Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Effects of videogaming

There's an article in the dead tree Wall St. Journal today, page D1, about the effects of video gaming, including World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, etc. The article is fairly positive about the effects, which can apparently include faster decision-making, a better ability to multi-task, and even (in a test of surgeons) better success operating on patients.

One minor downside, the article notes in passing, is that "A meta-analysis by Iowa State University psychologists ... shows violent videogames make people more prone to aggressive thoughts and less likely to care about others."

So, basically, the action/violent games are excellent at building a better, faster, sociopath. Um ... I'm not sure that the article's generally upbeat tone is entirely justified.

I found it interesting, since a similar accusation was leveled at D&D after the "D&D is Satanic" craze began sounding a bit crazy and shrill. The study mentioned in the journal was described as independent from the "companies that sell video and computer games." The way the article downplayed the potentially negative effects of these games made me wonder if the newspaper was quite as independent from those companies as the research was...


  1. You're just trying to take attention away from the fact that you're a devil-worshiper! I'm on to you!

  2. Video games don't promote violent thoughts, and if you say otherwise, I'll strangle you with an Ethernet cable.

    Hmmm. Maybe I need to rethink that thesis a bit.

  3. I believe there were some earlier studies that suggested decreased attention span for sustained tasks, which is easily believable.

    Yeah, it's funny. Most things (comics, D&D) that there was a panic about move to stage of largely benign neglect. Are video games going to be the first to move from panic to touting virtues?

  4. My personal experience is based on living in Switzerland, never having been in the army, not owning any firearms, liking first person shooter and beat-em-up games with swords, and practicing Aikido. The one thing that makes me "more prone to aggressive thoughts and less likely to care about others" is definitely practicing martial arts! If people scare me, offend me, stress me out, I might imagine hurting them with ideas that stem from my martial arts training. I never imagine shooting people or beating them up large swords. It's always the twisting of wrists and shoulders or the beating with wooden sticks and wooden swords...

  5. Well, the violent video games desensitize people to violence and promote aggressiveness is actually backed by science, rather than just hysterical panic like the D&D = Satanism thing.

    There are a lot of merits to video games as well. Penn State back in the mid 2000s had a bunch of freshmen who were pretty fabulous partially because they had a grad assistant load the playbook into Madden, which taught the players as they played.