Playing Violent Video Games – Could They Be Good for You?

Monday, Jun. 14th 2010 5:21 PM

How many times have you tried, unsuccessfully, to explain your feelings to adults?

That you love the competition and the socialization that video games provide. That you simply enjoy trying to figure the game out.

As for the violent games, well, they add that one additional level, providing action and a rush of adrenalin that mirrors what you feel when competing on a field or in the gym.

iStock_000005207063XSmallMost importantly, they help you cope with anger and stress. After a particularly difficult day or week, there is nothing like immersing oneself in a violent video game. I mean, where else can you take out your anger in such an innocent way?

That explanation is particularly difficult with mom who can understand the competition and thus is willing to accept games like Pac Man or Madden football. But for the life of her, she simply cannot understand your enjoyment with a game like Grand Theft Auto?

Support for Violent Video Games

Well, for those who have tried to somehow explain, you can now point the skeptics to yet another study that indicates that concerns with violent video games is over blown. That in fact, researchers presenting at the New York University ‘Games for Learning’ symposium, have reached the conclusion that even violent video games can be utilized as learning tools.

Consider first that Sigmund Tobias of the State University of New York at Albany noted that an “Israeli air force study found that students who played the game Space Fortress had better rankings in their pilot training than students who did not.”

Even better, consider what Daphne Bavelier, an assistant professor in the department of brain and cognitive science at the University of Rochester who has focused her research on games like Unreal Tournament and Medal of Honor, had to say about fast-paced shooter games:

domestic life“People that play these fast-paced games have better vision, better attention, and better cognition,” she stated. She went on to suggest that such games could well improve math performance and other brain tasks as well.

“We are testing this hypothesis that when you play an action video game, what you do is you learn to better allocate your resources,” she offered. “In a sense you learn to learn. … You become very good at adapting to whatever is asked of you.”

Just Having Fun

Of course, none of these has any ultimate implication for why it is that you play. As we said, for most of us, it is all about the competition, the challenge, and the chance to put day to day struggles aside for a period of time.

You couldn’t care less as to whether your peripheral vision has been enhanced or that these games test your ability to detect small activities on the screen. In reality, for you it is nothing more than simply having fun.

But it is nice to see that some folks have begun to question the typical reaction, that because many adults cannot understand the attraction of such games, they immediately insist that the games cannot be good for us. More to the point it is nice to see that a professor like Bavelier could actually suggest that first-person shooter games “eventually will become part of school curricula” even if “it’s going to take a generation” to accept such findings.

Unrealistic to Expect Understanding

OK, it is probably wishful thinking on our part that you might be able to completely change your parents mind. Pointing them in the direction of other studies could even work against you in the long run.

But at least it is reinforcing to read that college professors actually are beginning to understand that you and your buddies love for a little video warfare is not a sign of sickness, that you can enjoy the video games that feature violence without becoming a menace to society.

Medal of Honor anyone?

Posted by Thomas | in College Life, Fun Facts | 9 Comments »

9 comments on "Playing Violent Video Games – Could They Be Good for You?"

  • I’m still firmly planted in the Final Fantasy Games… specifically FFX and FFX2. The characters in those two games were so popular that Square Enix broke it’s cardinal rule, and put out the sequel. They NEVER do that… I love those 2 and highly recommend them. If you wanna go back to old school, you can hit up ChronoCross/ChronoTrigger for the PS1, and Be pretty happy, just sucky in game graphics, by comparison. But great games too. 🙂

  • Even though it is just a game and for fun, it is very hypnotic and has lots of violent action as subliminal messages inside.

  • You don’t need violence to get an adrenalin rush. What you are dealing with is the shock factor. It takes so much to capture the attention of kids these days and that is what they are going for. If you don’t agree just turn on nickelodeon and watch a cartoon these days compared to 20 years ago. It is completely ADD driven and you get dizzy just trying to follow why they are screaming and racing around. In my opinion kids are more desensitized to both action and violence and to get that shock factor you have to keep pushing the bar. Grand Theft Auto is a good example. It will get worse unless you can figure out a better way to engage the audience. IMHO – Love this blog

  • Here is what have heard from most of the blogs on anti and supportive websites about violent videogames. On the anti side, most of the parents there keep complaining about how violent videogames are messing up their kid’s lives. But who bought them the games in the first place? And then they try to say that the games make teens more violent. But then that’s where the scientists come in. they say that there is no significant change in behavior, and that there aren’t any signs of demented thoughts running through their heads, including mine. So here’s my conclusion: Don’t let your kids play or do anything violent if you don’t want them to, and, that these violent games are a pathway for teens to get rid of bottled up anger that needs let out. So it’s kind of therapeutic, in a way.

  • It’s a sad reflection of where we are at, that violence is so pervasive in today’s society, and this is reflected in the games industry.

  • violent games can be fun and may even have competition, but games are my life and they sometimes/always be helpful when you are upset or just plane bored

  • What happened to the good old days of pong and Mario Kart. They brought excitement and fun even to us adults. I’m afraid that are society is getting de-sensitized to violence and the consequences of it. I say keep the kids away from the violent games and spend more time with them.

  • violence in video is a great way to kill and hurt people but just not in real life and its just fun

  • People don’t need violent games anymore. It’s like that was just a ploy to get kids to buy games.. It’s old now. People play adventure games now like Elder Scrolls Online. I used to love violent games because It was like cheating. My parent’s didn’t know about violent games but they stopped me from violent movies. So playing games was my cheat.

    I think people are better off the more they’re exposed to.

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