New Study Questions Entire Violent Videogame Debate

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New Study Questions Entire Violent Videogame Debate

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A new study out of Sweden suggests that the entire basis for the debate over the impact of violent videogames may be flawed.

Arguments about the influence of violent videogames on violent behavior in the real world have raged back and forth for years, with scientists of various stripes telling us alternately that games with guns will turn us into homicidal maniacs or prove the safe outlet that will keep it from happening. But after spending hundreds of hours playing and watching others play online, a research team from the University of Gothenberg in Sweden says the very validity of the question may be in doubt.

In a study entitled "How Gamers Manage Aggression: Situating Skills in Collaborative Computer Games," researchers looked at team-based online games which "call for sophisticated and well-coordinated collaboration" in order to succeed and the people who play them. As it turns out, good players are "strategic and technically knowledgeable," while the jerks, including those who tend to behave overtly aggressively or emotionally, tend to suck. In other words, they make poor gamers.

"The suggested link between games and aggression is based on the notion of transfer, which means that knowledge gained in a certain situation can be used in an entirely different context. The whole idea of transfer has been central in education research for a very long time. The question of how a learning situation should be designed in order for learners to be able to use the learned material in real life is very difficult, and has no clear answers," said researcher Jonas Ivarsson. "In a nutshell, we're questioning the whole gaming and violence debate, since it's not based on a real problem but rather on some hypothetical reasoning."

It's hard not to notice that despite occasional outbursts of hysteria, the rise of videogaming as a mainstream pastime hasn't seen a corresponding rise in violent crime, particular among youth. There may be "no clear answers," but could it be that we've been asking the wrong questions all along?

Source: Science Daily

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Maybe this will change the question to "does violent games make gamers into strategic jerks rather than outspoken ones?".

All joking aside, it's an interesting point to consider. Though I still don't believe that all gamers deal with aggressive, violent content the same way so any study that tries to say how violent games affect everyone is flawed in itself.

As always the sheep of the masses will always blame what they do not understand and it will always come down to bad parenting but nobody wants to blame the parents.

I don't understand. Either this is missing the entire point of the argument, or I've been wrong about it the whole time. I always thought the argument was about whether or not violent videogames desensitises people (especially children) to violence, such that they consider violence to be a reasonable solution to a problem, and won't be traumatised by their actions (eg. a kid is being bullied by another kid, so they find weapon and attempt to bash the bully's head in, without remorse).

This study basically just suggests a correlation between gaming skill and aggressiveness, and questions the concept of transfer of skills from gaming to real life, which is still an interesting subject of course, and relevant to the issue, but isn't the core of the issue, insofar as I can tell. Am I wrong?

A single new study doesn't prove/disprove anything. It makes me insane how people think a single study means anything. Just like a single study never proved a link between violent videogames and violence in real life, this study doesn't disprove it either.

Violence in video games is merely an expression of the obsession with violence that is already prevalent in popular culture and in the human psyche. Exposure to it doesn't change a FUCKING THING about who I am as a person. It just makes me realize it. Too bad I can't publish a study that says that right now.

So the study is saying that rather than video games having a marked effect on your personality in the real world, your real world tendencies are more likely to have an effect on how you play the game. That seems about right.

Alternatively we could just wait another few years until the media gets bored of video games as a scapegoat for violence and decides to blame hacky sacks or something.

Well, there is a problem with this study in terms of "playing the system, rather than the game" which is frequently an issue with a lot of team based games. I think that emotion and aggression tends to be an advantage on an individual level, where the more laid back "technical" approach works better in a team enviroment where it becomes more about the underlying mechanics than any real personal abillity. 4 guys working in coordination being able to overcome a single opponent, no matter how skilled in the general mechanics, because the game is designed that way.

Hence why you have "call outs" for duels in MMORPGs or various small scale deathmatches between players with some frequency, which don't always wind up favoring the guy who dominates in a team enviroment.

I guess it comes down to the differance between a warrior, and a soldier. Warriors are far, far better fighters and better at a lot more things, soldiers are far less skilled but can overcome warriors through teamwork (even in large numbers) and are comparitively easier to train. The quintessential example being how the Romans were able to wipe out fierce barbarian warriors who outnumbered them using what amounted to poorly trained conscripts in some cases (the legions and such being an exception, but it wasn't always the legions doing the fighting) simply by being able to drill people fairly rapidly in making Phalanxs, Shield Walls, and employing other group tactics which required very little in the way of individual skill or martial knowlege comparitively. 20 guys working on cocert the right way can form a barrier that a hundred guys who are all tougher but fighting as individuals aren't going to be able to break (at least not easily).

Not a perfect analogy, but the point is that I think it scews the entire arguement away from aggressive behavior, and more into a simple understandind of how coordinated behavior trumps individual heroics in most cases... something we've known for thousands of years.

It's also why I've been a big believer that in games that reward team tactics, there needs to be seperate queues for solo players and coordinated groups that queue together for things to remain fun for everyone involved... but that's a whole differant discussion.

Well, we would need to determine what they consider strategic and technically knowledgable... because there are incredibly aggressive individuals who consider glitching to be "strategic" actions and when you question their methods you immediately get abuse.

So is their clarification on what they consider to be strategic?

Eh. People in my college class were complaining that Hunger Games wasn't as gory and violent as the trailers made it out to be, and some of them even asked their money back because of it. These are people that have never touched a video game in their lives.

So yeah. I think it's more of a socialial thing.

Andronicus:
I don't understand. Either this is missing the entire point of the argument, or I've been wrong about it the whole time. I always thought the argument was about whether or not violent videogames desensitises people (especially children) to violence, such that they consider violence to be a reasonable solution to a problem, and won't be traumatised by their actions (eg. a kid is being bullied by another kid, so they find weapon and attempt to bash the bully's head in, without remorse).

This study basically just suggests a correlation between gaming skill and aggressiveness, and questions the concept of transfer of skills from gaming to real life, which is still an interesting subject of course, and relevant to the issue, but isn't the core of the issue, insofar as I can tell. Am I wrong?

No you are completely right. They are using the same tactic that the other side is which is talking about something else to distract your opponent from the core issue. This strategy is commonly used when somebody either knows they are wrong or they dont know what they are talking about.

Luca72:

Alternatively we could just wait another few years until the media gets bored of video games as a scapegoat for violence and decides to blame hacky sacks or something.

THOSE DAMN HACKEY SACKS, They are ruinin' our youth! Someone think of the children!

pandorum:
As always the sheep of the masses will always blame what they do not understand and it will always come down to bad parenting but nobody wants to blame the parents.

We all know it's the parents but the politicians won't call them out on it because the don't want to lose the vote come election season.

Baresark:
A single new study doesn't prove/disprove anything. It makes me insane how people think a single study means anything. Just like a single study never proved a link between violent videogames and violence in real life, this study doesn't disprove it either.

This is exactly right. Especially in psychological research, which is usually a lot less definite than the "hard" sciences. This is why they keep making these studies, if a study was definite there would be no need to keep questioning if videogames affect violent behaviour.

My dissertation project found that oppenness to experience and neuroticism affected levels of immersion into videogames, but I'm not about to claim that that proves anything (ignoring that I doubt my dissertation is quite as vigorously tested as a proper journal article).

Its taken this long. Its taken this long for a study to grasp the basic idea of what a videogame is. Here was me thinking they would never atually get it but bravo, a study has actually gone and said what we all already know. Playing a game involves using a games mechanics, not using the same though/action process actually carrying out that action would take, Visa-vie; im pressing X not actually killing a man.

Actually a wrote a rather long post about this simple fact about a year ago let me still see if its on by blog;

"The thing is with most modern games the act of digital murder is indistinguishable from the act of say, truing on a digital microwave to ruin a scientist's lunch. They are both game mechanics and they both require identical button presses for the player. If you own a modern system or are into any variant of FPS, TPS, Action games, military RTS, Tactical shooters etc etc. you will likely kill many people at a time without a single thought.

The idea that someone could be slaughtering an entire legion of digital people deeply troubles Thousands of self-proclaimed moral voices. But why should they feel uncomfortable? You could replace the people with toast and the bullets with jam and you have pretty much the same experience. Moral panic about games shows first and foremost a total misunderstanding of game mechanics.

If anyone studying/decrying games actually played them for any length of time they would realise that the thought-process involved has more to do with applying yourself to the rules of a game world than the conscious act of killing, we have an urge to beat the game not to beat in real-live heads. For long-time players the guns and soldiers are just a mask to identifying and best exploiting the underlying game mechanics. It can feel as simply as making toast. Because it is not killing a man, it is pushing a button.

pandorum:
As always the sheep of the masses will always blame what they do not understand and it will always come down to bad parenting but nobody wants to blame the parents.

I frequently blame the parents, as I said on the teachers story a week ago or so: it's the parents, if a game has a red circle that says "18" on it, and the back says scenes of horrofic violence, explicit sexual content, or whatever, then it is not for children.

Call of Duty Black Ops is not appropriate for children, otherwise the whole debate is and always has been rather stupid.

I personally think that the only link between violence and videogames is how irritable I get when interrupted, *right after* playing a tense one, and if I'm sucking.

Perhaps staying up all the time playing them could make me more angry due to sleep loss messing up my internals.

Baresark:
A single new study doesn't prove/disprove anything. It makes me insane how people think a single study means anything. Just like a single study never proved a link between violent videogames and violence in real life, this study doesn't disprove it either.

A single study doesn't prove anything?

Actually, a single study can prove quite a lot - as long as its experiments were thorough and well documented.

Plus, speaking as someone with a master in science and a grad thesis on internet culture and norm-formation, then I whole support this study: My own work indicates that people who run around online are quite able to differentiate between what is appropriate to do IRL and what you can get away with online. I would honestly expect the same to apply for gaming: Both are virtual environments, albeit by different standards of course.

Still, its nice to get something to throw back at anyone who cry bloody murder about violent videogames.

SSShhhh!! quit giving away secrets!

being calm and letting people rage wins me so-many games, it's actually quite funny sometimes the situations people get themselves into

also i think these study's tend to mistake sudden releases of emotion as violence / anger when it is not always intended that way

people do tend to bottle up emotions and strain themselves when doing something difficult or complicated

There has never been any evidence to support the idea that playing video games will significantly effect the way children or adults behave in the real world. The hoopla we have seen over this issue is simply the result of people fearing what they don't understand and it has happened to every popular entertainment medium prior to video games.

Think books were never controversial? Here is a quote from Mette Newth from an article about censorship: "The Catholic Church controlled all universities, such as the famous Sorbonne, and also controlled all publications. The Church decreed in 1543 that no book could be printed or sold without permission of the church. Then in 1563, Charles IX of France decreed that nothing could be printed without the special permission of the king. Soon other secular rulers of Europe followed suit. Consequently, European rulers used systems of governmental license to print and publish to control scientific and artistic expressions that they perceived potentially threatening to the moral and political order of society."

Yup, people were afraid of books and enacted laws to control their content.

Various forms of new music have been demonized, the most remembered today being the hysterical lashing out against rock and roll in the 50's and 60's. Albums were burned, people made accusations claiming that the music had satanic messages, that it made young people act out animalistic urges, etc.

In fact some early table top games, notably Dungeons and Dragons, attracted similar claims.

It has been the same with video games. Of course at this point the average age of a gamer is in the 30's. In 30 more years there won't be anymore discussion about the "violent games" debate than there is about violence in TV and other media.

DVS BSTrD:
Violence in video games is merely an expression of the obsession with violence that is already prevalent in popular culture and in the human psyche. Exposure to it doesn't change a FUCKING THING about who I am as a person. It just makes me realize it. Too bad I can't publish a study that says that right now.

I agree, we were crusading long before violent video games. And what about hunting? You're actually taking the life of another living being, for fun, why not bring that into question as well.

Kopikatsu:
Eh. People in my college class were complaining that Hunger Games wasn't as gory and violent as the trailers made it out to be, and some of them even asked their money back because of it. These are people that have never touched a video game in their lives.

So yeah. I think it's more of a socialial thing.

Yeah, it's that voice in your head that makes you slap the other person in the face when you're doing pat-a-cake in kindergarten :P

OT: I tend to think i suck at games pretty bad compared to the average gamer, but i also think i'm quite a timid person. Not very tactical at all really which is why playing the Berserker class in Borderlands was so much fun 'cause i could just activate the action skill (if that's what it was called) and run into the enemy hideouts and punch them all into goo.

Hm... maybe i DO project my violent tendencies into the game to let off steam so i don't shoot up my college :/

Luca72:
So the study is saying that rather than video games having a marked effect on your personality in the real world, your real world tendencies are more likely to have an effect on how you play the game. That seems about right.

Sounds good to me. I like being efficient in whatever I do, especially games. But I never get the urge to shoot someone in the head because he/she got on my nerves.

I don't think it's video games that cause violent behaviour. I think most players can understand pushing buttons to kill pixels does not cause the feelings of guilt and remorse that would come with killing a real person. Besides, when I kill another player online, they may look at a human, but we're all competing in whatever generic shooter we're playing.

The problem is that rarely we have a person who doesn't understand it's a game and they go on a shooting spree later on. The Fox News (FAWCKS NUUZ) uses it to fight video games. In this case, the game is a catalyst. But the major problem is the few people who play a video game that take it the wrong way and kill people IRL.

Andronicus:
I don't understand. Either this is missing the entire point of the argument, or I've been wrong about it the whole time. I always thought the argument was about whether or not violent videogames desensitises people (especially children) to violence, such that they consider violence to be a reasonable solution to a problem, and won't be traumatised by their actions (eg. a kid is being bullied by another kid, so they find weapon and attempt to bash the bully's head in, without remorse).

This study basically just suggests a correlation between gaming skill and aggressiveness, and questions the concept of transfer of skills from gaming to real life, which is still an interesting subject of course, and relevant to the issue, but isn't the core of the issue, insofar as I can tell. Am I wrong?

Yeah, I was confused about that too. The study seems almost irrelevant to the violent videogame debate.

Although I think violent media does have some negetive effects on people I reeeeeeally think they lean more towards passive ticks in peoples behaviour instead of say violent out bursts. THEN AGAIN im not a scientist (yet) so im proberly just suffering from whacked out poo brain.

Andronicus:
I don't understand. Either this is missing the entire point of the argument, or I've been wrong about it the whole time. I always thought the argument was about whether or not violent videogames desensitises people (especially children) to violence, such that they consider violence to be a reasonable solution to a problem, and won't be traumatised by their actions (eg. a kid is being bullied by another kid, so they find weapon and attempt to bash the bully's head in, without remorse).

This study basically just suggests a correlation between gaming skill and aggressiveness, and questions the concept of transfer of skills from gaming to real life, which is still an interesting subject of course, and relevant to the issue, but isn't the core of the issue, insofar as I can tell. Am I wrong?

Well, the skills they're talking about here aren't so much those that provide the capabilities of utilizing lethal weaponry as the skills that let them cope with the emotions and impulses that would commit them to utilizing lethal weaponry in the first place. They aren't asking how the shooter got the gun, they're asking why he got it in the first place, and essentially, that's the entire point of looking at videogames as a causal agent in violence. Desensitizing children to violence may or may not be occurring, however, in co-op environments, even violent co-op environments, the skills of maintaining composure and emotional stability in a group situation are fostered, skills someone who would engage in school shootings would sorely lack.

It's easier to grief with planning and coordination, rather than with anger, this is for certain. Maybe that's just anger redirected. Maybe that means calm is better than rage. Maybe it means I'm slowly flooding your entire tunnel system with lava with you're busy building your project, and I can't wait for you to find out. Maybe it just means I'm vindictive, but that I prefer logic over over emotion, and just know how to regulate myself.

Though, really, it means I enjoy playing games where I can put someone in a terrible situation, then laugh at how they return the favor.

iiiiiiiii dunno...
is being good at videogames necessary to supposedly absorb negative effect, or is it enjoying them that matters.
unless the question is "if the gamers start going on shooting rampages, will it be the ones with good aim?" :P

What they're saying is that angry, aggressive people are not as good at video games.

Shock shock, surprise surprise, games, essentially highly evolves puzzles, are best played by rational puzzle solvers. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually throw the problem out as rational people also make the best murderers, i.e. hitmen. Violence is not necessarily emotionally charge impulse but is also intentional and methodical. All I see is more smoke and mirrors in front of a question that still lacks answers.

Our state scientists tried to refute this calling it a mockery of serious scientists and years of science. Because anyone believes a single word that comes out of those scumsucking government fucktards(Swedish government = full of fucking tards). They always go IT WILL MAAAEK JUU VAAAJUULEEEENT! AND JUU VIEEEL KEEEL PPL! Sorry but if games made everyone violent we'd have a global crisis with people running around murdering people left and right for no reason. Or walking around in dark rooms munching pills listening to monotonous music.

So failing makes people angry and frustrated. I think any sports coach or arcade game repairman could have told us that. ;-)

I think they have a point when they are theorizing whether it's the right question to ask. Another question could be, does distance in social interaction affect us negatively. Heavy use of games, social media, cell phones and many other technological advances might change the way we react towards other people. This might affect us more than the amount of blood in a shooter.

You mean symptoms and causes aren't the same thing?

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Sometimes I feel like half the world missed the evolutionary exit and kept going down the highway to stupid town.

"As it turns out, good players are 'strategic and technically knowledgeable,' while the jerks, including those who tend to behave overtly aggressively or emotionally, tend to suck. In other words, they make poor gamers."

I like this sentence a lot. :)

As for the entire article/post, THANK YOU FOR POSTING IT!!! That couldn't have made more sense if God himself explained it.

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