Studies in the past have found that winning competitions can make you mean, and we’ve all seen the stereotype of the angry gamer yelling at his console. But the latest research on the psychological effects of video games finds that, contrary to popular opinion, what really makes gamers tick is their ability to cooperate and work together — and that every study linking video games with real-world violence may be wrong.
According to ScienceDaily, a research team at the University of Goethe in Sweden spent hundreds of hours both playing competitive online games and observing other players. Jonas Ivarsson, one of the researchers, explained that, “the situations gamers encounter in these games call for sophisticated and well-coordinated collaboration”. The study further found that successful gamers are technically knowledgeable with good timing, which is unsurprising.
But the researchers also found that gamers who are rude, or who act extremely aggressively or emotionally, don’t tend to perform well. It’s not shocking to hear that excess frustration essentially makes you suck at playing; that’s something most of us have seen at one time or another.
Ivarsson added that this particular lack of link, between aggressive behaviour and in-game performance, may well cast doubt on the entire field of study that has been done around the effects of game violence and real-world violence. He explained:
The suggested link between games and aggression is based on the notion of transfer, which means that knowledge gained in a certain situation can be used in an entirely different context. The whole idea of transfer has been central in education research for a very long time. The question of how a learning situation should be designed in order for learners to be able to use the learned material in real life is very difficult, and has no clear answers.
In a nutshell, we’re questioning the whole gaming and violence debate, since it’s not based on a real problem but rather on some hypothetical reasoning.
Video games are hugely prevalent in modern culture, at home and on the go. It seems like every month, there’s at least one study explaining why games are beneficial and another study explaining why they’re going to doom us all. If the foundation on which the research linking video games and violence turns out not to hold up, perhaps there will be a positive way to resolve this debate once and for all.