Research Says This is Your Brain on Video Games
Absolutely everyone plays video games these days, whether it be teenagers or adults, and with today’s graphics they look more real than ever, and they come with some beautifully rendered violence as well.
Since the birth of video games, people have always assumed that they’re doing something bad to our brains, and the majority of parents believe that violence in media whether it be movies, televsion, or video games is a huge contributor of the violence culture in America.
But what do people know about how video games actually effect us?
There have been psychologists hard at work studying these effects for decades now, and they all seem to be coming to the same conclusions that there is some connections between artificial violence in video games and real life aggression. However, there is a very vocal group of researchers who say otherwise.
With the gaming industry expected to rake in around $152.1 billion in revenue this year the market is growing almost 10% a year and will be expected to reach around $196 billion in 2020, which is being reported by Newzoo. Pelham Smithers Associates has shown that the market has exploded since 1976 from $25 billion to $136 billion back in 2018.
Violence in video games is not new.
Way back in 1976 a gaming company called Exity had released a game called “Death Race” which was a game where you used a steering wheel and a foot pedal, and as you drive around you plow through anything that is in your way. The horrifying screams of your unfortunate targets and gravestones flood the screen in the process.
This game came before the release date of Pac-Man. By today’s standards the game was primitive and you wouldn’t even be able to recognize what was going on these days. However, the game gave the world it’s first widespread panic attack about violence in video games.
Today’s graphics will now put this relic to shame, and the real-life quality of these new video games are causing more concerns. If you’ve played the new Red Dead Redemption or Call of Duty games you know that the quality of the violence is dramatically heightened to feel very true-to-life. These games are the ones that have become insanely successful.
Fortnite alone made $3 billion dollars in 2018!
The question still remains however, do violent video games have an effect on aggression?
According to the research by the American Psychological Association they continuously find that violent video games actually decreases desirable behaviors like empathy, prosocial behavior, and moral engagement, but this doesn’t specifically mean that it’s making people more violent or aggressive, but these studies are mainly based on self-reported data from teenagers.
The Oxford Internet Institute and the University of Oxford did a way more comprehensive study on the subject. They implemented the use of official ESRB and PEGI rating systems, and not just the user perception of the amount of violence that is in the game. The result of the more thorough research finds that there is zero link between teenage aggression and their use of violent video games. The lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski says, “The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time. Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”
Przybylski goes on to mention that these aren’t the first studies to come out with these same results and that it’s getting to the point where blaming video games for violent aggression holds no weight.
However he did mention that online interactions and “trash talking” may warrant further research…
Here’s the icing on this beautiful cake, there are actually a metric ton of studies that show that playing video games actually has cognitive benefits, and these studies show that it’s time to stop demonizing them for the violence culture in American society.
These studies show that expert video game players have improved their cognitive functions, perception, and motor control. The study that was conducted involved 30 amateur gamers and 27 pros that had their insular cortex examined by an MRI, and wouldn’t you know it, they actually found an increase in grey matter and heightened funtionality and connectivity between sensorimotor and attentional networks.
This study just add to the avalanche of evidence that states that being good at video games actually plays a huge role in our cognitive development and shows improvement in players ability to adapt and learn new things.
Action based games actually tap into our subconsciousness and improves our reflexes, and states that these games specifically are a type of cognitive firmware.
On a personal level I’m just glad that all those hours logged playing games like The Legend of Zelda and Ark weren’t just a huge waste of time and actually had a key role in my mental development.
Granted, the jury is still out on the question of if video games, especially the violent ones, are doing anything bad to us.
What do you think? Drop a comment below.