1:100 if not a magnatide higher. Now I am playing AO. Need I even mention that the trend continues unabated?

    I'm sorry, but the title was accurate even though the content doesn't match it. Given their own place to excel geeks... gamers... are turning into the meathead, abusive jocks they hate.
  • Did the game playing help make the player more intelligent, coordinated and focused, or is it that people with those qualities tend to be attracted to computer/video games?

    Mind you, I think the study make an important point to those who rely on such studies for information, but I think that a longer term study to look at the causalities would also be helpfull.
  • While I agree this is at least implied at times in the context that it is used, "jock" is simply a synonym of "athlete," so they are one and the same, unless of course you are referring to jockeys, who may be bullies to horses but I doubt would have much success in beating up geeks (see Merriam-Webster's dictionary [])

    Plus, you don't wear an "athletestrap," do you? No, you wear a jockstrap, and that does not make you an asshole.
  • why doesn't he let us draw our own conculions?

    I am presuming that you mean "conclusions."

    (A) Katz is not the thought police, he is simply telling his opinions and conclusions; at least he is explaining his reasoning as opposed to simply stating something wtihout support, which other /. editors do very frequently.

    (B) Katz is a writer, and writers do analysis. He is not an editor, so he does not simply post and give brief opinions (which, BTW, tells what /. really is. It is an opinion site, not a news site, being that the editorial staff, in charge of news, is in no way separated from the opinion staff). So, if he is going to analyze something, one would hope he would reach a conclusion, which presumably he would include.
  • Is that why they play those stupid "Jock Jams" during warmup time at football and basketball games? I'm not sure that I want to be in that Zone...

    Remember: it's a "Microsoft virus", not an "email virus",

  • Most of the people in these so-called "poorer" areas are what would be described as casual gamers, who play less than 5 hours a week. More than likely they're too busy working to make ends meet to have time to play video/computer games.

    This study was focusing on "hardcore" gamers, who play 18+ hours a week. That's approx. 2.5 hours a day. Most gamers I know who play 18+ hours a week don't do it on a PSX or Dreamcast, they do it on a PC. PC gaming has become expensive. To play modern games decently, you need at least a GeForce 2 (See: Black and White) and gobs of CPU power, plus you have to have the cash to upgrade every 6 months to a new system to keep up. Add that to shelling out $50/mo for a broadband connection, which is necessary to compete reasonably nowadays, (not to mention live in a neighborhood where such is available) and this takes the kind of resources that lower-middle class families just don't have.

    As for the argument that sports aren't as popular among the less-financially-endowed, have you ever been to a basketball court in a poor neighborhood? Expensive organized sports aren't the only places where people can play, pickup games are quite common, cheap, and a hell of a lot of fun. I'm not a social economist or anything, but I know enoug people who aren't terribly wealthy to know what actually happens.
  • from the maybe-rents-are-cheap-in-England- dept. Jon, you should see the rents here. F**king extortionate. Everywhere. Like, a million pounds a month. Plus there's foot and mouth (which can and does infect humans, and makes people illiterate), high taxes, a totalitarian government who, errmm, demonises smart kids and puts them into padded cells for being too brainy. And we blame everything on the fact that guns are banned and really think that Bush is something special. Plus, up here in Yorkshire the internet is banned because teachers are paedophiles.scared it'll turn computer-game playing secondary-school students into Seriously, you'd hate it here. Stay at home, you'll like it better. Please.
  • There's also such a thing as correlation, often misunderstood for a causal relation. The article tells us that kids who play a lot of games tend to end up in college (i.e. there is a correlation between playing a lot of games as a kid and ending up in college). It would however be misguided to conclude that playing a lot of games causes people to end up in college (i.e. playing more games makes you intelligent).

    With this in mind a logical explanation of the above phenomena could be that kids who played a lot of games as a kid and ended up in college must have been playing games in the early nineties/late eighties. In those days, computers were typically not found in lower class families but rather in middle/upper class families. So the above study could be seen as a difficult way of saying that if you grow up in a middle/upper class family, you are more likely to end up in college.

    Disclaimer: I have only read Katz's biased summary, not the original paper.
  • "Their minds and bodies work together much better than those of most other people."

    Ummm.... I don't want to burst your bubble, Jon, but our bodies would work better if we exercised regularly. My CS friends who do nothing but play games all day are


    As for mind being more agile, the same has been said for decades about chess, team sports (as long as it is presented right), rock-climbing, reading books, etc. The truth is: any stimulating activity is helpful for young children. Naturally, games are stimulating.

  • From a propaganda perspective (and as much as I'd like this debate to occur rationally, it certainly will not) these studies are GOLD. Now, whenever Senator Lieberman pulls out a study that says "Kids who play QUAKE have an 83% chance of swearing their souls to Cthulu!", we (the rational lot) can pull out this British study and say, "Look, old chap, you're full of shite."

    Unfortunately, public policy is rarely determined by moderate rhetoric. Black and white, hot and cold...these dichotomies drive all political decisions nowadays. We need to get used to playing the game that way!
  • Well, while I do think that games do enhance the reaction time and analytical thinking, what ISNT shown is how much computer games detract from one's social life. I know plenty of people that have their weekend activities limited to computer games and very little social interaction. Like everything in life, balanced activities will make for the well rounded individual.
  • Great! Now I can show them my gaming experiance and get the $1mil scholarships. Then I can finally get the gaming system I really want!
  • I can say that the "zone" you can reach in quake is no different from the one you can reach in competitive sports. I have felt both and they are the same, at least to the brain. A full comprehension of all the factors that effect your performance. A laser focus and the ability to act instantaneously on new information. The feeling of "flow" and ability to anticipate the reactions of your opponents.

    It's the same "emotion" one way or the other, and it's a pretty good one as far as emotions go. Definitetly worthwhile to cultivate in whatever form you can experience it.
  • 1) wouldn't this apply to other games as well. the study should have (I admit I didn't actually read it) checked to see whether board games had a similar effect, or thinking games (read: D&D). Granted those wouldn't get coordination and skill (and maybe that tying actually would take them above the rest)

    2) Um, without the well-developed muscles of real athleats, they're in non-competable categories. IE, it's sort of comparing apples and oranges to call computer gamers "athletes" if it brings up the idea of olympic runners.

    3) So, we need a quake category in the next olympics. But does that fall into the summer or winter category?
  • no, but the first program executed on game machines will now be known as the "Jock Strap Loader"

    thank you, i'll be here all week.

  • Meybe all that research doesn't apply to slow moving strategy games [] that resemble MUD's more than doom. Still, I've learned how to run a scam, and sometimes I manage to avoid one. ;)
  • We're not all yanks!

    Some of us are rednecks...

  • ...and "concerned" politicians and parents will be this part:
    "They seemed able to focus on what they were doing much better than other people and also had better general co-ordination," said one of the researchers. "The skills they learned on computers seem to transfer to the real world."
    Then the skills they'll mention will be sniping, street fighting, and mass murder, not rhythm (Samba de Amigo []), driving (Gran Turismo []), or, problem solving (Chu Chu Rocket []).
  • More and more, these studies suggest, parents should be encouraging their kids to game, not to stop.

    While the comparison between "jocks" and "gamers" might hold true for mental comprehension, for developmental purposes, athletics provide physical development as well. As it is, Americans have horrible eating and excersize habits and are overweight overall. Do we need more sedentary activities for our kids?

    I'm not saying that gaming is bad, nor am I contesting these results. There is a difference between having positive effects from gaming and actually encouraging kids to spend more time with it. In doing so, you tun the more dangerous risk of moving from moderarion into exess which will offset any gains you might make.
  • by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @09:26AM (#2192023)
    Ignoring for a second any consideration about usage of the term jock, let's look at your meathead interpretation of the word and see if we see that in gamers.

    Jocks engage in machismo prick-waving to show their superior manhood. Geeks do the same thing. Replace "I can bench more than you" with "I have more RAM than you" and you get the same effect.

    If you REALLY wanna see a good example of this, play an online RPG like everquest or drakkar. Suddenly "My big brother is a football player and will beat you up because I don't like you" becomes "My brother is a level 37 fighter and can oneshot you!" It's a well-proven scientific fact that 99.7 percent of all human beings are assholes. While the percentage may be slightly less among us geeks (99.4%), it still holds true. Put an asshole in a situation where he has power over people, and he's gonna bully, he's gonna flex, he's gonna wave his penis at you, and he's gonna try to make himself feel big at your expense. Call it a jock, call it an evil boss, call it George W. Bush, it doesn't matter. An asshole in power is gonna use those not in power as his own personal punching bag.

  • >Ender? Is that you?

    Insert plug for a game called Operation Flashpoint [].

    Windoze only, 65M playable demo available online. IMHO well worth the download.

    It looks like these guys are trying to do for the first-person shooter what "Flight Simulator" did for the first-person-flying-game.

    As a civvie, I was impressed. The thing that impressed me the most? The fact that I had to figure out how to achieve the objectives for myself. So I did what I'd imagine most Privates do in such a situation - said "holy shit, everyone's running that-a-way, and so's the Corporal. Better catch up with them or I'm toast out here!". So I followed along with the group, maintaining separation between units (just as the AI was doing), and trying to find cover where I could (again, as the AI was doing), while taking down a bad guy or two ("Holy shit, that guy's shooting at me! Good thing I got him first!"), and not get shot. 15 minutes later, I failed in that third objective, which is probably what you'd expect from a civilian thrown into his first firefight.

    But it was one intense 15 minutes. Definitely the closest I ever wanna get to the real thing.

  • Once again, Katz misses the point:

    "a level of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes"

    ...does not imply athletic prowess.

    It does imply "the zone" in which the top athletes are at their best.

    (Old-Sk00l gamer mode on) As one who played plenty of Defender, Robotron, and Tempest - not in MAME, but using the original controls, in dimly-lit arcades, surrounded by flashing lights and bleeps from 20 machines everywhere, and a 19" monitor filling most of my view - I experienced it daily. Once you got to the point where you could make $0.25 last for half an hour or more, you just melded into the machine and became one with it. (Sorry for the new-agey crap, I don't know any other way to describe the sensation.)

    The expert who runs the mile and gets his "second wind" is like the kid who becomes one with the machine. The brain switches off, the body runs on autopilot, and you don't think about what to do, you just do.

    I have no doubt that some of the "jocks" in my high school achieved the same level of concentration on the football field or on the track as I did in the arcade. (I just wish I'd known back then, as I'd have had more respect for their accomplishments.)

    To mention a few more areas where folks enter "the zone", I'll offer motor sport, live performance of classical music, several martial arts disciplines, and Deep-Hack-Mode programming. I'm sure there are plenty of others.

    Jocks achieved their godhood on the field, but remained assholes in the hallways and classrooms. My apotheoses were in the arcade and classroom, but I remained dateless in the hallways.

    It has nothing to do with jockhood or geekhood, it has to do with the difference between someone who's merely competent or proficient, and someone who's truly a master or virtuoso.

  • by jocks ( 56885 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:25AM (#2192026) Homepage
    Oh thanks. First I make a comment about /. being a bit US centric and now they abuse my name. I am starting to feel like I am being picked on here! Yes I am from Scotland, yes my name Jock.

    Damn yanks.........
  • "pedophiles, pornographers and online identity thieves."

    Maybe that's just where you live.

    I've discovered that stuff above isn't everywhere. When I was in West Palm Beach, the 11 'oclock news special was that a school bus was hours late because the bus driver "got lost."

    That was it. No guns, no death, no pedophiles, no pr0n.

  • The lack of a control group in this study is a Red Herring. If you'll note, this study was compared to previous studies (which would have had control groups, presumably, or they wouldn't have held up to any scrutiny either). Why waste the (British) public's money with redundant testing? They simply used the prior control group data and placed these scores against that (along with athlete and whatever else has been done previously).

    Your placement of social class, by the way, is woefully off target. Even the upper fringe of the lower class can afford a console machine these days (although a decent gaming computer is still out of their price range). That's the purpose of the console machines... Basically, anyone who can afford a TV can probably afford a game console and a few games. They may not be the current hot console or the most recent games, but (up until it became a collector's item) you could easily hit a garage sale for something like an old NES, Genesis or SNES and 30 games and end up paying under $30 for the lot.

    Now the study may have been done wrong (to your mind), or have looked at the wrong sampling of gamers (those that compete are generally going to be the more socially well-adjusted... They did come out of their hole, after all). All in all, though, I'd keep in mind this is a general news release article, not a technical paper, so it'd be difficult to say exactly what the test methods were. There may well have been a control group in this study and the author didn't think that was important enough to put in... If you find the real paper on the subject, then you can level your accusations appropriately.

    ~Anguirel (lit. Living Star-Iron)
    "Veni; Vidi; Vi C++"
  • "Yeah, average for Olympians, and that's makes up about 5% of society."

    5% of people are Olympians? Damn. In the US, for example, there are about 300 million people. 5% of that is 15 million. If everyone lives to be 80, there will be 20 Olympics during the average lifetime. If everyone goes to the games just one, that means that the US is sending 750,000 representatives to the Olympics every four years.

    Even NBC would find it hard to do that many human-interest stories. :)
  • As I posted before, the findings from the "study" were based onfalse logic. [] Just to summarize: just because you see A and B together, it doesn't mean that A caused B or vice versa. Being smart made kids more likely to play games, not the other way around.

    At least half of this opinion piece consists of copying and pasting the findings of the study. What about the original content?

    I find it very funny that Katz could only think of Joseph Lieberman when he was thinking about controlling a video game's content. I don't ever recall John Ashcroft (who has no need to play politics, since he is _appointed_) or George W. Bush talking about restricting video games' contents. Katz's view of unbiased reporting is to throw in a prominent Republican when he insults a prominent Democrat, just to make them both look equally bad. If Katz spent time researching for fascists who happen to be Republican, he wouldn't have had to resort to the boogeymen that are Ascroft and Bush.

    I'm curious to see if he does the same thing when the sides are reversed.

  • Trolling, like sarcasm in general, is probably often a sign of misguided intelligence.

    Hate to burst your bubble.
  • Maybe we could get some good insights from Nicholas Negroponte [] one of these days? He had articles in WiReD [] too ... :-)

  • My now very off-topic point was that the ability to construct a good trolling statement requires a level of wit and intelligence lacking in many of the other responses on Slashdot.

    I'd like moderator options like "intelligent" and "well-thought". More importantly, I'd like to be able to select which moderator adjectives to ignore in my preferences so that I could ignore the negatives assigned "off-topic" posts, for examlpe.

    PS, when is Slashdot going to open permanent discussion forums for on-going subjects such as trolling and moderation?
  • "Beyond that, gamers are smarter, more likely to go to college, have more friends, read more, and get better-paying jobs than non-gamers."

    ...And if you act now, you can also make millions just like other gamers! Get some Viagra cheap! and improve your high score!! Get the X10 and be the envy of all your gaming friends!

    Jeesh, isn't it kinda reckless to make generalizations without a basis case to reflect upon?
  • This is pretty obvious stuff. (I like drawing my own conclusions, thak you very much, Katz). Athletes and astronauts spend hours practicing what they do, and therefore are good at it and can concentrate on it more and in a different way than the average Joe. Kids who spend hours gaming become good at it and can concentrate on it in a similar way that athletes and astronauts concentrate on their tasks. The reason why they have better coordination and concentration than the average kids of the recent past is that spending hours in front of a TV makes you good at watching TV, which requires minimal concentration and coordination. It's good to see that a study... the spending of a lot of money... can yield common sense results.
  • Christ Katz, think ya could use a friggin' spell check before you post an editorial?
  • by szcx ( 81006 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:27AM (#2192037)
    Beyond that, gamers are smarter, more likely to go to college, have more friends, read more, and get better-paying jobs than non-gamers.
    You need to read some gamer forums. See how quickly those notions disintergrate. I suggest sCary's [], Cut 'n Paste Extreme [], and GameSpy []. People think Slashdot trolls are bad? Gamer forums are easily 10 times worse.

  • Next on Fox, "When good Geeks Go Bad"

    Funny. You just described slashdot perfectly. Maybe we should petition for a slogan change?
  • by dave-fu ( 86011 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:30AM (#2192039) Homepage Journal
    I'm glad to see that while we're free to rail against the post-Columbine backlash against gaming, we're also free to take findings as out of context as "they" are.
    And when did playing (insert video game of choice here) start turning anyone into a jock? Being able to twitch a joystick to and fro doesn't mean you're not a klutz. It doesn't mean you're a genius, either: where's the control group in this experiment? Do we have children with access to games who choose to not play them, opting instead to ride a bike or play chess or whatever? Are we solely talking about privileged middle-and-upper-class children here with ample leisure time and parents with disposable income?
    All that this survey's really done is proven that "all things in moderation" applies to, you know. All things.
    Easy does it!
  • Well, I beat him away from the traffic lights the other day so he can't be that good.

  • It might be worth pointing out that Jaques Villneuve hasn't won any races since 1997.

  • A NEW STUDY by the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), has determined that intelligent children with good hand-eye coordination and strong powers of concentration are more likely to play video games. "It seems, surprisingly, that these children have a greater level of success playing video games, and thus enjoy them more than the average child," said Dr. Inieda Kluu, the principal investigator in the study. Researchers in the study were also suprised to note that more intelligent children were more likely to attend college and eventually have a high-paying job. "This was totally news to us," said Dr. Klu, "we had always assumed that all children were equally likely to attend college and get good paying jobs. Isn't that what we've been taught since childhood, after all?"

    Among other controversial results of the study, they found that children who played video games regularly were more likely to live in a house with a computer than those who did not, were more likely to have parents with above-average incomes, and were more likely to have parents of above-average intelligence.

    "This temporal-reverse causation from children to their parents is the most astounding aspect of the study," Dr. Klu said. "Who would ever have imagined that children's video game playing could cause increased affluence and intelligence in their parents?"

    Investigators from the study are considering consulting with renowned Cambridge physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking on the possibility of a temporal worm-hole created by video game playing. "We think it's something like what happened at the end of the movie A.I.," Dr. Klu explained, "where they were able to clone that woman, and extract her memories from the fabric of space-time. We think a similar mechanism is at work with video games, only backward: increasing the intelligence of the parents through a reverse space-time-DNA wormhole."

    Dr. Hawking was unavailable for comment.

  • > "The skills they learned on computers seem to > transfer to the real world."

    It's true: only this morning on my way to work I had to blow off a zombie's head with a bazooka, and tomorrow I've got to fly a tie fighter to Dagobah.
  • Damn, I normally don't get in on the free-for-all that is commenting on a Katz article, but for crying out loud, Jon, you didn't tell us anything different from the article that was printed in the Sunday Times []. In fact, you used many of their quotes, without citing their article. Is there another source that both articles took quotes from, or is this a serious citation issue? Or was their maybe a press conference that we were unaware of? The flow of this article is eerily similar to that of the Sunday Times piece.

    I realize that you have a job to do, and articles to write, but please try for something more useful, innovative, insightful... SOMETHING ORIGINAL.

  • Do not look for the results of this study to be reported on your local evening news in the U.S., or on the front page of any newspaper. It will not be there. Those spots are reserved for frantic stories about pedophiles, pornographers and online identity thieves.

    And how do you know that? Have you read my local newspaper? Or watched my local news? I'll apologize for the flame but you are taking one research report and then generalizing all others to say its right. This isn't journalism its sensationalism at its finest.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • ...but I'm doing research on gaming and flow, which seems to me to be what this study is discussing. From what I gather, Flow is very big in the sports psychology field (that's not why I use the concept I stubled upon it from a colegue who uses it in his work) and it is one of the keys to becoming good at most computer games as well. If you are interested you can go here [] to see the two papers I have written on the subject. They are for an academic and non-gaming audience so there is a bit of "This is what a First-Person Shooter is, this is what they look like" kind of hand-holding stuff, but I think that they are pretty good anyway.
  • Internet pr0n has given my right forearm strength equal to that of a world class arm wrestler.
  • See? Now I'm buff from using my mouse []... And my bicepts are ripped from lifting my bawls []. Later on, I'm going to play some Q3 and work on my quads.
  • by Leto2 ( 113578 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @08:32AM (#2192049) Homepage
    Beyond that, gamers are smarter, more likely to go to college, have more friends, read more, and get better-paying jobs than non-gamers.

    So nerds are smarter, have more nerd-friends, read more books like '1984' and 'The hitchhiker's guide' and have a better payed programming job. We already knew that.

    But the real questions are: Can they get girlfriends? Do they have sex?

  • instead of "the meek shall inherit the earth"
    it was supposed to be
    "the geek shall inherit the earth"

    I'll contact Jesus about this ASAP.

  • I'm not one of the usual Katz-bashers on slashdot, but there are some fundamental problems with this article which could have been easily solved by research.

    Number 1, I *did* here about this study on my local news radio station. This is not a geeky radio station in the least. Most of the ads are for retirement homes and hair-replacement treatments.

    Number 2, if you look at the study (or even at any of the half decent articles *about* the study) you will find that this study did not deal with plain old gamers, it surveyed *competetive* gamers in regional and national championships. This makes a HUGE difference. I used to play Magic: The Gathering (ugh... don't even get me started on money wasting) fairly competetively, and there is a very big difference between competetive players and non. The big time players were totally focused, ruthless, and had many enormously complex strategies which they implemented without batting an eye.

    When you add up those two problems, there isn't really much to write about anymore. To give Jon Katz some credit, the local news-radio station didn't mention the fact that they were all cometetive gamers either. This in itself makes spinning the "suppression" of this study as an anti-gamer sentiment even sillier.

    People fear what they do not understand, and there is nothing harder to understand than someone who is really brilliant. It's not that they are richer, or better schooled. They just plain do stuff better, and learn faster. When there is no direct beneficial impact, they public's reaction will usually be fear and loathing. Galileo. Jews in Europe throughout the middle-ages (kept as advisers but publicly shunned). Geeks.

  • The classic example: In summer, more ice cream is sold. Also in summer, crime rates increase. Therefore, according to this logic, either criminals buy lots of ice cream, or eating ice cream causes criminal behaviour. No. In this case, sales and criminal behaviour are a correlation; they are happening at the same time. The causation would be the similar factor: summer. Summer temperature CAUSES people to buy more ice cream, and vacation/lots of tourists/people gone off to the cottege/etc CAUSES more criminal behaviour due to better opportunity.
  • Children have always been the soldiers of tomorrow
    You wouldn't expect the people of the generation causing the conflict to go and die on foriegn soil would you?
  • This is based on 100 gamers at a convention. It is statistcally irrelevent.
    If they found the same number of gamers under the same conditions were emotionally unstable, would the study been given and credence from Katz? probably not.
    Another question, how many gamers do play sports, and socialize? are these the same type of people who would of gamed 15 years ago, before it was cool?
    I'm glad there is somebody doing studies, but I don't hink we should really being using this study to prove any points.
    when they do a study of 10,000 gamers streached across many backgrounds, then we'll start to have something.
  • Lessee, run, run fast, shoot everything that moves, know the terrain. Yep. These lessons mean that I'm in a now in a class of own. 'Course that might also be due to the fact the rest of the league is nursing sucking chest wounds at the moment.

  • that people with naturally better hand-eye coordination, and concentration are better at games, and so they are more enjoyable to them and tend play them more than people that have slow coordination and concentration? Hmmm, ya think?!
  • So, to sum up this threads point:

    Correlation does not define causation!
  • Doesn't that make them 'bad'?

    Will Katz be writing about how gamers with better computer and Quake skillz are bullying the poor soccer & RPG players???
  • "People who play games regularly seem to develop a mental state that we have seen before only in serious athletes or professionals such as astronauts" -- this doesn't mean it turns them into athletes or astronauts. Those professions require a lot more than fast mental reflexes -- things like physical stamina, endurance, and muscular strength which video games most certainly do not encourage.

    Frankly, I'm tired of seeing Katz' columns focus on nothing more than the trailing edge of last week's /. stories []. This column is nothing that wasn't already written in that article's comments. Do your own research, man, it's what you're paid for.

  • Of course, rather ironically, Formula One starts are know done via 'launch control' software, meaning all the driver has to do is put their foot to the floor, and the computer takes care of little things like wheelspin.

  • The First Time: 24 1&mode=thread

    I'll normally defend John to the grave against all the trolls but this crap is just occuring way to often. If you write for a site you should at least read it to not double-post

  • by nihilvt ( 212452 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @09:12AM (#2192111)
    Just because there is a correlation, it doesn't mean one causes the other (eg games make one smarter/more focused). Perhaps more intelligent people are drawn to gaming, rather than gaming honing one's intelligence and concentration. Maybe gamers have an ability to focus, and thus are able to play games. Just because gamers tend to have these skills doesn't mean that gaming creates/strengthens them.
  • My bias stated up front: I very strongly doubt that video games are giving "young Britons a level of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes."

    That said, did this study involve anything resembling real case controls? All I see is "Bryce did her research by visiting computer gamers, often during regional or national competitions around Britain, and giving nearly 100 of them a series of psychological tests and questionnaires. The results were then compared with those of similar tests applied to athletes and other groups."

    It sounds to me like this study is comparing different social classes and deciding that any factors that correlate with gaming must be caused by playing games.

    My favorite part, by the way, is the instance of "doesn't translate well to American" at the end:

    Next page: Dyke builds fortune as property developer

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • why doesn't he let us draw our own conculions

    Help! Help! I'm being oppressed! You're telling me Katz is being obvious! Why not let me draw my own conclusions?

    Oh wait, expressing an opinion (and pointing to a study) doesn't stop me from having my own conclusions. Wow. That's a relief.

  • by boots111 ( 221583 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:27AM (#2192122)
    Unfortunately, you will notice a decided lack of a control group in the study. One might argue that the entire populace is an implicit control group; however, that would only reveal one's ignorance. First and foremost, we should recognize the social class to which these kids most likely belong. Any child who plays video games 18 hours a week probably owns a computer (or at least his family does). Thus his family is most likely to be upper-middle class or higher, socially speaking. While this is not true for every kid there is most like a very strong statistical correlation. Now we should recognize the fact that children of such classes are already fairly likely to go to college and get a better than average job anyway

    Similarly the do not mention any control group for how like situated children, score on the same battery of test. Thus, the finds could have just as easily been summarized as "well off kids found to do better in life" Of course no one wants to hear that...
  • Bryce conducted her research by visiting gamers, usually during regional or national competitions around England, and administering a series of psychological tests and questionnaires to nearly 100 of them. The results were then compared with those from similiar tests of athletes and others.

    I'm a gamer, yet I can barely walk straight. I have no hand-eye coordination, and few athletic skills. But I am a gamer, and not a very good one.

    Her choice of subjects completely screws up the experiment. That's like going to the Olympics, and using data to claim that the average mile can be run in 3 minutes.

    Yeah, average for Olympians, and that's makes up about 5% of society.
    Furthermore, being athletic doesn't make you a jock. Being obsessed with sports and having no intelligence whatsoever makes you a jock. I know a damn well large number of people that could probably be very good at any sport they played, but the don't. Just because certain people have certain traits, doesn't mean they fall into a group of people who often also have the same traits.
  • by canning ( 228134 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:21AM (#2192128) Homepage
    Jacques Villeneuve (Formula One champion) attributes some of his reaction speed and mental quickness to playing video games. He is know as being one of the best starters in Formula One.

    Geeks are fast, strong and pissed off, look out.

    Next on Fox, "When good Geeks Go Bad"

  • At least here (Canada), more affluent kids tend to play a lot LESS games...I've noticed a STRONG correlation when I browse the local garage sales. The better areas of the city tend never to have classic games or consoles for sale, it's all much more expensive goods.

    You figured out that affluent kids tend to play less video games just because there consoles are not for sale at their garage sales ? That constitutes absolutely no evidence at all. Did you consider the possibility that it might be beneath richer families to sell things like Nintendos, and/or that they are more likely to be able to afford having a PS AND a PS2 around ? Did you consider the possibility that maybe they're not selling their PS CDs because they're playing games instead on (more expensive) PCs ?

  • I'm glad to see that while we're free to rail against the post-Columbine backlash against gaming, we're also free to take findings as out of context as "they" are.

    Well said. Katz would certainly rail about any statistic demonstrating correlations between sociopathic behavior and Quake-playing, calling it post-Columbine hysteria, but is happy to trumpet apparent effects videogames might have on good things like concentration.

    When I was in graduate school, I met another grad student who told me that she believed most characteristics were inherited, except for intelligence. I told her that if you think it possible some characteristics are inherited you must be at least open to the possibility all other characteristics are inherited as well, even if this is contrary to what you would hope would be true. Here too: if we want to even so much as entertain the possibility that video games can do good things, then we must be prepared to consider the possibility that they can do bad things - and not dismiss the latter out-of-hand as so many like Katz do.

  • by Blymie ( 231220 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @08:37AM (#2192131)
    This "study" by whomever it was in Britian seems to be flawed. Its the chicken and the egg syndrome as it is many times in these cases, and it seems the researchers are so slow that they don't even catch on to this.

    Are these kids doing better in school then their peers because they play video games, or are the kids just more intelligent, better able to concentrate, and have better dexterity than their peers? Obviously if they are, they _would_ be better at playing video games.

    It doesn't take a genius to realise that if you study 100 kids who enjoy doing math problems, that you will find most of those kids are better at doing math problems. Likewise, if you take 100 kids that love to play video games, and study them, you will find that those kids are better in hand-eye reflexes, concentration and problem solving. Its not because they are playing video games that they get this way, its because they were this way to start off with that they like to play video games.

    What fun is it to play something that you can never win, rarely improve at, and you don't even understand? None! The children that don't play video games are either less intelligent, or unable to manipulate the interface they are using (mouse, joystick, etc) in order to find the game amusing.

    What this study really needed was 1000 random kids from England, and 1000 random kids from a country that is identical in every way to England (including diet, vitamin intake, clean water and good food, good schooling), but have a low or no computer count. This way the study actually has a control group.

    Ever heard of those?

    Its quite obvious that all people are not genetically identical. Some are morons, some have weak bodies or minds. These kids don't. Simple.
  • This Guy [] is a professor on one of the most important brasilian universities and he seems to be radically against the use of computers or video-games by youngsters.

    We're running a discussion on his ideas on's forum about this, and is great to see a scientific report that refutes some of Seltzer's opinions.

  • People who are gamers usually possess a PC. Lower income families often don't possess such a machine and also kids from such families often don't go on to college and well paid jobs. Thus the fact that many gamers go to college may be due to the fact that they are typically from a middle class 'comfortable' background and not due to superior skills acquired from said gaming.
  • Any child who plays video games 18 hours a week probably owns a computer (or at least his family does). Thus his family is most likely to be upper-middle class or higher, socially speaking.

    Ummm, Game Boy Advance: $100. Sony Playstation, $300. The poor family (near poverty) who used to live across the street had a console and more games than I did. Computer games != home computer, and therefore computer games != upper-middle class or higher.

  • Without studies (i.e. "scientific" proof), most people don't want to believe certain things. When the general feeling is that computer games cause problems in kids, and common sense is ignored (or maybe changed), then a study is needed to prove otherwise. I agree that a study is certainly not needed to know this information. But for the general population to swallow it, a study is absolutely necessary.

  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:36AM (#2192139) Homepage Journal
    One 16-year-old boy spent 70 hours a week at his computer...

    At my company that's considered a dedicated employee.

    ...and suffered severe psychological problems.

    Good thing we have a comprehensive mental health plan.

  • ...the article states the bleeding obvious.

    (1) Computer games increase co-ordination and reaction time (practice, practice, practice)

    (2) Gamers tend to be brighter (less intelligent kids tend to just sit in front of the telly)

    (3) Gamers have friends (and witter on about games boring the hell out of the rest of us)

    (4) It's anti-social to do nothing but sit in your room playing games

    Not that earth shattering - unless you're trying to get your mum to buy you a playstation.

    BTW rents are high in Britain, and "Dyke" is Greg Dyke - boss of the BBC.

  • I played a lot of games when I was in school. I still do, actually. Anyway, I can testify (with the benefit of hindsight) that gamers such as myself were much more likely to be jerks than jocks.

    Of course, most jocks were jerks also. The difference was they were more attractive to girls.

  • No, this article is not redundant because we now have the added value of Jon Katz's opinion! :)
  • mental horizon - A term I made up to describe how poor children tend to be unaware that there's a world outside their neighborhood.

    Heh. While I agree with this statement, watch a movie like 'Clueless' some time, and tell me that this doesn't apply even more so to the really affluent :) People in general don't realize just how big and varied the world really is.

  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:39AM (#2192151)
    Any child who plays video games 18 hours a week probably owns a computer (or at least his family does). Thus his family is most likely to be upper-middle class or higher, socially speaking.

    You know, I've seen this comment repeated many times throughout the various /. articles on kids and gaming recently, and I have to disagree. At least here (Canada), more affluent kids tend to play a lot LESS games, as their parents can more readily afford spending the hundreds (and thousands) of dollars necessary these days on things like sports equipment. Poor kids just don't play hockey any more, they can't afford it. Never mind when kids become teenagers, and the 'rich' ones have cars and seemingly unlimited allowances, while the poor ones get stuck with last year's Nintendo and a couple of games, grand total cost maybe $100.

    I've noticed a STRONG correlation when I browse the local garage sales. The better areas of the city tend never to have classic games or consoles for sale, it's all much more expensive goods. The 'poorer' areas all seem to have a Nintendo/Playstation/etc. And it's NOT because they need the money - I've gotten in the habit of asking 'why are you selling this?'. Most common response? 'We just bought the newer version'.

  • I have a friend who is looking to attend the Air Force academy or go through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Illinois. One of the questions that came up during a discussion of piloting skills and reaction times was asked by the Colonel (or whatever rank he was) in charge of the program: "Do you play a lot of computer games?" My friend's answer was ofcourse YES. And the colonel replied "Then you should be fine." I thought it interesting that even the Air Force has taken note of the fact that computer gaming helps concentration and coordination.
  • by krugdm ( 322700 ) <slashdot&ikrug,com> on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:40AM (#2192157) Homepage Journal
    I can attest that all my hours playing Gran Turismo 3 have helped me learn the skills needed to take corners here in town at 90 mph, and if necessary, to use other cars to help me out if I come in too fast!
  • Since everything on the battlefield will most likely be run via remote anyway... Games are basic training for skills they'll eventually need to serve in the remote controlled army of whichever dark overlord has the biggest market cap at the time... We have administration games for tomorrows administrators. Field games or FPS for tomorrows field soldiers. Tactical games for tomorrows officers... It's a "brave" new world!
  • I found it easier to concentrate, program, and the like when I am in season for a sport, not becasue I played quake for three hours straight. I love videogames, but exercise forces one to be alert. Sitting in chair doesn't.
  • There's definitiely a lot uproar in America about how video games affect kids, and, as the article pointed out, "This rational approach to kids and gaming... stands in jarring contrast to the post-Columbine hysteria still prevalent in America, which holds that gaming commonly leads to addictive, anti-social behavior, even sometimes to violence." But, instead of just saying that video games might actually be beneficial, it would have been helpful to see which kinds of video games were correlated with which effects. It would be worthwhile to analyze the results by the type of video game the kids played, and to see if there was a difference between social behavior in kids who played, for example, violent games vs. racing games vs. puzzle games. This would give a great deal of insight into what these findings can be taken to mean.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.