Violent video games: the media scapegoat for an aggressive society

Goodson, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-0939-0629, Pearson, S. and Gavin, H., 2010. Violent video games: the media scapegoat for an aggressive society. In: Videogame Cultures and the Future of Interactive Entertainment, Oxford, July 2010.

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There are plenty of researchers willing to ride the media bandwagon and suggest a relationship between violent video games and aggression (e.g. Bartholow, et al., 2006; Bartlett, et al., 2007; Giumetti & Markey, 2007; Bushman & Anderson 2009). However, there are methodological problems associated with many of the studies, these range from video game selection and complexity of game play, to inappropriate participant selection and measures of aggression (Ferguson, 2007). Goodson & Pearson (2009) used reliable measures of physiology (EEG, ECG, and respiration) and cognitive appraisals of aggression (Buss & Perry Aggression Questionnaire) in an immersive environment. In two studies, the physiology and cognitions of 70 participants were measured playing either a violent or non-violent video game. The participants were recruited carefully based on their experience of playing video games. Controversially, it was shown that driving games induced higher levels of aggression than violent first-person-shooters. Even when the players were conducting acts of a horrific nature in a game (i.e. chainsawing a body in half), aggression levels and brain activity were still lower that those induced by a driving game. Pearson & Goodson (2010) proposed the ‘real life stressor’ hypothesis where situations that can induce an emotional response in real life, can also result in a similar response when they are created within the gaming environment. The latest fashion of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ type games, which incorporate large environments and morality decisions, are an ideal platform to test the validity of this theory.

This paper aims to examine the effects of playing videogames on cognition and physiology in light of the current research. It will demonstrate why, rather than appeasing the media hype machine, it is now time to change the direction of video game research and investigate the emotional responses induced by games that imitate potentially real life situations.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Creators: Goodson, S., Pearson, S. and Gavin, H.
Date: July 2010
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 19 Jul 2021 10:27
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2021 10:27

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