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Games Science

Neuroscience May Cure Videogames Industry's Obsession With Guns 254

An anonymous reader writes "Leading developer Chris Stevens tells Edge magazine that neuroscience researchers will soon find 'non-violent triggers to mimic the rush of pleasure gamers feel when firing guns.' Researchers can now use functional MRI scanners to monitor what is going on in a player's brain and search for more optimistic and non-violent pleasure triggers. 'For decades it's as if developers have been driving a car with no speedometer,' Stevens claims, referring to the reliance on reported emotions rather than empirical measurements in game development. The functional MRI now gives a much more accurate indication of when peaceful triggers light up the brain's pleasure regions, opening up alternative game designs, without crude weaponry. 'I would like to see many more beautiful games like Fez and Limbo,' Stevens says. 'When I was a kid, games were more beautiful and magical and immersed you in fantastical, peaceful and enjoyable landscape.' The functional MRI could make these peaceful titles provably superior — no mean feat in a mass-market games industry currently obsessed with the crude dopamine-triggering effects of simulated weaponry."
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Neuroscience May Cure Videogames Industry's Obsession With Guns

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  • Irony? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:24AM (#40746409)

    Anyone else think there is a subtle irony in the fact the chap that killed 14 people in the Batman movie in america was studying neuroscience.

    This obviously wasn't his thesis.....

  • Lame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JockTroll ( 996521 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:26AM (#40746413)
    A good lot of videogames are not about guns or even about fighting. Those that are about that, unless they're SF or fantasy-based, should strive to have the most realistic experience as digitally possible but there is no substitute for the firing range. And anyway, games are about competition so "peaceful" is a four-letter word here. Take your hippy theories and fire them up your bunghole with an Angry Bird slingshot, loserboy.
  • Re:Lame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @04:20AM (#40746591) Journal

    And anyway, games are about competition

    Not necessarily, unless you include "competition against yourself to have more fun" which you could apply to anything if you stretched it far enough.

  • Re:Lame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vivian ( 156520 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:59AM (#40746961)

    One of the most memorable games from my youth was an RPG called Ultima IV. In the previous games in the series, you just stole all the gold and levelled entire friendly towns for profit, once you got strong enough - no consequences.

    In Ultima IV however all of a sudden there were consequences for mis-deeds. you could still lie, cheat, steal, and lay waste to the friendly citizens, but there were in-game consequences that cost you. Of course a central theme to the game was to become virtuous, but I think more games could do with some of these mechanisms - allow free action still, but make it have consequences.

  • fMRI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @07:11AM (#40747257) Journal

    But what does the SALMON think of violent video games? []

    (The comedic scanning of a *dead* salmon with fMRI, showing that - without careful correction - fMRI can give you data from absolutely nothing. In this case, "...the salmon was shown a series of photographs depicting human individuals in social situations. The salmon was asked to determine what emotion the individual in the photo must have been experiencing...". "Studies" like this - purporting to explain some sort of human behavior - always remind me of this result.)

  • Re:Misread the title (Score:4, Interesting)

    by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:26PM (#40753317) Homepage

    Too late.

    It's called "propaganda".

    I find it interesting to watch the "propaganda" machine in action. When there is a new development that might affect the public mind (say for example the "Occupy" movement in its early days), there seems to be a delay in the response by certain parts of the media. Comments by establishment right wing posters are initially sparse, and coverage in right wing media sources is initially factual and muted. Commentary is initially limited. Then the comments begin to increase, and gradually adopt a common thrust. Right wing postings on discussion boards become more common and usually have a common theme. With the "Occupy" movement, some of the themes were, as I remember, that the protesters were a bunch of hippies, that they should get jobs, that they don't have any demands, or that their demands are unrealistic. The coverage peaks, and then declines over time. By the reduction in coverage, the public gradually subconsciously gets a sense that the phenomenon is declining, that it is finishing. People then turn their attention elsewhere and the message that the movement is finishing becomes a reality.

    Many readers might say, well, that the above descriptions were true. They were hippies. Their demands were unrealistic or didn't exist. They did decline. To which I would ask how you actually developed those opinions? Did you visit the protesters? Did you interview them? Did you actually try to understand their concerns? Did you really get inside their heads and try to comprehend their concerns in a deep way? Because if you didn't, your opinions were largely based on what you saw in the media. Your opinions were largely based on what we might call propaganda. And that propaganda likely originated largely from the minds of "public relations" experts. It was probably, when necessary, vetted with "focus groups", who were likely monitored in detail for their emotional responses to various statements. It was probably reinforced with polls and interviews. And it was very effective.

    I doubt the American Revolution would have taken place if the British had had such all pervasive means of propagandizing the masses.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.