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Effects of Video Games: Physiological, Psychological, and Em

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Ashley Reiter

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Transcript of Effects of Video Games: Physiological, Psychological, and Em

Video Games:

Aiding or Harming Our Children?

The Psychological, Physiological, and Emotional Effects of Video Games on Children
John Doe, after he finished playing a violent video game, drove to a nearby school and fatally wounded ten students. Did John get the idea to murder students from the violent video game he was playing, or did other factors drive him to commit this act? Jane Doe, who was proficient at multiplication long before she was taught the subject in class, was found to have been playing a learning video game that combined math with entertainment. Did playing the learning game help Jane to increase her intelligence, or was she just naturally brilliant?
Do They Affect Us?
Such controversial questions over video games and their possible effects on individuals have been a hot topic since the emergence of the first video game. Topics for debate range from whether video games are turning gamers into psychopaths to whether video games can be used in schools as learning tools. The debates are endless and are very rarely objective.
In this report, I will be providing a comprehensive summary of some possible physiological, psychological, and emotional effects video games could have on children who play such games. Although this article addresses only specific effects that video games might have on gamers, this work provides a snapshot of some common arguments made for and against video games.
Brief History of Video Games: 1947-2000
Possible Effects of Video Games on Children
The topic of how video games affect those that play them is the center of a very hot debate. As they conduct studies on how gamers are influenced by video games, researchers focus on three main areas of an individual's life that could be potentially affected. These three areas include the individual's psychological health, his physiological health, and his emotional health.
Possible Psychological Effects
Possible Emotional Effects
Possible Physiological Effects
Other individuals who study the effects of video games focus more on how video games influence gamers' physiology. Again, these individuals are divided over whether such games benefit or harm the physical health of gamers.
Still other researchers center their attention on the potential effects video games may have on the emotional well-being of gamers. Again, these individuals are divided over whether these effects are positive or negative.
Other individuals believe that video games can have a negative influence on the physiology of those who play such games. These individuals concentrate on such topics as how playing video games can cause obesity as well as how playing video games can damage a gamer's nerves.
Possible Positive Physiological Effects
Some individuals believe that video games can have a positive influence on the physiology of those who play such games. These individuals focus on such topics as how playing video games can promote exercise by relating physical activity to fun games. They also focus on how playing video games can improve an individual's motor skills.
Possible Negative Physiological Effects
Others individuals believe that video games can have a negative influence on the psychological health of those who play such games. These individuals concentrate on such topics as how playing video games can desensitize gamers to violence and pain. They also concentrate on how video games can reinforce gender stereotypes.
Possible Positive Psychological Effects
Some individuals believe that video games can have a positive influence on those who play such games. These individuals focus on such topics as how playing video games can positively influence a gamer's cognitive abilities by increasing spatial cognition, sensitivity to contrast, and mental processing of information. They also focus on how video games can be used as learning tools in the classroom.
Possible Negative Psychological Effects
Possible Positive Emotional Effects
Possible Negative Emotional Effects
Improved Cognitive Processes
Some researchers of the psychological effects of video games have studied the influence playing such games could have on the cognitive processes of the gamer.
Recipient of a PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT, Daphne Bavelier has conducted several studies on this subject. According to her findings, "action video games train the brain to better process certain visual information,"and thus these "gamers tend to be more attune to their surroundings while performing tasks" (Trudeau, "Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills"). She also found that those who played video games tended to have increased "contrast sensitivity" (Trudeau, "Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills").
Ian Spence and Jing Feng have also conducted studies on the effect video games have on cognition. These individuals assert that "experience with action video games has been associated with superior ability in visual memory recall" (Spence and Feng 98). They also believe that "action games offer the possibility of improving an individual’s ability to react quickly" (Spence and Feng 97).




Video Games Used as Learning Tools
Other researchers of the psychological effects of video games have conducted studies on how video games can be used as learning tools in the classroom.
According to Dennis Charsky and Clif Mims, “[g]ames that…include competition and goals, game rules (Alessi & Trollip, 2001), challenging activities (Malone & Lepper, 1987), choices (Hannafin & Peck, 1988), and fantasy elements...have been shown to be a valuable instructional method and strategy for teaching a wide variety of students and content” (Chasky and Kims 32).
Kurt Squire agrees with this viewpoint, claiming that "computerized simulations, or...video games can be powerful tools for learning” (Squire 50). "They allow learners to…manipulate otherwise unalterable variables…view phenomena from new perspectives…observe systems of behavior over time…pose hypothetical questions to a system… [and] visualize a system in three dimensions” (Squire 50).


Desensitization to Violence and Pain
Some researchers of the psychological effects of video games have studied how video games can desensitize gamers to violence and pain.
According to Bruce Bartholow, Brad Bushman, and Marc Sestir, "[r]epeated exposure to media violence...reduces its psychological impact" (Bartholow, Bushman, Sestir 532). These authors claim that "people become desensitized to violence after prolonged exposure to it, leading to a reduction of normal inhibitions against aggression and making individuals less responsive to the pain and suffering [of others]" (Bartholow, Bushman, Sestir 537).
Jeanne Brockmyer promotes a similar concern, claiming that "exposure to violent video games is associated with lower empathy and stronger support for using violence to solve problems" (Brockmyer, "Violent Video Games and Desensitization"). The author fears that children "will become less sensitive to the true consequences of violent actions" (Brockmyer, "Violent Video Games and Desensitization").
Reinforcement of Gender Stereotypes
Promotion of Exercise
Some researchers of the physiological effects of video games have studied how video games can help fight obesity by promoting exercise.
According to Dr. Rick Nauert, "video games that get users to dance or play a virtual game of soccer could increase energy expenditures and might help combat the growing health problem of childhood obesity" (Nauert, "Video Games Can Up Kids’ Physical Activity, Reduce Obesity"). He goes on to mention that the results of a certain study showed that "on average kids expended more energy when they participated in the P.E. activities" (Nauert, "Video Games Can Up Kids’ Physical Activity, Reduce Obesity").
Wielding a similar opinion, Professor Trost suggested that "incorporating active gaming into a paediatric obesity treatment program could promote physical activity" ("Active video gaming helps fight obesity"). He goes on to suggest "that health professionals working with overweight or obese children should consider active video games as a way to increase physical activity and motivation for exercise" ("Active video gaming helps fight obesity").
Improved Motor Skills
A Cause of Obesity
Some researchers of the physiological effects of video games have studied how playing such games can result in obesity.
According to an article produced by Sciencedaily.com, there is "a positive association between how much time a child plays video games and his or her chance of being obese" ("Video game playing increases food intake in teens, study confirms"). The authors claim that there is "preliminary evidence," which indicates that playing video games may cause gamers to consume larger than normal portions of food ("Video game playing increases food intake in teens, study confirms"),
"Leading researcher at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Center...in Ottawa," Dr. Chaput believed that two "causes for over-eating and obesity...are video games and lack of sleep" (Gaudiosi, "Why Playing Video Games Might Make You Fat"). Chaput claimed that "a single session of video game play in healthy male adolescents is associated with an increased food intake, regardless of appetite sensations" (Gaudiosi, "Why Playing Video Games Might Make You Fat").

Nerve Damage
Other researchers of the physiological effects of video games have studied how playing such games can result in nerve damage.
According to Dr. Friedland, playing video games for extended amounts of time can harm the nerves in an individual’s hand ("Doctors warn too much video game playing can cause nerve damage"). Depending on how an individual holds a mouse or controller, he may put pressure on his ulnar nerve. “[T]he ulnar nerve is in a position where it can be damaged if it’s continually smashed against a surface,” such as a knob on a video game controller ("Doctors warn too much video game playing can cause nerve damage").
A recent article on video game addiction builds upon this concern. “[E]xcessive use of a video game controller” may cause the "carpal tunnel -- the area of the wrist that houses the main nerve and tendons” to become irritated, resulting in swelling ("Physical Consequences of Gaming Addiction").
Outlet for Stress and Agression
Increased Aggression
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0528_030528_videogames.html
Some researchers of the emotional effects of video games have focused on how such games can cause gamers to become more aggressive.
Professors Barlett, Harris, and Baldassaro have conducted studies on the possible correlation between aggressive behavior and playing violent video games. They claim that the frustration and the visuals of gore lead to increased levels of aggression (Barlett, Harris, and Baldassaro 486–497). They also focused on the “Weapons Effect,” a theory that states "the mere presence of a weapon [even a virtual one] is going to increase the aggressive behaviors of participants who see the weapon” (Barlett, Harris, and Baldassaro 489).
Dr. Craig Anderson also conducted studies in which he attempted to prove that playing violent video games results in increased aggression (Anderson, "Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions"). He claimed that “high levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school and during free play periods, and violent criminal behavior.” He also believed that “repeated media violence exposure increases aggression across…[an individual’s] lifespan” (Anderson, "Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions").
Many individuals who research the effects of video games are concerned with the possible influence such games can have on the psychological health of gamers. These individuals are divided in their opinions of whether video games have a positive or a negative influence on gamers' psychological processes.
Some individuals believe that video games can have a positive influence on the emotional well-being of those who play such games. These individuals focus on such topics as how playing video games can serve as outlets for stress and aggression.
Other individuals believe that video games can have a negative influence on the emotional well-being of those who play such games. These individuals focus on such topics as how playing video games can cause gamers to exhibit more aggressive behavior.
Other researchers of the psychological effects of video games have studied how such games reinforce gender stereotypes.
According to James Ivory, "video games include far more male characters than female characters" (Ivory 104). The few women who are included in video games are depicted "wearing revealing and provocative clothing and indulging in sexually suggestive behavior" (Ivory 104-105). He goes on to state that "[t]he implications of...female portrayals in video games are troubling...[because] long-term media consumption can skew media consumers' views of the world toward that represented in aggregate by the media content" (Ivory 105).
Yi Mou and Wei Peng note very similar concerns. They claim that "male characters [in video games] appear more frequently, talk significantly more, and engage in noted behaviors more" (Mou and Peng 923). When on the other hand, women "are usually perceived as subordinate and passive-dependent to men, with sexual relationships as central in life" (Mou and Peng 923). The authors find these stereotypes disturbing because "they will influence how adolescent form their own identity and attitudes toward the opposite gender" (Mou and Peng 929).

Where Do You Stand?
As with the rise of any new concept or product, video games will be the center of controversy until a new concept or product steals the spotlight. The debates on the possible psychological, physiological, and emotional effects video games can have on gamers are based on a genuine concern for the good of the community and for the health of our children. Whether video games are aiding or harming our children, I personally cannot say. The goal of my project is solely to make readers aware of the possible effects of video games so that they may use this knowledge to develop their own opinions on the subject.
Other researchers of the physiological effects of video games have studied how video games can improve an individual's motor skills.
According to Dr. Catharine Paddok, "individuals skilled in video game-playing have a more efficient brain network for controlling movement that includes the prefrontal, premotor, primary sensorimotor and parietal cortices" (Paddock, "Extensive Video Game Experience Readies Brain For More Challenging Hand-Eye Tasks"). She goes on to say "that extensive video-game experience prepares the brain for complex hand-eye coordination tasks beyond those tackled in game-playing" (Paddock, "Extensive Video Game Experience Readies Brain For More Challenging Hand-Eye Tasks").
Ian Spence and Jing Feng claimed that "[a]lmost any video game that incorporates dynamic visual presentation and a fine motor control component is likely to be effective in producing improvements in visuomotor coordination" (Spence and Feng 97). These two authors believed that "action games offer the possibility of improving an individual’s ability to react quickly" (Spence and Feng 97). They also believed a gamer's speed and accuracy was directly related to the gamer's level of experience (Spence and Feng 98).
Video Games in the 21st century
Fig. 1

SuperSaiyanRiley. “Video Game Collage.” Photograph.
deviantart. deviantART. 2014. Web. 27 September 2014.
Some researchers of the emotional effects of video games have focused on whether video games can serve as outlets for stress and aggression.
Beth Winegarner states that "violent games might provide relief for...players who have experienced...stress" (Winegarner, "In Violent Videogames, Teens Face (and Fight) Their Demons"). She goes on to claim that "71 percent [of the individuals she surveyed] said they use videogames to blow off steam" (Winegarner, "In Violent Videogames, Teens Face (and Fight) Their Demons").
According to an article on science20.com, "[m]any children are playing video games to manage their feelings, including anger and stress" (News Staff, "Violent Video Games Help Kids Manage Stress"). The authors extend this claim by stating that "[c]hildren who play violent games are more likely to play to get their anger out" (News Staff, "Violent Video Games Help Kids Manage Stress").


Works Cited




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2000 -- Sony released the PlayStation 2 (Wolf xx)
2001 -- Microsoft released its first Xbox (Wolf xx);
Nintendo released the Game Cube
(Nintendo, "Company History")
2001 -- "Microsoft's Xbox Live online gaming service
begins" (Wolf xx)
2004 -- Nintendo released the first DS (Nintendo,
"Company History")
2005 -- "Sony releases the PlayStation Portable";
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2006 -- "The Nintendo Wii and Sony's PlayStation
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2011 -- Nintendo released the Nintendo 3DS (Text 3)
2014 -- Microsoft released the Xbox 1; MMOs
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1972 -- the Odyssey became "the first home video game system" (Wolf xvii)
1974 -- "Kee Game's
Tank
...became the first game to store graphics data on a
ROM chip" (Wof xvii)
1980 -- "Atari's
Battlezone
....[became] the first arcade game to feature a true 3-D
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1985 -- the Nintendo Entertainment System was released (Nintendo, "Company
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1987 -- "Cyan's The
Manhole
...[became] the first computer game to be released
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