Australian Study: Scientists Are Running Out Of Ways To Study Violent Games

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia gathered 64 students together and had them each play either a violent or non-violent game. Then the researchers pretended to drop their pens to see what would happen.

Researchers have so much fun.

So the 64 students were each tasked with playing 20 minutes of one of four games: Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty: Black Ops, World of Zoo and Portal 2. Once finished, they were asked to fill out a short survey about their experience with the game they played. The researchers would then leave the room in a rush, pretending to drop their pens on the way out.

The idea was to determine if playing violent video games affected a person's tendency to be helpful. They did not.

“This suggests that the effect of violent video games on behaviour might be small and that public concern ought to be minimal,” said Morgan Tear, a PhD student at the university and the lead author of a study recently published in the journal PLOS One.

Because pens, and science.

Even though this particular study comes out on the pro-gaming side of the violence question, I've gotten to the point now where I read these things for light entertainment and not much else. My sceptical side looks at these results and wonders if they represent violent video game players or people asked to fill out surveys in general. There'd have to be another survey to figure that out. I'm sure researchers are already on the case.

Violent Video Games Don't Make Us Less Caring [Time]


    Next, let's get people to play five minutes of Call of Duty, then start making fart noises with our mouths to see if violent games have any effect on their sense of humour.

    Last edited 11/07/13 2:33 pm

      Well, if you do grab the "average" CoD player, they'll burst out laughing over the noise :P

        And if you take the average non-CoD player they'll have their head too far up their arse to hear it.

    wow, 20 minutes of a game will change how helpful someone is, and the measure of helpfulness is how likely you are to pick up a pen? Science man

      So if I did a 40 hour cod marathon and someone dropped a pen would I
      a, stab him in the eye with said pen
      b, pick the pen up for him
      c, ignore him
      d, laugh and call him a newb

    Misread 'drop their pens' as 'drop their pants' for some reason. That would have been a far more amusing study.

      "Let me get that for you..." *porn music begins*

        Dr Goodensexy? What are you doing in this study!?

          Nurse Voluptuous, there appears to be something wrong with my joystick.

            "Now that we've finished the study, Doctor, maybe you can help me with my sexual inhibitions."

            "...With gusto."

        "Would you like some ball-point with that felt-tip?"

    Are we talking 25c Bics or $75+ Parkers/MontBlancs/etc, here? I wouldn't bother for the Bic, but anything better than a rollerball I'd return to them. Anything worth over a hundred I'd start wondering about their priorities... You don't drop a good pen, even if it is in the name of science.
    EDIT: Also, 20 minutes of exposure is not going to override 20 years of social programming. Not even for the time it takes to finish that survey.

    Last edited 11/07/13 2:49 pm

      I'm sure they were testing helpfulness rather than honesty, as in did anyone try and pick it up for them, not did they pinch the pen

        Not what I was getting at. I assumed, from the description in this article, that the researcher would drop the pen in the process of leaving the room, and the subject would therefore have to chase them down to return it. My point was, I wouldn't bother chasing someone down to return a pen that can be purchased for pittance en route to their destination.

        The published paper says that the researcher would be fully laden, drop the pen and realise it, stop, exclaim softly at the accident/delay, and wait five seconds for assistance. Having read the method they were using, I would have helped them regardless. As I said, 20 minutes of gameplay will not change 20 years of social programming.

    "In the name of science"

    and they played Portal 2....

    Scientists needs to stop being so clumsy. 64 times they dropped their pens! 64 times people!

    I bet this study cost $1.2 million worth of taxpayer money..

    I wish I got paid for doing stupid things like that...
    As if 20 minutes is going to affect someone. That's like 1 round of COD or 1 Level of Portal.

    This is why we can't have nice things.

    Put 20 vegetarian's in a room watching the call of duty trailer vs battlefield 4 and see how many wants to eat meat afterwards.

    Like hey, if the bloke who made this research up gets paid for it, I may as well sign up...I got a tonne load of stupid ideas as well.

    University of Queensland -.-

    I'm more worried about their ridiculously small sample size... and who did they test? What were the controls?


      Presumably the controls were the students playing the non-violent games... and we don't really know enough about the study from this article to say whether the sample size was sufficient.

    What if the pen had a powerup sticker on it.

    Did the researchers take into the account that some of these games may be more interesting to some of the participants and therefore someone dropping a pen might not 'interest' them?

    Since when do any half decent researchers use pens... ? Its all electronic nowadays....

    No offense, but they dont know how to conduct proper research. The operationalisation of helpfulness is rather poor (for a behavioural measure). So they played violent video games or non violent video games but were still helpful. So basically their independent variable had absolutely no effect at all.

    Maybe the type of games of any kind dont have any effect on helpfulness at all. Or maybe they wouldnt have helped if it was more than one pen? Or what if it depends on the experience of the game? what if they had lost the game/died a lot and become frustrated and angry? Would they have helped then? Or maybe they helped because they knew were getting money or course at the end of the study anyway? Too much stuff is unaccounted for imo

    Try testing something like, what happens when people lose a lot at a game as compared to when they win a lot. Then see what happens when they get to punish someone by feeding them teaspoons of chilli or blasting their ears with loud noises. Then you can say losing games (violent or not) makes people aggressive. Alternatively, get people to work towards a goal in a violent game and see if that affects their tendency to cooperate to reach a common goal. I bet it would. Also try something useful for once. Like trying to figure out if highly interactive violent games make people more or less aggressive than less interavtive or non interactive games.

    Stop laughing at them everyone! As long as they're willing to say that we're not pen-stealing psychopaths, this is a win!

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