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Video Game Study: Desensitization Leads To Aggression

We've all seen a variety of video game studies before, but the latest provides the psychology community and the gaming industry with a little something new.

In a recent study conducted by Bruce Bartholow, associate producer of psychology in the Missouri College of Arts and Sciences, it seems they located a link between desensitization and an inclination to aggression and violent behavior. As Bartholow states at the start of the summary:

"Many researchers have believed that becoming desensitized to violence leads to increased human aggression. Until our study, however, this causal association had never been demonstrated experimentally."

The study had 70 young adult participants between the ages of 18 and 22 randomly assigned to play either a violent or non-violent video game for 25 minutes. After, researchers tested brain responses when the participants viewed a series of photographs, which ranged from a man riding a bike to a man holding a gun in the mouth of another man. Lastly, participants competed against an opponent in a task that allowed them to punish their opponent with a controllable blast of loud noise. The level of noise participants chose was the gauge of aggression.

Those who played a violent game (Killzone, Grand Theft Auto, Hitman, and Call of Duty were used) set louder noise blasts during the competitive task (indicating more aggression), while those who played a non-violent game weren't as punishing. Furthermore, for those who weren't used to playing violent video games, researchers found reduced brain response to the violent photos, a clear indicator of desensitization. And the less the response to violence, the more likely they were to be extra aggressive. Said Bartholow:

"The fact that video game exposure did not affect the brain activity of participants who already had been highly exposed to violent games is interesting and suggests a number of possibilities. It could be that those individuals are already so desensitized to violence from habitually playing violent video games that an additional exposure in the lab has very little effect on their brain responses. There also could be an unmeasured factor that causes both a preference for violent video games and a smaller brain response to violence. In either case, there are additional measures to consider."

Bartholow's recommendation is that we should find a way to moderate the effects of such media violence, "especially among individuals who are habitually exposed." One of the more frightening statistics cited was one that said the average elementary school child spends 40 hours a week playing video games. ...that sounds questionable from our end, but maybe we'll talk to Bartholow about that. Finished the lead researcher:

"More than any other media, these video games encourage active participation in violence. From a psychological perspective, video games are excellent teaching tools because they reward players for engaging in certain types of behavior. Unfortunately, in many popular video games, the behavior is violence."

Tags: video games, gaming industry, violent games, game study

5/26/2011 3:28:06 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (104 posts)

Dridion
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:46:20 PM
Reply

Oh God, here we go again!

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:56:33 PM

Its all crap anyway!

I have been playing very violent games since the first wolfenstein, doom, heretic etc. and I still cringe when I look at disgusting photos. I don't like horror movies. and yeah if you put me in that noise punishment thing, i would sit there and blast the crap out of the other guy, but thats because its funny, because I can do it, and have no consequences. Just like in a game! I know that in a game, I can blow someones face off, and nothing would happen, because its only a game.

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Jdogtoocool
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 11:31:48 AM

@Akuma07
Good point I'd also blast the crap out of the other guy lol but seriously all of this studies are very interesting and all but the only way they'll ever really be taking completely seriously and feel validated will be whenever they make a solid solid error proof finding.

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maxpontiac
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:50:32 PM
Reply

Fact 1:

When it comes to children and video games, it's up the parents to guide their children.

Fact 2:

No matter what steps are taken to ensure that a child makes good decisions, it all comes down to the individual child to make a good choice.

These studies, while educational, are generally worthless due their ignoring of these two facts.

Last edited by maxpontiac on 5/26/2011 3:53:55 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:55:02 PM

Ever notice that the more uneducated/poorer the person the more fast food and videogames they tend to play?


I understand it's the parent's responsibility but unfortunately too many parents are complete morons incapable of correctly raising their children.

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:55:18 PM

If the study followed the guidelines of a good statistical analysis then the finds and the study are not worthless, but from the information given it can't be determined if this study holds enough water to get behind.

I will say this though, whether or not this is a good study holds little to no relevance to the media that will undoubtedly tout this as irrefutable proof that video games are making our children violent little socio-paths bent on the destruction of civilised society as we know it.

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maxpontiac
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:02:49 PM

Vertigo -

I honestly believe with some parents, it comes down to them not caring.

Coverton -

You make an excellent point about the medias willingness to use this as mudslinging, but I am not sold on the validity of this study.

To me, it's just another case of "finding something to blame" instead of having accountability. People need to be responsible for their decisions, and the entities that run studies such as this need to realize that it's not someones/somethings fault.

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:09:50 PM

Max -
Oh by no means am I sold on the validity either. I need to know more of the information before I am willing to say that the results hold any validity at all, and the small amount of participants has me hesitant that I would be satisfied with the rest of the information that could be given.

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Doppel
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:38:46 PM

@LimitedVertigo

"Ever notice that the more uneducated/poorer the person the more fast food and videogames they tend to play?"

You play with Fast Food?

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:02:23 PM

Limited vertigo,

Poverty has nothing to do with video games. What you just said doesn't even make sense, if someone is poor, how CAN they play more games? they wouldnt even have the money to buy new ones.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:11:09 PM

Akuma, slight correction, he didn't say poor, he said "poorer". That being said, I highly doubt he was speaking about homeless people.

Go into a "poor" persons house, and they still have nice things.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 7:10:29 PM

Akuma07,

What Nightmar said.

Just because you're poor doesn't mean you're living under a bridge.

@Doppel

Yes, with your mom's sweaty knuckles.

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Chelsea United
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 7:13:01 PM

Akuma the way Vertigo said it sounded like he meant people that act like scum, you know those people that live in a fairly nice house but treat it like a pigsty? And, I'm just generalizing here, but that type either has no kids or 234213454123542435345 of them. You know people like that, you get my point.

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Jdogtoocool
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 12:01:15 PM

@pontiac
Well aside from playing with fast food and sweaty mothers knuckles I completely agree with you. I've alway known that parents need to take care of their children while gaming and that the ESRB labels are there for a reason. both are great points you make

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robinhood2010
Sunday, May 29, 2011 @ 10:06:53 AM

Good points everyone.

But this study was on adults, not children.

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:51:38 PM
Reply

Few things that I don't like about this study, first 70 participants is a small sample size; second was this a random sample of a large population or were the participants all males; third what's the SD of the aggression frequency; fourth were the findings statistically significant and to what level?

I'm sure that there is a good amount of validity to these finding but I want to read the report on the findings before I get behind it whole-heartedly.

I have no doubt that there is a correlation between desensitisation and violence but I want to know how strong of one.

Do you know if there is a link to the findings report, Ben?

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:56:24 PM

Damn covert, I'm impressed. Always enjoyed your presence here now you're coming off all smartsy :)

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:58:54 PM

You're making me blush.

Really, I'm not smart outside of things to do with psychology and whatnot though. It's just a field that has interested me since I was a child and had my first EZ-Bake-Psychiatry-Couch.

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Lotusflow3r
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:00:36 PM

Plus everyone is an individual. Surveys and tests in this area, never make sense.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:01:03 PM

I actually have the full study in PDF form; I asked that they send it to me.

I'm not quite sure if it's for public use, though...

At any rate, I plan to talk to Bruce Bartholow about this subject at some point.

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:05:43 PM

Ben, if it turns out to be public acceptable I would like a copy if at all possible.

Lotus: Yes, everyone is an individual, but if you take enough cross sections i.e. samples of a wide enough population then you can predict the behaviour of the general public. Does that mean that everyone will fit the mold? No, but it does mean that you have a large confidence that at least 68% of people will fall into a certain range of behaviour when you take an individual from the same population that the sample was take from and the study was conducted on. This doesn't seem to be a survey but a scientific study, but not one I am willing to commit to believing without first knowing all the factors

Last edited by coverton341 on 5/26/2011 4:08:29 PM

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:05:46 PM

Its like grabbing 5 guys off the street, giving them each a beer, then giving them each a glass of wine, and ask them "Which did you enjoy more?"

If the results were 3 said beer, 2 said wine. They would publish some report saying "Studies have proven that men like beer more than wine"

Its a total crock. There isn't and never will be any REAL evidence that violent games cause violent tendencies. Because there is only a few things that cause violent tendencies, war, and bad parenting.

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:51:35 PM

Akuma,
I agree with the first part of your statement, and I don't know if I can agree with the second half because there never has been an accurate study, to the best of my knowledge, properly studying the effect of violent video games on violent tendencies.

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Simcoe
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 10:16:13 PM

I really hate when studies are released via press-release.

Coverton has the right idea and is asking all the right questions, questions that should easily be found in the methodology of this paper.

I'm really hoping that this study will be showing up in a peer-reviewed journal. Ben does your source say anything about which journal the article will be published in, along with a doi (digital object identifier) string?

If this study is found in a scientific journal, I'd have little doubt on it's validity as psychology and human behaviour are not my areas of expertise. Also, it's always easy to find fault with sample size, but scientists have to balance time and funding with other commitments. As this seems to be the first actual scientific study on the subject, I'd say it's a good start.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:53:27 PM

Ugh...please don't turn this into N4G.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:02:05 PM

LV, it'll be a cold day in heck before this place is allowed to turn into N4G.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:52:52 PM
Reply

I see their point. I think it comes down to the maturity of the gamer. Children should not be playing games like GTA or DeadSpace.

I don't see anything wrong with a mature adult playing any type of game out there (even Rapelay) but I do have a problem with parent's allowing their children to engage in adult content.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:03:05 PM

1. There should be parent licensing. If you do not qualify, you may not have a child. If you have a child anyways, your child is taken away from you.
2. That 40 hour a week stat (if correct) is very sad. However, I can believe it. The TV is the modern day babysitter. Now more than ever, both parents have to work. Most parents can’t afford daycare, so they tell the kid to stay home, don’t leave the house. Well, that kid is going to watch TV at home, and if he/she likes games, he will play games for several hours until mom and dad get home.

It is sad to look at the average kid these days. Overweight and very disrespectful to authority. They have no moral compass, and sadly show no respect to their elders. How did we get to this point? Look no further than the parents.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:09:05 PM

Oh, meant this to reply to MaxPontiac, oh well Limited, you'll do... =)

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main_event05
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:10:26 PM

Right. The way I see it, by the time some on 18 or so they most likely are who they will be, morally at least. In my opinion, almost nothing short of a brainwash can change that.

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:08:00 PM

If this study was performed on young adults, then I dont see any problem here. By adulthood, someone should have already developed the tendencies and personality traits that make who they are. Playing a violent game shouldn't affect them, unless it already has in their younger years.

And @ MyWorstNightmare
Yes, it is like this all over the world, these days kids are very disrespectful, and it is getting worse every year. But it is NOT linked to video games, it is because parents are getting worse themselves. When you see those overweight disrespectful kids, i ALWAYS see an even more overweight, even more disrespectful parent with them.

Last edited by Akuma07 on 5/26/2011 6:10:04 PM

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:13:42 PM

Akuma, truth!

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 7:11:38 PM

Nightmar you don't just reply to me? I'm hurt.

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BikerSaint
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 1:06:37 AM

I was in Gamestop yesterday & what I witnessed was a WTF moment & actually quite sad....

I was the only customer in the store when a little kid who looked to be no older than 5 or 6 dragged his young mom by her arm into the store.
He then ran over to the 360 games & yelled to him mom that he wanted "this game".

Well "this game" was a used COD MW2, and after him mom saw that high price, she said, "I'm not getting you this cause it's too much money".

Well, the kid suddenly screaming over & over again "this game, this game" until she finally relented, took it up to the counter and was paying for it as I stepped up along side her.

I asked her if she knew it was rated M, & there was a lot of violence in it considered to be way too gory for any kids that young.

Her reply was..."yeah, but what am I supposed to do when (name deleted) keeps demanding at the top of his lungs that I get him this game".

My only reply back.... "Start showing some back-bone any become a real mother by NOT letting your kid control you for a change.

And with that said, I walked out before she could recover.


Some parents just aren't deserving of any right to have children.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 5/27/2011 1:18:03 AM

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Lotusflow3r
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 3:58:41 PM
Reply

The bottom paragraph quote, has much truth to it and i really hope violence decreases in games in time.
No, i don't find it offensive or anything like that, i actually think it's just way too much (see Dead Island gameplay walkthrough video) that i think it's embarrassing and added to actually sell the product.

Mainly, i just want violent military shooters to tone down..,they know full well kids play that stuff, it's exactly as Kojima bravely said in MGS4 (Snake and EVA chat before motorcycle chase), it's as if they're programming kids to know who the "enemy" is and how it's dealt with.

Before i go rambling off on boarder line conspiracy theories, i'll nutshell my view on violence lol.

Needs to be lessened a lot because it's getting silly. You can still come across as violent/disturbing without using too much gore if you're clever, see the early Silent Hills. You will remember them as grotesque violent games....but were there overly violent scenes? Nope.

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matt99
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:05:05 PM

Sure they know kids are playing, but how is that the developer's problem/fault if they are making a game intended for adults?

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maxpontiac
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:10:56 PM

I am an adult, and I question why things have gotten so violent, sexual and profanity filled on a regular basis.

I honestly believe developers are either pushing the envelope for the sake of doing just that or are forgetting that there is a thing called imagination.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:42:46 PM

What I find perverse is that we as a society are far more tolerant of violence than we are of human sexuality. That's not to say I think we need more sexuality in games - well, not unless they are properly rated of course. But what I am saying is that is seems rather sad that we are far more accepting of violence. Personally, I am not more accepting of violence, but from what I see around me, I am an exception to the rule.

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:54:22 PM

But Highlander, you forget that naked people are dirty whereas killing the "enemy" is what our end goal is.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:00:36 PM

Indeed!

Yes, you are correct, a pair of shapely but nude boobs is a far more dangerous thing than repeatedly killing enemies with a head-shot for extra points... ;)

Full frontal nudity could be terms a WMD - Weapon of Mass Depravity and clearly more dangerous than participating in turkey shoot against the virtualized Iraqi army.

...Oh, hang on, even I can't say all of that with a straight face... boobies FTW!

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coverton341
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:49:10 PM

Boobies FTW indeed sir, and by god what horrid grammar I used in my previous post. "is what our end goal is"? Terrible and I feel ashamed now.

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:14:25 PM

I don't think there is a problem with the level of violence, society is the one who created it anyway, not the developers.

Developers arent just making a more violent game just because they can, they are doing it because they feel it is what they must do to stay ahead of other games. Violence is becoming more socially acceptable. The majority of kids these days watch stuff like UFC, i think THAT has a much bigger affect on kids than a video game.

We cannot blame developers for societies mistakes.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 11:53:20 PM

Dude, just as the Colosseum of Rome was an indicator of the depravity and decadence of Roman society, so our forms of entertainment are yardsticks to the state of our own society. If the ever increasing level of violence in games is simply a reflection of society, then we are doomed to a future of random and extreme violence.

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Simcoe
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 9:17:23 AM

I agree with Highlander, for some reason, violence or gore in game and specifically television is much more accepted than sexually suggestive themes (and nudity) and profane language. We all remember the big deal when Hot Coffee was found in GTA:SA, even though it's a game where the protagonist goes around shooting, running over and participates in organised crime.

I will say, given the track record, I'm surprised that the nudity in Heavy Rain and LA Noire haven't been made into more of a big deal.

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The Doom
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:00:12 PM
Reply

Mundus: Again I find a study that seeks to prove that video games cause humans to be violent... Strange fate, isn't it?

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Lotusflow3r
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:03:08 PM

Yup, never understood that logic either. You have to be originally tapped to act out a violent act. I believe games can influence, like ALL media, but never cause violence.

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matt99
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:00:38 PM
Reply

I wonder if they would be as desensitized to the violence if they were witnessing actual violence in person, because both photos and video games have a level of disconnect from not being there in person.

In any case I definitely agree that moderation is key, and that kids should not be playing violent video games...but that's a whole other can of worms.

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maxpontiac
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:06:54 PM

I believe Vertigo put it best when he stated that it should all come down to the maturity of the child.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:38:25 PM

Videogames do something different, they encourage ad reward violence in the game mechanic. You are not simply being exposed to pictures, but interacting with the event, and being rewarded for being violent, often you are rewarded more, for being more violent.

Plus, this study isn't about kids, it's about young adults. So we can't really start falling back on saying that it's the parent's job.

Last edited by Highlander on 5/26/2011 4:39:18 PM

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:17:36 PM

Urrggghh.....

All young adults, were kids at some point. So vertigo's point still stands.

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matt99
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 7:34:01 PM

I want to clarify that by kids I mean under 12 or so, after that I think it should be up to the parents to decide if their kid is mature enough.

And Highlander,
I agree completely, video games do reward the violence which movies and other forms of media do not which can make it more influential.

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main_event05
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:20:02 PM
Reply

Until more info about the study comes out, this study is meaningless. If they tested someone under 18. How much time passed from playing the games to the buzzer test. And I think that the buzzer thing hardly proves anything as I'm sure the kids would feel a huge difference than just blowing an air horn or whatever and some serious stuff. I'll also add its even more pointless as they shouldn't be able to play these games anyway, and if kids/young adults go on a spree or whatever punishment falls on the parent as they are the means in which the kids get the material.

On a side note I recently watched Uwe Boll's "Rampage". I recommend it, its kinda messed up but its very "interesting" none the less.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:23:58 PM

He says 70 young adults, I would assume ALL are over 18. If he were testing violent video game's with underage children, well that opens up a whole nother can of worms. Like why is he subjecting minors to something he says we shouldn't subject minors to.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:30:54 PM

Ah, Ben corrected the age question in the article.

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Excelsior1
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:31:04 PM

rampage was a decent movie. i didn't even know it was uwe boll movie until i started watching it and was surprised that it was actually watchable.

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main_event05
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:24:59 PM

yea, I guess some peoples opinion of young adults varies.

as for the movie, I was shocked too. maybe he and anderson CAN make passable movies if they are their own ideas.

Last edited by main_event05 on 5/26/2011 5:26:35 PM

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Fane1024
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 8:09:07 PM

"...something he says we shouldn't subject minors to."

I just want to point out that the researcher doesn't argue an ideology (e.g., "kids shouldn't play violent video games" or "video games are the cause of real-world violence"; he simply states the results of the study. Even his conclusion is factual, rather than polemical.

Presuming his study is unbiased (i.e., not funded by Jack Thompson) and meets scientific standards, there's no reason to characterize it as adversarial, just because you're not happy with the results.



Last edited by Fane1024 on 5/26/2011 8:18:32 PM

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main_event05
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 9:05:01 PM

and are we to assume that by this point, we have absolutely no reason what this guy was getting at??

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:24:00 PM
Reply

Sorry, I neglected to put the ages of the participants in: that info isn't in the press release that I saw. It's in the study itself-

The ages are between 18 and 22.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:27:45 PM

It also doesn't state if they were all men or had some women sprinkled in there. If there were women in the study, that probably would bring his numbers down, so I doubt he allowed women to be in the study.

Women are more loving, caring, sensitive creatures on a whole as compared to men, and likely wouldn't punish competitors as readily as a man would.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:28:29 PM

No, I don't think gender was mentioned.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:35:06 PM

MyWorst,

No, they are not. Women can be just as, if not more, competitive and punishing. what you stated was a stereotype that really doesn't hold true when push comes to shove.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:43:22 PM

While it may be in a woman's DNA to be more nurturing and caring, I have to agree with Highlander. Females can be every bit as evil and nasty as men.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:50:28 PM

High, I suppose we agree to disagree there.

I specifically said as a whole, which some may interpret as 100%, but my intension was to mean majority. I did not mean to infur all. Yes, as you say women can be just as, if not more, competitive and punishing, but I am speaking in terms of majority.

Ben, you said "can be", and yes, sure they can. They can also murder, play football, I mean, where do we stop. Oh, and some women can't cook and hate shopping.

I was talking in terms of a majority, that's all.



Last edited by MyWorstNightmar on 5/26/2011 4:55:04 PM

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:19:26 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
@MyWorst
Your kidding right?
Women are move loving, caring, sensitive creatures? In what universe?
You havn't met my partner, and I'm sure half the men in here would agree with me on this.

Last edited by Akuma07 on 5/26/2011 6:19:35 PM

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:24:36 PM

Akuma, you are more loving than your partner?
You are more caring than your partner?
You are more sensitive than your partner?

Boy, who exactly did you marry? Sounds like a monster.

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:31:08 PM

I'd say we are even. On a good day.

But when she is in even the slightest bad mood, well lets just say i'll need a fallout shelter soon.

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matt99
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 7:41:31 PM

I would like to know how soon after the participants were done playing the games the tests were done, because games can create excitement sort of like an adrenaline rush, similar to when people watch an exciting sporting event and then feel like going and playing that sport too.

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gray_eagle
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:32:47 PM
Reply

lets all go back to playing mario brothers, oh wait. that could be classed as violence.
its no ones fault but the parents if a kid goes postal even after playing violent games.
if a kid can'nt figure why its ok to kill someone in a video game and not do it in real life,that kid and maby the parents need help.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:33:54 PM
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Forgetting, for a moment, the inevitable media reaction, what if this study is correct? We all know that the military has tried desensitization to 'harden' special units. Desensitization is a real thing, it's not like this is a made up concept. It's just that because the games are a source of entertainment we always prefer to think that there's no link.

But in a great many ways we humans are what we practice. That is how humans learn, it's how school works it's how training works. You train a response. If you play violent games enough, especially competitive ones, your trained response to competitive pressure may actually be greater aggression. Now what happens in real life when you are under competitive pressure, do you act more aggressively? That doesn't make you more violent as such, but if you do become more aggressive and those competing with you heighten their agression, isn't it possible, and in fact more likely than before, that argument and possibly even confrontation could be the result?

It's not a direct causal link, it's not a case of "I play violent games so I am more likely to hit you.". I think it's more like "I play violent video games and am pre-disposed to become aggressive when pressed.". But, that feeds energy into any confrontation and as you add more energy to any situation of that nature, there is the potential for things to lash over to something more than mere words.

Now, the media will blow this out of proportion, so rather than ignore it, perhaps the key thing is to take the findings on board and see whether there is something we can do to make games that are just as compelling, yet less graphically violent?

Sure a lot of this comes down to parents, but it's not just kids that can be trained by repetition...

Imagine this. If, *if*, there is a causal link between playing games with a high degree of violence and learned aggression responses. If that is the case, then how many millions of people who play games like call of Duty almost incessantly could be affected by this> Do we really need millions upon millions of people who are pre-disposed to reacting in more aggressive ways when under stress?

To me, that is a real possibility, and a real social issue for society to deal with.

We've talked about this subject before with specific focus on the effect on kids, and there is a great deal of agreement and acceptance that it's possible that developing minds might be affected by this kind of thing. But, I think that we have to accept that it's possible that there could be an effect on adults too - which this study apparently suggests.

One thing that might be interesting is to examine the literature on desensitization experiments with a focus on the behavioral psychology. Can adult minds be desensitized? What causes that desensitization, and how does that desensitization express itself in the resulting behavior? Regardless of video games, if adult minds can be desensitized and repeated exposure to stimulus causes it, then we have to consider that repeated exposure to realistically depicted violence in video games could be an issue. That repeated exposure is continually reinforced by the games internal rewards for further action which really heightens the experience.

I just don't think we can dismiss this kind of thing out of hand. I'm not advocating the sudden banning of games, but the industry needs to heed this kind of information to avoid the kind of blunt force trauma that political intervention would cause to the gaming industry.

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Fane1024
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 8:23:08 PM

Great comment, High. Just because the kooks will overreact to this study doesn't mean we gamers should underreact to it (or overreact in the opposite direction by discounting it out of hand).

We should discuss its possible implications.

From the article:

"The fact that video game exposure did not affect the brain activity of participants who already had been highly exposed to violent games is interesting and suggests a number of possibilities."

How about the possibility that they are desensitized to desensitization?

(only partly tongue-in-cheek)

p.s. I'm done editing.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 5/26/2011 8:32:17 PM

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JonnyR
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:39:09 PM
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"video games are excellent teaching tools because they reward players for engaging in certain types of behavior. Unfortunately, in many popular video games, the behavior is violence."

Yeh so ofetn i ponder if blowing away work colleagues will earn me more xp and boost me up to the rank of supervisor.

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Wissam
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 4:47:57 PM
Reply

I play kill zone and I am very polite and quite in my life. some of these studies are lol worthy.

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:20:24 PM

Totally agree.

I feel exactly the same after playing Dead Space 2, than I do after playing super mario.

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sirbob6
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:03:19 PM
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I remember seeing another study that did a something almost exactly a few years ago when I was doing a huge essay on the effects of violence in video games on children. If I can remember my paper correctly there was something about it that made the airhorns not an accurate representation to doing a violent action against another person.

Then again its been awhile and they might have done something different.

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tes37
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:29:24 PM
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I believe that desensitization can occur in varying degrees no matter what the issue. As far as video games, I'm not convinced that it's worse than other media just because you hold a controller and interact with it.

Playing cops and robbers, or cowboys and Indians as a kid has more human interaction and should be considered more influential, I think.

How a person uses their imagination could have some effect, in my opinion. We are taught what is acceptable behavior, but we get to choose what we do with that knowledge. Video games seem to be a scapegoat for the real issues. The problem resides in the same place that happiness does. Within a person.

I don't believe that desensitization erases a person's knowledge of right and wrong.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:33:47 PM

Tes, agreed. You are right about saying we are taught what is acceptable behavior, but then the next question is who is the teacher? Who is teaching right and wrong, or for that matter, are they taking the time to even teach right from wrong, and are they doing it correctly.

There are so many messed up kids out there due to messed up parents who shirk their responsibilities as proper guardians to their kids.

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tes37
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:44:10 PM

Video games should be exonerated and guilt placed back on the human beings who cause others to suffer.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:06:18 PM

So it would appear we have a conundrum. I don't support censorship, but I also don't support children playing video games. Despite governmental efforts made to keep violent video games out of the hands of children by means of a rating system, they keep getting them, primarily due to parental negligence, or in some instances outright enablement.

If we can't control the parents and instill the importance of them keeping inappropriate materials from them, then do we ignore the problem for the sake of freedom, or do we allow some sort of censorship in terms of how far we allow these video game developers to go. And truthfully, if we continue the pace we are on, where is the line drawn for these developers. Games are more detailed, immersive than ever, and for shock value, attention getting for their product, they seem willing to continue pushing the bar passed the limits what can be considered acceptable.

I don't pretend to know the answers, but I do feel we are headed down a bad path.

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:16:50 PM

Oops, meant to say "I don't support censorship, but I also don't support children playing VIOLENT video games."

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:22:23 PM

Our parents are the teachers, they teach us right and wrong, but society does aswell.

Most of the violent video games these days are also played online, we should be able to report when a kid is playing a game they shouldnt, then sony or MS tracks down the account, and fines the parent. Parents need to learn it is up to them.

Last edited by Akuma07 on 5/26/2011 6:24:12 PM

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MyWorstNightmar
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:30:26 PM

Akuma, since there are a lot of loop holes in your plan, it would never fly. Who administers the fines, Sony and MS fine their customers? Nope.
How do you know the age of the player? You wouldn't be able to prove it.
How do you know the player is playing on his parents account? Maybe he is at a friends house. You just can't start leveling fines against customers based upon an imperfect monitoring system. And what would give the fining party any authority to issue fines?

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tes37
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 7:04:48 PM

If people really cared, they'd take the necessary steps to prevent violent content from reaching their kids and this wouldn't be an issue. What it seems they're after, is a way to say the problem isn't theirs, but it starts in their household.



Last edited by tes37 on 5/26/2011 7:06:55 PM

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Fane1024
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 8:41:58 PM

@tes (original comment)

Depending on people's knowledge of right and wrong to prevent violence assumes that people always behave rationally. I would bet that 99% of violent behavior occurs *despite* the people involved knowing better, because those people are in a state of heightened emotion and thus decreased self-control.

This study suggests that playing violent video games tends to induce just such a state.



Last edited by Fane1024 on 5/26/2011 8:44:12 PM

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 11:56:39 PM

Tes, this report doesn't place the blame on games, it simply points out that the games may be one factor in a number of factors that make people more aggressive. The media loves to label and blame, so games will be blamed, but that's not the point of the research.

If there is any causative effect here, it merits review rather than dismissal.

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darxed
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 5:31:51 PM
Reply

To me there's one problem with the study. A blast of loud noise is not an act of violence, and setting it in a situation where you have an opponent would trigger the competitiveness in a person, so if you have a person that is zero violent but really competitive he will increase the sound level in the last part of the study. If you take into account the small sample size I'd say these doesn't prove anything really...

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Akuma07
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:24:31 PM

It isnt an act of violence at all, its just funny!

And seriously, who sits there and says to themselves "ohhh I dont want to play this too loudly, I might hurt the other persons ears :'("

Id just be like "yeah lets blast this s**t"

Last edited by Akuma07 on 5/26/2011 6:25:40 PM

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Pandacastro
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 6:58:57 PM
Reply

Did they check if they have a low T.M.I first?

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 10:32:07 PM

They're all 'large' except that kid called Eric in the corner...

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Sogi_Otsa
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 7:04:05 PM
Reply

I'll play whatever i want. It doesn't make me a bad person, it just means i can put up with a little more. I don't care for violence, just now i relized that my female friend actually calmed down my violent behavior and attitude.

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Fane1024
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 8:51:35 PM
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One other thought: did the increased aggressive behavior correlate to times the player was frustrated by bad game design?

I know I'd be more prone to air horn someone if I was controller-throwing angry, regardless of whether the game was violent or not.

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NoSmokingBandit
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 9:02:13 PM
Reply

Correlation doesnt really imply causation. I'm wondering if naturally violent individuals are simply predisposed to play more violent games. I'm not an angry or violent person, but i enjoy a good bloodbath on occasion. I've platinum'd GoW3, so i do enjoy some violence.
Of course, my personal experience means nothing compared to a huge study, but i'm wondering if they have it all backward.

And that said, i'm not going to get all pissy defending video games. Tests show that certain music can greatly affect a person's driving habits, why should gaming be immune to the same effects as other forms of media?

Last edited by NoSmokingBandit on 5/26/2011 9:04:02 PM

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Highlander
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 11:58:59 PM

Indeed. With regard to games, if they represent one factor in increasing aggression then it merits some consideration, but it hardly says that games are the entire problem.

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OverBerg
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 9:23:59 PM
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Hey Ben,

Happen to have a citation for the paper you mentioned? While not a social psychologist, I do have a Ph.D. in neuroscience and am an avid gamer. I looked for the paper on PubMed and couldn't find it. The author's latest paper (came out this week) is on the effect of alcohol on cognitive control. I'm also a little confused on the specifics of the experiments. Is the aforementioned study in a peer-reviewed journal article? If not, hmm...

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 9:38:33 AM

I don't know where it's published exactly, but the link they sent me goes to University of Missouri News.

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Simcoe
Saturday, May 28, 2011 @ 12:11:30 PM

OverBerg, Ben,

DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.027

Christopher R. Engelhardt, Bruce D. Bartholow, Geoffrey T. Kerr, and 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. In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 5 April 2011.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103111000928

Lead author is actually a graduate student.

**With a bit more searching, I've managed to find the submitted manuscript on the labs webpage:
http://socialcogneurolab.missouri.edu/pdfs/CRE_BDB_GTK_BJB_inpress_JESP.pdf

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Lairfan
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 10:40:51 PM
Reply

If elementary kids are really playing that many hours of video games a week, then some parents better rethink their parenting styles.

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BIGRED15
Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 10:47:26 PM
Reply

@ Pandacastro.
lol T.M.I. loves me some south park, but in all seriousness, T.M.I. is probably a bigger source of aggression among males at least rather than videogames.

People have been trying to prove that games provide a direct link to serial killers and abnormal acts of aggression for ages. Violent videogames can have some kind of effect on desensitization but only to a point. but there are several things that people who do these studies fail to take into consioderation before testing, at least that what it looks like to me.

This test uses a random sample of people from early adulthood. While it uses an age group that has finished developing, it would help if we as the people viewing this study knew how these people developed at a more early age. If theres one thing i've learned about growing up its that children will and always will be a product of their environment.

If parents are unwilling to view or understand what their kids are playing, or dont have enough control over their kids to prevent them from playing certain games, then why does the ESRB even exist? If parents gave a damn about what their kids were playing, there would be little to no need for the conducting of these studies. My parents were always involved as to what game i purchased up until the point I was 17. The first rated M game i ever owned was RFOM, and my mother needed to see it in action before she would allow me to buy it. While that would seem a bit too strict to some, i can tell you that i would probably be considerably more aggressive than I am today. After the barring was fianlly lifted, I exposed myself to quite possibly the worst rated M games the industry had to offer. Dead space is pretty brutal, I was in shock the entire time I played through God of War 3. But after playing these, I felt little to now effect on my psyche. But that was only because I was at an age already where I can differentiate between fantasy and reality.

Kids develop at different rates. Certain kids know the difference between reality and fantasy early on, others it takes a bit longer. If your a parent, you're the best judge as to what your kid should be exposed to. If your adolescent child cant sit through an episode of CSI without being a little bit freaked out and loosing sleep, then obviously their perception of real vs. fake is blurred and they shouldn't be exposed to violent videogames.

Another point I'd like to touch on here is that comment made earlier about sexuality. The way I see it, this is a much more acceptable form of expression in games than violence. We've probably all heard that sexuality is much more accepted in europe rather than violence, but obviously its the other way around in the U.S. and its strange. Sexuality is a much more natural part of life than killstreaks earning you extra points. Adam and Eve are almost always depicted in the nude, leonardo da vinci did studies on the human body and drew pictures of nude figures. Figure drawing is an essential course in honing ones artistic skills. Nudity and sexuality is a part of everyones life weather we choose to accept it or not. The problem with sex in games however is it blurrs the line between what is tasteful and could be considered as "making love" versus just sex and the more pornographic side of that. Regardless game developers should probably focus less on the "random goddess encounters in GOW" scenes and more on the love side of it. Only then will sex be looked at as tasteful. But just like violence, sex can be just as gratuitous and developing children must be limited as to how much of that they are exposed to.

Lets be completely clear here, I hate surveys becuase they never seem to get done right. 70 people? really? First, are all these people americans, second, have they been asked questions based on their upbringing and third, how involved were their parents in their gaming decisions. The answer to these questions would probably provide more explanation than a random test proving aggression by using sound against each other. People will always be a product of their environment. Another point id like to make, these scientists still act as if gaming is played by a whopping 1000 people. Gaming is so much bigger than 70 people, its IMPOSSIBLE to get an accurate assessment with a miniscule sample like that.

Finally It ALL COMES DOWN TO PARENTING. This will and always be the origin a childs developing agression because its the parent that lets them play violent games too early, its the parents that dont prevent kids from viewing violent programming. Its parents that act agressively toward their kids, partners and other people that show kids its okay to act violently in society. Games exposed to kids too early is just another case of parents not paying attention, but games are far from being the sole source of aggression.

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Highlander
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 12:09:05 AM

Regarding sex and/or love in games. So, perhaps we need to have more dating sims where the object of the game is to win the affection of the in-game character rather than simply get into her pants...Or perhaps not, since people here invariably have adverse reactions to such games as if they are the work of the devil.

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___________
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 3:51:51 AM
Reply

ive never believed studies, simply because there constantly contradicting themselves!
i remember the heart foundation put out a "study" that proved drinking 2 glasses of wine a day improved your health, lowered your risk of chest typed cancer, and thus increased your life expectancy.
then a year or so later they released another "study" "proving" the exact opposite!

tis a load of sh*t though!
first violent game i played was when i was 5, first R rated movie i watched was blade when i was even younger!
and ive never hurt a fly, and never would!
a family friend of ours has a son whos a real little sh*t!
constantly hitting his parents and his sister, hurling sh*t across the room, breaking things.
only 12 and he already has been expelled from 3 schools!
o, and he has never played a game in his life!
never seen any violent movies either because his whole family are strict religious people, you know typical catholics violent movies are the work of the devil crap!
so how do you explain that?

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Simcoe
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 8:59:35 AM

This is one reason why I dislike it when studies are press released. We always here them on the news usually it's as you say some study that yields some benefit of eating some food or drink or conversely, don't consume (healthy) food or drink because compound A found in it causes cancer in mice. What you have is someone whose background is not an expert trying to interpret a scientific study. These things are never as clear-cut as they appear to be, the devil is always in the details in many of these studies.

In your example, if two studies seem to outright say the complete opposite things, there will always be a reason as to why there was a difference, could have been that the second study had a better sampling, or the control group was able to be better controlled for, some new or proven better methods were employed in the second study that either weren't known or couldn't be accounted for at the time of the original study.

The second part of your post is a good example of anecdotal evidence. Also, whose to say that if this person you're referring to did play videogames he might be even worse? The study probably had these people inflict sound pain prior to playing the videogames.

Finally, perhaps if you didn't play so many violent videogames the majority of your posts wouldn't be so negative. ;-)

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wizzardofozzy
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 4:34:07 AM
Reply

Well i do/did know a dude that apparently listened to too much icp and probably watched a bit too much sp.He was always a bit mentally unstable tho.....I dont know where he is now.Somewhere with a good supply of straight jackets I suppose.....

Thats not me thought.Although i do watch a lot of mma and have played a lot of uber violent video games im a pretty easy going guy if you get to know me.You have to really push my buttons hard to tick me off.






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JonnyR
Friday, May 27, 2011 @ 4:22:34 PM
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Read about this in the newspaper today and the madness has already begun to rise. the news paper claims new research (from this study) proves people who play violent video games are more likely to commit VICIOUS CRIMES!

hey everybody welcome back to the 20th century!!

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Nerull
Saturday, May 28, 2011 @ 10:35:08 PM
Reply

The way I see it is yes some kids group up desensitized from the many other factors in society like 1 being raised by a tv and 2 pretty much all mainstream media and many horror movies. I still like horror comedy with anti-heros and some gore like freddy and jason but stuff like hostel, saw, and that centipede thing are torture porn that caters to an increasingly depraved audience. If that audience also happens to be going for headshots in Cod a few hours every day, I have a hard time believing that's not going to exasperate things but where's the outcry for all that other media?

The problem isn't videogames, I would hope for every guy I hear of that's one continuous string of profanities online in mainly shooters there's a counterpart that like's anything with a decent story, and of course gameplay. Not surprisingly my fav genre is fantasy since it's the closest to a playable novel in my case.
At worst, violent videogames can only reinforce a malformation in apathy that is almost inescapable in "civilized" society.

PS Spammers are reincarnated as dung beetles.

Last edited by Nerull on 5/28/2011 10:36:54 PM

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