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back to article VIOLENT video games make KIDS SMARTER – more violent the BETTER

A meta-study carried out by the American Psychological Association has claimed that playing computer games has many positive effects on children and, in some cases, the more violent the game the more beneficial the effect. The research, published in the latest issue of American Psychologist, found that modern video games are …

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FInally... Some sanity into the discussion

This fits my rather non-scientific observations.

15 yeras ago I used to run a PC repair shop (in fact co-own it) with a couple which were fighting like cat and a dog. All the time. I moved onto other things for a year and came back to get some parts from them. I expected to find the usual constant bickering, grumbles and cold war atmosphere. Well, none of that - they were an exemplary couple. The secret - once a day half an hour therapeautic session of Doom2, deathmatch. They were discharging all of the aggression in virtual reality instead of doing so in the office.

The rest is also spot on.

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@Iain Thomson

"A meta-study carried out by the American Psychological Association has found that playing computer games has many positive effects on children and, in some cases, the more violent the game the more beneficial the effect. [...] The research, published in the latest issue of American Psychologist...."

Well then it must be true, because we all know that studies are never, ever wrong, or biased or slanted, and psychology is an exemplar of everything a hard science should be.

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Re: @Iain Thomson

Though it says meta study... so are you suggesting that ALL of the studies that the meta study encompassed were all biased, if so ALL in the same way?

I doubt very much that this is the case.

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Re: @Iain Thomson

It's a meta study - it's entirely possible that the data being analysed is the equivalent of noise.

Publicity == funding for actual research.

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Re: @Iain Thomson

"so are you suggesting that ALL of the studies that the meta study encompassed were all biased, if so ALL in the same way"

That is the beauty of meta studies - you can choose the studies you like.

When I see meta I read it as 90% chance of bollocks regardless of the study coming to a conclusion I like or dislike.

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Utter bollocks

So "fight or flight" and desensitization is no longer valid.

What shite.

Someone let B.F Skinner and Pavlov know this, will they?

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Duhh

There's nothing like the prospect of imminent horrible death for encouraging expansion of the mind.

A pat on the head and a 'Well Done' just don't do it for me.

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Stop

Question:

Who funded the study?

I'll posit a guess:

1) The games industry

or 2) Some progressive communist organisation hell bent on the destruction of the family.

Not that I'm a pessimist or anything. Here's the bottom line: The thought of my young child scoring drug deals and murdering prostitutes (Grand Theft Auto) makes me physically shudder.

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WTF?

Re: Question:

Why is it that people only highlight the ability to murder prostitutes in GTA games?

I guess the hoards of police/swat/fbi/regular people etc are all fair targets these days. :)

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Re: Question:

Ironically the only GTA missions I can think of that involve prostitutes are:

GTA III which had a couple of pick up and drop off some hookers in a set time missions

and

GTA San Andreas which had a the optional "pimping" missions which meant driving the girls around and protecting them from any abusive punters.

In all the missions a dead hooker equals failure

IIRC The killing prostitutes line comes from a daily mail article when GTA III came out. One of their journalists obviously had a very warped mind when they sat down to play it.

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Re: Question:@ForthisisNotDead

"The thought of my young child scoring drug deals and murdering prostitutes (Grand Theft Auto) makes me physically shudder."

If you were to allow your children to play age inappropriate games then you'd have only yourself to blame. There's nothing special about computers - you wouldn't let your child go into an "adult" shop, or join a BDSM club in real life. And I presume you already either supervise or filter their internet activity in a manner appropriate to your beliefs and their age? So what's the beef with games?

At some stage as they grow up somebody will offer your kids drugs. Whether they take them will be based in large part upon the moral guidance you've given them, the example you set, the education you give them, not what happened in some crappy long forgotten game. And if they are playing computer games, then join in. Board games used to be a family pursuit, until it was universally realised that the monkier was simply a mis-spelling of "bored". But the decline of board games and the rise of computer games aren't destroying my family. It's one of the few times my two aren't squabbling when they are playing Minecraft together. The older one is allowed to play CSGO, semi-supervised and I often participate in the same game, ensuring that the constant message "this isn't real life" is ingrained.

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Go

Re: Question: @ForthisNotDead

In GTA you can murder anyone you want, you don’t have to, I have competed the game only killing ‘the bad guys’ but prostitutes exist in the game just like in real life, the ‘murdering prostitutes’ line is, as pointed out, Daily Fail scaremongering,

They could have said (off the top of my head from playing these games)

farmers, bankers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, old people, cops, FBI agents, gang members, homeless people, Communists, Fire brand preachers, Krishna’s, firemen, doctors, fat people, drug dealers, hairdressers, guys playing pool, lifeguards, Triad leaders, Mafia Dons, Yakuza hitmen, gun store owners, people who work in casinos, ice-cream men, security guards, shop workers, people in nightclubs, DJs, lawyers, Rap artists, helicopter pilots, Biker gang members, US Army personal, corrupt politicians, actors, drug addicts, construction workers, hotel clerks, car parking attendants, people who work in bars, abusive husbands, muggers, pimps , White, Black, Asians, British, Cuban, Jamaican, African, Eastern European, Russian, Chinese, Pakistani, or Indian people, but they chose to say prostitutes.

Why do you think that is?

The game is not suitable for children, that’s why it says so on the front of the game I wouldn’t let a young child play GTA any more than I would let them watch Scarface, read a Stephen King novel, smoke a cigar, drive a car or do shots of Vodka, I however being more than 18 years old am the target audience and who the game is designed for, you child can play games that are aimed at them, World of War Craft being one of the games mentioned is rated for teenagers, a bit like a 12A film, again, I wouldn’t let a young child play it, but for a 13 (and 23, 33, 43 etc) year old it’s a good way to develop the skills mentioned in the article, at the same time being entertaining and engrossing.

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Re: why prostitute murder

In my (admittedly limited) experience of under-15s playing GTA, they will quickly abandon the story missions in order to rampage about and obliterate the civilians (literally - chainsaw-ing the corpse until it fades away is hilarious, to the right mindset).

Factor in the prostitutes, where you can pick one up, have her make sex noises, then murder her with the over-the-top weapon of your choosing, and it's basically catnip for boys.

As to why news media focus on this? It has plenty of shock value (murder and sex), and thus is a sure sign of the collapse of civilisation.

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Re: Question:

Other games are available.

I have a 6 and an 8 year old (Actually they are only a few weeks from 7 and 9.) but they play minecraft, mario cart, Unreal Tournament and Halo amongst others.

Of course unreal and Halo are the more violent amongst the games that they play but its cartoon violence, no worse than power rangers.

The only person to have mentioned GTA is you, by any chance do you read the mail?

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Re: Question:@ForthisisNotDead

"But the decline of board games and the rise of computer games ..."

I know this isn't the best forum to argue about this, but I'm going to... :)

Interest in board games is definitely on the rise. Board gamers now have dedicated YouTube programs including Table Top (hosted by Wil Wheaton!) and Board with Life. Also, the UK Games Expo (predominantly board games, but also some roleplaying) had to move premises this year as the attendance numbers were to high for their previous venue!

I much prefer board games to video games. They cost about the same and I don't need to upgrade my PC when new ones come out!

Oh, and if you think board games are just Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit then you are sorely mistaken! :)

You are quite right that people shouldn't let their children play age inappropriate games. People who do that and then moan that kids are badly affected by video games are just stupid.

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Re: why prostitute murder

>>>In my (admittedly limited) experience of under-15s playing GTA, they will quickly abandon the story missions in order to rampage about and obliterate the civilians<<<

Did you notice the big sticker on the front of the box that’s says “suitable for over 18s only”?

Not saying that I don’t go on rampages of mayhem, but people can’t complain about the content of an age restricted product that they willingly supply to those under that age. It’s like saying we should ban whiskey, because I bought a couple of bottles of whiskey for a 12 year old girl and was shocked at the effects it had on her

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Re: Question:@mrjobby

"I much prefer board games to video games. They cost about the same and I don't need to upgrade my PC when new ones come out!"

You're missing out on half the fun. Nothing like drooling over the latest graphic card performance stats, wondering whether selling the wife would raise the necessary moolah for it (and a pair of ear defenders for when the fans ramp up). The joy of purchase, installation, the free game of "hunt the stable drivers" for any new card. Then running the video test option of your latest game and marvelling at the fabulous framerates (carefully not considering that it looks exactly the same as before). And then there's the need to stick in an SSD to give instant load times, more memory (well, you're inside the case, doesn't make sense not to...).

Having said all that, a mid range Core 2 Duo and a good five year old graphics card will still run most new titles at a stonking rate, with the only exception being for the lucky few with 27 inch monitors and above, or if you're mad enough to try and run at fully otimised, anti-aliased, max detail etc.

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Re: Question:

Besides, if you got really good at murdering hookers you'd probably have a good political career if you changed your name to Kennedy and signed up with the Democrats.

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Re: Question:@mrjobby

Lol! Awesome!

Actually I have been there and done that in my good ol' Unreal Tournament days. I decided it cost too much to keep up with the Jones's.

Actually got a wave of nostalgia reading your post, though! Upvote from me! :)

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Re: Question:@mrjobby

Have to disagree with you there. It can NEVER cost too much to have PC kit capable of running Crysis 2 with everything turned up to 11.

I mean, you can survive perfectly well on a diet of potatoes and water, or if you can't afford those, the bins outside the supermarkets are crammed with discarded sandwiches (in a variety of interstingly curled formats), vegetables (many with traces of the original colour still in the leaves) and cardboard boxes (essential that you keep up your dietery fibre - chew well before swallowing and avoid the staples).

Honestly. people these days seem unwilling to make the smallest sacrifice in order to feed their gaming addiction.... er... hobby

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Re: Question:

You are aware that "Chappaquiddick" means nothing more then a funny looking word to most of the audience of this site (considering it's a UK site, and noone in the UK cares about what happened in MA in 2012, let alone 1969)

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Boffin

@Ledswinger - Re: Question:@ForthisisNotDead

> Board games used to be a family pursuit, until it was universally realised that the monkier was simply a mis-spelling of "bored".

That might have been true in the days when all the board games that were generally available were Monopoly, Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit and the like which basically just involved rolling dice and moving a counter around a track.

These days there are games like Carcassonne, Alhambra, Settlers of Catan (now with a Star Trek themed variant!), Ticket to Ride, Discworld - Ankh Morpork, Stone Age and many more which are playable by the whole family and which are a lot more interesting and entertaining than the old Monopoly etc.

Go on to Board Game Geek, find a local gaming group or shop (or buy online) and try a few. You will discover that there's more to gaming than mashing buttons...

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Re: Question:

"from a daily mail article"

Well, there's your problem. :-)

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Meh

As a youngster, at the dawn of television, I played Monopoly ™ at least twice a day, almost every day, for many, happy years. I've since become CEO of a massive private banking corporation - I take unbridled risks with vast sums of money every hour of the day, enjoy massive annual bonuses and stomp on little plebs with their grandiose plans for establishing ethical / green businesses that create worthwhile jobs and contribute to social development. I therefore defy anybody to claim that such worthwhile youthful activities led me astray in any way whatsoever.

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Could be worse, you might have become an unscrupulous landlord happy to bankrupt tennants with extortionate rents

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+1

Hilarious

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Bankers learning through gaming....

Perhaps if more bankers played GTA they would be a bit more careful not to get filmed buying their cocaine and banging prositutes......

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Just don't try booking into one of my hotels.....

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More intelligent psychopaths?

> the more violent the game the more beneficial the effect. ... help kids learn problem-solving skills and creativity

So if this research is correct, gaming does have an effect on the players. Whether the benefits outweigh the negative (for society, not the game-player) effects is a matter that has yet to be resolved. It would be nice to have some research into *why* violence makes people (appear) more intelligent - or whether the intelligence tests are just measuring traits that grow when a person is exposed to a violent situation. There's an obvious benefit: the ability to think your way out of a threat. However we need to know if that is what;'s happening, or if the games just give children the ability to think up more ways to hurt people - or helps keep those attracted to violence in their bedrooms, acting it out virtually.

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Re: More intelligent psychopaths?

The title of the article is entirely misleading. The study does not suggest that 'VIOLENT video games make KIDS SMARTER – more violent the BETTER' (my emphasis).

What it says is that games involving teamwork and spatial awareness improved the teamwork and spatial awareness of those playing them. A very 'no shit Sherlock' result.

Whoever wrote the title for the article has managed to bizarrely twist this into 'violence is good' because games that require lots of teamwork and spatial awareness (such as first person shooters,) often portray some degree of violence.

I certainly don't subscribe to the Jack Thompson world-view of 'computer games will turn all our kids in murderous psychopaths' but I also don't believe that twisting the facts as this article's title does helps the pro-gaming cause at all.

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You can say what you like

video games will always be blamed by someone with a political agenda, be it gun control, behaviour control, anti-bullying or simple religious numbnuttedness.

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Surprisingly good study

What it says is that if you play a game which rewards you for quickly identifying what you're looking at, you get better at identifying what you're looking at, and that if you play violent games then real-world violence can make you want to click instead of punch, which can make you less effective at hurting people which is a trait we need more of.

However, it loses several points for arguing that chocolate coated broccoli is not yummy.

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Re: Surprisingly good study

"click instead of punch, which can make you less effective at hurting people"

Isn't the gun the original point and click user interface?

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Re: Surprisingly good study

If it only goes 'click' then you're doing it wrong.

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that most are designed by medical practitioners, teachers and researchers, who don't ...

...know jack shit.

Fixed!

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Much as I would want to support a study that pushes back against the whole "games are evil! think of the children!" mantra, there are two words in this article that destroy the validity of the whole affair.

"meta study"

A data dredge, in other words. Pile a bunch of studies into a pot and then slice it up with bullshit statistics and ludicrous probability thresholds until you get the result you want.

It's meaningless.

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re: meta studies

The gaming issue, and this specific paper aside, your take on meta studies is wrong. When looking at small changes which are hard to detect then you need a very large sample size in order to determine any reliable signals. A well conducted meta studiy give you this in a way that no other approach can.

Google the Cochrane Library, and read Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Pharma' - meta studies are the gold standard when it comes to medical evidence, and have saved thousands of lives and millions of dollars/pounds. It's individual studies that need to be regarded with suspician.... That's where the bullshit lies.

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Re: re: meta studies

Google the Cochrane Library, and read Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Pharma' - meta studies are the gold standard when it comes to medical evidence, and have saved thousands of lives and millions of dollars/pounds. It's individual studies that need to be regarded with suspician.... That's where the bullshit lies.

I would add, that you could also read Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Science' (predates Bad Parma), he articulates very clearly the benefit of meta studies and why in some cases (when each individual study can only gain a small sample size) they are the only studies that can present useful evidence.

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Re: Bad Parma

What? Ham from northern Italy is bad for you?

Bugger.

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Re: re: meta studies

No! You cannot improve levels of confidence by pooling data from different trials. 'Different' trials' are different! Both the experimental conditions and the controls will differ subtly. If you need results from a large sample, then you must do a new trial with a large sample size.

At best a meta study may suggest that it's worth doing a larger trial.

The meta-study approach is for lazy thinkers who can't be bothered to say or write "Analysis of Variance".

Mine's the one with a dog eared "Design of Experiments" in the pocket.

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Playing GTA has turned me into as much of a violent sociapath, as playing FIFA has turned me into a professional footballer.

The whole rant about violent computer games is a bit like the old 'video nasties' debate. These films are so detatched from reality that no one is ever going to copy whats in them. I actually find the whole Jersey / Geordie Shore / The Only Way Is Essex and Sex and The City to be far more destructive. How often do you hear in the paper of someone kidnapping people and stitching their mouths to their anuses, or murdering people by drilling into their skulls? Where as the drunken violence, poor sexual health, affairs, excessive materialism and greed, which these shows depict as a way of life are clearly the norm for a significant number of people. Ditto with music, metal, goth and the rave cultures were always seen as destructive for young people, whilst the excesses of more mainstream stuff are rarely questioned with the same vitriol more underground music gets.

I'm not one for banning anything (with the exception of obviously illegal stuff), but it's certainly not violent computer games, or for that matter horror films which are having a destructive influence on society.

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"I'm not one for banning anything (with the exception of obviously illegal stuff),"

You'll find that is already banned.....

But otherwise a top post.

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Fair point well played! I suppose to clarify by 'illegal', is that I support a ban on child porn or anything else which exploits people in that sort of sickening manner. But not artistic expression. For example Postal 2 (arguably far more offensive than any GTA game) is illegal in Australia, or was the last time I checked, and I certainly wouldn't ban that. Given for a while it was one of the biggest titles for Linux gamers, I haven't seen any occurences in the news of Linux users stuffing a rifle up a cat's arse, impersonating police officers, or setting people alight then relieving themselves on them. Mind you the whole game is just a cartoony piss take - effectively a South Park simulator just played out by adults instead.

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Joke

Further evidence

that the mainstream media doesn't give a toss about FOSS.

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I really

have to play Postal 2 again, loved that game :)

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Vic
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Joke

> But otherwise a top post.

Top posting?

Yeah, that should be banned.

Vic.

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Interesting to find out if playing games actually improves STEM skills (causation) or in reality the type of people drawn to such games are already predisposed to being techie types in the first place (correlation). I suspect a little from column A and a lot from column B.

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From personal experience I can agree with that, the majority of my friends (there are always exceptions of course) who I used to play games from Doom via BNC networks to what you have these days, on a regular level be it online today or small to large LAN parties back then, all turned out fine, no one is a murderer, psychopath, whatsoever, and work in a Tech related field.

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Read the study

There's evidence right there in the paper where non-gamers were randomly put to work either playing shooters or doing other things and the ones playing shooters later tested better for STEM skills.

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Facepalm

Well my wife might not agree...

After I let our 11 year old play Skyrim for a bit which she thoroughly enjoyed. However the next time her mate came round they were both out in the garden running around shouting "Die! Kill the Draugr! Quick, cast a spell to explode that person!".

My wife was less than pleased with me after that, reminding that the neighbours might not think it's very funny or clever. I should have said, "It's making her smarter...errm, smacking that tree with the rake pretending it's one of the undead! Ermm..."

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