Opinions and Culture

Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain?

Jayne Gackenbach Ph.D.

VideoGames: Brain Gain or Drain? – Biting the Bullet: Does Playing Violent Games Cause Aggression? It Depends

Communication Studies has examined the history of the introduction to all new media from poetry to the printing press to video game play and what is remarkably consistent is that fear seems to accompany each media when first introduced. In the case of video game play, like television, the emphasis of this fear has been on modeling aggression. In part this has been based on a large body of research into modeling effects of television so that one could say the pump was primed. Indeed the research summaries by Anderson and Bushman supports the basic contention that playing violent and aggressive video games increases various indices of aggression from doing harm to being numbed by violence to a decrease in helping behaviour. However, this work while some of the best methodologically in psychology, has recently come into serious criticism. While the effect can happen, there is a list of reasons why it does not happen or does not happen as severely as feared. These are addressed in this show based upon an excellent article by Christopher Ferguson. Additionally, there is an interview with Miguel Sicart of the University of Copenhaugen and author of The Ethics of Computer Games who speaks about the limits that gamers will tolerate for in game violence.