How exactly can video game addiction physically or mentally affect a person? For years, video games have been researched and opposing studies have tried to determine what is helpful or harmful to adolescents and children. The main points of analysis that I will discuss are the dimensions of video game effects, behavorial changes from exposure to violence, and the effects on a gamer’s perception of humanity.
As we discussed in class, today there is no doubt that video games have become one of the largest financial industries in the world. Games can also do good things for players, especially educational games that are meant to motivate and teach students. Game mechanics can be used to improve motor skills such as balance and coordination, with the use of a controller.
But where does the risk of video games come into play? Studies have found that video games can be linked to negative physical and mental effects on gamers such as the increased eating on high fat and high sugar foods, weight gain, and physical inactivity. There are also known to be five dimensions on which video games can affect players which are the amount of play, content of play, game context, structure of the game, and the mechanics of game play.
Research suggests that the amount of game play is a significant contribution to negative addiction affects. If gamers spend no time playing, no effects can happen but if there are greater amounts of game play, it is likely to increase the possibility of poor academic performance, the risk of obesity and related negative physical effects.
Content of the game play focuses on the elements or themes of the game. For example, a violent shooting game such as Halo provides violent content and produces violent and aggressive behavior, unlike a game that is made for educational purposes. Context of a game can also influence effects because the situation of a cooperative game, for example Capture the Flag, exposes players to a cooperative environment by forming teams to accomplish a common goal.
Researchers have said that the “everyone for himself” approach can lead to larger increases in aggressive thoughts, lower amounts of empathy, and a lack of sensitive reactions to violence, than when someone is playing on a team. Athough this theory has never been studied, it is supported by research studies done with television and movies.
Game structure is connected with information that game players get from screen displays, which is related to the psychological meaning of this information. For example, a study done by researchers Huston & Wright explains that if a couple enters a bedroom and shuts the door, and then it fades to black, players take away a meaning of what happened behind the door, as opposed to if it just cuts to the next scene. Therefore, it can be possible for the structure and the message of a game to psychologically affect a player.
In class lectures, we spent some time talking about the transportation theory. When gamers begin to discover and immerse themselves into the story, setting, and characters of a game, they get transported into the game world and that is where the addiction is likey to start to develop. This transportation can result in attitude and intention changes.
Media exposure has been shown to be a heavy influence of social behavior. Video game exposure is different from other forms of media because in video games, players have the ability to directly control a character. For example, gamers can make their avatar make look like anything they want it to. Some players design their avatars to be attractive and muscular, sometimes because players have struggles with their body image. However, it is this mindset that can affect a gamer’s perception on humanity along with the media.
An important topic of the discussion of video game effects is the self-perception theory. This theory states that individuals infer their own characteristics by observing their own behavior. Video games are a valuable way to determine social behavior because playing violent video games is associated with increased antisocial responses, and decreases in cooperative behavior.
However, not all video games are associated with violent responses. Some video games may be able to influence positive effects on social behavior. For example, playing prosocial video games, which are aimed to benefit other game characters, can increase empathy and helping behavior, and decrease aggressive thoughts and behavior. To support this hypothesis, a study was done where 60 participants were split up and played prosocial games, neutral games, and violent games. Participants who played a prosocial game better perceived themselves as human as opposed to the violent video game players.
How does exposure to violence in video games directly affect our behavior? Video games have become prevalent in pop culture and more accessible through computers, tablets, and phones which is a source of concern. Since 1998, data has shown that there is a link between violent video games and aggression.
The mechanics of violent video games are thought to increase aggressive thoughts or moods because of the repetitive nature of these video games. Findings have suggested that these games can eventually affect the brain after they have been played repetitively, and commonly affect the aggression of high school students and school peformance. Effect statistics can sometimes be complicated because the individual personality of the player also plays a significant role in the relationship between video games and violent behavior.
A case study was conducted that included a self-report to measure video game habits of adolescents that was done by 8th and 9th graders. They were split into the groups addicted and non-addicted. Members of the addicted group were found to be involved in more arguments with friends and teachers, higher hostility scores, and lower grades.While the relationship between video games and teen violence statistics does have a concerning effect on behavior and emotions, and is a problem, research findings and reports have not shown a clear relationship between exposure to representations of violence and actual criminal acts or arrests.
However, the level of violence in games is still concerning to people and it especially goes into the consideration of parents. Call of Duty, for example is a fun game and has received good reviews, but a warning about the greusome gun violence has been put out specifically for parents, so they can consider its visual features. How do we know when game play crosses the line?
When we play video games and get addicted, we are aware of but we are not thinking about the physical consequences that too much game play can have on our bodies. We are transported into the video game world, but if we don’t stop to take a break and keep playing, we start to do damage to our bodies. This can result in consequences such as carpal tunnel, backaches, sleep disturbances, irregular eating, and poor personal hygiene.
Several criticizers quickly point to video games for the reason people become physically aggressive. However, this is not always the only reason. The University of Oxford conducted a study that aggression is also likely to be linked to gameplay mechanics and not only violent content.The study states that frustrating controls or mechanics have produced more aggressive reactions than just the content.
In conclusion, video game addiction can affect both the body and mind of a gamer and can be a huge struggle. But, video games can do good things for us too, as long as they are utilized properly. The effects of video games are based on several factors and we have to consider how the exposure of violence can influence our perception on reality and humanity and take a toll on our behavior.
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Teen Violence and Video Games. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2016 from http://www.teenviolencestatistics.com/content/teen-violence-and-video-games.html
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