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 (Being in a university setting, with a major in the sciences definitely affects your outlook on life. In this article I take that unique outlook on life and analyze gaming and productivity.)

Time and time again we ask ourselves if we’re wasting our time by playing games. There are literally millions of websites, tweets, blogs, and personal stories of people complaining that games waste their lives. There are also people cheering and writing about how they have ditched games forever and have become more productive as a result. They feel as if they’ve won their life back.

I’d agree that doing anything excessively wastes life, and like wise, gaming in an uncontrollable manner is definitely a waste of time. Think about the person that spends countless hours reading fiction and non fiction, never interacting with the community or friends, and always hold up in their room. Is that person any different then an obsessed gamer? What about the athlete that trains night and day to win the Olympics, sacrificing their friends and social life, just for glory. Is that person any different from an obsessed gamer? Obsession is obsession regardless of the action.

The question here we have to ask ourselves is can a person play games as a hobby or a favorite past time and not waste time. Can they gain some tangible benefit that we can see translated in the real world. Are there any inherent mechanisms of gaming that are found to actualize humans, make us better, and work as an exercise machine for our brain, emotions, morality, or heart?

I’m here to put on my scholarly cap, use the thousands of dollars of scholarly articles I have access to(Thanks to my University), and investigate whether there is or isn’t any productivity in gaming. Do gamers truly waste time doing their favorite hobby or are there positive experiences or lessons that can translate to the real world and can make us better people?

 
Gameification

 

 Example 1

Before we can even look into whether games are a good use of time or not we have to at least establish their ability to influence us. We have to show that games are powerful in some way or another, to be used in positive or negative manners. If we find that games are not powerful and have little affect on us, (kind of like how grass won’t affect how quickly we’ll finish an essay), then we can end the argument here and say gamers are weak, don’t affect us, and make us unproductive.

Most gamers probably won’t fear this threat as they know first hand how powerful games are and how insanely focused they can make people. Even the White House and President Obama are working on ways of harnessing the power of games for good. They look at games like Just Dance as positive examples of exercise using a game mechanic. They want to use that game mechanic to do many things, besides making us exercise more.

Gamefication is a term used by many describing how a person harnesses a games power by incorporating in some way tasks they want done to reinforce actions or messages they want expressed. That’s a slightly technical definition I’ve included so the easiest way to describe it is making games to do things you want done that is positive in some way.

A great example of this was when a team of gamers came together and used a program to solve a problem scientists had trouble solving for years.

“”I worked for two years to make these enzymes better and I couldn’t do it,” says Justin Siegel, a post-doctoral researcher working in biophysics in Baker’s group. “Foldit players were able to make a large jump in structural space and I still don’t fully understand how they did it.””

 

Their work inspired a scientific article in one of the two most powerful scientific journals available; Nature (The other being Science). The full citation of the article is listed here for your benefit:
Cooper, S. , Khatib, F. , Treuille, A. , Barbero, J. , Lee, J. , et al. (2010). Predicting protein structures with a multiplayer online game. Nature, 466(7307), 756-760. 

Foldit, the program they used, allows players to work with proteins and analyze their specific shapes. These molecules are on the brink of science and no one knows how they fold properly; except maybe gamers. It’s quite interesting when you harness the focusing power of gaming, the creativity it brings, the crowd and social aspect, and the puzzle solving all into one small arena for the benefit of science. Clearly gaming flexes its muscles and shows its true power and potential.

Example 2

Games can inspire and teach in ways that are getting educators excited. Rather than lecture and hope the material is learned by the student, now educators are opening their eyes to interactive gaming as a means to a positive end.

A roller coaster themed game is helping inspired teenagers to enter into S.T.E.M disciplines. Each acronym expresses an area of expertise. The S stands for Science, the T for Technology, the E for Engineering, and the M for Mathematics. Without these majors and centers of learning, we literally have no internet, no society, and no hope for the future.

Gamefication of our schools and learning seems to be an important step in getting young people to find their strengths in areas they originally thought they were horrible at. This was one of the more popular topics discussed at the Gamefication conference. The theme could be explained as “School is currently a bad game, lets make it better”.

Social media seemed a fad for a while. Everyone said people would stop discussing it and that it was just something kids did to kill time. Now every corporation puts social media at the heart of its international presence. Likewise, Gameficiation can be a tool every discipline starts using to further their goals, either to enrich their students, inspire their workers, or simply work towards a better future.

I wasn’t kidding about the inspire workers comment btw. In the above linked article from PCWorld, companies find they increase productivity by giving their workers gaming breaks:

“Burbage firmly believes that gaming helps the staff. The most obvious reason: “People need a break. Studies show that if you just sit at your desk all day, productivity goes down and down.” He says that gaming also teaches how to think strategically, several moves ahead, and of course it helps with team building, “And hey, it’s fun,” adds Burbage. “After I go play Halo, I come back and I’m happy and in a good mood.”

Though he can’t attribute the phenomenon entirely to gaming, Burbage says that the company’s culture has helped keep employee turnover at a minuscule 4 percent per year.

That leaves us with just one question: Which department produces the best gamers? Thibodeaux says that his sales department is big into shooters (draw your own conclusions on that one), but all sources seem to agree on one piece of advice: No matter what game you’re playing, never go up against the IT department.”

 

Definitions

In a scholarly article titled: “The Gaming of Policy and the Politics of Gaming: A Review” author Mayer explains some of the basics of gaming and gives us an insight into how it became so powerful:

   
(Cited as: Mayer, I. (2009). The gaming of policy and the politics of gaming: A review. Simulation & Gaming, 40(6), 825-862.)

“Looking back at 40 years of Simulation & Gaming and other sources, it is indisputable that games have proven to be wonderful instruments for experimentation and learning and that gaming has been particularly useful to public policy making and public planning.

Regular readers of Simulation & Gaming know that simulation games can be defined as experi(m)ent(i)al, rule-based, interactive environments, where players learn by taking actions and by experiencing their effects through feedback mechanisms that are deliberately built into and around the game.

Gaming is based on the assumption that the individual and social learning that emerges in the game can be transferred to the world outside the game. This transfer is largely negotiated and not immediate, thereby making a simulation game low in external risks
and giving the players a sense of safety, which is a prerequisite for experimentation and creativity (see also Abt, 1970; Shubik, 1975a, 1975b; Duke, 1974; Duke & Geurts,
2004; Geurts, Duke, & Vermeulen, 2007; Geurts, Joldersma, & Roelofs, 1998; Mayer,
2008; Mayer, Bekebrede, Bilsen, & Zhou, 2009; Mayer & Veeneman, 2002; for the
negotiated effects of games, see also Juul, 2005).”

Games allow experimentation, interactivity, a friendly environment for creativity because of the lack of consequences to your real self, and they offer feedback mechanisms to give  you answers on the fly to all of your decisions.

The Philosophy of Productivity

Another question we want to ask ourselves is if Gaming is a low productive activity, then what should we be doing instead? What higher productive activities are so lofty, that we waste our time in our digital worlds?

Jane McGonigal gives her insights in the following videos:

 
 
Jane makes a good point asking what it is we’re trying to produce. Are we trying to produce more emails, more paperwork, read more, write more? Can gaming be a way of producing more positive emotions, stronger social interactions, making us more confident, and overall making a better real us?
 
 

Jane tackles a really important issue in her second video which is the one of addiction. Games seem to be so addicting or fun because they are so good at gratifying our deepest needs. She mentions seeing the results of our actions immediately as an example, or the ability to play a hero. The social aspect is also very appealing because humans are social beings. One reason why we hate prison is because it stops us from freely interacting with other humans in the world. Jane also mentions the ability to quickly see ourselves progress and get stronger. This makes us feel more satisfied with ourselves and more accomplished. She classifies it as a sense of “Mastery”.

Not all video games are perfect

This last part is a cautionary tale to explain that not every video game you play is going to benefit you. One of the most hotly contested issues in gaming, that requires its own article, is the question of whether video games desensitize you to violence or make you more violent in general.

We’ve learned that video games are powerful mechanics that can help us learn better, make a better world, and make us more creative. But we also need to remember that video games can have negative influences on us as well.

Doing my research when it came to violence, I found a large preponderance of the data supported the fact that video games do indeed desensitize humans to real world violence. Some of the most telling studies of this effect were:

1. Nicholas L. Carnagey, Craig A. Anderson, Brad J. Bushman
The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 43, Issue 3, May 2007, Pages 489–496
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2006.05.003

“The present experiment demonstrates that violent video game exposure can cause desensitization to real-life violence. In this experiment, violent game players were less physiologically aroused by real-life violence than were nonviolent game players. It appears that individuals who play violent video games habituate or “get used to” all the violence and eventually become physiologically numb to it.”

2. Christopher R. Engelhardt, Bruce D. Bartholow, Geoffrey T. Kerr, Brad J. Bushman
    This is your brain on violent video games: Neural desensitization to violence predicts increased aggression following violent video game exposure
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 47, Issue 5, September 2011, Pages 1033–1036
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.027

 “The fact that video game exposure did not affect the P3 amplitudes of high-exposure participants is interesting, and suggests a number of possibilities. First, it could be that these individuals are already so desensitized that an acute exposure to violent media was insufficient to bring about further changes in their neural responses to violence (i.e., a floor effect). Second, it could be that some unmeasured factor causes both an affinity for violent media and a reduced P3 response to violent imagery in violent gamers. In either case, the fact that playing a violent video game increased aggression for both low- and high-exposure participants, but the P3 response to violence was reduced for high-exposure participants regardless of the game they played, suggests that additional mechanisms not measured here are important to consider. Future research should continue to investigate mediators of media violence effects on aggressive behavior, especially among individuals who are habitually exposed to violent media.
 

In summary, the present research is the first to demonstrate that acute desensitization to violence can account for the causal effect of violent video game exposure on aggression. In short, these data indicate that a brain on media violence provides one important pathway for increased aggression.”

3. Douglas A Gentile, Paul J Lynch, Jennifer Ruh Linder, David A Walsh

The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance
Journal of Adolescence, Volume 27, Issue 1, February 2004, Pages 5–22
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2003.10.002

“It was hypothesized that exposure to video game violence would be positively related to aggressive behaviors, such as arguments with teachers and physical fights. This hypothesis was confirmed. Students who play more violent video games are more likely to have been involved in physical fights and get into arguments with teachers more frequently. The relation between violent video game exposure and physical fights is stronger than that between violent game exposure and arguments with teachers. There are several possible reasons for this, including (1) arguing is less aggressive than fighting, (2) the target of arguing is an authority figure, rather than peers, and (3) there is very little arguing modelled in violent video games whereas there is a great deal of physical aggression modelled in violent games.

That youth who are more hostile also play more violent video games raises questions of causality. Are young adolescents more hostile and aggressive because they expose themselves to media violence, or do previously hostile adolescents prefer violent media? Due to the correlational nature of this study, we cannot answer this question directly. Some studies have suggested that there is a bidirectional relationship (see Donnerstein, Slaby, and Eron (1994) for a review). GAM predicts a bidirectional effect, in which personological variables such as hostility affect media habits, which in turn reinforce and can modify the personological variables. Huesmann and colleagues (Lefkowitz, Eron, Walder, & Huesmann, 1972) have shown in long-term longitudinal studies that early media violence consumption habits predict later aggressive behaviors, but that early aggressive behaviors do not predict later media violence consumption habits. In the present research, video game violence exposure was a significant predictor of physical fights, even when sex, trait hostility, and weekly amount of video game play were statistically controlled. Clearly, hostility is not the whole story. If it were, then we would expect that children with the lowest hostility scores would not get into physical fights regardless of their video game habits. Following this logic, we would also expect that children with the highest hostility scores would get into physical fights regardless of their video game habits. Yet, low-hostile students who have the highest exposure to violent video games are more likely to have been involved in fights than high-hostile students who have the lowest exposure to violent video games (38% compared to 28%, respectively).”

4. Fraser, A. , Padilla-Walker, L. , Coyne, S. , Nelson, L. , & Stockdale, L. (2012).
Associations between violent video gaming, empathic concern, and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends, and family members. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 41(5), 636-649.

“As mentioned, violent video gaming has been linked to lower empathic concern and prosocial behavior separately (Anderson et al. 2010), but these studies have not taken into account the relationship between empathic concern and prosocial behavior. Thus, the current findings extend existing research by suggesting that violent video gaming is not only linked to prosocial behavior and lower levels of empathic concern, but also linked to prosocial behavior through lower levels of empathic concern. Theoretically, this provides support for the GAM (Bushman and Anderson 2009), showing that during emerging adulthood in particular, the arousal brought on by media violence may gradually influence the internal state or personality of the player, which is then associated with decreases in helping behavior. Again, we would note that associations were not particularly strong, nevertheless they were statistically significant. It is also important to note that the cross-sectional nature of the current study precludes causal inferences; but given past experimental research suggesting causal relationships between violent video gaming and reductions in both empathic concern and prosocial behavior, future research should continue to examine empathic concern as a mediator between violent video gaming and prosocial behavior.”

 

“Despite the limitations mentioned, this study highlights the associations between violent video gaming and prosocial outcomes during emerging adulthood. Our findings add to the extant research by further exploring the associations between violent video gaming and prosocial behavior, specifically by highlighting one mechanism (decreased empathic concern) through which this process might function. Emerging adulthood is a highly exploratory time, when identities are formulated and relationships are redefined (Arnett 2004). Although it seems that many emerging adults greatly enjoy playing violent video games, playing may be associated with negative consequences not only on strangers but also within close relationships. Thus, the current study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that the target of the prosocial behavior is important to consider, and highlights violent video gaming as one potential socialization influence that might impact prosocial behavior differentially as a function of the target. “

As an academic I looked at the preponderance of evidence and even spent extra time looking for articles to support the opposite side that violent video games do not desensitize us. The fact remains though that there is little literature that supports that.

Games aren’t perfect and they have their downsides too. If you were to watch a person in real life being murdered slowly, a thousand times, it would affect you negatively.

It’s only common sense that watching the same movie or same story over and over again bores us. In the same way, exposure to violence, especially at a young age when we’re more impressionable, seems to desensitize us. Gamers should keep this in mind and realize not all games or all experiences are good for us.

Final Thoughts

We’ve found games to be powerful, thought provoking, creative, and essential in some ways to our future. We’ve also tempered our hope with a bit of reality showing that there are darker sides to gaming as there are with anything.

But to say that all gaming is unproductive and to ignore the boundless opportunities gaming offers to the world; ignoring all the positive results that have come about, is reckless.

That type of negativity is defeatist. Nothing in this world is perfect. Even if gaming may have its worries with addiction and violence, it also shares those same imperfections as other hobbies. There are no perfect choices out there or perfect hobbies.

Even gardening, a seemingly mundane task, if taking to an extreme, has a negative impact on a person. Improper gardening is what lead us to the drug war, where plants became a way to make money, create a black market, and ruin the lives of millions of individuals.

But do we tell people to stop gardening? No. Of course not. Without gardening there wouldn’t be life. Similarly, gaming has its benefits and pitfalls and the objective of an unbiased human should be to take the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.

Like everything else in life, gaming can have wondrous beauty, amazing creativity, and lead to worlds never imagined. We need to cultivate the best part of gaming while limiting the darker sides.

But to say that all gaming is unproductive flies in the face of the facts. Gaming nurtures our souls. As long as we feed it positive energy, it will work to uplift us. It, like electricity, social media, and the internet, can uplift us in ways we never imagined, if we only grasp its hand.

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  • Kelsey Miller
    November 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I remember how I impressed my 8th grade English teacher by defining “apothecary” for the class when we came across it in Romeo and Juliet. She wanted to know how I knew it, so I had to explain that I was an avid Morrowind player (thank you, Elder Scrolls).

    The freedom of simulation offers so much room for creativity and learning, just as you said. It has so many applications!

    Just to further discuss the violence aspects, I believe even images of violence or perversity have use in education if used properly. We revile the Nazi’s due to the barrage of images of WW II and the Holocaust. The issue here lies with reinforcing proper lessons with these images. What if kids don’t have parents or role-models who can discuss such images with them or guide them through it at anytime? Yes, the effects will be negative; no average twelve-year-old should be alone in the living room playing GTA.
    Yet, as we get older, these images become more common-fold in our daily lives: we watch the news, listen to the radio, see R-rated movies. And as with anything, I think proper education in youth can help us to handle and respond to these images well.


  • Sean
    November 4, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I’m a firm believer that violent people play violent video games. I also don’t particularly believe that desensitization in this context breeds real-world violence.

    Generally speaking, gamer’s don’t put themselves too far into a video game world. The concept of immersion is fragile and quite subject to being reversed.

    For most games, the wanton violence serves as a barrier to immersion. Unless you live in a particularly violent part of the country or the world, you will inherently see a disconnect between what you do in games and what you do in real life. There will always be that barrier telling you that what you are doing doesn’t reflect reality.

    Look back at some of the most immersive games produced this generation; Journey, Dear Esther, STALKER: Call of Pripyat, Limbo, and others. What do they have in common?

    In each case, violence is at a minimum and, when it appears, is presented as a logical part of the game world and justified by the fiction itself. There are no rapidly respawning enemies or vast hordes to deal with in the shooter Call of Pripyat for instance; most violence can be avoided or mitigated.

    In my estimation (and no I have performed no experiments and read no articles to justify my position) the types of violence performed in many of the most popular and oft-cited games actually serves to prevent gamers from acting them out in real life (assuming of course that these gamers are sane). It does this because it serves to telegraph to the player that what they’re doing does not reflect reality.

    Does it desensitize them to violence? Probably and, assuming those papers’ methods of investigation are sound, it does. However I believe this idea serves to prove my point. If wanton violence is perceived to be unreal, reactions to real world violence are likely to be diminished.


    • Sean
      November 4, 2012 at 2:48 am

      Of course, it should be mentioned that the majority of the human population is prone to violence. Aversion to it is taught from the moment it matters, but the fact remains that violent impulses are part of being human.


      • November 4, 2012 at 10:40 am

        I think we’re a mixture of good and bad.

        What we choose is what makes us who we are.

        If we choose good, we become good. If we choose evil we become that. Plus there are many millions of shades of gray in between.

        But ultimately, we have the potential for both, and what we choose makes us who we are.


        • Sean
          November 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm

          I’m not really talking about good and bad, righteousness and evil.

          I’m talking about children that hit each other in kindergarten despite having never seen violence first hand.

          Violence, to use a literary term, is part of the human condition. It’s not taught to us, it’s not conditioned into us, it’s a natural part of being human.

          Just as children will hit each other on the playground, so do teachers reprimand and immediately dissuade said children from doing it again.

          An aversion to committing violence IS taught in most cases (though there are plenty of examples of passive children).

          However a fundamental response to violence, especially gory violence, is also part of being human. It’s a response to something that shouldn’t be. An intestine shouldn’t be on the ground, a leg shouldn’t be separated from the body, an eyeball shouldn’t be hanging out.

          Also, why did I get downvoted? Seriously, what the heck did I say? Do people here downvote because they disagree with someone?

          Because I thought that was only for when someone was being officious.


          • Daniel Flatt
            November 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm

            This is a 100% correct and is a brilliant summation and addition to my comment on this topic as far as violence and video games goes.


          • Kelsey Miller
            November 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

            I also agree with this view of violence being an inextricable part of animal nature in general, and as we are technically animals, voila.

            It’s just to have a really swell society with swell citizens…I see potential for such conditioning, and downsides to throwing images around. I’m not saying everyone reacts to them poorly, or that no one would grow up to commit murder if we had better censorship. Really, I’m a censorship hater.

            But (as something of a response to D.Flatt) we are a race that learns from emulation. We see images of models in magazines and believe that is what we ought to look like, to the point of taking on severely unhealthy life styles that frequently result in death. Even when those images are clearly unrealistic, with all their airbrushing and stretching of limbs and figure, some part of us believes in it enough to still try for it.

            It’s perhaps not a perfectly correlative example, but I think it’s similar on some level.


          • Sean
            November 4, 2012 at 10:56 pm

            There’s something to be said for the idea of emulation for sure. I learned how to punch properly by watching movies and my Krav Maga couch was impressed by how quickly I caught on as a result.

            However there is a difference between learning how to do something and gaining the motivation to do something.

            I bet you that the average shooter player knows basically how to reload a gun just by watching their character do it in their game of choice but I don’t believe that the knowledge they gain by playing these games translates to acts of aggression in most cases.

            Because of how unrealistic even the most realistic shooter is in regards to violence there is, in my opinion, a disconnect between what a player does in a game and what they do in real life.

            As a result I don’t really think the airbrushing thing applies. These women, though intellectually unrealistic in the sense that they were born beautiful or modified their bodies to reach that level, are never the less real people.

            A more direct comparison would be Lara Croft in Playboy Magazine. Why? Because there is a disconnect between what Lara has “achieved” and real life. A girl playing a Tomb Raider or Soul Caliber game will see a disconnect between the characters on screen and their own personal experiences. They aren’t going to try and emulate the physical attributes of these characters because they are noticeably unrealistic.

            One final point: very few games attempt to emulate situations that the average civilian gamer is actually likely to encounter. There are very few, if any, domestic abuse simulators or crime of passion recreations. What you have are military simulators, hack and slash games, fighting games, assassination games, and games that in nearly all respects will always fall outside the purview of the average civilian gamer’s experiences.

            In the case of games that actually do simulate likely scenarios, these games are invariably vilified. Look at a game like RapeLay, which takes a violence-based sex act and simulates it. No one in their right mind would actually advocate playing this game because it recreates a likely act of violence.

            So think about the sorts of activities gamers experience when they play violent games. Are they things they would ever encounter in a likely scenario? Are they reprehensible acts of evil such as school shootings, triple homicides, and domestic violence cases?

            Or are they military scenarios, apocalyptic scenarios, and tournament scenarios?

            For an emulate-able situation to have applicability it must stand up to a realistic comparison. Girl gamers, to use a disliked term for expediency, don’t attempt to emulate women from Soul Caliber because they can’t make a direct comparison between them and reality.

            Likewise shooter gamers don’t try to emulate the actions they perform in game because they can’t make a direct comparison between it and reality.

            Sure if we ever reached a point where murdering your wife and children then committing suicide was an accepted activity for enjoyment in a game we could revisit this topic and likely come to different conclusions.

            Until then, what we have are violent acts that most gamers aren’t going to experience and won’t emulate because they can’t make a direct comparison.


          • November 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm

            Yes, I believe people downvote when they disagree.


          • Sean
            November 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm

            @Robert,

            I may be alone in this but i tend to believe the downvote button should be used only when what someone says is offensive. I don’t really know why, because I upvote people I agree with (and some that I don’t but that did a good job presenting an argument) but maybe it’s a holdover from youtube and other sites where excessive downvoting hides a post.

            Whatever, I just prefer people that disagree with me to come out and say it rather than rely on an anonymous voting system.


          • November 5, 2012 at 7:18 am

            This is something we can look into changing. Currently user’s comments are only effected if there’s several downvotes.


          • Craig Reynolds
            November 5, 2012 at 8:46 am

            I think you’re right. Because the up-vote button on YouTube/gaming sites is generally seen as the quick way to say “I approve/agree with you”, the down-vote button is seen as the quick way to say “I disapprove/disagree” by association. Also, you have to bear in mind that there are some people that, ahem, ‘struggle’ to present their argument (i.e. they may not have one – they just don’t like what you’ve said), and so they take advantage of the anonymity such systems offer.

            Even when offence-based systems are implemented, they can still be used in the same way unfortunately, as offence is entirely subject to personal interpretation. However, as Rob says, we’ll take a look at it 🙂


  • November 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I would definitely recommend reading the papers and looking through the methods.

    All the papers prove desensitization by taking two groups having them play games of violence or play regular games, then showing them violent images.

    The players that played in violent games, shows less of a response after seeing violent images, which was measured by looking at neural output, skin moisture, heart rate, and a number of other metrics which all trended lower than in kids that played happy games.

    So I think if you read all 4 papers, you will see they all thoroughly prove desensitization, the key is does that desensitization lead to anything.

    2 of the papers suggest desensitization has strong associations with players of violent games leading to lower scores in school, with control groups of course to show it was the games.

    So yea, I’d recommend reading it, don’t take my word for it, because those papers shocked me and changed my mind.

    Originally I set out to prove Violence does not affect kids in games, but I found the evidence pointed 180 degrees the other way. So i changed my opinion given the information I read, all in peer reviewed journals.

    Thanks for the thoughts btw Kelsey I really agree that these images might be better affected if a parent were there to explain to their kids right and wrong, and the fictionalization of it all.

    Parents need to have more of a role in these matters and Kelsey makes a strong point that I should have mentioned in my article. Awesome job! 🙂

    Thanks for the great insights Sean and Kelsey! Keep up the comments, I always look forward to reading them!


    • Daniel Flatt
      November 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      I strongly disagree that violence in video games has any real effect to children or adults that have a sense of what’s real and a underlying set of morals. Of cousre the same would be true for violent music, TV, movies, and even the news (where it’s ok to show the brains of a evil man’s sons blown all over the place).

      Really I don’t even know that violence within games truly desynthesizes someone to real world violence. Like Sean said, most of it is so utterly ridiculous that for those of us who are sane it’s completely unrealistic. Even ultra violent and realistic video games don’t really show violence in a real sense whenever a reset is a click a way and the people you are killing are nothing more than numbers in a program.

      I would consider myself pretty steeped in violence, both video games and every other media, from an early age. Kung Fu movies, violent modern TV where seeing someone decapitated is normal night time TV, rap music bragging about cappin’ someone, and video games like God of War where it isn’t unheard of to see Kratos tear people apart in unique and gruesome ways.

      Yet, if I were to see someone murdered before me in a visceral manner I’m pretty sure I would vomit my guts up. I’ve seen someone getting the hell beat out of them in real life (even someone who deserves it) and it has bothered me deeply and indeed viewing blood and seeing various wounds makes me feel a bit ill whenever it isn’t in a digital world or removed through a filter of unrealism.

      If a person has a moral ground to stand on to begin with, and the sense of sanity to tell real life from fiction, then I don’t believe that violence within fictional media can clearly affect you.

      In cases where none of the above is true of course playing video games filled with virtual murder would affect them, then again so would just about anything else in this world.


  • bleachorange
    November 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Look, folks. If the parents are doing their jobs, this is moot. Kids are more affected by real people and how they act than any form of media.

    That said, violent MEDIA desensitizes, some more than others. A picture is more violent than a paragraph, a video more violent than a picture, and an interactive movie (game) more violent than a video if they all depict the same violent action. Correlation and causation are not the same thing as far as violent actions go. If you exercise frequently, your heart rate is lower during physical activity than if you exercise rarely.

    Every person is different. This should all be taken on a case by case basis, something I feel that society has yet to learn on a great many fronts. the endless human need to categorize and organize gets in the way.


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