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Study Finds The Obvious: Games Don't Desensitize Players

File this under "Well, Duh": researchers at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada have concluded that violent imagery in video games does not desensitize its players to violence. They reached this conclusion by conducting a study of 199 undergrad students, some with exposure to video games and some without, where the students were shown images of positive, neutral or negative scenes and then shown the images again in a random order (with a set of new "distractor" images thrown in) and asked if they had seen any of them before. Then, they were asked to self-assess their level of emotional arousal.

The assumption was that gamers would be desensitized and not remember the negative imagery. The result was that there was no difference between the results of the gamers and the non-gamers. Honestly, this test seemed more tailored to determining one's capacity for short-term memory, but I'll take all the supportive studies I can get.

I think it's also worth noting that when I hear people wail and moan about becoming desensitized, it seems more that they're complaining about people no longer being shocked and scandalized, which is not the same thing. Take the Saw films for example, if you'll forgive me going for the low-hanging fruit. A seasoned horror film viewer can watch all of those scenes of gratuitous violence without turning away or feeling squeamish (probably) due to the visual stimulus and still be horrified by the depicted acts and the motivations that drive people to commit them. The viewer is not desensitized, just no longer shocked or scandalized by such depictions.

It bothers me that people feel that this type of research is necessary, particularly when the results are so predictable: games do not desensitize their players, games do not turn people homicidal, games promote socialization, games reduce anxiety and so on. Media and entertainment have managed to go for eons without a single one of them becoming a socially corrosive force to erode our humanity, not even Dungeons and Dragons. I suppose telling the worriers to knock it off is a futile effort, but we can take comfort in this: we're right, they're wrong, and the science is there to back it up.

[via Gamasutra]


wohdin said:

but we can take comfort in this: we're right, they're wrong, and the science is there to back it up.

Just like in most gay issues!

But unfortunately, the masses don't seem to care about science and would rather be wrong....

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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wohdin on Study Finds The Obvious: Games Don't Desensitize Players: but we can take comfort in this: we're right, they're wrong, and the science is there to back it up....

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