Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Can Gaming Make You Less Violent?

A recent research paper that suggest that video gaming can help reduce anger and make people more relaxed has been getting a fair mount of internet publicity. Mind you another paper presented at the same conference (in my home town of Dublin) suggests that heavy gamers become like sufferers of the autistic disorder Asberger's syndrome.

I can empathise with gaming helping people to relax. I have always found an enjoyable fragging session to be a good way of winding down before bed. My wife on the other hand gets entirely wound up after a gaming session and refuses to play any game late at night.

It is a pity in that the violence research only considered World of Warcraft players. The highly stylised rule based combat of an MMO cannot compare in terms of violence with the ruthless killing found in most FPS games.

I am replaying the single player campaign of COD4. Violence abounds of course but the level "Death From Above" still stands out as the most callous kill fest I have ever experienced in any video game. You control the weapons of flying gunship literally pouring death down onto the hapless enemies below. The casual commentary of your companions is chilling in the extreme. If you have not played the game you can see a video capture here. It is long enough to be tedious sadly but if you can - fast forward to the final jocular comment: "This is gonna be one hell of a highlight reel".


Nivlong said...

I've played COD4, and I admit that my reaction to "Death From Above" was intially of the "that's cool" nature.

I can see the level differently now, thanks for pointing that out.

On one hand, the fact that it's a game makes it feel like an exercise in reactions and tactics. Basically stop these bad guys from getting that objective and save the good guys (with the only difference between "good" and "bad" are blinking strobes and what your companions tell you).

On the other hand, the commentary of said companions to the look & feel of the game is very immersive--you can imagine "being there." And yet... if I was really there, I imagine it would feel "like a game" in that you're removed from the actual process of killing people. Especially if it's point and shoot and the "bad guys" simply stop moving.

mbp said...

Hi Niv. I don't know if flying a modern gunship really is like that but if it is it absolutely terrifies me. Real killing is turned into a video game.