TAMIU Study Finds Positive Results in Playing Violent Video Games

TAMIU Study Finds Positive Results
in Playing Violent Video Games

Playing violent video games may be good for you!

That's the conclusion from a study published in Psychiatric Quarterly, Volume 78, by a Texas A&M International University assistant professor that found that playing violent video games has positive effects and there is little evidence that links playing violent games with aggression.

Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, TAMIU assistant professor of psychology, analyzed 24 published studies of violent video game effects that either examined aggressive consequences or improvements in visuospatial cognition.

"Violent game playing may be associated with some positive effects, but little evidence exists to link violent game playing with aggression," Dr. Ferguson said.

He selected the studies for his meta-analysis by conducting literature searches of all published studies between 1995 and 2007 that examined violent game playing and either aggression or visuospatial cognition.

"The results indicated no relationship between violent game playing and aggression, but did find that violent game playing was associated with higher scores on measures of visuospatial cognition," Ferguson explained.

Visuospatial cognition involves cognitive abilities related to processing and manipulating visual information. It is a form of non-verbal intelligence that deals with tasks such as mental rotation, visual memory, visual processing and selection. These types of tasks are relevant for a variety of careers ranging from engineering and architecture to surgery.

"In fact, one recent study suggested that surgeons who played violent games were better at certain kinds of surgical procedures that require good hand-eye coordination," Ferguson added.

The results were measured by a variety of ways: mental rotation tasks; visual attention and selection-paying attention to and reacting quickly to ambiguous visual stimuli; and visual memory tasks, such as drawing a functional bicycle from memory.

Studies also suggested that violent games may be good vehicles for some kids of education information and may assist in some forms of social communities, particularly for those who may have social problems in the real world. Another positive result found is that video game playing fosters a general sense of well-being and taps into some general human wellness needs.

"Video games, like many forms of new media and technology, are at the center of a 'moral panic' even within the scientific community. Certainly some games makers deserve part of the blame for pushing the envelope, yet the scientific community has also gotten far ahead of itself and has oftentimes given the public poor quality information. The research on video games and aggression simply doesn't support a link," Ferguson stressed.

"This is unfortunate because video games are very popular among youth and we should be investigating how to use this powerful medium for positive gains, including the use of games with some violent content, like Re-Mission, a game that involves blowing away cancer cells and infection, as educational tools. Games that are both exciting and fun as well as educational may be a revolutionary development for some children who have difficulty learning through traditional means," he concluded.

Read the study online at www.springerlink.com/content/66217176984x7477/fulltext.html

For more information, please contact Ferguson at 326.2636, e-mail cferguson@tamiu.edu or visit offices in Dr. F.M. Canseco Hall, room 312F.

University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu