New Study Questions Video Game Violence Debate

Is the teenage gamer cursing your mother over Xbox Live acting so aggressively because he’s played too many violent games?  Or is it simply because he sucks at the one he’s currently playing?

In a study entitled "How gamers manage aggression: Situating skills in collaborative computer games," researchers from the University of Goethe in Sweden spent several hundred hours playing online games and observing other gamers play, focusing on "complex games with portrayals of violence and aggressive action where the participants have to fight with and against each other."  They found that these games require "sophisticated and well-coordinated collaboration" and that successful gamers were strategic, technically knowledgeable and had good timing.

Aggressive, curse-happy gamers, on the other hand, tended to be rather crap.  This led researchers to question the popular notion that violent games cause aggression.

"The suggested link between games and aggression is based on the notion of transfer," said researcher Jonas Ivarsson, "which means that knowledge gained in a certain situation can be used in an entirely different context. The whole idea of transfer has been central in education research for a very long time. The question of how a learning situation should be designed in order for learners to be able to use the learned material in real life is very difficult, and has no clear answers."

"In a nutshell, we're questioning the whole gaming and violence debate, since it's not based on a real problem but rather on some hypothetical reasoning."

Source: Science Daily via The Escapist. Image from Valve Software's Counter-Strike.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen

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