Pacific Standard explored a recent study that evaluated the amount of aggression that varying types of Video games produced in players. For the sake of this article, we’re going to pretend like that the link between video games and aggression is completely valid. It certainly does seem that video games can at least stimulate the aggression sensors in brain, but no conclusive evidence has shown that video games necessarily create aggression or violence (Correct me if I’m wrong)
Let’s look at this here study!
The study, conducted by a research team out of Penn State Altoona, measured the amount of aggression created when gamers use motion controls and when gamers used traditional analog control.
The results were surprising. Despite what many might expect, video games that used motion controls actually led to less aggression than those with traditional analog control. That means your Wii and Kinect are seemingly less likely to make you go postal! Super!
The research team went about the feat by making players play games like “Punch-Out” on the Wii with either the game’s motion controlled option or traditional analog option. After playing the game for an extended period participants were given a test to measure their aggression. In one of the exercise,participant were asked to finish words and their responses were measured for aggression. For example, a participant could answer either finish a “KI” with either LL or SS. Those who wrote Kill instead of Kiss were judged more aggressive. Not the greatest indicator of aggression, but whatever.
“One potential explanation is that motion-capture technology is more cathartic than analog video-game play”…. “A related explanation is that motion-capture technology requires greater physical expenditure. There is evidence that people are less violent after short periods of exercise or exertion.”
That makes sense. Exercise and a physical activity have been known to decrease aggression for sometime, so it’s only natural that games that make you move more than normal would have the same effect. I know I’m much more in favor of breaking someone’s leg after playing Mario than I am after playing Kinect Sports. The study goes onto propose that games with motion controls negate the amount of aggression produced in violent video games, making the amounts of aggression closer to those created in non-violent video games. So, maybe it’s just the Goombas that are making me angry.
What does this mean for all those naysayers of video games.
“Contrary to the fears of industry critics, this research suggests that newer technologies, which create a more realistic experience, will not necessarily increase aggression in video game players”
At least if they have motion controls.. Separate studies will have to be conducted on whether more realistic games produce more aggression than less realistic games. For example, would a violent PS2 title have the same levels of aggression production as a PS4 title because of the added realism? QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED MY FRIENDS. With new waves of researchers entering the field, ones who grew up with consoles and pc games in the home, slowly but surely we’ll begin seeing better designed studies and research experiments.
I’m not presenting this article as infallible, as I have plenty of questions not answered by the study’s abstract or the Pacific Standard piece (I’m not going to buy the pdf). I do think it is interesting that this form of research hasn’t really been done before, especially since it makes logical sense. With the violence and video games being such a big controversy, it’s interesting when researchers step outside of the constantly studied questions and explore other avenues.