PS3 News: Violent Game Debate: A Chat With Dr. Bartholow, Part I - PS3 News

Members Login: Register | Why sign up? | Forgot Password?

Violent Game Debate: A Chat With Dr. Bartholow, Part I

Last week, we learned of a violent game study that managed to locate a link between desensitization and aggression.

Recently, I had a chance to speak with Dr. Bruce Bartholow, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri. He led the study in question and I wanted to A. discuss the implications of the results, B. gain more insight into how the study was conducted, and C. talk about a few other topics that are directly related to the subject at hand. And considering how highly we value our readers, I made sure to read through the comments to the article linked above (and Dr. Bartholow read them, too), and formulate a few questions based on that feedback.

Firstly, we tackled the subject of correlation versus causation. Dr. Bartholow admits that this is always an important question, but he clarifies that his study is indeed an experiment and that's a crucial distinction. Said Dr. Bartholow:

"The issue of correlation versus causation is hugely important in any scientific study. But this study wasn't correlational in nature; this was an experiment. We randomly assigned a violent or non-violent game, so the differences we see can only be attributed to the game itself and nothing else.

Other factors, like parental involvement, can contribute to aggression but in our experiment, none of that is relevant. The basic idea behind an experimental study is that you randomly assign people to conditions; there's a chance that someone in an abusive household might be in a non-violent or violent game condition."

Dr. Bartholow goes on to say that he certainly doesn't discount other factors that can lead to aggression, and furthermore, he clarifies the results of the study for those who jump to certain conclusions. While the link between desensitization and aggression seems to have been established, this doesn't mean the researchers have concluded that everyone who plays a violent video game will turn into a serial killer. And as for all of you who always go, "oh, I play violent games all the time and I'm fine," Dr. Bartholow responds:

"People sometimes have a hard time understanding- we don't always understand why we do the things we do. We don't have a lot of insight into what we think or how we act. One of the things I often say in the face of the 'I play violent games and I'm fine' argument is that we're not suggesting that every person who plays a violent game will become a violent person.

What we're suggesting is that immediately after playing a violent video game, that person is more likely to be more aggressive for a little while. And it might be small; they might cut someone off in traffic or give someone a dirty look. It's just an increased likelihood that they'll do or say something insulting or harmful to another person."

Feel free to discuss. For the record, we can easily condemn a great many "studies" that really don't seem to be done in the interest of science. However, this experiment is intriguing on a number of different levels, and it would be a mistake to peg Dr. Bartholow as an anti-gaming activist hell-bent on getting those aforementioned headlines. As he says, he doesn't seek to become a "policy maker" and at the end of the day, moderation for all ages is key.

I happen to agree with that. More from the Dr. Bartholow discussion soon.

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

6/1/2011 8:36:43 PM Ben Dutka

Put this on your webpage or blog:
Email this to a friend
Follow PSX Extreme on Twitter

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Share on MySpace Share on Delicious Share on Digg Share on Google Buzz Share via E-Mail Share via Tumblr Share via Posterous

Comments (105 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 9:52:24 PM
Reply

I agree with those findings, however, there are other factors to take into consideration as well. Immediately after playing a violent game people can also feel empowered, perhaps doing well in an interview. Same with hard core music.

There are so many things that influence us and we are constantly bombarded with them all day. Ultimately, video games can be the boogie man all they want, the industry makes way too much money for it to ever be squelched by the puritanical streak in this country.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

SvenMD
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:45:13 PM

I think your first point is highlighted in Jane McGonigal's book "Reality is Broken". I've been meaning to read it but haven't picked it up yet, but it seems like that is one of the themes of her work.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

JonnyR
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 5:12:50 AM

you're certainly right about the numerous stimuli our brains experience on a daily basis, even the doctor in question admitted other factors can contribute to agressive behaviour. but if he admits that, how can he stand by the test results and claim they prove anything at all.

If you have a select batch of test subjects and some possibly the majority are already predisposed to agressive tendencies whilst the others are more passive, how can you expect any accuracy in your test results?

(i know that people are not either on the agressive or none agressive side, theres definatly alot of grey area inbetween)

Agree with this comment 0 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

Underdog15
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 10:45:03 AM

Well, although we don't have the actual report here, I'm sure they did the study properly. Which means they would have been measured in a preliminary. The results would be measured against each person's preliminary results. It would not have been as subjective as you are suggesting, JonnyR.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

JDC80
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 9:59:28 PM
Reply

I don't really believe playing a lot of violent video games makes one violent I think those who act the stuff they experience in a "Grand Theft Auto" or any other M rated game probably had mental issues in the first place.

Between ages of 4 to 19 I played my fair share of violent video games and I didn't have the need to react what I did in game A in real life nor did the games encourage me to lash out in violent manner.

I think blaming video games for people nutting up and killing a whole bunch of people is a quick and easy excuse to blame someone then actually looking into what the hell is going on in society.

If parents know their kid have issues with reality giving then they shouldn't be giving those kids video games like GTA.

Last edited by JDC80 on 6/1/2011 10:01:38 PM

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:04:18 PM

Actually I DO get the urge to act out what Cole McGrath can do, but yeah that'll never happen.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

SvenMD
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:19:15 PM

So again, the point of the paper isn't to say that playing violent video games makes someone violent - the point is to say that A) playing violent video games desensitizes a person to real world violence and B) raises that persons "aggression" to real world situations where "violence" towards another person can take place... i.e.- a blast of loud noise.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

GuernicaReborn
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:07:20 PM
Reply

I wonder how a person who hasn't played any games at all for 25 minutes would do in this study. Would they have been as aggressive with the noise as the violent game-players? would the non-violent game players have been less aggressive than someone who didn't play a game at all?

Agree with this comment 7 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:55:51 PM

That would have been a great, and I mean GREAT way to begin this study. Have all participants take the "aggression" test first, record their behaviours, then have them play the games, take the test again, record.

That would have been much more valuable information in my eyes.

He says that the environment in which these participants come from is of no value to the study, but did not even do a preliminary aggression test to rule that out. I am not thoroughly convinced.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Aranha
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:41:03 PM
Reply

I mean, I get what he's saying, but I think aggressive behavior can also be attributed to adrenaline and so forth, and that's without playing violent games.

While playing a racing game where it's a close race, or in that sports game after hitting that home run, getting that touchdown, etc, I feel that we all behave a little more aggresively.

I remember playing Grand Tour Racing '98 (yes, back IN '98) and I was practically sweating bullets, and my pulse was pounding, simply because of the intensity of the game. After the race, I'd be going ape over my victory, beating on my chest, you guys know what I mean.

But because violence is so blatant, I guess they can't help but target it, and rightly so, but on other levels. I mean, some of the stuff you get to do in games gets pretty creative, so weak-minded individuals become entranced with this fantasy style that they'd love to re-enact/mimick. GTA and MK offer them new ways at doing the wrong thing.

So it all comes down to good parenting, discretion, and maturity (along with emotional and mental health).

Agree with this comment 0 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Fane1024
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 5:28:46 PM

The study found a marked difference between the effect of violent games and non-violent games, apparently due to desensitization *which they actually measured* (in brain waves, I think).

Your "adrenaline" theory doesn't fit the evidence.


Last edited by Fane1024 on 6/2/2011 5:30:29 PM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

BikerSaint
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:41:42 PM
Reply

After many marathon sessions totaling over 130+ hours in GTA4, I actually checked the traffic out around me to see who I could give the most ram-ability damage.

But then I remembered, no wait......I'm still making payments on my truck.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Clamedeus
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:54:26 PM

LOL

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Claire C
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:00:49 PM

Hee-hee

Did you go looking for an 'Ammu-Nation' store that doesn't exist for the handgun you don't actually have? =)

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

BikerSaint
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 6:37:16 PM

Well,
Due to self-incrimination, I can't really put in print the actual weaponry I might or might not own.

So I plead the 5th, and I'll leave it at that LOL

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

BikerSaint
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:43:45 PM
Reply

Oh BTW Ben,

Thanks for getting us another interview.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:53:06 PM
Reply

Thank you for posting this Ben and I look forward to seeing more of this conversation between you and Bartholow.

I draw issue with the line "But this study wasn't correlational in nature; this was an experiment. We randomly assigned a violent or non-violent game, so the differences we see can only be attributed to the game itself and nothing else." Is he saying that he can pin CAUSATION of violent behaviour on violent video games with this study? I may be misinterpreting his words.

I have been taught that in any experimental design or otherwise you can't ever say that one thing truly causes another unless you have extremely solid evidence to support it, whereas when you find something statistically significant, you can say there is a correlation, weak to strong.

I don't think I am willing to accept that a sample size of 70 participants of which I don't know the gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic background of, can be a valid representation of the populous at large.

Maybe I am picking nits, and yes a larger study with a wider selection would most likely be time and cost prohibitive, but I think trying to draw a causation line between two things with that small of an audience is a dangerous thing to do.

Now, I am probably just being a little too defensive over this because it deals with something that I like to do, but I really really really would like to know to what significance level this experiment states the tie between violent video games and violent actions is, and if it's something like "all participants that played video games exhibited violent behaviour" then I have just lost all respect for the study, because A. there would seem to be no level of aggressive behaviour measured, and B. that would seem to be just a little too convenient. Nothing ever always happens in the world of psychology or scientific research.

Anyway, I am probably being too anal.

I can't wait for more of this "series" of conversation. Thanks again Ben.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

SvenMD
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:01:09 PM

Yes it's a small sample size, but if you read the paper (I googled it and found it at the Mizzu website) you'll see that they gave a questionaire to over 2000 students that had them rate the video games they played and how much of each they played. Then they took a random sample of those that played >75% violent games and <25% violent games, and then they randomly assigned those individuals into their two groups.

So it's done well enough to satisfy me to believe that you have people who play violent games vs non-violent games into each treatment group.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:38:23 PM

Coverton: Another thing to remember is that this isn't necessarily about a direct link between violent video games and aggressive behavior; it's about a link between desensitization and aggression.

Note the part of the study that shows decreased neural response (more desensitized) to violent images after playing a violent video game.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:12:54 AM

Okay, found the study, and I thought that there were 70 participants, but in the results section of the study it says that 5 participant's data sets were thrown out for varies reasons and that all analyses were based on data from 34 participants. Am I missing something here or what?

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:21:02 AM

@coverton

46% of the 70 were female.

Of the 70, 6 were disqualified. Three had a high proportion of "EEG artifacts" and the other three knew that the "sound pain" wasn't actually being inflicted on another human being.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 12:49:58 PM

Missed the female part. Thanks. Why then did they not use the female data in the analyses?

Also, where are you reading the study from? I was on the university website and it stated that 5 were disqualified, 2 because of EEG artefacts and 3 for suspecting they were not participating against another human. Conflicting reports make me suspicious.

Last edited by coverton341 on 6/2/2011 12:51:56 PM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 1:57:28 PM

Coverton,

I had downloaded the pdf from Dr. Bartholow's lab web page last Saturday. They've posted the article as it appears in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. I've posted the pdf link to the article in another post below.

On page 2, under Results, they state what I described above (the 6 disqualified).

Unless I'm missing something, I don't know why you wouldn't believe that they didn't use the data from females. 46% of the 70 participants were female. They also go on to say that "Although men were more aggressive than women, violent video game content had a similar effect on men and women. Thus, the data from men and women were combined." Unless you were wondering why they didn't separate the data into male and female groupings, then that might be a question for Dr. Bartholow. I know that sometimes you can collect far too much data and perform far too much analyses to fit it all in one journal article. Perhaps more specific female vs. male data might come out in a later article.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 2:16:12 PM

I'm just coming from the copy that is on the university website and the copy that they say was published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. In that results section it states that only the results of 34 participants was used in the analyses. I don't doubt that what you are reading says something different, and that is where I am getting a bad taste. Why are there two reports, both publish, but both stating different things? If you look at them, they each have unique wording which is quite strange to me.

http://web.missouri.edu/~bartholowb/pdfs/BartBushSestJESP2006.pdf

Last edited by coverton341 on 6/2/2011 2:17:32 PM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 2:24:51 PM

Schnebly! Nevermind. I have just realised that the study I was reading was from 2006 which seems to be almost exactly, and I mean exactly the same study, but only using males and 5 were disqualified for the same exact reasons and they were subjected to the same screening of 2000 and the same testing after the video game sessions and the same results.

Hrm, I begin to wonder why it was said that this type of study was never performed on violent video games until now.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 3:26:04 PM

Coverton,

Ah yes, I found the (2006) article you were reading!

I believe this (2011) article is the first to show that for a person who normally doesn't play violent video games, they became (temporarily) desensitized after playing a violent video game. And this result predicted an increase in aggression.

I haven't fully read the 2006 study but I don't think they had the participants play video games, only grouped them on their previous exposure to non-violent and violent video games and had them look at violent images.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Claire C
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 10:57:31 PM
Reply

These violent video game studies remind me of a Ferris wheel. Around and around she goes. =^.^=

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:31:08 PM
Reply

You know, when we were young my friends and I would play MKII and then when we ran out of quarters we would just play-fight. So yeah.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Claire C
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:34:41 PM

You perform any Fatalities or just Friendships?
;)

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Clamedeus
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:46:24 PM

He did some babalities. :p

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 12:11:51 AM

lol, I live in Minnesota so I can guarantee you that we did plenty of Johnny Cage decapitation punch fatalities on Snowmen :)

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Underdog15
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 12:28:50 PM

Lol world, I distinctly remember running outside to play power rangers when the original power rangers was king. I remember lots of friends would take turns running home crying after being smacked with a sword-stick.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

SvenMD
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:32:24 PM
Reply

So obviously I'm not up on the psych literature out there, but my question is does this hold true for other forms of "media violence"?

It seems like this paper was looking at "acute" desensitization after experiencing media violence, because from the paper it seems that its already been proven that "chronic and even short-term exposure can lead to desensitization" - but my question is (because I didn't look it up) does this hold true only for video games - where the user actually carries out the violent acts themselves, or does this also work with watching a news broadcast of violent acts??

And what's the actual link between desensitization, aggression, and actual violence??

I will agree that I become desensitized daily, and that if you showed me a picture of someones head shot off it might affect me (thereby increasing activity in the P3 electrode from the paper), but by the 4th picture I'm not going to care as much.....so by that rationale, if you had me play a violent video game and seeing peoples heads get blown off for 25 minutes, I'm probably not going to care as much when I see the picture in real life. (Similar results to the study)

The interesting part is why does aggressive behavior increase like it does in the paper? and would the results be the same if it was actually PHYSICAL harm?? And then how does an increase in aggression lead to an increase in violence, or does it at all?

The thing I hate is that people (general public or media) will see this and say, "Violent games make people violent" - which I think even Dr. Bartholow might agree isn't the exact truth.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:44:02 PM

No, I don't think he would agree with that interpretation but then again, headlines and short news stories like to simplify. And so do people seeking attention.

In the second part of the discussion, we talked about desensitization and the results of that. He sent me another study that had participants play a violent video game, and then there was a staged incident by actors. It was a fight or someone clearly in pain or trouble, and the test was to see how long it took the participants to help.

Initially, I thought the desensitized would be better able to respond, as they don't suffer the fear and anxiety others would suffer (i.e., members of the military, police officers, firefighters, doctors, etc.). But I forgot that desensitization typically involves an apathy towards mankind. And as it turned out, those who were "desensitized" due to the game time were way late in helping during that fake emergency situation. They were also more likely to grade the incident on a lower "seriousness scale."

As for the aggression angle, if the aforementioned fear and anxiety aren't as prevalent, wouldn't we be more willing to be aggressive?

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 6/1/2011 11:44:38 PM

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Razmoudah
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 6:18:51 AM

I agree that any study of this nature needs to take into account the degree of effect from other media sources than just video games. As Google and I don't get along I do have one question for those of you who have seen the study report, what genre's of violent games did they use? Even in a good-or-evil path RPG like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords you have to show a certain degree of restraint irregardless of you're chosen path (or at least until you get to a high enough level...), and there is a difference in being exposed to high levels of violence and gore without restrictions in usage and being exposed to it with restrictions in usage. If they were exclusively using First Person Shooters and Fighting games for the study then they can't reliably state the results in correlation to any other genres do to the altered nature of the circumstances within the game.

In addition to all of that you still have one other problem that comes into effect, the Nature Vs. Nurture equation. Before any of you say that the equation isn't relevant, do remember that there are people who group up in extremely violent surroundings and then choose to become just as extremely non-violent, and the opposite also applies. As such, any study showing an environmental effect (the Nurture aspect) on behavior is only relevant in so far as the people you are applying the study to have a similar innate (the Nature aspect) psyche. At best the only thing they can do is show a [i]possible[/i] correlation or causation, but that it isn't constant in occurrence or degree of effect. Unless the occurrence or degree of effect for desensitization from violent video games is significantly greater than other forms of violent media there won't be any point in making a greater fuss in relation to a video game's content.

@Ben: As for a lack of fear and anxiety causing a person to be more aggressive I have to say it's dependent on the person. Several members of my family strongly believe that I became more 'aggressive' (and that's a strongly misleading term, but it fits the purposes of the discussion so I'll let it be) since I started playing video games more frequently. I disagree as 1) at the time I wasn't living with family so they're observations are skewed and 2) I started behaving is a more 'aggressive' manner [i]before[/i] I started playing video games more. I tend to use a few select titles as a means of working off violently oriented frustration with the world so that I [i]don't[/i] hurt somebody. And as for the desensitization to violence.........I got that very thoroughly pounded into me when I was in first grade by the high schoolers on the bus (my mother probably still has the pictures of my being a walking bruise under the clothes) and since I turn 28 this year that's [i]before[/i] the video game desensitization leads to 'aggressive' behavior issue even mattered (the NES was the best system around at the time). If that hadn't happened to me when I was younger (along with one year where 5 or 6 relatives died, it's close to the same time period as well) I would probably have difficulty reacting quickly in extreme situations, including when someone gets injured. Being desensitized to violence isn't an issue, until you stop caring what happens to your fellow man and have to force yourself to act.

Note: The words that have [i] before them with [/i] after them are meant to be italicized, they only needed to be emphasized and not YELLED at everyone. You do what you can to get your point across, even if it means doing something that needs to be explained to people so that they can understand it.

Last edited by Razmoudah on 6/3/2011 6:21:55 AM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Russell Burrows
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 @ 11:57:14 PM
Reply

So what REAL and LASTING effects did this create??

NONE.

Pointless study in that its the same result as showing an action or violent movie to a control group and then surprise!, surprise! the control group emerges from the theater a bit more agressive than when they went in.....duh! (for about five to ten minutes).

I.e. many after watching a Terminator/Predator/aliens/etc. type film exit the theater still thinking about what they saw and how cool to PRETEND to be like that.
But its a short term effect lasting three to five minutes before ho hum common life intrudes.

But trying to prove that just by watching a violent film turns everyone into a homicidal maniac????

Hell no!!!

The same goes for video games.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 11 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 12:13:40 AM

Please try to read this carefully. The knee-jerk defensiveness isn't productive.

"But trying to prove that just by watching a violent film turns everyone into a homicidal maniac????"

This study never tried to prove anything like that in relation to video games. I think that's very clear.

Agree with this comment 11 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Fane1024
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 5:44:14 PM

Not agreeing with RB, just adding a relevant anecdote:

When I stepped out of the theater after watching Natural Born Killers, someone clipped me with their car while I was crossing the street (in the cross walk, with the light BTW).

A. I felt a strong urge to go medieval on them.
B. I didn't.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 7:15:54 PM

And if you were just slightly less stable and adjusted...?

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Fane1024
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 1:35:13 AM

Cross-country killing spree with my girl Mallory.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

A2K78
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 12:47:59 AM
Reply

anybody who say that expsoure to violent content(movies, musics, games) can't have any psychological effects is obviously kidding themselves.

Anyhow as somebody who have been playing video games for over 20+ years I think video game industry need to start drawing lines because alot of the stuff being put into games these just isn't good for public consumption; I don't care how strong willed/mature you are, its not giving the industry a good name or seem right for consumption.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 1:42:01 AM
Reply

I think this bit is key. "What we're suggesting is that immediately after playing a violent video game, that person is more likely to be more aggressive for a little while. And it might be small; they might cut someone off in traffic or give someone a dirty look. It's just an increased likelihood that they'll do or say something insulting or harmful to another person."

It's like the butterfly effect. Fltter the wings on a buttrefly in China and you cause a Hurricane in the Gulf... So a small increase in the likelihood that you would act aggressively might cause an overreaction by you, that in turn causes an over-reaction by someone else, and then on through a chain reaction into an uncontrolled confrontation that results in something violent. But that chain started with someone cutting someone off in traffic, or yelling "Jerk!" out their window.

Subtle changes are what make things happen in our world. A word here, a look there. If there is a correlation between playing violent games and aggression - even short lived. Then do we not have to recognize that there is the *potential* for a negative event to occur because of that increased aggression?

Look, there was a news story recently about the military using a specific game as a training aid. The military need people trained in the controlled use of aggression and lethal force. If there is a game that can be used as a training aid by them, what does that suggest about the game?

It's not about banning games or censoring them, it's about common sense and not putting stuff in games, or other forms of entertainment that is actually disturbing. I mean, there are plenty of things that simply do not need to be in or belong in entertainment. They're there for pure shock value, or as some kind of perverse dare by the developer to see if they can get it into the game. I'd rather that developers focus on making a fantastic game than have them focus on the realism of the internal organs splayed out while the enemy is being eviscerated. Do we care if the fictional organs of a fictional beast are realistic as they spill on the ground? It's not necessary, and it adds to the graphic violence of the scene. Of course the basic action is the same, but by including the visual spectacle of the enemies insides falling out, the scene is elevated in terms of the graphic violence depicted.

I do think it's time that we looks more closely at our hobby and admit where we go too far, and take a step back from the brink - so to speak.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Gordo
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 4:04:31 AM

Well said.

Moderation is probably the key to most activities in life.

Also "do no harm" is a good motto to live life by!

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:23:49 AM

Also works in the opposite way too with a "random act of kindness".

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 12:06:56 PM

Indeed it does Simcoe, indeed it does. That expression "Smile and the whole world smiles with you" isn't as far from the mark (in my experience) as most would cynically suggest. If you smile at people (a real smile) they will generally smile back.

Agree with this comment 7 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Razmoudah
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 6:24:34 AM

@TheHighlander: Then either my town is full of ***holes or else my friends and I are just hated by an excessive portion of the town, it hasn't worked for either of us since we were too young for school.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 12:50:42 PM

LOL! Well, your town may have local conditions that make it an exception....

Its a generalization of course, and people's experience will vary. My own anecdotal evidence confirms that in general it is the case that if you maintain a positive outlook and greet people positively, it has a positive effect on any interactions, and the opposite is true also - in general. Obviously, not every situation works that way, but in general....

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Lawless SXE
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 2:05:32 AM
Reply

An interesting read. I do agree with him on several points, based on common sense. The human mind is, despite what most will say, irrational. We are easily influenced by external factors, and not always in the ways that one might expect. This is something that I have learnt through needling and prodding at my friends... Yeah, I can be extremely cruel at times, even if they don't realise that I am actively trying to provoke them.

As for video games causing desensitisation, I do think that there is a very viable idea in there. However, I feel that it has actually had the opposite effect on me. It used to be that I would prefer to hang back on the fringe of conflict (before I started playing games of any nature) to avoid it, but now I actively try to defuse situations. Of course, I could link that to a certain training module that I went through a few years back, or it could be linked to an increase in aggression, or an intent for dominance. Not sure.

In spite of all of this, I think that Aranha might be onto a very good point with his assertion that it may have more to do with the biological response to adrenaline. I know that I feel particularly elated after overcoming a tense situation in a video game, yet I don't think that I feel any form of desensitisation or increased aggressive response. It's purely a reactive feeling that makes me feel more capable, and a similar feeling to what I have had in the past in times of heightened emotions.

However one looks at it, this discussion certainly is food for thought, and I look forward to reading the subsequent parts. Articles like this is the reason that I admire PSXE so much.
Peace.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Razmoudah
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 6:29:31 AM

I understand what you're getting at, but I don't completely agree, even if my circumstances are similar. I still mostly stay on the fringes of things (I can't stand crowds), but when things go bad (whether it's a conflict or not) now I tend to get involved. However, that change occurred before I got so heavily involved in gaming, so I can't attribute it to gaming but simply a personality change in my teens.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Gordo
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 3:33:36 AM
Reply

I think its definately a debate that will keep coming up especially as gaming becomes more mainstream.

I personally think that violent games don't necessarily turn someone violent but if that is all your focus is on for hours and days at a time it will definately have an influence (at the very least make you groggy and agitated).

I like to use the word "pre-disposition". Someone who has a slight pre-disposition to violence through nature or nurture or whatever probably does get off on the violence in games. This may rub off on them when they are in the "real world".

Same as alcohol, drugs or porn. If you have a pre-disposition to a certain addictive behavior and you have an outlet for it such as the Internet, drug dealing friends or gaming console, then you can become addicted to it and may become accustomed to its pleasures.

Anyway, interesting topic. Not preaching to anyone as I've got one of those addictive personalities myself and have been through many phases of life addicted to one thing or another!

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

___________
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 5:15:37 AM
Reply

violent games dont desensitize you to violence, they dont desensitize you to anything!
if anything its quite the opposite!
i use to be able to watch gory movies, hostel, the passion, had absolutely no effect on me!
after playing heavy rain though its quite the opposite, hell i cant even watch saw without feeling queesy!
hell, i had to go to the specialist on monday to get the stitches out of my finger and the sight of the massive scar up both sides of my finger made me feel like i was going to bring up my breaky!

interactive entertainment does not desensitize you simply because, well, its exactly that its entertainment.
ITS NOT REAL!
i dont think anything can desensitize you though, if anything quite the opposite.
war for example, if you see 100 of your closest friends blown to pieces, is that going to make seeing the 101 person any easier?
if anything it would make it worse because of the trauma, reliving the circumstances.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 6 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 10:11:08 AM

Ah, I think you're missing a key difference between the kinds of very violent games that might cause a short lived increase in aggression and a game like Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain does not immerse you in a constant diet of reward driven extreme violence. In Heavy Rain the violence is not the unrelenting tapestry of the game, it's not literally what the game is about. Heavy Rain uses the violence in it in a dramatic way to advance the story and to make you uneasy. In fact I feel that Heavy rain does in a game what only the best movies and novels can do. They draw you into the characters and story and then the use of violence happens sharply, to literally shock the player/viewer/reader. It plays on your involvement in the story, using that involvement to heighten your reaction and distaste for what is happening.

You might find yourself being very uncomfrotable at times, perhaps your skin felt like ti was crawling while playing certain parts of Heavy Rain. that's a far cry from the gleeful expression on a player's face as he/she pulls of a long killing spree in a shooter.

In the shooter there is no story, no involvement it's just constant hyper violence with ever more realistic depictions of the outcome of that violence, but no risk to the player since they merely respawn. The acts of violence in a shooter are constantly rewarded, and the very structure of the game and competition with friends reinforces the rewards and urges the player on to more.

In my mind there really cannot be a better contrast than Heavy Rain and Call of Duty. They show the opposite ends of the spectrum. So I find it interesting that Heavy Rain had the effect you say it did on you. I think that makes you more human, because you can be affected in such a way, but I don't think that it says anything about the power of shooters such as Call of Duty to desensitize players to violence.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Fane1024
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 5:57:23 PM

Hmmm...do I believe the results of a scientific study which shows there is a correlation or do I believe the anecdotal contention of someone (who has a histoy of having the exact opposite opinion of games than the majority) which says there is no correlation?

That's a tough one.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Razmoudah
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 6:44:31 AM

And here's another perfect example of the inconsistent nature of the human psyche. I'm not familiar with Heavy Rain, so I can't comment on the first portion, but I certainly can on the second.

___________ does bring up an interesting point. Some people don't get used to the loss of life no matter how many friends they lose in a war (losing friend 101 hurts just as much as losing friend 1), while others hardly have any problems with it at all. I actually cried at the end of Chrono Cross when Kid and Serge are separated because of being from different temporal streams, yet the death of Rose at the end of Legend of Dragoon didn't phase me. Heck, the only complaint I have with the ending of Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom (it's an anime) is that you don't know who shot Reiji (I'm not sure if that's spelled right) and that the girl who liked him probably won't know he's dead and that it won't do her any good to wait for him. Friends separated by circumstances other than death affects me a lot more than when someone dies. I know that's an abnormal reaction, but it also proves that different people have different reactions to the same stimuli.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

___________
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 9:41:55 AM

yea heavy rain was a bad example.
ive been watching violent crap ever since i was a kid, i mean i remember watching blade when i was 6 and back then that was the most violent out there crap there was!
does not mean im desensitized to it, or am more tentative to it.
hell a friend of mines father whos a priest and has never played or watched a violent thing in his life!
though if i had a penny for every time he went off his rocker and hurled crap across the room id be rich enough to buy M$, ninty and sony twice over!
for no reason either, i remember last week I dropped my friend off after going to see pirates, he just got home and saw his wife left the groceries on the bench and he flipped!
he hates coming home to a mess, but seriously one bloody bag of groceries?
or even a few months ago some one backed into him in the parking lot and he chased them out of the car park!
dont see me doing that.............

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 10:16:06 AM

LOL! Well, priests bottle up their anger and frustration for years and eventually it has to escape somehow...watch out for older priests - that's all I'll say...

;)

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

kevinater321
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 6:24:12 AM
Reply

Well i used to walk around like sly after playing sly 2 so maybe he is onto something. I never pick-pocketed anyone hough :)

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

D1g1tal5torm
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 6:38:59 AM
Reply

Hmm, I'm sceptical of these findings.

There are just too many base variables in human behaviour to say there is a link between subjective responses such as aggression and a persons capacity to cope with certain situations.

To form a hypothesis from such a small sample size is not scientific.

It is suggestive of a link, but not much more than that. It is indicitave that much more research needs to be done. Greater sample sizes, age ranges, ethnicity, intelligence, etc, etc, etc. need to be included to smooth out the results.

Would he be sure enough of his process to publish a paper in the Lancet?

Agree with this comment 5 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:42:09 AM

I don't think you're being very realistic, science is about small steps, you find your niche and study the hell out of it, find out what others in your field have done and try and fill in the gaps or carve out new areas, one sliver at a time.

Also, there are thousands upon thousands of people doing science, not all of them can publish in a Lancet, Science or Nature, but that doesn't mean that their work is any less relevant.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

D1g1tal5torm
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 5:34:24 AM

On the contrary - I am being realistic.

That's why I make the points about the limited sample size.

As you said, you study the hell out it. You make concrete your findings.

To make public findings based on such a limited experiment sometimes does more harm than good.

Oh - that point re Lancet, it was to made to ask the level of conviction of the results. It wasnt made for any other reason.

Last edited by D1g1tal5torm on 6/3/2011 5:36:17 AM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Underdog15
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 12:39:33 PM

@Digital Storm
This is a study on the human brain, primarily. It isn't a study on societal norms. It isn't meant to determine best advertising. It isn't drug testing. It has nothing to do with physical health, and diversity or family history is not a perceived factor. You don't need a large sample size. All you need is enough normal and psychologically healthy people who fit only a couple criteria to make a worthwhile finding.

It's not a study that is affected by diversity. The human mind is far less original than free society would like to believe. You don't need a big sample size to determine normal human psychological tendencies. Since diversity isn't a required component for a sample size and it has nothing to do with physical health, you don't need hundreds or thousands of test samples.

70 should be more than enough. In fact, I bet you could come to similar findings simply by studying 20 or even less. Additionally, since all 70 supported the hypothesis, there is no cause to worry the sample size was not large enough. The odds that he just happened to find 70 of exact minds without any variables is almost negligible.

I don't feel in this example an argument against sample size is applicable.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 6/3/2011 12:41:15 PM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Bigtuna1
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 8:55:03 AM
Reply

In unrelated news PS STORE IS BACK UP!!! yeah

Agree with this comment 5 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

maxpontiac
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 9:03:10 AM
Reply

Dr. Bartholow said --

"Other factors, like parental involvement, can contribute to aggression"

And that, is all I need to hear. I am glad he acknowledges this for I believe that proper parenting is the most important aspect of them all.

Not enough of these studies stress that point.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Alienange
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 9:13:51 AM

Agreed and agreed.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 10:15:38 AM

Yes, but I sense that you're absolving games of any influence at all in this comment, and that was not the point - I believe. I think that the point is that the games represent a part of the tapestry of influences on our minds. For some that influence will be slight, for others it will be greater due to their exposure and other factors in their personality.

I don't believe that the aim of this report was to pin society's ills on games, or absolve parents from blame. The point was to determine whether there was any impact of video game violence on the player, whether it be short lived or long lived. In our increasingly violent society, do we need to expose ourselves to more or fewer influences on our disposition that might make us more aggressive?

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

maxpontiac
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 9:58:07 AM

I believe you made an assumption, Highlander. I am not trying to give anything a free pass or point the finger at something. I am also not ignoring his findings.

For all I am doing is stressing the importance of parenting above nearly everything else.

For example, as a father, I am responsible for controlling the sphere of influence over my children. All the studies and experts in the world don't matter if I am not doing my fatherly job!

Last edited by maxpontiac on 6/3/2011 9:58:43 AM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 10:20:54 AM

Perhaps I am making an assumption. Your post seemed to me to be demoting the findings to a very small place of relevancy and at the same time advancing the issue of parenting to the top of the pile. As it happens, I *do* agree that parenting is *the* most important influence on young minds followed closely by entertainment choice, peer pressure and education. I totally agree that parents have to be the first line of defense and parents that don't do their job are a major problem when it comes to kids playing violent games or for that matter watching violent or sexually explicit entertainment, or even forming poor associations with the 'wrong' kind of people. I just felt that by switching your discussion to that point you were turning away from this research on adult gamers and desensitization, to focus on parents and kids.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

maxpontiac
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 10:53:19 AM

Highlander -

It's why I hate the internet. If you and were to have this conversation face to face, I believe there would be little, if any reason for confusion or misunderstandings.

I post while I am at work, so sometimes what I write may not accurately represent my thoughts or come off as confusing due to my inability to spend the necessary time required to post in clear fashion. My apologies.

I wasn't trying to change gears at all per se, I was just placing a heavy emphasis on parenting. The family unit in America as a whole is severely broken right now, and I believe it's a bigger issue then what's wrong with certain forms of entertainment.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 11:21:42 AM

Indeed, I agree with all of that. Text only communication is a terribly limiting method of communication. I think we do a great job here, even if it involves occasional mis-understandings.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

maxpontiac
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 12:04:50 PM

Agreed. It's why I love this place. Great staff and great members make for an excellent experience.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 9:59:10 AM
Reply

Guys, Dr. Bartholow would like to come in and reply to some of your posts. I told him that was fine, because we're a community that would react well to a guest like him.

...don't make me look silly. ;)

Agree with this comment 11 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 10:16:08 AM

That should be a very interesting discussion.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:08:05 AM

That's great Ben! I think it would help if many people here read the article (http://socialcogneurolab.missouri.edu/pdfs/CRE_BDB_GTK_BJB_inpress_JESP.pdf). I don't have any background in psychology cognitive physiology, but I was able to see that many of the comments posted here could easily be addressed. People would then find out that similar studies using other forms of violent media have been done before, it's not just about how people physically respond/react to violent media it's how their brain reacts to violent media, and that the 70 (plus 6 disqualified) people in this study came from a pool of 2000.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Mornelithe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 10:47:31 AM
Reply

That's a very interesting discussion you had with Dr. Bartholow, Ben. I would have to say in my case however, that the world, not video games, is what has made me personally more aggressive since I was younger. As my awareness of the world, the events taking place daily, increased from childhood, my...overall disdain for the human race increased.

In fact, games are really my only non-violent outlet for when I do get angry, pissed off, bitter, etc... Otherwise, it probably would be directed into the real world, where I don't really want it. I realize that my dislike for most people, doesn't necessarily mean that every person is worthy of that dislike. So, a less destructive outlet, such as video games, is vital to my co-existence with society.

But, I really have to point out, that for every crazy violent thing you can do in a video game, I know of countless real-life examples of human sickness, perversion and barbarism, that make the games pale in comparison. Anything you can do in a video game, has been done already, by some sick twisted person, a thousand times over.

As for being aggressive directly after, not really. I tend to 'rage' really hard, for a short period of time (being that angry, takes allot out of you). And after going on a killing spree in game, listening to black/death metal etc... I'm kind of exhausted mentally. Of course, this isn't an everyday thing, no I'm not going raving mad daily hah. I have my moments though, as do we all.

Anyway, great read, thanks for the follow-up with Dr. Bartholow. It at least made me think about it for awhile, before responding.

Last edited by Mornelithe on 6/2/2011 10:49:39 AM

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 10:52:04 AM

It'd be interesting to see a study that deals with games as a stress-reliever. I think many of us play games - especially as we get older - to relax and mellow out.

Plus, it'd be a nice spin on the standard; i.e., playing a game and then testing the impact that game had. In this case, we'd take a stressed-out, potentially aggressive individual and have them sit down and play a game, and THEN test the impact.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Mornelithe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:11:00 AM

Agreed Ben, it would definitely provide another valuable look at gaming entertainment as a whole. We definitely have our fill of 'violence in games breeds violence in reality' research/expirements.

I think, as we've both indicated, that it really just depends on the person. Some people work one way, while others work in a completely different way.

When it boils down to it, I think we'll find that there realy is no true overall effect of gaming, just allot of effects that spread over many segments of the populace.

Maybe you could also ask Dr. Bartholow, why America especially, seems to promote violence, while generally being extremely shy/protective of sexuality. It's like, killing and maiming are awesome...but our own bodies are taboo? I've never understood that about America.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

D1g1tal5torm
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:25:47 AM

@mornelithe - I like your point. I play games to relax - I see it as more of a hobby than anything else.

On the subject of the experiment:

Does Dr. Bartholow think he would see the same observations after the subjects had played an intense racing game.

In my opinion, I think that a gamer would be more aggressive/stimulated after playing an intense game of any nature.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Mornelithe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:40:59 AM

@ Ben: More on that topic, I think Dr. B (Awesome...Dr. Boskonovitch from Tekken 3....awesome), could have a very interesting expirement involving both young and older gamers to see differences in how gaming effects the two demographics.

I still think, personally, that society views gaming as a child/teenager thing. And that many haven't caught up to the fact that older gamers are probably one of growing segments of the industry. I don't necessarily mean 60+ year olds...even though my Dad has played video games actively...for about as long as I can remember. I mean people who are clearly not children, and not teenagers.

It could be a very interesting study.

@ D1g1t4l5t0rm:

Absolutely, if gaming simply made me more angry/aggressive, I don't think I'd do it as much. I'd probably fill that time with reading more. It's a huge stress reliever for me though, irreplaceable at this point.

Last edited by Mornelithe on 6/2/2011 11:42:47 AM

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:48:29 AM

I'd love to see a study looking at the positive effects of video games as a release for stress. It would be interesting to debate whether the lower aggression as the result of stress relief would outweigh the heightened aggression resulting from playing a violent game as stress relief.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Razmoudah
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 7:16:24 AM

That's a study I would also like to see done. Especially as I prefer to play evil/destruction path characters when I'm extremely frustrated with the world, and that's the only times I ever mess with my destruction path characters. I occasionally (as in a couple times a year) play an evil path one at other times to keep the story moving (so that I can see the storyline differences, and that's usually after having completed the game with a good path character).

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

professorb
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:14:27 AM
Reply

I'd like to comment on a few issues regarding my study and the reaction to it. As JohnnyR correctly points out, there are many factors that can contribute to aggression. However, in an experiment such as mine, those other factors cannot account for the results. This is because the research participants were randomly assigned to game conditions (violent vs. nonviolent) in the lab. That means that all factors other than game condition (for example, predisposition to act aggressively; parental involvement; criminal history; "mental issues"; etc.) are distributed relatively equally between the two conditions. In other words, there is just as much chance that an aggressive person will be assigned to the nonviolent game condition as to the violent game condition, and therefore any such pre-existing factors will cancel out. Thus, any difference in aggressiveness (or brain responses to violence, in the case of my study) that occur after the game playing episode can ONLY be attributed to the effects of the games. This is the true power of an experiment, as opposed to, say, one's opinion or mere observation.

Again, numerous factors can and do contribute to aggressive behavior. My study (and numerous others) shows that one of those factors is playing violent video games. Does this mean that ALL violent game players will become more aggressive? No, it does not. Does it mean that, on average, a person who plays a violent game will behave more aggressively, in one way or another, for some period of time after they play the game? Yes, indeed it does.

GuernicaReborn asks what would happen to a person who doesn't play either game for 25 min. That question was addressed in one of my previous studies (Marc A. Sestir & Bruce D. Bartholow, (2010), "Violent and nonviolent video games produce opposing effects on aggressive and prosocial outcomes." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 934-942). In that set of experiments, participants either played a violent video game, a nonviolent video game, or no video game for 30 min. We found that the subjects who played the violent game were most aggressive, the people who played the nonviolent game were least aggressive, and the people who played neither game were in the middle. We also found that the game effects on aggression were relatively short-lived, somewhere less than 15 min. So, any single exposure to a video game (at least if that exposure is pretty short, like 20-30 min) seems to have fairly short-term consequences, but these effects can become more stable and long-lasting with repeated exposure.

Agree with this comment 10 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Mornelithe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:23:07 AM

Thank you for the additional information ProfessorB.

Some decent food for thought.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:56:08 AM

So, there appears to be a cumulative effect resulting from regular and sustained play? That tallies with my own personal anecdotal experience with friends who have been 'sucked' into playing such games on a daily basis. They have become more aggressive in their use of language and style of communication in daily life. Not all of them, but I have seen people change some over time.

One aspect that Mornelithe raised a few comments earlier was whether there might also be a positive side, so to speak, where a game might relax a stressed individual, reducing their aggression. From the sounds of things your study would appear to equalize that kind of factor by randomizing the participants. Is there any movement to further research this with a larger sample? Or is the sample size chosen sufficient for statistical validity?

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

maxpontiac
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 10:02:25 AM

Mr B said -

"Does this mean that ALL violent game players will become more aggressive? No, it does not. Does it mean that, on average, a person who plays a violent game will behave more aggressively, in one way or another, for some period of time after they play the game? Yes, indeed it does."

That's pretty much my belief system on this subject, and it's the reason why I believe being the best father I can be requires my involvement to monitor my children's behavior and their hobbies.

In the end, the buck stops here.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 10:23:16 AM

Max, I think we agree 1005 regarding parenting. My son's games are closely monitored, even to the extent of ensuring that what he plays is age appropriate in both directions. Of course he is on the autism spectrum and has specific issues that result in very easy backsliding if we don't continually encourage and push more age appropriate material in every way. However I agree with your approach regardless of the child's developmental needs, the buck does indeed stop with the parent(s).

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

leatherface
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 11:57:24 AM
Reply

These studies have been done before. Comic books, movies, and music. All have proved nothing.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 12 down Disagree with this comment

Mornelithe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 12:06:31 PM

I'd like to see you prove that, with more supporting information than a 15 word response.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Underdog15
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 12:43:42 PM

And without a clear misunderstanding of what the study is about.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

SolidFantasy
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 1:38:40 PM
Reply

At the end of the day we'll always have the rating guide lines on the box. If parents don't take those seriously it's hard to point a finger at video games.
They could take this study a step further and see what other cues lead to temporary aggression through out our day.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 1:41:13 PM

The thing is, this study wasn't about kids playing violent games, it was about people in general, not just children. So talking about parents doing their job doesn't really address what this study talks about. Also, this study doesn't really point a finger at video games it simply points out that video games should be considered part of the picture in terms of the things that affect our levels of aggression.

Last edited by Highlander on 6/2/2011 1:42:47 PM

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Mornelithe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 2:07:19 PM

@ SolidFantasy: As Highlander said, this wasn't necessarily about children, this was more about the tendancies of people immediately following playing a violent video game. Dr. B also did go to some lengths to explain that this study in no way exonerates or solves the entire violence issue. Simply, in some people, it could be a contributing factor.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 2:33:21 PM

Solid,

Remember, this study was looking at neural response and temporary aggression following violent video games. Other forms of "media violence" have found similar results and references to these studies are cited in the article. Also, I have no doubts that there have been other studies that have looked at propensity of (increased or decreased) aggression in relation to stress, alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, physical exercise, sleep deprivation, etc.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

SolidFantasy
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 4:53:24 PM

Thanks guys... duly noted

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

D1g1tal5torm
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 6:46:08 PM

It's a fair point in terms of direction of the study.

Children,ie under the age of the game gamers, should be the subject of the study. How they react at young age, how they develop/react over a period of time etc would be a more useful experiment. Especially bearing in mind the prevalence of games in a childs development nowadays.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Simcoe
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 9:51:19 PM

D1g1tal5torm,

It's all about taking small steps and laying the foundation to build future studies upon.

In this article, there are two studies cited that examined the desensitization of children to television violence, one from 1973, and another in 2003 titled "Longitudinal relations between children's exposure to TV violence and their aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood: 1977-1992". Perhaps in time, there will be a similar study using children's exposure to video game violence.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Fane1024
Thursday, June 02, 2011 @ 6:11:00 PM
Reply

Can we all agree that games depend too much on violent acts as the primary element of gameplay?

Not because it makes us aggressive, but because it's monotonous.

More diverse (non-violent) activities, even in shooters!

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Razmoudah
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 7:27:02 AM

I predominantly play RPG's, so I usually have plenty of non-violent options within the game. I do agree that it can get monotonous though (I have over 100 games, and have completed only 10 or so, I get tired of the level grind that always occurs at some point and lose interest in it), and keeping things interesting and varied is important.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Razmoudah
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 7:36:25 AM
Reply

And as a final comment on the study: It's hard to say that they were studying violence vs. non-violence in the video game content with a game like Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy in the non-violent group, it does have some violence within it. It'd be more accurate to say it was studying graphic violence vs. non-graphic violence in the video game content (for any who haven't played Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, the violence is roughly comparable to The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker, there's just less of it). In addition, I'm an introvert, damn near a hermit really, and yet I know my response to the [i]pictures[/i] of violence would be rather low (it's already happened, can't do much about it), but my reaction to actually happening violence.........well, if it's staged then I hope their health insurance is payed up, they'll need it before they get a chance to warn me that it isn't real. If it isn't staged then they probably need to worry more about their life insurance policy, it's easier to kill than to capture. Which is part of why I keep my distance from people, I don't want the assault/murder rap of interfering in something, even if it did save someone else or stop a robbery.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

gumbi
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 8:02:14 AM
Reply

I think an important distinction that needs to be made here is the difference between a violent video game and an intense video game. Games that get your adrenaline up, get you pumped and into it. Those are the factors that are likely to make you more aggressive for a time. No different than watching your favourite sports team play in the finals.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 10:24:43 AM

Indeed, but I think that was the desensitization element to the work. You're right about aggression and even competitiveness - which can be misread as aggression. But the violence in the form of entertainment may lead to desensitization on top of the heightened aggression.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Dylsco
Saturday, June 04, 2011 @ 3:38:33 AM
Reply

After playing video games I do not think I am violent, however, during playing games I can get really competitive and might yell or swear because I am frustrated (not just online, but during a hard boss battle or stuff like that) And I rarely ever swear, so I think that the study has some merit.

Although again, as others have said, I think it goes deeper than simply "playing a video game" as it has to do with a deep emotion connection and immersion into the game's world and characters. So that is definitely where the adrenaline kicks in.


Interesting study though, I look forward to hearing more, thanks Ben!

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Tommyhim8
Saturday, June 04, 2011 @ 4:18:50 PM
Reply

I agree, who's controling you the video game our someone/something greater and bigger? And who's its real creator/maker and what kinda motive does He have..... Jesus is pure !

Last edited by Tommyhim8 on 6/4/2011 4:19:22 PM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

DeathOfChaos
Sunday, June 05, 2011 @ 4:50:47 PM
Reply

Well, now, he said that the point was to prove it makes people immediately after playing a violent video game make 'dirty looks' at people and cut people off in traffic... it sounds more like the result of a sore loser who keeps losing on a game period, lol. When you're aggravated, you'll give people mean looks and all that. I remember playing a Spongebob game on the PS1 and parts of the game pissed me off so bad, I'm sure I gave dirty looks to people, lol. I've done the same with any game that's aggravated me, aywhere from Super Mario 64 to playing Mortal Kombat online. But not because Mortal Kombat is violent, but because people who fight online are so freaking cheap, lol.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

topoloco
Saturday, June 11, 2011 @ 11:55:30 AM
Reply

There is "conclusive" evidence on both sides of the debate. The problem is that audiences usually cherry-pick the evidence they want to hear, the one that supports their pre-conceived idea.

I will not take sides, but to say that these imagery does not affect behaviour is as misleading as to say it totally shapes it.

Look, images have a huge effect on our psychology. Sure, we can tell the difference between images and reality, but do we want to? Let's not talk about children, grown adult males who watch pornography certainly understand that the girl on YouPorn is really just a collection of colored pixels, but that does not stop them from having an erection.

Honestly, we don't need Harvard scientists to know that media violence and real violence feed on each other. Did the Ancient Romans enjoy violent shows because they lived in a violent culture, or did they lived in a violent culture because they enjoyed violence? What came first, the hen or the chicken?

Last edited by topoloco on 6/11/2011 11:56:23 AM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Lairfan
Friday, June 17, 2011 @ 12:24:48 PM
Reply

Good study, but it sounds like it was too small to really determine anything of value. If they took more factors into account in a larger experiment, maybe they could come to more conclusive conclusions.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Leave a Comment

Please login or register to leave a comment.

Our Poll

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a timed Xbox exclusive, and...
...I'm so pissed, I can't see straight.
...I'm annoyed, but I can be patient.
...I'm not caring much at all.
...I think it's actually a good thing.

Previous Poll Results