May 29, 2003
I read a cool article in The New York Times today about shoot-em-up video games being good. The research was done by Dr. Daphne Bavelier at the University of Rochester and found that players of the first-person shooter games have increased visual acuity by 30% to 50%. That's a very significant numberI've been known to blow things up on the screen from time to time, though I don't spend much time doing it; nor am I very good. However, according to the research, "as little as 10 hours of play substantially increased visual skills among novice players."Among things that improved were the ability to "identify objects in their peripheral vision, perceiving numerous objects without having to count them, switch attention rapidly and track many items at once." Sounds to me like we need to get most of Utah's drivers playing these games.
Posted by charr at 8:03 AM
The question is, does that outweight all the studies indicating an increase in violence and desensitization by those playing so much?
Ahh shucks Renee, you take all the fun out of it :(. Actually, you have a valid point and one I don't have an answer to. It seems the increase in visual acuity skills are pretty prevalent to most subjects, while the level of level of desensitization is rather dificult to quantify. Some people have blamed violent acts on games such as these, but I don't think that's fair, seeing as how those people are a very, very minor percentage and seem to have other bigger problems.
I'm sure it'd be possible to design an action-oriented game that was not graphically violent that would increase visual skills without desensitizing. I'm not convinced that either of these effects are significant enough to alter my view of video games, though. I think they are, for the most part, fine for entertainment purposes when used in moderation as part of a balanced life. I don't think they're a significant cause of any great benefits or woes to society; any role they play for good or ill could easily be replaced by some other form of play. People who blame them are looking for a scapegoat rather than attempting to discover and solve real problems.
The "real problems" are easy to find. They are called parenting skills, or lack thereof. Games are just a symptom of said problem. If parents saw to it that games were only used in moderation then fine, no problem. Except I would wager in the majority of homes they aren't. The parents spend less time interacting with their kids than the hours wasted in front of a screen. This is not limited to any socio-economic class. And no, this is not limited to video games (think movies, web surfing, tv, etc). But it is worth noting that video games are addictive. From solitaire to Bejeweled to America's Army to EverQuest (aka EverCrack). Moderation is great - when it actually happens. This is difficult enough for adults and virtually (no pun intended) impossible for kids to moderate.Desensensitization is important, too. People dismiss it because, well, they are desensitized by the volume. I saw a video game an an arcade in 1989 called "Narc". It was totally disturbing. The player shot prostitutes and guard dogs at drug labs. Blood spewed forth from upon being shot. It made my stomach churn. Today's seasoned gamers would laugh. That game would look so tame by comparison to today's standards. So what will have to come out in 10 years to satisfy the gamers?
Sayyyy, wait a minute. Levi, don't you have that hooker shootin' game that renee was talking about?
No, no. Vice City is far worse than Narc was. In Narc, you were supposed to be a good guy, and it kind of had an anti-drug message. In Vice City, you're an aspiring crime boss who sells drugs. Just like Miami Vice, but from the bad guys' point of view. It was fun for a while, but I just can't stay interested in video games these days.
You have to realize. It's the parents job to regulate what their child plays. It's not the video game industries job. Video games aren't for kids anymore. They have evolved with the kids that grew up with them in the 1980's. That's their biggest fan base now. Plus, they are a wide medium just like movies or TV. There are games for adults, teenagers and children. They have ratings sytems for these games just like in the movies and on TV now. It's the parents job to keep these games from their kids if they do not want them to be exposed to it. People say some games are too violent, such as Grand Theft Auto because they still have this way of thinking of video games being strictly for kids. That's totally false. Parents need to regulate games just like they would their childs movies. I'm sorry though, I grew up playing NARC in the arcades and I don't want to kill anyone. There were just as many violent games in the arcades back then as there are now on the Playstation 2. What ever happened to telling your kids "Don't do this" or "That's wrong"? So, maybe your kid shot up the daycare when he was 4.That probably means your kid is just crazy but instead, you need to blame it on something besides yourself or the straight fact that there is something wrong with him.
I completely agree. Parents go around with this "I can't tell my child no" attitude, and then they go off to work. The only contact between them is a post-it on the door telling the kid that there's a frozen tv dinner for him to eat.