Psychologist: “Ridiculous” to Assume Games Increase Violence in Players

October 6, 2010 -

Two unnamed gamers oppose the opinions of research experts in a BBC story examining the impact, if any, violent games have on players, but the roles are probably reversed from what you might expect.

The academic types, which included Dr. Cheryl Olson and Villanova University Professor Dr. Patrick Markey defended games, with Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood, saying “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.”

Markey referenced his previously published research, which indicated that only people who are already angry typically fall under the negative spell of violent games, or, as he told the BBC, “Those who are negatively affected have pre-existing dispositions, which make them susceptible to such violent media.”

Psychologist Dr. John Ryder had the strongest condemnation of any link between violent games and hostile behavior, stating, “Usually violence begets violence, not watching it on TV or play-acting in a video game.”

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Pennsylvania Legislators Hear Prof's Testimony on Violent Video Game Research

March 18, 2009 -

Earlier this month, GamePolitics covered a hearing on violent video games held by the Children and Youth Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

As we reported, Prof. Patrick Markey of Villanova University testified at length before the committee on what research says about the relationship between video game and real-world violence.

Markey, who has studied topics such as whether the Wii's motion control system enhances any negative effects of violent video games (Markey says no), also took time to explain to the committee the difference between causation and correlation.

While Markey adopts a researcher's neutral posture on the game violence topic, he seemed - at least in GP's observation - to be the recipient of a bit of political venting by some members of the committee. That is probably explained by the fact that  no one from the video game industry appeared at the hearing. ESA VP Sally Jefferson mailed in her written testimony.

GP previously posted a different video clip from the hearing (see: Pennsylvania Legislators Ponder Violent Game Tax) shot from a digital camera. The higher-quality video of Markey's testimony was taken by the Pennsylvania Cable Network. Due to YouTube length limits, the Markey segments are spread over three video clips:

Markey Testimony, Part 2

Markey Testimony, Part 3

GP's Live Coverage of Philly Game Violence Hearing

March 6, 2009 -

The Children and Youth Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives held a hearing on video game violence today at City Hall in Philadelphia.

Rep. Ronald Waters (D, left) appeared to be the point person for the hearing, although Rep. Louise Bishop, who chairs the committee, was also on hand. As GamePolitics has previously reported, Rep. Waters has been questioning the role of violent video games in real-world violence for some time. Since Philly is his home turf, so it's not surprising that he took the lead.

GamePolitics was on hand for most of the hearing and supplied a live feed via Twitter. We also secured some video of the proceedings which we will get uploaded to YouTube over the weekend.

Four witnesses testified:

  • a project manager from the Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police
  • Prof. Patrick Markey of nearby Villanova University
  • Two members of the Legislature's research organization
     

Here are the actual GP posts to Twitter. They are original, except that we've added endings that Twitter truncated in a few cases:

  1. I am heading out to cover video game violence hearings in Philly today. A state legislator is chairing. I will be tweeting from the hearing... 
  2. Just arrived at philly city council... Witness not well informed. Said that law on books in PA to prevent minors from buying m-rated games. But that's incorrect...
  3. Dr. Patrick Markey now testifying as to difference between correlation and causation. Markey has done research, generally favorable to games in past...
  4. Markey says violent games have a small, but consistent effect, but only on certain kids with pre-dispositions...
  5. Rep. Waters spends about 7 mins criticizing violent games with police shooting. This is a big issue in Philly lately as we have lost a lot of cops...
  6. Rep. Waters said that the industry pulled 25 to Life off shelves. That is not correct...
  7. Poor Prof. Markey seems to be serving as a proxy for the game biz. The reps. Are directing their anger about games at him...
  8. ESA apparently mailed in their testimony. The reps mentioned written testimony from ESA VP Sally Jefferson.
  9. Prof. Markey still getting follow-ups. Rep now wants to clarify Markey's suggested correlation numbers...
  10. Rep. is bringing up that military uses games to train personnel, so it must be an effective way to train people to do things.
  11. 2 guys up now from PA Joint State Govt Commission, research wing of PA legislature. They were asked to look into violent games. GP reported on this in late 2008.
  12. These guys are not telling the reps what they want to hear... Letting them know that game laws invariably unconstitutional...
  13. Wow, one of the reps just raised the idea of a five per cent tax on violent games to fund public education on game ratings...
  14. Rep. Samuelson suggests no public funds should be allocated to violent game developers - the Texas model (although he is unaware of that, clearly)...
  15. Rep. Murphy suggests that the state should mandate parental controls.... Guess he doesn't realize that they are already built in...
  16. Reps are upset over line in state report that players can get some benefits from violent games. 3 [Reps.] have now have objected.
  17. I've taken some shaky cam video here, but just found a nice, steady place to put my camera... Will post vids on YouTube tonite or tomorrow
  18. Rep. Waters again said that the game biz pulled 25 to Life off market, which is not true. Plus, he keeps calling it 21 to Life
  19. Rep. Waters asking what are penalties for selling violent games to minors.
  20. Rep. Cox (?) asking why games are so bad compared to violent movies, music, etc. High praise for ESRB, talks about parental responsibility...
  21. Chairwoman is asking about parental control features. Rep. Samuelson back again complaining about that phrase "violent games can have beneficial effects"
  22. Rep. Youngblood asks if violent games desensitize kids to death.
  23. Hearing now over.

GP: Although the representatives seemed quite frustrated with violent games during the earlier part of the hearing, by its end they had calmed down a good bit. In particular, the testimony of Dr. Markey and the two gentlemen from the PA Joint State Government Commission seemed to allay many of their concerns with information about research, parental controls and the ESRB ratings, as well as past failures of video game legislation. Of course, that's not to say that the issue was decided today.

Both Markey and the Joint Commission employees who testified were part of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Violent Interactive Video Games, which, as GamePolitics reported in December, recommended against legislating games.

New Study: Wii Motion Controls Do Not Increase Negative Effects of Manhunt 2

November 17, 2008 -

If you recall the furor surrounding the 2007 release of Manhunt 2, you'll probably also remember claims by some critics that playing the Wii version of Rockstar's bloody game would enhance any potential negative effects.

Critics like Jack Thompson and Dr. Michael Rich of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston warned that the Wii's motion control system would effectively constitute a rehearsal of the body movements used in real-world beating, slashing and stabbing. Dr. Rich said at the time:

Video games are among the most powerful educational tools yet developed... players experience and learn the game’s skills, whether they be based in strategy, logic, or violence. The content of Manhunt 2 and the unique physical interaction with the Wii control combine to take this simulation a level closer to reality - we can expect that the effects of this experience will be even greater.

But new research by Dr. Patrick Markey (left) of Villanova University suggests that motion-controlled game violence has no more effect on the player than sessions in which a standard control device is used. Markey's study, which examined results from 118 college student participants, has been published in Computers in Human Behavior.

Study subjects first completed a measure of psychoticism and then played either Manhunt 2 or the nonviolent Tiger Woods Golf 2008 using either standard or motion control. Markey's findings are detailed in the study's abstract:

Immediately after the video game play period, participants’ current level of hostility and aggressive cognitions were assessed... Results indicated that the use of motion capture controls did not increase the negative effects of violent video games.

All of the news is not good for games, however. Markey also concluded that research subjects who tested higher on the study's initial measurement of psychoticism were far more prone to being affected by violent games, whichever type of controller was used:

Participants with elevated levels of psychoticism were much more affected by violent video games than other participants. Such findings suggest that only some individuals are adversely affected by violent video games and that those who are affected have preexisting dispositions which make themsusceptible to such violent media.

UPDATE: Read the full report here.

46 comments

Villanova Research Video: Violent Games Only Make Angry People Aggressive

August 24, 2007 -

Unless you're already experiencing anger management issues, violent video games will not make you more aggressive.

At least, that's the conclusion of researchers at Villanova University, led by Prof. Patrick Markey. The study, which measured the responses of 167 students who played violent games like Doom 3 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein as well as non-violent fare such as Tetris Worlds and Project Gotham Racing. Said Prof. Markey:

So probably what's happening is these school shooters aren't doing the shootings because they played the violent video games. They're doing the school shootings because they are angry and maybe they've been provoked in life. Perhaps one of these provocations might be about video games but there's all the other daily provocations that happen. So it's not the video game's fault for these school shootings. It's the person's fault for these school shootings.

The news of the research goes back to mid-April, but this is the first we've seen of this video report.


 

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Andrew EisenHence the "Uh, yeah. Obviously."09/02/2014 - 12:53am
SleakerI think Nintendo has proven over the last 2 years that it doesn't.09/02/2014 - 12:31am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Uh, yeah. Obviously.09/01/2014 - 8:20pm
Sleaker@AE - exclusives do not a console business make.09/01/2014 - 8:03pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that, despite the presence of a snopes article and multiple articles countering it, people are still spreading a fake news story about a "SWATter" being sentenced to X (because the number seems to keep changing) years in prison.09/01/2014 - 5:08pm
Papa MidnightAnd resulting in PC gaming continuing to be held back by developer habits09/01/2014 - 5:07pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that the current gen of consoles is representative of 2009-2010 in PC gaming, and will be the bar by which games are released over the next 8 years - resulting in more years of poor PC ports (if they're ever ported)09/01/2014 - 5:06pm
Andrew EisenMeanwhile, 6 of Wii U's top 12 are exclusive: Mario 3D World, Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8, Wonderful 101, and ZombiU. (Wind Waker HD is on the list too but I didn't count it.)09/01/2014 - 4:36pm
Andrew EisenLikewise, only two of Xbox One's top 12 are exclusive: Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome (if you ignore a PC release later this year).09/01/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenNot to disrespect the current gen of consoles but I find it telling that of the "12 Best Games For The PS4" (per Kotaku), only two are exclusive to the system: Infamous: Second Son and Resogun.09/01/2014 - 4:30pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/09/01/beyond-two-souls-ps4-trophies-emerge-directors-cut-reported/ MMM MMM, nothing quire like reheated last gen games to make you appreciate the 400 bucks you spent on a new console.09/01/2014 - 4:24pm
Andrew EisenThat's actually a super depressing thought, that a bunch of retweeters are taking that pic as an illustration of the actual issue instead of an example of a complete misunderstanding of it.09/01/2014 - 4:20pm
Andrew EisenObviously, the picture was created by someone who doesn't understand what the issue actually is (or, possibly, someone trying to satire said misunderstanding).09/01/2014 - 4:10pm
Papa MidnightPeople fear and attack what they do not understand.09/01/2014 - 4:04pm
Papa MidnightWell, let's not forget. Someone held their hand in a peace sign a few weeks ago and people started claiming it was a gang sign. Or a police chief displayed the hand signal of their fraternity and was accused of the same.09/01/2014 - 4:04pm
SleakerEither people don't understand that what the picture is saying is true, or the picture was created out of a misunderstanding of what sexism is.09/01/2014 - 3:52pm
Sleaker@AE ok yah that's where the kind of confusion I'm getting. Your tweet can be taken to mean two different things.09/01/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - No. No, not even remotely. The pic attached to my tweet was not made by me; it's not a statement I'm making. It's an illustration of the complete misunderstanding of the issue my tweet is referring to.09/01/2014 - 3:13pm
Papa MidnightIn other news, Netflix states why it paid Comcast: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/29/technology/netflix-comcast/index.html?hpt=hp_t209/01/2014 - 3:10pm
Papa MidnightAndrew Eisen: Sites like Tumblr make things seem much bigger than they are. A vocal extreme minority start complaining and things go as they do.09/01/2014 - 3:09pm
 

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