You Won’t Like Me After I Play Some Sport

You know the age old argument: violent computer games makes players more aggressive. Throw in a couple of headlines from the media and what do we have? A negative stigma that the gaming industry cannot shake. For years I’ve played a whole multitude of games and have always gone blah to these types of stories and accusations. But when it’s shoved right in your face and you have nothing better to defend it than saying “These games don’t affect me”, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

How much trouble can a harmless game of footie cause?!

A recent study done by Psychology lecturers Dr Simon Goodson and Dr Sarah Pearson from the University of Huddersfield has now put a brand new spin on this old argument. Using a facial mask called an EEG net, the study looked into the way the player’s brain activity differed when playing a violent game in comparison to a driving game. When exposed to different events within each game, they found that the player became more emotionally aroused playing a driving game. In simpler terms, the player reacted more strongly towards a driving game than a game involving violence.

Doctors Goodson and Pearson expanded the experiment on a larger scale and this time replaced the driving game with football. Again they found that the players became more emotionally involved with the football and even had players swearing at the game and even the referee. From looking at their findings it was determined that although the graphics and experiences within games are becoming more realistic, players became aggressive when exposed to events they could relate to emotionally.

The EEG facial mask
The EEG facial mask

Where events such as driving and sports can be part of our daily lives, video game style violence such as shooting we may only experience within other forms of entertainment, such as movies. So when playing these types of games, which contain a superficial element, such as shooting aliens, the player’s emotions are more detached from what happens. Some of the players during this study also admitted that playing the violent games helped them to relax. Now I know a bunch of us can testify to that.

Violent games may not be as bad as once thought

What I like about this study is that at no stage does it ever say that players exposed to violent games are merely entertained whereas if you play a sports game you will become a hooligan. Instead it demonstrates that we are driven by what we can relate to, so the more common ground we have with what we see, the greater the connection.


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