Another study links violence with video games

It seems to be a popular “target” of study. (Notice what I did there? More about that later…)

Psychologist Craig Anderson of Iowa State University and his team analyzed existing studies of 130,000 people from the U.S., Europe and Japan. His findings held for players in Western and Eastern cultures, for male and female players and for players of various ages. They also contradict some earlier studies, whose findings the current authors say are tainted by “selection bias” — the method by which they selected studies to analyze.

The new 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.” It desensitizes users and is associated with lack of empathy and a lack of “prosocial” behavior.

Have they “hit” on something here? I say no.

I wound up majoring in Sociology at university and in one of the courses I took we “tackled” the question of why the English language is “bombarded” with words related to war and violence that get used when we “attack” problems and deal with issues. It’s a curious habit that nobody even thinks of “beating” or “kicking,” isn’t it? It’s just the way we talk. Who cares?

What does that have to do with the study, you might ask? Zip, I suppose. But when you think about it, we use a language that seems geared towards violent description of everyday occurrences to the point where fighting words have “hijacked” the collective cultural consciousness. They want to complain about game designers creating violent worlds? We’re living in one. We create one with our words every day. How come no one seems to want to study the effects of that phenomenon on aggressive tendencies? Bullies in the boardroom can be just as dehumanizing as the ones on the street, after all.

Also, seeing dead people on the news every night probably does just as much to desensitize an audience as a few hours of Call of Duty 4 would. It’d also be nice if parents followed audience guidelines that have been created for those games. But a kid begs at the store for some adult level game and how many parents read the back of the box before buying it for him? Caveat emptor?

This is interesting (bold added):

In an accompanying commentary, Christopher Ferguson and John Kilburn of the department of behavioral applied science and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University note flaws in Anderson’s analysis, including what they say is his own selection bias. Ferguson — whose earlier research is the main object of Anderson’s criticism — points out that, even with what he views as a bias in Anderson’s selection of studies, Anderson found only a weak connection between violent video gaming and violent thoughts and deeds. Finally, Ferguson notes that violent crime in the U.S. and other developed nations where video games are played has decreased over the decades during which video gaming has grown in popularity.

Now, why do you think that happened? People jonesing for a fight decide to relieve some tension by taking it out on pixel people instead of their family and friends? Are they too busy working as a team across the internet to fight a game war to bother starting a real one at home? It’s an intriguing notion.

Quoting the study’s authors now:

Concerning public policy, we believe that debates can and should finally move beyond the simple question of whether violent video game play is a causal risk factor for aggressive behavior. Instead, we believe the public policy debate should move to questions concerning how best to deal with this risk factor. Public education about this risk factor — and about how parents, schools, and society at large can deal with it — could be very useful.

Maybe more effort at creating a cooperative community would help instead of putting all the effort into competitive marketing strategies. Less talk of “do whatever it takes to win/to beat this disease” and more creative and useful tasks that will improve people on the whole instead of just benefiting the ambitious few.

That said, we’ll never be able to point to one single thing and say, “That’s the problem,” or point to another thing and say, “That’s the solution.” There is nothing in the world working truly independently. Everything we do and say grows out of what’s been done and said to us or what’s been done and said around us. Every cause and effect is interconnected and often in ways that can’t be seen by randomly picking up people to study. It doesn’t matter how noble the goal.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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