First Person Shooter Controversies Edit

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First person shooter controversies are arguments typically made in the field of science and research that aim to prove that playing first person shooter games will produce behavioral issues or promote healthy brain development. Critics and advocates of first person shooter video games have battled for years to find the true cause of playing these games. The case studies leave us with a very open-ended impression of the causes: increased signs of aggression, behavioral issues, desensitization, and s variety of positive brain development.

Background Edit

Forbes revealed that in the year of 2017, the majority of video games sold were first person shooter games. Forbes listed the best selling games of 2017 as: Call of Duty: WWII, Destiny 2, NBA 2k18, Madden NFL 18, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Grand Theft Auto V, Injustice 2, Horizon Zero Dawn[1]. The majority of the games contain some type of first person shooter element which also means they are suggested for an audience of 13+ or 18+ years of age. First person shooter games are associated with blood and gore, strong language use, sexual content, suggestive themes, and/or crude humor.

Negative Effects Edit

Scientists who criticize first person shooter games have come up with many different possible outcomes that can happen when one plays a violent video game before the suggested age.

Behavioral Issues Edit

There is a list of many possible behavioral issues that critics have found: the child can become easily irratated in situations they once wouldn't react to, random anger outbursts can occur towards friends, family, and even strangers, after habitually playing violent video games the child can become desensitized to violence and crime.

Studies Done Edit

Numbers scientific studies have been conducted by critics who all are able to come to their conclusion that gaming before the suggested age will have negative affects in a child's life.

Aggressive Behavior Edit

A specific focus in the studies done is, how the conventions of the game affect the childs personality. Scientists was to know how does the child react and interact with their surroundings immediately following game play. The General Affective Aggression Model (GAAM), a well known model in the research realm, is used to evaluate how the gamer can have an increased aggressive personality as a result of playing the violent video game.

Dr. Anderson conduced a case study where he used GAAM to evaluate his findings from his study which tested the different levels of violence from playing games in different intervals of times. Analysis was done through GAAM to conclude that gaming even in a short period of time will cause beginning stages of aggressive behavior. [2] Anderson tested gaming intervals as little as 20 minutes and as much as an hour where he found the same results for each run which was increase aggressive behaviors. [2] The reasoning for the increased aggression was found to be a result of priming due to cognitive processes.[3] The priming effect is, "exposure to violent content which increases aggressive thoughts and behaviors in immediate situations."[3]

Desensitization Edit

Desensitization is diminished psychological or emotional responsiveness to a stimulus after repeated exposure to it. [4] It was found to caused from minimal to maximal exposure to violent video games.

Bruce Bartholow conducted a study to test how constant exposure to violent video games can lead to long-term desensitization."For most people becoming desensitized to blood and gore can have deleterious social consequences, such as reducing inhibitions against behaving aggressively". [4] After a child is exposed to violence repeditly they have a higher chance of becoming desensitized to the actions of violence. Ultimately, a child can become immune to interacting with volence leading them to express it in their lifestyles. It is not simply the case that only long-term exposure leads to desensitization, but also short exposure to the games as well. [5]

Scientist Nicholas Carnagy exposed participants to violent video games for no more than 20 minutes and found beginning stages of desensitization and aggression developing. [6] There was a "reduced cardiovascular and electrodermal responses to subsequent depictions of real violence, compared to those who played a nonviolent game". [6]

Addiction Edit

First person shooter games imprint on the brain. When analyzed by neuro-technology, it is seen that intense gaming will "release large amounts of dopamine into the striatal brain region".[7] Dopamine in the brain is related to the pleasure center. It is possible for one to become addicted to first person shooter games if they are receiving an excess dopamine release. One study done from medical assistant Kevin Roberts found that "abnormalities in the [striatal] part of the brain are also involved in impulse control and self-regulation. [So] it should come as no surprise, therefore, that excessive play leads to neurotic and disagreeable conduct, as well as emotional outbursts".[7] Due to the addiction of the game, the gamer is actively engaging violent virtual behaviors of their character. The character is the aggressor. A study done byPsychologists Gentile and Anderson concluded that,"violent video games increase identification with aggressors through active participation and rewarding the repetition of violent behavioral sequences".[8] This can occur because the gamer is viewing everything through the aggressor's vision which makes it easier t o identify with them and take on the role of an aggressor. While identifying with the aggressor, the gamer is being rewarded for the activities they perform which are typically violent behaviors. Rewarding aggressive behavior in a video game (winning extra points and lives) teaches more positive attitudes towards the use of force as a means of solving conflicts.[8] This addiction can lead to the assumption that since there are rewards involved, it is okay to recreate these violent acts outside of the video game.

Positive Effects Edit

There are researches who claim that playing first person shooter games are beneficial to the gamers because they provide cognitive developments. Researchers claim that these benefits outweigh the negative possibilities that other researchers found because they are so minimal and there is not strong enough proof for causation. The benefits include: spatial cognition, enhanced visual skills, and multitasking.

Cognitive Developments Edit

Cognitive development consist of building learning skills such as vision and attention. Scientists find that players of first person shooter video game develop a better sense of cognitive skills than those who do not play such games. [9]

Visual Improvements Edit

People who not play violent video games have corrective-to-normal vision but those who do spend large amounts in front of a television have more improved vision. [10] Researches are able to test and find the difference in vision between the gamer and non gamer. Tests conclude that there are two major areas where vision is reported as improved. Gamers are "able to resolve small detail in the context of clutter, and though that means being able to read the fine print on a prescription rather than using magnifier glasses, you can actually do it with just your eyesight".[10] Also, gamers are able to identify different levels of grey. [10] This is something that can be useful when driving in heavy fog, the gamer will be able to detect a car in bad fog to avoid a car accident.

Attention Edit

Attention is being able to concentrate on specific information while being able to ignore competing factors. A common thought is that video games lead to attention problems and increased distractibility but actually they have been shown to increase you attention abilities. [10] Scientist Bavelier in a TED Talk explains how they are able to measure one's attention in a lab. She does an experiment where the participant is asked to identify the color of the word that they see placed before them with few second intervals but things begin to get tricky when the word says "yellow" but the color of the word is blue. It seemed easy at first when the word was "chair" and the color was yellow but when she introduces a conflict things become more difficult. [10] This works the same with playing video games. In an high intensity game you are required to focus in on one thing while there is chaos going on around you. In an experiment to test the difference between gamers and non-gamers Bravelier finds that when you do this kind of task with people that play a lot of action games, they actually resolve the conflict faster". Playing first person shooter games are also linked to improved ability to track objects around us. [10] For example, when you are in the car you are watching the road and your surroundings. You may or may not be aware of it but you are also keeping track of the cars around you, the pedestrians, the reckless drivers, the extremely slow drivers,a dog running down the road and even the sunset. While you are able to do this efficiently most times, scientists say if you were to play first person shooter games you would be able to do it even better. [10]

Spatial Cognition Edit

According to the APA dictionary of Psychology, spatial ability is the skill required to orient or perceive one's body in space or to detect or reason about the relationship of objects in space. Spatial cognition is used in ones everyday life in activities such as multitasking, memory, and problem solving. Scientists Ian Spence and Jing Ferg conducted and experiment related to violent video game play with resulted in their findings that suggested "significant performance improvements on both attention and spatial tasks, whereas participants who played a maze game for the same amount of time showed no gains".[11] To come to this conclusion, the experiment done was one where participants were required to identify hidden objects in a distracting background. It is concluded that gamers of violent video games tend to have a better ability to multitask than those who do not game.

References Edit

  1. Kain, Erik. “The Best-Selling Video Games Of 2017 (So Far).” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 16 Dec. 2017,
  2. 2.0 2.1 DeWall CN, Anderson CA, Bushman BJ. The general aggression model: theoretical extensions to violence. Psychol Violence
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kühn,Simone. “Does Playing Violent Video Games Cause Aggression? A LongitudinalIntervention Study.” Nature, 13 Mar. 2018, pp. 1–17. Molecular Psychiatry.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bartholow, Bruce D., et al. "Chronic Violent Video Game Exposure and Desensitization to Violence: Behavioral and Event-Related Brain Potential Data." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 42, no. 4, July 2006, pp. 532-539.
  5. Engelhardt, Christopher R., et al. "This Is Your Brain on Violent Video Games: Neural Desensitization to Violence Predicts Increased Aggression Following Violent Video Game Exposure." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 47, no. 5, Sept. 2011, pp. 1033-1036.
  6. 6.0 6.1 N.L. Carnagey, C.A. Anderson, B.J. Bushman. The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43 (2007), pp. 489-496.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Roberts, Kevin. "ADHD, Cyber Addiction, Transforming Lives." Kevin Roberts RSS. 21 Sept. 2013. Web 28 Feb. 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gentile, D. A., & Anderson, C. A. (2003). Violent video games: The newest media violence hazard. In D. A. Gentile (Ed.), Advances in applied developmental psychology. Media violence and children: A complete guide for parents and professionals (pp. 131-152). Westport, CT, US: Praeger Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group.
  9. “Jean Piaget.” Jean Piaget | Cognitive Theory | Simply Psychology,
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Bavelier, Daphne. “Your Brain On Video Games.” TED. 30 Dec. 2014. Accessed on 21 Feb. 2018.
  11. Spence, I., & Feng, J. (2010). Video games and spatial cognition. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 92-104.

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