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Violent Video Games Affecting Self-Control, Concentration

By Jennifer LeClaire
Nov 16, 2004 12:02 PM PT

On the very day that "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" officially topped video game rental charts, other headlines point to research into the impact of such violent games on user behavior.

Violent Video Games Affecting Self-Control, Concentration

Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine researchers have already determined in previous studies that exposure to violent media might affect the brains of youths with aggressive tendencies differently than the brains of non-aggressive youths.

Now, those same researchers are reporting that the more teens are exposed to violent media, the worse they performed on self-control and concentration tests, according to reports in The Indianapolis Star on Sunday.

"What we've done is confirm that parents need to be concerned about this," the Indianapolis Star quoted Vincent P. Mathews, a professor of radiology at IU's School of Medicine and staff neurologist at Northwest Radiology Network, as saying.

"October was a month for the latest releases of popular franchises," said Jung Suh, co-founder and vice president of content/strategic alliances for GameFly, an online video game rental service.

Violent Games in Demand

"And with the buzz behind 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,' it's no surprise that the game performed as well as it did and topped the charts this month."

Indeed, "San Andreas" is one of the most highly anticipated games this year and the newest edition to the "Grand Theft Auto" legacy has received top marks by major video game review sites.

"Mortal Kombat: Deception" ranked second in GameFly's ratings at second place, followed by "X-Men Legends." The GameFly Top 10 reflects actual playing preferences of gamers who rent from the e-tailer and reports the pulse of the mass market.

That pulse clearly signals a taste for violent video games. "San Andreas," for example, features a hero named Carl who was framed for murder by police and sets out on a journey to take control of the streets where gang trouble, drug dealers and corruption prevail. Killings, carjackings and gang warfare are the centerpiece of the gaming experiencing.

These types of M-rated games are just what researchers from the IU School of Medicine are studying.

Video Games Not Sole Factor

IDC analyst Shelley Olhava told the E-Commerce Times that she always questions studies that find a link between violence and video games because there are so many other factors to consider.

"The Entertainment Software Association has some very good proof showing studies that link violent behavior with violent video games are usually very faulty," Olhava said. "Other studies suggest quite the opposite is true about video games."

Olhava said video game makers have an effective rating system that does a good job of telling consumers exactly what kind of content is in the game and points to plenty of games rated "E" for everybody on the market.

"Within two minutes of Internet surfing, I can find a video of a real-life guy getting his head sliced off," Olhava said. "It's not always fair to slam the video game industry as being the one factor that causes problems. Among all the factors that could potentially cause violence, video games are probably pretty low on the list."

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