New Study Suggests Violent Video Game Releases Coincide with Low Crime Rates

Quick one today folks! Another week, another article claiming that violent video games have X effect on society. There seems to be a pendulum with these types of studies; one article will claim to have found a link between violent video games and violence and the following week another new study will claim that there is no effect. This study is..a little different.

Coming out of Villanova, a psychology researcher and professor claims that violent video games actually lessen the amount of violent crimes during launch periods of bigger violent video games (Halo, GTA, etc). Are the villains of the world really too busy ranking up gamerscores to go and commit crimes? That’s pretty much what it sounds like the piece is claiming. Essentially, violent crime offenders are among the target audience who plays violent video games and when a new title comes out the amount of violent crimes seems to decrease.

There can be other explanations as to why this is occurring that we can ponder off the top of our heads. Big titles like GTA and Halo typically come out at towards the end of the year, as that’s many company’s biggest earning season. Certainly something else may be going on during these times that have little to do with video games (More people are in their houses earlier in the night, police enforcement is typically more alert for crimes during holiday seasons, etc). The article itself tries to think through what potential reasons could be effecting this outcome, so it’s certainly not a definitive statement on the researcher’s part.

The research goes onto claim that people with specific personality types playing violent video games are more likely to increase their aggression, but that people without those personality types will not be effected These are claims that were based on research that was conducted years ago by the same researcher. These proposed claims seem almost obvious; if you claim yourself to be an “angry person” then you committing a violent crime is more likely, regardless of if you play video games or not.

Which of Pixar characters are most likely to commit a violent crime after playing Halo?

I wish I could go more into the article, but unfortunately I’m not able to get the entire piece because I’m a poor individual, but you can certainly purchase the entire research paper here! 

New Study Finds Risk Glorifying Games Lead to Deviant Behavior

A recent study suggests that playing mature rated video games may lead to risky, deviant behavior including alcohol use and cigarette smoking. OH HEAVENS!!!

Coming out of Dartmouth College and published this week in the American Psychological Association Journal is a 4-year spanned study that focuses on the effects of violent and mature rated video games on adolescent adults. Are violent video game the gateway drug to worse things, including buying gates and/or drugs? 

The researchers contacted a pool of over 5000 young adults multiple times over the span of 4 years and focused on the three video games “Manhunt”, “Spider-man 2” and “Grand Theft Auto”. Although the respondents fell to less than half of the original 5000, over 2000 subjects were interviewed for the effects of having played one of these three games and continued to play similar risk glorifying games. The researchers found that respondents who played risk glorifying games with an anti-social protagonists (Manhunt and GTA in this case) had reported higher rates of cigarette use, and similar patterns were found for other forms of delinquency than those who reported only have played games with honorable protagonists (Spider-man). 

Honorable.

Jay Hull, the lead researcher, concludes that playing risk glorifying video games increases the likelihood of performing risky actions in the real world. As Hull puts it

“[In video games]They’re not practicing drinking and smoking and risky sex, but what they are practicing is being a less than good person,”.

We’ve seen similar studies where violent video games have been linked to aggression, cheating, and other less honorable behavior, but this might be the first one I’ve seen linked to risky sex..I don’t know how to take that. Likewise, we have seen studies that suggest positive benefits to violent and all video games in general, so the debate seems to be all over the place.The thought behind why this is occurring is that playing violent and risk glorifying games makes kids more willing to take risks in their own life:

“Once a kid is trying one substance, the odds of trying another one go up…The risk starts piling up much faster, and the outcomes for these children get much worse in a hurry.”

 

Eh…that’s no good. The researcher endorses the use of the ESRB rating system as a form to combat adolescents from getting their hands on these games prematurely.

I don’t know what to think about this study, as it seems pretty well constructed. Obviously the study is reliant on the respondents to tell the truth and gauge their effects, but I can’t think of a more developed way to do so. There may some causes that are effecting the respondents that the study doesn’t take into consideration, such as reasons for why adolescents are getting their hands on violent video games before becoming of age. For example, I can imagine parents who buy their children a spider-man game (regardless of its ESRB rating) may not be the same level of attentiveness as a parent who is okay buy and M rated GT game….but that could be neither here nor there.

The study itself is, unfortunately, only available to those who subscribe to the  APA’s website, but a decent explanation of the study can be found here. 

New Study Says “Violent Video Games May Increase Moral Sensitivity”

Remember when your parents told you that violent video games and violent movies would desensitize you to violence? A study coming out of the University of Texas Austin and Michigan State University suggest that your parents were big fat liars….Well, maybe.

The study finds that doing heinous acts in video games increased the players sensitivity towards those acts in normal life. So, you car-jack a car or murder a hooker in GTA and you may be more sensitive about car-jacking and hooker murdering in real life. Super!

“We found that after a subject played a violent video game, they felt guilt and that guilt was associated with greater sensitivity toward the two particular domains they violated — those of care/harm and fairness/reciprocity,”

THAT’S WHAT I JUST SAID LESS INTELLIGENTLY. The study, which will be published in an upcoming “Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking” claims that we should all rethink the effects of violent video games.

Mortal Kombat taught me how severe one’s torso from their body.

I’ll wait to see the actual piece, but this seems like a common thread: Group A will claim negative about violent video games and then weeks later Group B will claim something positive about violent video games. There’s no definitive answer on the violent video game subject (AND THAT MAKES ME RAGE, AS I WAS JUST PLAYING MORTAL KOMBAT)

“Our findings suggest that emotional experiences evoked by media exposure can increase the intuitive foundations upon which human beings make moral judgments… This is particularly relevant for video-game play, where habitual engagement with that media is the norm for a small, but considerably important group of users.”

That, of course, would go against many who claim that violent video games are the downfall of our society and that they caused the second world war.  We’ll keep an eye out for the actual research and report back on its methodology, so stay tuned….you 4 readers!

Check out the University of Buffalo’s piece on the study!

New Study Suggest Violent Video Games May Have Benefits for Children

New Study Suggest Violent Video Games Have Benefits for Children

Ru Roh. After numerous studies that have tried to link violent video games to bad behavior in children, the American Psychological Association has conducted a study that has found positive benefits to children playing violent video games. Is this just hear say, or should we sit our kids down in front of Grand Theft Auto instead of going to school?

NG3_SS_B_2_020_Dubai

I don’t go into the study too thoroughly, but basically it discusses the positive and negatives that video games have for children. Specifically, the research discusses how video games in general help form cognitive and problem solving skills in young children. While these effects are not limited to violent video games, they too have these same type of positive effects. After years of researchers trying to find evidence that Video Games have negative effects on children’s development, it’s only recently that researchers have begun to study the positive effects that video games may hold.

“Important research has already been conducted for decades on the negative effects of gaming, including addiction, depression and aggression, and we are certainly not suggesting that this should be ignored,” said lead author Isabela Granic, PhD, of Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands. “However, to understand the impact of video games on children’s and adolescents’ development, a more balanced perspective is needed.”

Hey, that’s pretty much what I said, right? The article then goes on to talk about how new perspectives on video games are being used to educate children. Classrooms and educational plans are being designed with video games incorporated, and these new types of learning tools are revolutionizing the way we teach children.  Hopefully these lesson plans and games are better than the first generation of educational games, which the majority of which were….creepy.

Terror is your teacher in Sonic Schoolhouse for the PC.
Terror is your teacher in Sonic Schoolhouse for the PC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knows if we are at the dawn of video games being used in education, or a mere passing trend. Regardless, kids will play video games with or without the positive or negative effects researchers are suggesting. Likewise, researchers will continue to disagree about the effects of video games, especially violent ones.