Monday, November 29, 2010

Violent video games and desensitisation

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on July 28, 2006

"...exposure to violent video games can desensitize individuals to real-life violence. According to the investigators, this is first documented finding that video-games can alter physiological responses typically aroused by real violence".

The article alludes to preivous research into aggression and how teenage audiences are desenstized from real lifer violence.

"Past research revealed that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal and aggressive behaviors, and decreases helpful behaviors".

"More than 85 percent of video games contain some violence, and approximately half of video games include serious violent actions".

Nicholas Carnagey, an Iowa State psychology instructor and research assistant, and ISU Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson collaborated on the study with Brad Bushman, a former Iowa State psychology professor now at the University of Michigan, and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

They authored a paper titled “The Effects of Video Game Violence on Physiological Desensitization to Real-Life Violence,” which was published in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. In this paper, the 'authors define desensitization to violence as “a reduction in emotion-related physiological reactivity to real violence.'

The methodology- Anderson and Bushman experiments

Their latest study tested 257 college students (124 men and 133 women) individually. After taking baseline physiological measurements on heart rate and galvanic skin response — and asking questions to control for their preference for violent video games and general aggression — participants played one of eight randomly assigned violent or non-violent video games for 20 minutes. The four violent video games were Carmageddon, Duke Nukem, Mortal Kombat or Future Cop; the non-violent games were Glider Pro, 3D Pinball, 3D Munch Man and Tetra Madness.

After playing a video game, a second set of five-minute heart rate and skin response measurements were taken. Participants were then asked to watch a 10-minute videotape of actual violent episodes taken from TV programs and commercially-released films in the following four contexts: courtroom outbursts, police confrontations, shootings and prison fights. Heart rate and skin response were monitored throughout the viewing.

The physical differences

When viewing real violence, participants who had played a violent video game experienced skin response measurements significantly lower than those who had played a non-violent video game. The participants in the violent video game group also had lower heart rates while viewing the real-life violence compared to the nonviolent video game group.

This shows how violent video games desensitise the audience to real violence, as they are unable to react to real life violence in the media.

“The results demonstrate that playing violent video games, even for just 20 minutes, can cause people to become less physiologically aroused by real violence,” said Carnagey.

“Participants randomly assigned to play a violent video game had relatively lower heart rates and galvanic skin responses while watching footage of people being beaten, stabbed and shot than did those randomly assigned to play nonviolent video games.

“... individuals who play violent video games habituate or ‘get used to’ all the violence and eventually become physiologically numb to it.”

This actively shows how violent video games seem to 'dumb down' audiences, as these games cause addiction and don't necessarily teach the audience new skills.

Participants in the violent versus non-violent games conditions did not differ in heart rate or skin response at the beginning of the study, or immediately after playing their assigned game. However, 'their physiological reactions to the scenes of real violence did differ significantly, a result of having just played a violent or a non-violent game'. The researchers also controlled for trait aggression and preference for violent video games.

The researchers’ conclusion

"...the existing video game rating system, the content of much entertainment media, and the marketing of those media combine to produce “a powerful desensitization intervention on a global level.”

“It (marketing of video game media) initially is packaged in ways that are not too threatening, with cute cartoon-like characters, a total absence of blood and gore, and other features that make the overall experience a pleasant one,” said Anderson. “That arouses positive emotional reactions that are incongruent with normal negative reactions to violence. Older children consume increasingly threatening and realistic violence, but the increases are gradual and always in a way that is fun.

“In short, the modern entertainment media landscape could accurately be described as an effective systematic violence desensitization tool,”

“Several features of violent video games suggest that they may have even more pronounced effects on users than violent TV programs and films,” said Carnagey.

In effect, this article believes that marketing and the content in the games manage to desensitise the audience, as the constant exposure to violence, inevitably leads to the audience being unable to differentiate between real violence and 'game violence'.

Video game violence is 'harmful to the brain' article- The Telegraph

Within this article from the Telegraph, scientists and audiences believe that violent video games do indeed cause harm to the brain. In effect, these games seem to alter the way the brain functions, as these games deprive the player of control and concentration .

Published at 12:01AM GMT 04 Dec 2006

Violent video games leave a harmful "fingerprint" on the brains of young teenagers, scientists have found.

Like the NBC article on video game effects, this article states that the game effects ' increased activity in the brain region that governs emotional arousal, and decreased activity in the part of the brain associated with control, focus and concentration'.

Europe's justice commissioner, Franco Frattini, called for 'tighter controls on violent computer games to safeguard children'.

" increasing number of games now displayed and even glorified extreme violence".

He has written to all European Union governments to urge them to take action and is calling for talks on the issue when Europe's home affairs ministers meet in Brussels later this month.

On an important not, this article signifies how violent video games are a serious concern, as children can easily access these games and can reenact the violence. Though, this issue has become a global concern, as the EU's justice minister feels that the children especially are desensitized to violence, as gaming institutions such as Infinity Ward condone violence and construct ideologies of violence and immoral values such as murder.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Psychological factors of playing violent video games and links to aggression in teenagers

This article focuses on whether violent video games do cause agression in teenagers. As well as this, this article tries to pinpoint the effects on the teenage audience who palay violent video games and the link to emotions. Within this article, scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine try to monitor brain activity in correspondence to playing violent video games.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine say that:

"brain scans of kids who played a violent video game showed an increase in emotional arousal – and a corresponding decrease of activity in brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition and attention".

The article states that children playing violent video games tended to be absorbed in game to such an extent, that they were unable to focus away from the game. In effect, the article shows how playing games tend to leave the audience with a strong desire to focus solely on the game.

Does this mean that your teenager will feel an uncontrollable urge to go on a shooting rampage after playing “Call of Duty?”

Vince Mathews, the principal investigator on the study, hesitates to make that leap. But he says he does think that:

"the study should encourage parents to look more closely at the types of games their kids are playing". “Based on our results, I think parents should be aware of the relationship between violent video-game playing and brain function.”

However, the article supports the ideas of Professor David Buckingham, who also states that parents should take an active role in monitoring the content in violent video games and seemingly portectingthier children against harmful content.

Vince Mathews and his colleagues conducted an experiment , where two action games were chosen - one violent the other not.

The first game was the high-octane but non-violent racing game “Need for Speed: Underground.” The other was the ultra-violent first-person shooter “Medal of Honor: Frontline.”

The team divided a group of 44 adolescents into two groups, and randomly assigned the kids to play one of the two games. Immediately after the play sessions, the children were given MRIs of their brains.

"The scans showed a negative effect on the brains of the teens who played “Medal of Honor” for 30 minutes. That same effect was not present in the kids who played “Need for Speed.”

The only difference? Violent content.

"What’s not clear is whether the activity picked up by the MRIs indicates a lingering — or worse, permanent — effect on the kids’ brains".

And it’s also not known what effect longer play times might have. The scope of this study was 30 minutes of play, and one brain scan per kid, although further research is in the works.

OK. But what about violent TV shows? Or violent films? Has anyone ever done a brain scan of kids that have just watched a violent movie?

John P. Murray, a psychology professor at Kansas State University, conducted a very similar experiment, employing the same technology used in Mathews’ study. His findings are similar.

Kids in his study experienced increased emotional arousal when watching short clips from the boxing movie “Rocky IV.”

So, why is everyone picking on video games? Probably because there’s a much smaller body of research on video games. They just haven’t been around as long as TV and movies, so the potential effects on children are a bigger unknown. That’s a scary thing for a parent.

Larry Ley, the director and coordinator of research for the Center for Successful Parenting, which funded Mathews’ study, says the purpose of the research was to help parents make informed decisions.

“There’s enough data that clearly indicates that [game violence] is a problem,” he says. “And it’s not just a problem for kids with behavior disorders.”

But not everyone is convinced that this latest research adds much to the debate – particularly the game development community. One such naysayer is Doug Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association.

“We've seen other studies in this field that have made dramatic claims but turn out to be less persuasive when objectively analyzed.”

The ESA has a whole section of its Web site dedicated to the topic of video game violence, which would suggest that they get asked about it — a lot.

Increasingly 'parents are more accepting of video game violence, chalking it up to being a part of growing up'.

“I was dead-set against violent video games,” says Kelley Windfield mother of two. “But my husband told me I had to start loosening up.”

Laura Best, a mother of three from Clovis, California , says she looks for age-appropriate games for her 14 year-old son, Kyle. And although he doesn’t play a lot of games, he does tend to gravitate towards shooters like “Medal of Honor.” But she isn’t concerned that Kyle will become aggressive as a result.

“That’s like saying a soccer game or a football game will make a kid more aggressive,” she says. “It’s about self-control, and you’ve got to learn it.”

Larry Ley believes that parents should encourage thier children to engage inhealthier activities, instead of playing video games for a long period of time:

“Let’s quit using various Xboxes as babysitters instead of doing healthful activities,” says Ley, citing the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States.

On the whole, the article suggests that violent games seem to instill teenagers with a short term aggression, however results from investigations conclude that there are no long term effects of aggression from playing violent video games. Also, the article states that parents should take an active role in decideing what games thier children play. Though, there is evidence from parents which suggests that violent video games are not a concern, as Laura Best feels that violent video games don't have an impact on her child, as he will not reenact the violence in the game. Larry Ley seems to aleviate the growing concern of video games, as children ten to be 'glued' to playing video games, which results in obesity. Playing violent video games

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Critical Investigation Essay Plan

Why are video games becoming more violent? How is this a concern?


Insight into video games and the fact that they cause aggression and violence.

Look at brief history of violence in video games and how violence has been influencing the male audience

Brief look at the sales of video games on different formats and a link of top selling games

Link to popular violent video games- Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

1st Point

Violent video games have been proved to link to aggression- Anderson and Dill/ Copycat Theory

2nd Point

Video games which contain violence cause psychological problems in the audience- Dr Bruce Bartholow, Hypodermic Needle theory

3rd Point

Focus on the content in video games and how violent video games result in violent behaviour- Dr Cheryl Olsen

4th Point

: The fact that violent video games result in teenage and younger audiences being unable to distinguish real violence from game violence- Dr Bruce Bartholow

5th Point

Many parents and guardians have concerns on the impact violent video games have on their children, as the values and ideologies in the game contrast to reality and actively endorse violence- Reception Theory and Moral Panic

In accordance to my critical investigation essay, I will create a magazine article which focuses on the topic of violence in video games. As part of my research, I will purchase 2/3 gaming magazines and factual magazines such as TIME and Shortlist, which look at gaming and issues such as violent video games being a concern. Using inspiration from these magazines, my article will include two page spreads which will include stills from games such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 , Assassins Creed and other related games.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Related Theories for the Critical Investigation

Copycat (Modelling Theory)

This theory suggests that people will imitate what they see in the media. The powers of this approach is that it feeds off the types of concerns parents have about their child's media use.

In response to my investigation, this theory helps me understand how the audience seem to consume violent video games, as a result, they seem to become more violent and re enact scenes in the game, as evident in Smack down vs Raw (2008), where players often reenact the wrestling moves, as a result of playing these games.

Reception Theory and Ethnography

Audiences are seen as active producers of meaning , rather than consumers of media meanings. They make sense of media texts according to their social position. This theory measures the specific, personal and contextual responses of groups or individuals.

This theory will be used in my investigation, as it looks at audience responses to violent video games. Moreover, I will look at the oppositional readings of texts by parents, as they are active campaigners of violent video games.


If we are exposed to violence or sexuality, we will become less sensitive to real life violence. This theory looks at how violence and sex are in the media and how audiences witness it.

Most importantly, this theory is crucial in my investigation, as it looks at how children seem to play violent video games and don't seem to distinguish real life violence from video game violence.

Hypodermic Needle Theory

The media 'injects' messages directly into the minds of viewers/ listeners/ readers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anderson and Dill: Investigation into aggression and violent video games

From this article, I found that playing a violent video game can increase a person's aggressive thoughts. The research conducted by Anderson and Dill at the Iowa State University of Science and Technology concludes that players' aggressive feelings and behaviour after playing violent video games can be carried out in actual life. The research findings by Anderson and Dill suggest that "... a violent video game may be more harmful than violent television and movies because the video game is interactive, very engrossing and require the player to identify with the aggressor".

How Influential are Violent Video Games?

In one of their studies, Anderson and Dill discovered that "young men who are habitually aggressive may be especially vulnerable to the aggression-enhancing effects of repeated exposure to violent games." Therefore, people with anger and aggressive physical problems are susceptible to violent video games as they encourage and raise testosterone, due to the fact the games are more real and are intended to evoke aggressive feelings. "The other study reveals that even a brief exposure to violent video games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of participants." By playing for a short period of time, players are filled with a growing need to express their violence and channel their aggression through different ways.

Anderson and Dill's first study

The first study involved 227 college students who completed a measure of trait aggressiveness and reported their actual aggressive behaviors (delinquency) in the recent past. They also reported their video game playing habits. The study carried out by Anderson and Dill found that "students who reported playing more violent video games in junior and high school were engaged in more aggressive behaviour." To some extent, playing video games consistently did tend to instill a level of violent behaviour among teenagers, as they were desensitised to real violence. As well as this, the study also found that ".. amount of time spent playing video games in the past was associated with lower academic grades in college." Interestingly, playing violent video games on a regular basis or consistently does tend to result in lower grades, therefore this is a major concern, as teenagers will end up being uneducated and will not be able to find employment, due to playing video games regularly.

Anderson and Dill's second study

In the second study, 210 college students played either a violent or nonviolent video game. A short time later, the students who played the violent video game punished an opponent (received a noise blast with varying intensity) for a longer period of time than did students who had played the nonviolent video game.

In review of the study , Dr Anderson states how "Violent video games provide a forum for learning and practicing aggressive solutions to conflict situations." As a result , violent video games are more effective in teaching players how to react to situations in conflict, therefore they learn useful self defence skills in the real world. Also, the study states that "In the short run, playing a violent video game appears to affect aggression by priming aggressive thoughts. Longer-term effects are likely to be longer lasting as well, as the player learns and practices new aggression-related scripts that can become more and more accessible for use when real-life conflict situations arise." Effectively, as the player progresses onto the higher levels, they are educated on how to react to more realistic and dangerous situations. Here, the players' aggression levels rise, as they have to adapt to complex situations, which could potentially be useful in real life, therefore they are effective in that sense.

Yet, violent video games are still not received positively by some audiences, as the researchers conclude that "One major concern is the active nature of the learning environment of the video game." The constant exposure to violence fails to have an educational aspect, as games such as Grand Theft Auto rely on the player to carry out crime and killing. "This medium is potentially more dangerous than exposure to violent television and movies, which are known to have substantial effects on aggression and violence." In contrast to movies and television programmes which use violence to respond to public concern, violent video games are quite the opposite as they use violence as a means to channel aggression and to enable the audience to have complete freedom in terms of moral values.

New hypothesis question for critical invesitgation

Why are video games becoming more violent? How is this a concern?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Professor Bruce Bartholow: Violent Video Games and Desensitisation

Professor Bruce Bartholow from the University of Missouri investigates aggression and violent behaviour in the media. Though his focus on violent video game aggression is particularly insightful, as he tries to examine how the games result in violent behaviour.

In response to the profile from the profile, Charles Reineke explores the connection between violence in video games, such as Grand Theft Auto and the real world. To some extent, video games do have an impact in society, as criminals can find new motives of committing crime.

Important quotes from the profile:-

" There are very clear effects in scientific literature showing that, in the short term, playing a violent video game increases aggressive thoughts and behaviours, increases aggression-related emotion -- anger for example -- and decreases helpful behaviours." The challenge now, is to determine how violent gaming might affect players over the long term."

Professor Bartholow suggests that more research needs to be conducted into the long term effects of aggressive behaviour of violent video games, as they tend to deduce aggressive thoughts in the short term, though do not seem to instill a consistent pattern of aggression.

Though, the Professor's experiment on 39 undergraduate students being shown violent and non violent images was effective in giving an insight into how violent video games result in aggression. By being shown images such as man holding a gun in another man's mouth the levels of p300 (electrical impulses into responses to significant stimuli) manages to increase.

The study included a second, "competition" phase. When cued by a series of audible tones, the researchers told the subjects, "you and an unseen opponent must race to see who can click his computer mouse the fastest." The winner, they said, could blast his opponent's ears with a sudden noise. Nobody told the students that, in fact, there was no opponent.

In effect, his experiment concluded that "... Players of violent video games showed a significant diminution of p300 amplitude when viewing violent images. Though, the research findings also concluded that "... violent game players' p300 levels did not change when they encountered the neutral or negative, non-violent images".

Professor Bruce Bartholow also reviewed that "the subjects who showed the smallest p300 response to violent images also were the most aggressive in blasting the ears of their perceived opponents. The implication was clear: Over time, players of violent video games appeared to become desensitized to real-world violence.

On the whole, the research findings by Professor Bruce Bartholow suggests that the exposure to violent images seemingly desensitised the students, as they were seemingly used to seeing these images. The reason for this could be that the media's coverage of crime and death may desensitise events which are more dramatic or serious. Bartholow's research brought him acclaim , as his research in the New Scientist, was read by a representative in Britain's Parliament, who then queried the prime minister Tony Blair . "Is he [Tony Blair] aware of the new research published by the University of Missouri, which shows a link between violent video games and the greater propensity of people to act with violence ...?"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dr Cheryl Olson: Violent content in video games

This post contains a useful clip which focuses on the violent content of video games. The research and findings of Dr Cheryl Olson look into video games and how they affect a youth audience.

This clip from a US documentary takes an insight into video games and introduces the idea of whether video games are becoming more violent. In accordance, the documentary revolves around the research findings if Dr Cheryl Olson, professor at Harvard Medical School and co author of the novel , Grand Theft Childhood explores the connection of video games and the effects they have on a younger audience.

The clip opens with the deigetic sound of the gun shots from the game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare playing in the background. Alongside this, the close up shot of the hand is used to signify addiction. Though, the use of the voice over is significant in terms of the documentary, as he gives an insight into the possible relation between the youth audience and their involvement in video games. In many ways, the voice over is used as identification for an adult audience, as his tone of voice is worrying, which is stereotypical of parents, who worry about the well being of their child or children. The moral panic of video games is signified , through the voice over, as the parents fear for their children and the fact that they will become more violent in society, due to playing these games.

The low key lighting is used in the close up shot to connote how children are seemingly hypnotised or indoctrinated by video games, as the child is playing a first person shooter, which encourages violence in a war setting.

Generally in this clip, Dr Olson shows from her findings that "video games with violent content might desensitise children to violence in the real world". The use of Dr Olson's voice over along with the game play from the first person shooter, Call of Duty Modern Warfare supports findings , in that she suggests that watching gore or violence in video games and not seeing the consequences that violence might have in real life, and children less concerned about suffering and have empathy for victims. Therefore, violent games could be considered to be a concern, as the youth audience don't understand suffering and the true consequences of violence.

Interestingly, Dr Olson states how male players seem to laugh and to be used to criticising each other when playing violent video games. The fact that boys tend to be more aggressive is signified in the media, as they tend to watch horror films, play aggressive sports such as American Football , Rugby etc. Therefore, they are more likely to play violent games, especially in groups, as signified in a close up shot of three friends playing Call of Duty on the X Box. As a result, many gaming institutions such as 2K games and Mad Dog Games produce games such as Mafia 2 which challenge audience expectations and what parents thing is appropriate, which raises moral panic in society.

However, Dr Olson generalises how many people believe that the "violence present in video games and film is similar enough to real life violence". Therefore, 'being desensitised to one makes you less concerned about the other'. Hence, people are disillusioned with one specific concerns, that they seem to ignore the issue on across other platforms.

Whats more, Dr Olson and research into video games states that a "teenage audience tend to play video games which are more realistic". The sense of games being historical, with real life characters or historical figures seem to add that extra sense of realism in violent video games. As well as this, the graphics and the characters' emotions or behaviour seem to make the audience play these games. The violent video games, where you just go on killing people are less realistic, though the environment and people are real- not the action," as said by Olson.

Interestingly, Olson conducted a focus group with young teenage boys looked at the aesthetics of video game content. Her research findings concluded that boys tended to be more concerned with two aspects: language and love. They tended to shield their siblings from playing games where they was excessive swearing, as they would be more impressionable and would look bad for their parents. The other major concern was about love, as they believed that they should be exposed to those games then they were 15 or 18. These two things seem to be remarkable, as boys would do these things in real life. Yet, the boundary of fantasy versus reality is strong amongst boys.

In her findings, Olson reported that "... several boys were more upset by the television news than gory games". The fact that the reality in television is authentic seemingly shocks teenagers, as they wouldn't expect things in video games to happen in real life. Research conducted by psychiatrists and psychologists found that "homes where repeated violence occurred would often result in children in that home being number by violence. Though, the way a typical child acts and feels, if he sees a friend hurt, is very different from the way he acts whilst playing violent video games". This shows how there is a stark difference in the ways violence occurs in children when playing violent video games and in real life, serious situations.

On the whole, Dr Olson states that it is not entirely possible that a troubled child might be influenced by violent video game or film. Though, she states that more research needs to be done in order to analyse which children might be affected by these games. To a larger extent, Dr Olson states that parents should play an active part in preventing or allowing their children to play specific games, as their temperaments might not be accommodating to such violent games. Many teenagers look to their parents as positive role models, therefore they should transfer positive values onto their children, as the absence of positive role models could corrupt teenagers and lead them astray.

Official Critical Investigation question

Are video games becoming more violent? Is this a concern?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Professor David Buckingham and violent video games

In this interview from London Knowledge Lab, Professor David Buckingham discusses how violent video games being a concern is questionable, as the Professor states that "You can learn a lot from video games", and the fact that video games reflect reality, with players being able to solve problems.

Useful points from the interview:-

"You could make the same argument about video games, where one argument is all about violence. The argument that games cause people to be more violent than they would otherwise be I think is very questionable indeed". Or the risk of people getting 'addicted' to video games - a very loaded term, but the idea at least that people are spending more time than is good for them playing computer games, when they should have more balanced lives.

"And yet, of course, video games are also fun, and people learn things from them, they can be quite sociable experiences, and so on. Again, it doesn't make much sense to separate the positives from the negatives, or to see this in simple either/or terms".

Therefore, Professor David Buckingham believes that playing violent video games for a longer period is harmful, as it leads to the audience being unhealthy and unsociable.

"So for me that means you need some kind of educational response to this, rather than saying something is bad or risky, so let's just ban it.

Professor David Buckingham's argument revolves around the fact that young people take risks when playing violent video games, which are pleasurable, as they can make their player perform awkward stunt moves, as signified in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

David Buckingham's seems to advocate risk taking, as the players learn from doing thing repeatedly, by playing violent video games, they build up strategies to compete to the next level or to complete the game.

"So the argument would be that people need to be informed about what they're letting themselves in for, they need to understand how to deal with risk, rather than simply trying to keep them away from it".

Though, like many other scientists, Professor Buckingham doesn't wholly believe whether violent games are harmful or not.

Throughout this argument, Professor David Buckingham stresses the fact that video games seem to educate audiences.

"No. But equally I would say that neither am I convinced by the argument that they have enormous benefits for learning. Again the evidence is very, very limited. What we have to say is that, like any other medium, you can learn from video games, but it's not so much the game itself as the context in which it's used - the educational relationships that surround it".

Something in the news lately is notable neuroscientists saying that video games, computers, the internet are changing the way our brain works, for the worse.

Yes, and they make arguments about the plasticity of the brain which seem to depend on a view that development in infancy has a massively determining effect on the kind of people we become. Frankly, I think there's a lot of mystification about neuroscience - that it's seen as 'real science,' and claims coming from other disciplines are somehow not seen to carry authority. Personally I'm not too convinced that some of those notable neuroscientists actually know anything at all about video games.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Negative effects/ Concerns of video games

Bad Effects of Video Games

On the whole, most of the negative effects of video games are blamed on the violence they contain. Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, according to a scientific study (Anderson & Bushman, 2001).

The effect of video game violence in children is worsened by the games’ interactive nature. In many games, the audience are rewarded for being more violent, as signified in the Call of Duty series. The audience are in control of the player, which enabled them to carry out reckless violence such as (killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting). Indeed, many studies seem to indicate that violent video games may be related to aggressive behavior (such as Anderson & Dill, 2000, Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004). However, the evidence is not consistent and this issue is far from settled.

To some degree, violent video games are a concern for the following reasons:-

* Over exposure to violent video games results in isolation, with players beoming more violent due to thier stubborness in being able to succeed to the next level.

* Violent video games instill audiences; especially children with immoral values, such as murder, manslaughter, prostitution. Grand Theft Auto is a perfect example of these negative ideologies

* Violent video games seem to be too real: younger audiences can can confuse reality and fantasy.

* Academic achievement may be negatively related to over-all time spent playing video games. Studies have shown that the more time a kid spends playing video games, the poorer is his performance in school. (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004)

* Violent video games make audience more willing to become the characters they play as. Therefore, many audiences choose to adopt a more aggressive look, as seen in True Crime.

Article on both positive effects of video games

The Good and Bad Effects of Video Games

Generally, video and computer games, like many popular, entertaining children's activities, are have oppositional readings by parents, who think video games waste time and dumb down children. Though violent video games are readily blamed by the media, with the public and individuals believing that violent video games are the reason why some youth become violent or commit extreme anti-social behaviour. But many scientists and psychologists find that video games actually have many benefits – the main one being making kids smart. Video games may actually teach kids high-level thinking skills that they will need in the future, with games featuring objectives and problems, which players have to solve, as signified in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Important skills such as teamwork and navigation are enhanced by playing video games, as audiences can learn many transferable skills.

In this article video games are signified as not being a major concern, but are revealed to be effective in manys . Generally, video games enhance problem solving and logic skills, as players often have to work out clues or mysteries within missions. In terms of violent video games, motor skills and hand eye coordiantion are tested, as the audience have to keep track of the position of the character, where he/she is heading, their speed, where the gun is aiming, if the gunfire is hitting the enemy.

According to researchers at the University of Rochester, led by Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive scientist believes that games simulating stressful events such as those found in battle or action games could be a training tool for real-world situations. The study suggests that playing action video games primes the brain to make quick decisions. Video games can be used to train soldiers and surgeons, according to the study.

Article giving different opinion on video game violence

Different view on the psychological effects of video games

This article gives an alternative representation of video games and shows how video games may not actually lead to violence. I could use this article as a counter argument as to whether video games result in violence.

Doctor claims video games 'don't lead to violence'- BBC Newsbeat

Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Wednesday, 6 October 2010 11:05 UK

Sima Kotecha By Sima Kotecha
Newsbeat US reporter

Saw II: Flesh and Blood creators defend the 18 rated game

This article gives a contrasting view on video games and violence, as "psychologists in the US are warning that people who are depressed, lonely or angry could turn hostile after playing violent video games. Therefore, the article shows how people with different mind sets turn to video games for escapism.

In contrast to the BBC article on the negative effects of video games, this article states that "the study says for the majority the games have no negative effect", which suggests that video games are solely a means for escapism.

In response to the article, many psychologists from The American Psychology Association says they can also help those suffering from things like diabetes or asthma.

Though, the article concludes that violent video games are not solely responsible for violence, as economic and political factors are at hand for such violence in society. Doctor John Ryder, a psychologist in New York, said: "Usually violence begets violence, not watching it on TV or play-acting in a video game."

"There is no reason to assume that doing that will make someone more violent. That is just ridiculous."

Some doctors claim there's too much focus on the negative affects of violent gaming, and in some cases, say games can actually help children combat behavioural problems and illnesses.

Dr John Ryder, who's worked with patients suffering from gaming addiction, agrees with that view.

He thinks violent behaviour can develop when children are raised in an aggressive environment.

The debate about whether video games trigger violence has been going on for years with no definite conclusion. There are psychologists who argue both for and against it.

In some instances, the article reveals how violent games affect those who are mentally vulnerable and suffer from things like depression and mood swings.

Newsbeat's spoken to a 21-year-old gaming addict who realised that playing violent games every day was having a psychological affect.

Doctor Patrick Markey, professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, claims an individual's personality determines whether they will be affected.

He conducted a study involving more than 100 teenagers.

Some played violent video games and others played non-violent ones.

Red Dead Redemption Red Dead Redemption is violent but, like GTA IV, has an 18 rating.

He assessed their mood and what he calls their hostility and concluded: "Those who are negatively affected have pre-existing dispositions, which make them susceptible to such violent media." Therefore, players with previous problems are more vulnerable to violent video games, which seem to fuel thier anger at a particular meory or issue. Though, a 21-year-old gaming addict admitted that playing violent video games for hours every day was having a psychological effect and that the games have an impact no matter what type of personality a person has.

He said: "You get to a point where shooting from a sniper range becomes boring and you want to play through the whole game only killing everybody with your knife. These video games seem to allow more liberal pluralism, as the players are allowed to subvert from the narrative scenarios and can have the advantage of killing 'for fun'.

"Players can come to the point where they see this as an alternative to real life interaction and if this is their other world, it's pretty bad."

Dr Cheryl Olsen, from Harvard Medical School, conducted a study on youth and video games with a focus on how parents can use them to nurture and teach their children.

She said: "Given that the typical young teenage boy plays violent games, and that the youth crime rate has gone down rather than up, it makes sense that these games are meeting needs. This seemingly reassures the adult audience, as thier concerns into violent video games are seemingly supported through hard evidence.

But not everyone agrees.

One gamer admits that video games endorse violent behaviour and teach ordinary civilians how to perform moves to kill, "Anything that shows stabbing, shooting, kinds of killing, can't teach anything but that."

BBC article on effect of video game violence on children

This article is related to my critical invstigation, as it shows how video games affect children and seemingly enduce violent behaviour. As well as this , the article includes studies by professionals into video games and thier psychological affects.

Violent games 'affect behaviour'- BBC news article

Within the article, experts have concluded from previous research that

"... people who play such games are more likely to be aggressive". Though this fact is heavily debated, with many people disputing that the study into violent video game effects on children's, "shows violent people gravitate towards violence...".

Though the article is supported with research conducted by professionals. Scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbia studied in the New Scientist magazine on brain activity of 39 game players. The experiment carried out by these scientists involved measuring a type of brain activity called the P300 response which reflects the emotional impact of an image.
Their finding produced a link, in that the exposure to violence led to aggression.

As well as scientists, leading figures in the study of media, such as Professor David Buckingham, of the Institute of Education , have responded to the relation to video games and violence.

"The truth is there are many factors that can lead to violence, such as being withdrawn and isolated, so it is hard to say it is because of one thing". Therefore, the article also looks at the other factors of video games and violent behaviour.

The article looks closely at the psychological effects of video games and how they affect brain performance and behaviour. Experiments into violent video game images and disturbing images were carried out in order to gather the audience's response.

When shown images of real-life violence, people who played violent video games were found to have a diminished response.

However, when the same group were shown other disturbing images such as dead animals or ill children they had a much more natural response.

When the game players were given the opportunity to punish a pretend opponent those with the greatest reduction in P300 meted out the severest punishments.

On a positive note, the article refers to experts in the field of psychology, and the fact that experiments into how the brain responds to video games shows whether or not children or ordinary people's behaviour is affected by playing violent video games.

Psychologist Bruce Bartholow, the lead researcher of the study said: "As far as I'm aware, this is the first study to show that exposure to violent games has effects on the brain that predict aggressive behaviour.

"People who play a lot of violent video games didn't see them as much different from neutral. "They become desensitised. However, their responses are still normal for the non-violent negative scenes." In many ways, the audience seem to be cathartic and desensitized from playing video games, as the games are intentionally played as a means of escapism.

The findings will back up what many have argued over recent years with the growth in games with scenes of graphic violence. The article refers to how the constant release of video games and marketing seem to increase sales in violent video games, making people more violent. Though, the constant exposure to violent images, to some extent does result in desensitisation, as the players seem to have scopophilic pleasures in watching violence, yet are not prepared to be violent.

But some experts still remain unconvinced of a link.

Jonathan Freedman, a psychologist from the University of Toronto in Canada, said: "All we are really getting is desensitisation to images. There's no way to show that this relates to real-life aggression."

And Professor David Buckingham, an expert on the media and children at the Institute of Education, added "there was still no consensus on whether violent games caused aggressive behaviour or were just played by violent people."

"The debate we are seeing is very similar to the one that has raged for years about TV. The truth is there are many factors that can lead to violence, such as being withdrawn and isolated, so it is hard to say it is because of one thing.

"In the absence of any proof, I think we have to be agnostic about it. However, I think there is an argument about the morality of some games.

"Some actually encourage amoral behaviour to win the game and I think parents should be talking to their children to make sure they realise this is a joke. Children are generally good at telling fantasy from reality, but parents should be discussing this."

The response from Professor David Buckingham signifies how the idea of morality influences whether players become aggressive or not. By blaming one thing is insufficient, as underlying factors or possibly psychological factors are the reason why video games result in violent behaviour.