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Video games’ benefits outweigh negatives

Tyler Smith, Opinion Writer
March 13, 2013
Filed under Opinion

Video games have been studied and debated for their merits as an entertainment source and for their associated stigmas of causing violent behavior amongst teenagers. Recently however, research is also casting video games in the positive light they deserve.

According to Art Markman’s study in Psychology Today, players of action-based games tend to have better reaction times.

A study compared people who actively play action video games, such as first person shooters, with those who do not, Markman said. The studies found that gamers process and use visual information faster and more accurately than non-gamers.

Jeff Grabmeier of Ohio State University presents a different side to action games however. According to his article, individuals were found to be more aggressive when playing violent video games for consecutive days. The study, coauthored by OSU communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman, test subjects randomly chose to play either a nonviolent or violent game. Each individual played his or her game for twenty minutes a day for three days and was continuously tested.

According to Grabmeier, the individuals who played violent games showed more aggressive behavior in a reaction time test against what they believed to be another unknown test subject.

“The loser of each trial would receive a blast of unpleasant noise through headphones, and the winner would decide how loud and long the blast would be,” Grabmeier said.

The fact that these test subjects were more than willing to allow another individual to suffer punishment presents an arguable case for violent video games begetting violent behavior.

However, this cannot be applied to every individual discriminately. I, for one, started playing video games that contained mild violence at the age of 12 or younger. I never once felt the need to re-enact such violence. Perhaps I didn’t succumb to bank robbing and a blood rage via running pedestrians over with a truck because my parents made certain I knew what I saw on a television screen was not reality.

Jonathan Nagan, UWGB freshman civil engineering student, stated he has been playing video games since he was five years old. He likes games that are first person shooters such as “Call of Duty” and “Halo” but mostly for the social aspect.

Michelle Trudeau, writer for NPR, further illustrates the benefits of playing action-based games. According to her, Daphne Bavalier’s studies on action games at the University of Rochester also illustrate that gamers tend to have improved vision, attention and some cognition aspects.

A specific form of vision improved within gamers is contrast sensitivity, which enables an individual to see subtle shades of gray that could, for example, help a driver in foggy conditions, Trudeau said.

According to her, the same study argues gamers may be better at multitasking by detecting newly presented information faster.

UWGB freshman Brad Roethle, a business administration major, is not concerned about these studies. Instead, he enjoys his video games for the realistic qualities and the freedom they provide him. The only drawback he sees is they do tend to be addicting and time-consuming.

I personally feel the benefits far outweigh the negative connotations presented against video games. In my opinion, aggressive games are not sufficient enough to cause an individual to react violently toward others. Any individual who does act out violently, regardless if they played games like “Doom” or “Mortal Kombat,” most likely had disturbing behaviors to begin with.

I grew up with video games and through them, I grew closer to my dad as a kid. Today, I view my games as either a form of art, storytelling, stress relief or simply a medium of socialization with my friends. If games also help my ability to react faster or see otherwise hardly discernible objects while driving, I see no harm in playing them.