In the midst of the video game fury

The BPS Research Digest has just alerted me to an excellent cover article from Prospect magazine on the effects of computer games on young minds and why the scaremongering is largely hot air.

One of the biggest mongers of scare is the otherwise excellent Susan Greenfield, who seems to be convinced, mostly on the basis of speculations from some rather obliquely-related neuroscience studies, that video games and electronic culture and doing dreadful things to young minds (although not to elderly minds, who should apparently buy the ‘brain training’ software she’s endorsed).

There is indeed evidence of an association between violent video games and aggression aggression in some young people, but there’s also plenty of evidence of the benefits of children playing games.

Psychologist Tanya Byron wrote a remarkably well-researched report on the topic for the UK government, which is rightly highlighted by the Prospect article as one of the high-points of the debate.

The Prospect piece is a great overview of some of the things less often touched on by the academic literature, such as the real-life management skills needed to succeed in some of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game’s like World of Warcraft or Second Life.

Link to Prospect article ‘Rage Against the Machines’.

One Comment

  1. Posted June 2, 2008 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Vaughan –
    As an adult RPG/strategy game enjoyer, I have to agree that the aptitude and other skills such as memorization and analytical skills certainly come into regular ‘play’ while engaging in a video game. Also, decision making and creative explorations not available in real life may be of a psychological benefit, not to mention the social aspects of live gaming and team attributes. Whatever detriment might minimally be at play here, is barely relevant, as the largest growing portion of this market is the adult gamer. Adults also enjoy tobacco and alcohol (and too much food) I doubt even conclusive findings would damage the video game industry by much. Personally, I hope all findings are of a beneficial nature, because the larger the market gets — the more entertaining my game experience becomes. :)
    – KAS


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