New Study Questions Entire Violent Videogame Debate

| 9 Apr 2012 13:20

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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