Posted in: e-commerce, Gadgets, Special Report, User behavior, Video games
Does playing a violent video game really make players more prone to be violent in real life? That’s a question that’s been batted about (no pun intended) for decades, since the first electronic game systems hit the market. The answer?
It’s complicated. There have been thousands of studies in the intervening years that have tried to prove — one way or the other — that playing a good game of shoot ‘em up makes fans of these games more likely to behave violently.
Regardless, the popularity of video games — violent or not — has skyrocketed. Despite the lousy economy, or some might say due to it, sales of U.S. computer and video game software sales grew 22.9% 2008 to $11.7 billion – more than quadrupling industry software sales since 1996.
With all those sales at stake, the industry is doing all it can to keep its image pristine and controversy free.
In pursuit of this polished image, the gaming industry has also labored long and hard to dispute any connection between violent games and things like criminal assault or murder.
And it is a fact that crime has actually gone down in recent decades — something the gaming industry likes to point to whenever their products are linked to unsavory behavior.
But it’s unlikely that even the folks who shill for the industry would claim that playing violent video games (VVGs) actually makes folks less prone to violence.
Or would they?
In the face of a new study from researchers at Iowa State University that playing violent video games increases violent thinking, attitudes and behaviors among players (and does nothing to promote positive social behaviors), the gaming industry is going on the attack.
On the Web site of the Entertainment Software Association, researcher Dorothy E. Salonius-Pasternak is quoted about how electronic games may also have potential benefits for young players that include “providing children with the opportunity to negotiate society rules and roles, allowing children with the opportunity to experiment with aggression in a safe setting without real world consequences.”
Good idea. Even without a lot of academic data to bolster her hypothesis, this argument seems a little cockeyed: Learn about inappropriate behavior by indulging in it without repercussions. What a great idea!
Kind of like the parents who claim they’re teaching their kids to drink responsibly by letting teens and their buddies drink at home under adult supervision.
None of these researchers acknowledge that the population most likely to be violent (men younger than 30) has actually shrunk in recent years. Few mention the impact on crime of mandatory sentencing guidelines and the popularity of “three strikes you’re out” laws around the country that have locked up a good number of the violent criminals in our midst.
In the meantime, the Iowa researcher, Craig Anderson and his team, are getting their collective clocks cleaned by others who don’t like their conclusions.
Their research was an analysis of existing studies of 130,000 people from the U.S., Europe and Japan. Their findings were based on players in Western and Eastern cultures, for male and female players and for players of various ages.
They also contradict some earlier studies that the Iowa researchers believe may be tainted by “selection bias” — the way studies were picked for analysis.
The Iowa study notes that while violence in movies and TV shows has long been examined for its potential impact on viewers’ proclivity for violence, video gaming, a much newer phenomenon, has not yet been so fully explored.
In its review of data, the new research found that exposure to violent video games was associated with aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition and aggressive “affect.” The Iowa researchers concluded that VVGs desensitize users and are associated with lack of empathy and a lack of “prosocial” behavior.
What do you think? Take our short survey and let us know if you believe VVGs and actual violence are linked.
For a closer look at the new Iowa study, visit here.
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