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Video Games and Negative Effects

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By stupka
Words 2552
Pages 11
Exploratory: Do Video Games Have Negative Effects on Users?

The form of entertainment is always changing with the shift in culture and advances in technology. One of the most popular forms of entertainment today is the use of video games. Video games have gotten more and more popular over the years. The use of them over a period of time can have a timely effect on the user just like any drug someone uses or any sport someone plays. Can they be positive effects or negative effects? Some people believe that video games are a bad influence and do nothing but harm to the gamer, which is the person who is playing the video game. Media in the news usually focuses on the negatives of video game use, completely leaving out the positives of it. If someone were to go up and ask ten parents if they think video games were bad or good for children or adolescents they would probably say bad, but there is actually some benefits to playing video games that can be determined. In a blog called “10 benefits of Playing Video Games” it shows a list of the ten benefits a person can get from playing video games such as boost cognitive health, improve hand eye coordination, and have sharper image (http://www.tastyhuman.com/10-benefits-of-playing-video-games/). I was very surprised to see such a long convincing list of benefits from video games. The reason why video games help cognitive health is because the majority of games require players to think tactically and make quick decisions. The article suggests that one study done by psychology professor, Arthur Kramer, found that Big Huge Games ‘Rise of Nations’ strategy game improved specific cognitive skills (such as short-term memory) in adults in their 60s and 70s under lab conditions. I thought this was truly remarkable and exciting to know that video games can help out the elderly with their short-term memory loss. This makes me think that if I ever had to deal with short-term memory loss in the future then I could possibly have fun playing video games in the future as my treatment. Just sitting in front of the TV or computer won’t just help you with your cognitive health though. You have to take action and actually play a game that takes a lot of strategy and thought process. Gaming is a good mental exercise but does not necessarily help with your nutrition. A child seeing violence daily could possibly change their behavior or outlook on life in the future. Most parents see violent video games as a threat to there child. Video game companies like Microsoft or Playstation wouldn’t have to put ratings determining who is old enough to play or not if parents didn’t think that. No one has proven whether or not video games cause violent behavior, but studies have shown that they can cause an increase in aggression. Andrea Norcia notes that in a study conducted by Gentile, Lynch, Lynder and Walsh (2004,p.6) state that teens who play violent video games for extended periods of time:
Tend to be more aggressive
Are more prone to confrontation with their teachers
May engage in fights with their peers
See a decline in school achievements. (Gentiletal, 2004).
I agree with and can relate to these statements. When I was younger I use to spend a lot of my time lounging around playing video games. I remember getting really angry and frustrated with the first person shooter game I was playing called Halo 2. Not only would I get frustrated and aggressive but my brother would too. He cussed and yelled at the the TV. Amanda Schaffer stated that a study of 430 third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders done by psychologist’s Craig Anderson, Douglas Gentile, and Katherine Buckley, found that the kids who played more violent video games “changed over the year to become more verbally aggressive, and more physically aggressive,” and less helpful to others. I think that this is a very vital experiment and proof that violent video games can make children more aggressive. When I play some games today, I still get mad and angry sometimes. According to Henry J. Kaiser’s facts among 2-18 years, the three genres that dominate kids’ video game playing are action or combat (42%), sports (41%), and adventure (36%). It does not surprise me that the genre leader is combat. All of the kids that I know play either a combat or a sport game. The statistics fit my experiences and choices with video games as well. Another main factor in the cause of violence are the parents of the child. The more a child is unsupervised the more they think that they can do what they please. If the child plays the game long enough he may start picking up some of the traits of the game “monkey see monkey do”. The parents must not abuse there children and leave them to play a violent grueling game such “Grand Theft Auto” which is a person simulated game the user can go around a virtual city and do as he pleases. In the game they can shoot, steal, and murder as they please. The game is to violent for a child to possibly imitate leaving the parents some what responsible for the child’s actions and behavior later in life. Certain amount of time spent playing and exposure to more violent games can have an effect on the child later on in life. There has been the assumption to some that video games cause people to be violent and commit crimes, but where is the proof? The studies show that they only cause aggression towards the user. Once again there is no physical evidence that playing video games will make a normal person go out and start pushing the boundaries of reality and committing crimes (Schaffer). More research must be done in order to require a better answer to whether or not video game usage can cause someone to commit a crime. Are future as a human race in America depends on technology in order to protect, serve, and even function in society today and that will only increase as time goes on. It is very vital for us to make sure are youth knows how to function with this technology growth and development as we move forward, and what better way to start youth by getting them to play video games. According to Marc Prensky kids learn a lot from playing video games no matter which game they are playing. “For whenever one plays a game, and whatever game one plays, learning happens constantly, whether the players want it to, and are aware of it, or not. And the players are learning “about life,” which is one of the great positive consequences of all game playing. This learning takes place, continuously, and simultaneously in every game, every time one plays. One need not even pay much attention” (Marc Prensky). In Prensky’s research he states that there are five levels of learning that take place when playing video and computer games. He calls them the “How,” “What,” “Why,” “Where,” and “When / Whether” levels of game learning. I think that this was a very good method dividing the levels of learning that takes place when a child is learning from the game play. They go from lowest to highest. The lowest form of learning according to Prensky is the “How” which is learning how:
The most explicit level of learning that takes place as one plays a video or computer game is that one is learning how to do something. As one plays one learns, gradually or quickly, the moves of the game – how the various characters, pieces, or anything else operate and what you can make them do. One learns how to drag tiles to build up a virtual city or theme park. One learns how to virtually fight and protect oneself. One learns how to train a creature and make it evolve. And of course one learns the physical manipulations of the controllers involved in doing all this (Prensky).
The way you can tell learning at the “How” level is actually taking place is by observing it. When you observe someone practicing over and over they will eventually learn and get better at doing it. This is very true based on an actual experience. When I first started playing the video game “Tetris” I was terrible at it. But as I played the game more and more over a period of time I learned to get better at playing and figuring out the structures and patterns of the game. The second lowest learning level is “What”. Prensky states that at this level:
Players learn about what to do in any particular game (and, equally important, what not to do). In other words they learn the rules. The rules of any game teach you what is possible and/or doable in that environment, and video and computer games are no exception. One finds out by playing, for example, whether the rules of a shooting game allow you to attack a player on your own team, or whether a simulation game allows you to do destructive (or self-destructive) acts. And there’s much more that video games’ rules teach kids about “real life.” Game players are constantly comparing the rules of whatever game they are playing to what they have learned elsewhere, asking themselves “Are the rules of this game fair, accurate, etc. in terms of what I know about the world?” We know this comparison happens because games with wildly unfair or inaccurate rules get quickly identified as “bogus” and don’t get played much. If the rules of Sim City, for example, allowed a player to build a modern metropolis without electricity, no one would play it (Prensky).
So the rules of video and computer games force a player, no matter what his or her age, to reflect – at least subconsciously – and compare the game to what they already know about life. This is important, “real-life” learning. When I was younger I didn’t tend to play games with rules that couldn’t relate to some real life qualities. I learned that playing some games can relate to real life. Even the military uses video games for training and learning exercises. So how is that a bad thing? The third is learning “Why”. The players learn the strategy of a game as they play it. Successful gamers learn:
Game strategy (and tactics) are chock full of such lessons about “real life.” Like the rules, a game’s strategy needs to be “life-like” for a game to make sense, even if the characters are purely imaginary. Again, players are always making their unconscious comparisons. They know from life, for example, that a hierarchy of strength among species typically depends on size. If a smaller character can defeat a bigger one, they know he’d better have something – strength, endurance, weapons, spells – that makes him more powerful. And now that single player games are fast being replaced by games that are multiplayer and networked, learning a computer or video game’s “strategy” increasingly comprises “learning to deal with other people.” That’s about as “real-world” as you can get (Prensky).
He is stating that users are learning how cope with the real world just by playing certain video games. This is amazing and true due to my own experiences. I learned how to cooperate with other players and working as a team when I received my first Xbox Live membership. It is vast gaming community where you can play with people around the world. With that said playing video games can even be a cultural learning experience and there is still two more learning levels left. The fourth level is the “Where” level, it is about learning where you are. Prensky states at this level players learn about the world of the game and the values it represents:
Players learn through their games to handle cultural relativity, and to deal with different people and roles. They learn that on one planet, in one society, in one world you can’t do X, even though it may be perfectly normal in their own world. They learn their culture’s ideas about achievement, and leadership. They learn, for example, that although enemies may be hard to beat, if you persevere and learn enough, you can defeat them and win the game. How do we know this learning happens? Again, by observation. I’ve watched young kids fight over who gets to be “Link,” the hero of the Nintendo “Zelda” games. Link is their hero, the “person” they want to be (Prensky).
This is positively true, the gamers learn how to associate with other people and different situations when they change characters or are choosing characters. They use video games to relate to the real world and by knowing what they can and cant to do as well. When I was use to play the video game “Fable” it helped me learn that the decisions I make in the game can apply to real life situations as well. The game is about being a hero and you may choose to go on certain quests which can turn you to the dark side of heros in the end or to the good side. So every decision I mad in the video game had a consequence or a reward. Not to mention it also taught me the how I can manage money in the game and in the real world. The fifth learning level which is the highest level where gamers learn to make value and moral based decisions: decisions – decisions about whether doing something is right or wrong. This level also includes the non-conscious emotional messages that influence these decisions. It is therefore the most controversial of the learning levels. And it is the level where players can “really” win or lose their games, in terms of learning (Prensky).
In some games they may lead the user to decide whether or not it is all right to kill this character in the game context and usually the answer is yes depending on what video game is being played. But are kids learning this about real life? And are they thinking is it okay to run out and do this in the real world? I would say unless the user is already severely disturbed they wouldn’t run out and think it is okay to go about killing someone. We must realize that it is the morals of the game that can alter that, and there is no such game that has the main hero who’s goal is to go around killing as many innocent people as they can. Video Games can have good and negative effects, but I would argue that video games do more positive than negative. There are benefits to playing video games such as boosting your hand-eye coordination all the way to learning how to deal with real life situations. Most importantly is the fact that a person can learn from and by playing video games. The use of video games in the world today is surely positive, and that it only get better in the future.

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