Violent computer games

Second study on the effects of violent computer games, and this one has also concluded the same thing as the first one: violent computer games can negatively affect a person’s behavior. The geeks who battled this notion in the past few years online on various forums should now shut up, ‘cause they have nothing to back up their claims, while the scientists and the politicians who thought otherwise, do.

Update: A message to the people who replied in my blog post and they just don’t get it and instead they play the devil’s advocate with me just to get on my f*cking nerves: computer games don’t necessarily make you violent, but according to the studies they can make you insensitive to a violent theme in real life. And also, this is not about parents and kids. This is about NEW information (the studies) and what you DO with this new information as an ADULT (or as a kid). As I wrote to Thom’s blog, in the ’50s many people didn’t know that smoking was actually bad. But new studies came through. What you do with this new information is what matters. Not what you knew, or what you want, or what your parents taught you, but what you choose to do from the point on after scientists have concluded and publicized a study that concerns you, the gamer.

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Dan Brokeau wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 2:06 AM PST:

Oh, and I’m _almost_ as pacifistic as you. The only difference is that I won’t encourage locking people up (subjecting them to more violence) for what they do in their own home.

And define _violent_…because Pac-Man qualifies under some definitions. (Oh no, he’s killing the ghosts.)

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Eugenia wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 2:17 AM PST:

Well, it IS my blog, and I can comment to whatever issue is current. Being violent or becoming violent is a community and social issue, not just a “home” issue. Therefore, I can look down to those who play violent games — even in their own home. And this includes my own husband.

Regarding what’s violent and what’s not, you know very well what it is and what is not. I won’t play the devil’s advocate with you.

Dan Brokeau wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 2:53 AM PST:

I have no problem with your commenting here.

Obviously some will act out on violent tendencies. But with Halo (as an example) selling what, 100 million copies, do we have 100 million school shootings?

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Eugenia wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 3:01 AM PST:

Gaming violence does not mean that comes out as violence too. Here’s an example: your girlfriend asks you a stupid question and you would just shout at her, while under other circumstances you wouldn’t. 5 minutes later you keep asking yourself, “what happened, why did I flip”?

So again Dan, stop playing devil’s advocate by bringing dramatic examples to the table. These don’t work with me.

Apotheosis wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 3:46 AM PST:

Also, take a look at this which basically says that, once again the journalists as well as the ’scientists’ liberally repainted the whole picture with plenty of red.

Dan Brokeau wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 5:10 AM PST:

“Because this is my blog. It is you that you suppose to shut up, as a guest.”

I’ll pass the word to Thom.

vince wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 5:42 AM PST:

Violence in video games is a problem.. primarily because it desensitizes people to harmful acts. But the bigger problem is violence on TV. Even though they have rules that only allow violent or sexual shows on TV after a certain time, the adverts for those shows come on at any time of the day (e.g. 2pm on Sunday on Lifetime) and often show the most violent parts of the program anyway.

So while I agree something needs to be done about violent video games, I can’t help but feel it’s all lip service from politicians who are too scared to tackle the bigger problem.

Why? Bread and circus for one. A powerful media lobby is the other.

Alistair McMillan wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 6:23 AM PST:

From the first study:

“When viewing real violence, participants who had played a violent video game experienced skin response measurements significantly lower than those who had played a non-violent video game. The participants in the violent video game group also had lower heart rates while viewing the real-life violence compared to the nonviolent video game group.”


“It appears that individuals who play violent video games habituate or ‘get used to’ all the violence and eventually become physiologically numb to it.”

Where exactly is the scientific evidence that people become “eventually physiologically numb”? Aren’t they making a bit of leap here. All this study proves is that people react a wee bit less when being shown violence a second time, as opposed to people who are seeing it for the first time. Wouldn’t you kind of expect that?

Nothing here proves scientifically that playing violent games makes you more likely to go out and shoot people.

l3v1 wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 6:30 AM PST:

Well, there is one thing that can negatively affect my behavior: reading such studies :P

l3v1 wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 6:41 AM PST:

Anyway, I won’t adhere to no regulation whatsoever which would be based on such superficial studies. What the limit and the threshold of acceptable level of violence is should not lie in the hands of some censors unless their power stops with labeling the games with ratings and then they somehow enforce the checking of IDs and such when somebody buys such games. And that’s it. My levels of violence can’t be raised by some games – which I so rarely play these days, time is money you know – but it can be raised when somebody wants to shove down my throat some stupid game [or anything else] censorship. And among killing hundreds of people in a C&C game, or shooting some in CS, or bashing some trolls and gnomes with a double handed axe, who decides ?

And FYI, studying topics like this can be a funny thing: change your ways of measuring, evaluation, repetition, test subject base, types of games and you can get the results you wish.

Stefan wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 6:45 AM PST:

These studies are useless. Here in the west people want to have a so called “scientific” explanation measured in something tangible for everything. They forget common sense in this process. Of course we are ultimately influenced in one way or another, more or less by everything we interact with or exposed to, culture, people etc. Video games have become such a phenomenon that just cannot be discarded. That doesn’t mean that playing violent games make you a violent person, but denying any kind of influence is just wrong.

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Eugenia wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 6:49 AM PST:

> Nothing here proves scientifically that playing violent games makes you more likely to go out and shoot people.

And who said anything about shooting people? YOU are the one who makes a leap here. The point is to not alter your behavior at all. Just like with drugs, I am against such alterations. I would definitely do not like people who will see a kid beaten in the street and pass it by like f*cking zombies without emotions of mercy instead of calling 911. As a human being you are NOT supposed to “react a wee bit less” on violent themes. You are supposed to react AS MUCH as the society expects you to and do the right thing. Because if we are past violent themes and we are not moved by them anymore, then we are less humans too. I said it before in the drugs thread and I will say it again: sensitivity is very important for a society to go forward.

>All these ’studies’ are bullshit

Right. And what you write isn’t. You remind me a cousin from my village.

Dave wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 7:14 AM PST:

Ooooh, a study. We can call it case-closed because there was a study done. Eugenia, why don’t you shut up and not play violent video games if you don’t like them.

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Eugenia wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 7:30 AM PST:

>We can call it case-closed because there was a study done.

If you don’t have scientific evidence to the contrary, yes.

>why don’t you shut up

Because this is my blog. It is you that you suppose to shut up, as a guest.

Edwin wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 8:13 AM PST:

*Nowhere* in the second study does it say violent games *negatively* affects a persons’ behavior, only that ‘playing a certain type of violent video game may have different short-term effects on brain function than playing a nonviolent, but exciting, game’. You’re extrapolating this to say these different effects are inherently negative, which is not mentioned nor concluded in that article.

Apotheosis wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 10:43 AM PST:

See, when I was a kid, I played two kinds of games. Computer games on my ZX Spectrum alone, and social games (football, basketball, various silly kids games, etc) with other kids. As far as I remember, it was far more ‘dangerous’ to get into an agressive situation in the latter games, rather than my computer games. Kids were mean then, without computer games, and are mean now.
All these ’studies’ are bullshit, to be honest, and driven by political mostly reasons. Society tends to have violent kids mostly when it has parents that don’t give a toss about raising said kids properly.

Dan Brokeau wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 12:48 PM PST:

Then don’t play them. Now let me get back to my Counter-Strike.

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Eugenia wrote on November 29th, 2006 at 12:50 PM PST:

I don’t play them. And if I ever have a child, he/she won’t either.

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Eugenia wrote on November 30th, 2006 at 6:17 AM PST:

I did not insult you Apotheosis. But I did patronize you based on your own sentence.

You will have to agree to disagree.

Kitty wrote on November 30th, 2006 at 7:26 AM PST:

The fact that the “fight or flight” response is more stimulated by violent games than by a racing game seems natural, and is a testament to the realism and immersion games can provide nowadays when compared with the crude pixelated things we had for videogames 20 years ago.
Maybe the issue is twofold:
1) on one side obviously playing games won’t make you decide to go out and shoot people.
That’s just a stupid idea: whoever practices that kind of violence has already issues of economic, moral and mental kind. So these issues are already present and the society who wants to blame games is just fooling itself. Fix yourself first.
But on the other side:
2) once for whatever reason an armed teenager is standing there in an alley with a gun aiming at a policeman, is it so unbelievable to think that having played that situation hundreds of times in the latest GTA will make it slightly easier to pull the trigger?
I think it will. Of course the worst has already happened: the teen is confronting the police, so he probably committed crimes for need or desperation or greed. He has a gun in his hand. He _wants_ to shoot the policeman.
This is the 999/1000th of the situation, and that’s what a society should try to avoid. But maybe that last 1000th is made harder or easier by a harder trigger or lighter trigger, or by deep conditioning against violence or its softening…
I think that last 1000th existw, but that energies would be 999 times better spent on the rest: education, social welfare, gun control.

Apotheosis wrote on November 30th, 2006 at 9:21 AM PST:

Why exactly is what I write bullshit, because I disagree? ‘Behaviour alteration’ can happen temporarily (a study that took its results in half – half?? – an hour?) with plenty of activities. Lift weights for half an hour non-stop and your body will experience a rush. Flirt and your body will release chemicals not usually there.

You seem to be inclined to agree to anything that has a ’scientific study’ aura around it. Science is scepticism by definition, as I am certain you know. And there are areas where science can be very concrete in the results (chip design, eg) and areas where is makes planty of assumptions, like anything that has to do with psychology and sociology.

And, as others have remarked, just because it is indeed your website, that does not mean you can insult people. At least not those who have not insulted you to begin with.

Alistair McMillan wrote on December 6th, 2006 at 7:38 AM PST:

…but according to the studies they can make you insensitive to a violent theme in real life…

The studies don’t actually say that. They say that after viewing violence you will have a smaller reaction to viewing violence immediately afterwards. The study doesn’t really say how big this reaction is (i.e. will you stand by and watch someone being attacked) or how long the effect lasts (i.e. does the effect last longer than the thirty minutes of the test).

If you walk up behind personA and shout “boo”, and then a minute later walk up behind personA and personB and shout “boo” again, chances are personB is going to have a stronger reaction. That’s all this study proved. People viewing violence for the first time, will have a stronger reaction, than other people who viewed violence about five minutes ago.

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