Time for some good news about violence in video games!
I bet you didn’t expect this, but here are three recent discoveries about the use of violence in games.
First, an international research team from the USA and Canada found that by playing a game together we can change attitudes of players towards others. They had people kill zombies with someone who the player thought was from the States (and in the USA they thought they were playing with a Canadian).
The research concluded that having people play with someone they thought was from another country increased player’s opinion of people from said country.
Participants were asked how they felt about a variety of different social groups both before and after playing the game. Those who were told they were playing with an American reported more positive feelings about people from that country after playing.
Paul Adachi, a PhD candidate at Brock and the study’s lead author, says video games are good tool to set up experiments and study real-world psychological phenomena.
I’m not clear why the researchers picked a violent game though. I assume you would get similar results with any cooperative game regardless of violence.
The second neat thing about game violence is that despite the rise of violent games actual crime has decreased. Hopefully this recent study will put to bed the myth that violent games cause people to be more violent.
Focusing on video game violence, Ferguson used the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to determine the violent content for the most popular video games between 1996 and 2011. Federal data on youth violence during the same time period was compared to ESRB-estimated violence content. Violent content in the most popular video games during these years was associated with a drop in youth violence. Ferguson stressed that this decline in youth violence was most likely by chance and not directly related to video game violence.
Finally, there is another new study suggests violent video games improve moral behaviour.
Led by Matthew Grizzard, an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo, and co-authored by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Texas, this new study suggests that being bad in video games can lead players to think more about their real-life actions.
“Rather than leading players to become less moral, this research suggests that violent video-game play may actually lead to increased moral sensitivity,” says Grizzard. “This may, as it does in real life, provoke players to engage in voluntary behavior that benefits others.”
One reason I think it’s inportant to tackle issues around violence and video games is that educators and parents are worried about gaming in education as a result. So this research is good for all of us.
It’s all good news considering games are the future of education.