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Games Science

New Study Fails To Show That Violent Video Games Diminish Prosocial Behavior 113

trawg writes "A new Australian study on the effect of violent video games on Australia has just been published, failing to find any evidence that playing video games affects prosocial behavior. The study compared groups who played different types of games, including notably violent titles like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, as well as non-violent titles like Portal, comparing their behavioral response through a simple pen-drop experiment. In a follow-up interview, the researcher said his perspective on how violence might affect people has changed since he started the research: 'I've played video games for most of my life and got into this research because I couldn't believe that violent video games could make me do something I didn't want to do, that is, be aggressive. My attitude has changed somewhat. These days I find it totally plausible that violent video games could influence people's behavior, but the real question is whether their influence is harmful, and I'm not yet convinced of that.'"
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New Study Fails To Show That Violent Video Games Diminish Prosocial Behavior

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  • by oxnyx ( 653869 ) <coral.courtney@gmai l . c om> on Friday July 05, 2013 @11:29AM (#44194967)
    Having recently finished as BA in history I feel it safe to say people are violent creatures. You can read about the Ancient Greek's Gymnasium, Roman Gladiators, Europe Divine Right Trials - who won the duel won the law case b/c God won't let the wrong person win, the range of piting animal v's animal fights, the military as the solution when talks break down and a host of belief around pain removing sin. Let face it the only thing violent video games allow is people who aren't very good not to get scared up physically while learning. Possible less people die too.
  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Friday July 05, 2013 @11:38AM (#44195051)

    before video games kids played cowboys and indians. we learned at an early age to kill off the idiots trying to kick us off their land

    Actually, playing cowboys and indians is different because in the end you know you are play acting. TV and video games affect different parts of the brain than play acting. Nobody goes to a broadway play and becomes emotionally attached to the characters portrayed. But how many people see characters from their favorite TV show and cannot separate them from the actor playing the part? People form emotional attachments with the characters portrayed in media endeavors. That doesn't happen with the characters portrayed in our back yards. Somehow our brains know that it is still johnny or suzie. It also doesn't happen with Broadway and other stage plays. It is a phenomenom related to electronic media and film.

    Whether such media makes one more prone to violent acts or not is yet to be determined. On the other hand, prior to the rise of easy access porn, sexual behaviour was a lot different. So, the question is if watching sexual activity influences our own ideas and mores about sexual practices, is it that far of a stretch to expect that it does likewise to other mores and values including violence?

  • by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Friday July 05, 2013 @11:57AM (#44195237) Homepage Journal
    First of all, of course people do get emotionally attached to the characters in live plays. However, I don't know why you've singled out emotional attachment to characters as the important phenomenon.

    In terms of the "different parts of the brain" engaged by play acting, its quite the opposite with respect to some of the relevant brain systems. One important aspect of how the brain understands what we are seeing is by simulation. For example, motor neurons that control action will fire when they observe the corresponding being performed by someone else (see mirror neurons []). This is what makes watching action a very real kind of practice for the brain. Our brains understand what we are seeing by pretending to do it on some level. In contrast to your argument, these simulation systems are more engaged the more veridical an observation is -- for example, engagement is more robust watching live action compared to a video of the same action. That fact may actually insulate us from some of the effects of video games... until they get more and more realistic. For example, I'd like to see a comparison of the effects of a violent video game played in 3D to one played in 2D.
  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday July 05, 2013 @12:13PM (#44195419)

    there is some, but mostly kids at 18 are still dumb

    i went to basic training in 1992 and lots of people thought learning how to shoot and kill people was cool, me included. same with lots of infantry guys i knew. most of them were normal family people except when they got orders to go to war. then they went to shoot people because the orders said to. they came back to their wives and kids afterwards.

    i knew a few people who fought in Panama and Kuwait in 1990, killed people and were normal people afterwards. and they would do it again. the screwed up ones are mostly the ones who came very close to death themselves in a firefight or had to kill someone at very close quarters where it was personal

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