How about someone does some actual tests into this. Maybe using one of those machines out of bladerunner.
Legendary id Software developer John Carmack reckons videogames have a positive impact on society and reduce aggression. Needless to say, it's a view that flies in the face of typical reports on games with violent themes. As the man behind Doom and the forthcoming shooter Rage, Carmack is constantly hounded by people wanting …
The claim in the linked article is that working out your aggression in a video game is cathartic and thus reduces actual aggression.
There is a fairly well-known experiment on catharsis and aggression which says, in short, that you may feel better afterward but your aggression level has actually gone up.
Here's the classic form of the experiment: Subjects are asked to write a short essay, which is then taken away for "grading". When the essay is returned, it has been given a very negative assessment.
After they see the assessment, half the subjects get a chance to work out their anger by punching a pillow before proceeding. The rest go straight to the next step.
Each subject is now told that they can express their discontent with the reviewer. They are given some hot sauce and a cup. The reviewer will have to drink however much hot sauce they put into the cup.
The cup is then taken away and the amount of hot sauce measured as a proxy for how much aggression the subject is feeling. The subject's own personal take on their feelings is also recorded.
Result: subjects who had a chance to punch the pillow report feeling calmer, but they put more hot sauce into the cup than those who didn't.
Then the person with 42 bullets in their pistol, no armour, and diminishing health probably did the same to reach that particular scenario and then wigged a screen-shot to special themselves up...
Head-Shot. Yay!!!! Take that!
The game went down the pan when they moved off Postman Pat versus the Germans and beyond episode one.
Is the experience in the genre still similar today?
Also, "wuss!"- there's plenty of ammo there to take those Imps down, plenty health and nothing particularly worrying on that screen!
So not only do games help people vent their anger harmlessly, they also teach how to manage resources and anticipate shortage problems*. Computer games FTW!
*Except a good few (mainly console-originated) games post-Halo where you just hide behind a wall and your health magically tops up, or where the one ammo pickup provides ammo for ALL of your weapons so you're never stuck with a pistol and a serious need of skill and tactics!
Paintball is all the fun, all the aggression, plus an added level of accountability. Welts are far more educational than waiting for a spawn recount. Makes me miss my highly customized autococker with Eclipse trigger frame, Halo loader... whisper quiet, only 75psi and frozen ropes of paint... the good old days. Mask because, well., you gotta play with one, dontcha?
I have no evidence of course - just experience from my limited world view - but it seems that different things affect different people in different ways. While a violent video game might relieve some people's pent up aggression, for others it may increase it. Similarly, people with aggressive tendencies may be more drawn to violent video games, some may not.
The interesting thing is that you could probably swap the words "violent video games" for "violent books / films / sports / etc" to suit whatever the media currently has a bee in its bonnet about.
I remember reading, a few months back, about some findings that had shown that playing violent video games did increase aggression for a short period after playing but that said aggression did not translate to any actual violent behaviour.
However I agree with John Carmack. My own experience has been that most violent video games help me to exorcise my anger in a safe environment.
I believe there are 3 categories.
Category 1: The Tapped: These people are missing something. Lets call it the Victim gene. These people are gonna do heinous things ANYWAY. Some of them just happen to play games. Nothing is going to incite these people any more than normal. Where video games influence is simply by feeding their creativity for bloodlust.
Category 2: Raging Normo's: These people are for all intents and purposes "normal" people, but when put into a competitve situation, become REALLY obsessed and competitive, so much so that losing is not a good thing. Classic categories - controller throwers. People who after playing a game, are actually more wound up than before they started. They may or may not end up doing something stupid
Category 3: Normos: Average john doe. Has a desire to maim, conquer, mine in a virtual sense to satisfy their need. They turn the game on, they play, the get their "fix" they turn the game off and continue normal life.
Using pareto as an example, I'd say the population is 80% Cat 3, 15% Cat 2 and 5% Cat 1.
Weirdly I only fall into category 2 on a couple of games - e.g. Blood Bowl (based on the GW board game) on the PC because you can work out the statistical probability of success/failure before you perform the action - and yet something that should happen only once in every 216 rolls (triple 1 on a dice) happens FAR more often... then RNG paranoia sets in because you _know_ it's out to get you; it's highly improbable to get the crappy rolls you get when the RNG is after you... and yet, they'll crop up time after time (((O _ o))) </nervous_tick>
FPS (or any twitch-play) games - no worries, if I'm sucking it's because I'm sucking and should probably head to bed as it's probably very late... the only time I get wound up with games of that type is when playing an online team game (like TF2 or Brink), on an open server, and I get lumbered with a team that actually seem to have never played any objective-based FPS ... ever *sighs*
After having to keep my cool dealing with a difficult customer, I find the best way to blow off my frustration and get back on par is to spend fifteen minutes to half an hour on Postal 2, running around in the game world blowing heads off with the shotgun. It's a real calm-down, and I'm ready to return to work refreshed and able to deal with people without wanting to scream at them. I encourage the staff at work as well to take a bit of downtime on a game of their choice if they're feeling pent-up and frustrated, because the downtime is more than made up for by increased productivity and improved staff morale.
I don't know how many times I've come home and immediately get online to kill random people around the world. Take great pleasure in doing so - I recommend CounterStrike 2 de_dust2 with an auto-sniper (really pisses people off bwaaahahaha...).
Cheaper than therapy, easier on the wife and kids.
After a particularly bad commute on my motorcycle on the M25, I turn to GTA4 to relieve my stresses.
After 45 or so minutes of mayhem I am much more relaxed having taken a virtual revenge on the 40 or so people who today tried (mostly due to idiocy, but a few deliberately) to knock me off my bike.
I am not a violent person by nature and although I may look scary at times (6'4" biker) I am the quintessential gentle giant.
I have to agree with Carmack. I think that loonies play the games and then try to act them out in the real world. How long do you reckon it will be before that Norwegian nutcase tries to blame computer games?
A good call, great just to blast up a road at huge speed. Something like GTA4 or Split Second after a bad commute.
I've played racing games for years, from Pitstop 2, through Bill Elliots Nascar Challenge, Indycar, through Toca2, GT, Forza etc. etc. and managed to hold on to a clean licence despite the best efforts of scamera 'safety partnerships'
Similarly, playing Bioshock doesn't mean I want to run around an Art Deco setting with a shot gun and a tazer.
Most of us can make the distinction between escapism in video games - almost a "holodeck" effect, and real life with real consequences.
Although there are some who use video games for training - US Military used a doom build once, various F1 teams use F1 simulators.
I would probably say that having a wheel and pedals on the likes of 1994s Nascar racing, using it to muck about and reverse / parallel park in the pits etc. probably helped slightly with gaining a real life pink licence! :)
Nothing like sitting 25 foot in the air *behind* the car you're driving to give realism.
Why just this morning on the commute, I was floating in the air behind my car which I was driving, thinking 'hmmm this is just like Saints Row 2 but (mostly) without the shooting!'
Come back when they've implemented an in-car view.