Gaming and Other Computer Use for Entertainment

In our present time and culture, the accessibility of entertainment is at arms reach at any moment. More than ever we have been afforded instantaneous interaction  with our favorite forms of entertainment. I myself don’t enjoy gaming regularly, that being said I have been known to play a round of Candy Crush Saga every now and again. Gaming has inundated our online world which makes it difficult for internet users to view an area of interest online without a predictive ad scrolling on the screen. Although I  find this annoying at times, this proves to be an ingenious  way of marketing gaming technology to someone who would have probably not have explored it otherwise. That’s how I got sucked into Candy Crush Saga. I also have dabbled into gaming for cognitive development, although again, I’m not a “gamer”, the logical side of me definitely understands the benefits that come from the art.

In an article for TEDBlog, Andy Robertson discusses thinking of video games as more than simply something to be used for entertainment and self development, but as a resource having “intrinsic value” (2012). Robertson states that peoples opinions are polarized on gaming, either it contributes to violence and is a waste of time, or they help with relaxation, self improvement and entertains. Robertson explains that if we looked at other art forms strictly for there ability to cause harm or for self improvement, we miss there value and cultural significance just as we do in video games. Robertson equates the impact of video games likened to that of films and books in the way that we experience them with our minds and emotions, the difference being games invite us to interact with the story. This allows the possibility for game players to also experience and appreciate various cultures through video games.

In a research study concerning the effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, cognition, and affect, as well as physiological arousal and prosocial behavior, Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman perform a meta analysis of scientific literature as well as conduct their own experiment. In their convergence of research about movie, television, and video game violence, Anderson and Bushman explain that because television, movies, and video games have a similar psychological processes, have a large amount of research literature, and exhausted early criticism of aggression studies with further research, the two seemingly separate themes correlate and can support the topic. Anderson and Bushman  conclude that violent video games do increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults. The researchers also learned that exposure to violent video games also increase physiological arousal and aggression related thoughts and feelings, as well as decreases prosocial behavior with game usage. Anderson and Bushman initial finding were confirmed in August by the American Psychological Association(2015).

The part of the article I found the most interesting was the explanation of the General Aggression Model (GAM). According to Anderson and Bushman, the activation of aggression is largely based learning, activation, and application of aggression related knowledge structures. Violent television, movies, and video game increase aggression by teaching participants how to aggress through priming cognition, increasing arousal, and by creating an aggressive affective state.

This model helped me to understand the psychology behind why so many of us enjoy violent media, especially if you have a passive personality. When we watch violence, especially when its interactive we are allowed to live vicariously through the characters, and not only experience how they react to stimuli, but how we believe we should react if we are presented with the same circumstance. This makes us feel powerful and less susceptible to being taken advantage of. When we have not been taught the proper models of handling violence we still learned a model of handling violence, through our environment and whatever that encompasses. It when these technologies become the only teachers of behavior models that they become dangerous to our culture.

American Psychological Association. (2015). APA review confirms link between playing violent video games and aggression [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/violent-video-games.aspx

Anderson, C., Bushman,B. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychol Sci 12(5), 353-9.

Casey, M (2015, August 17). Do violent video games lead to criminal behavior?. retrieved October 7 2015, from CBS News Web Site: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/do-violent-video-games-lead-to-criminal-behavior/

Robertson, A. Finding the meaning in video games: Yes, they have value beyond entertainment and self-improvement. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from http://blog.ted.com/finding-the-meaning-in-video-games-yes-they-have-value-beyond-entertainment-and-self-improvement/

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