Blog Post

Studies of Video Games on the mind and body

    A lot of people talk about how video games affect people. Unfortunately, most of those people don’t seem to do a lot of research, and they all seem to say negative things. Although we’re a little biased, since the group of us play games, we wanted to look into some actual studies that have been done. Now, we’re going into this completely open minded, we aren’t looking to support or attack video games as a whole. We just wanted to see the straight facts about how video games affect the brain of the players, and we wanted to finally have a structured stand-point; whether or not it’s for or against video games.

    So, starting with the simplest and easily most debated topic, we wanted to look into violent video games. Do they make you more violent? Well, the first study we looked at was one 44 healthy teenagers. One group was tasked with playing violent video games, while they other played non-violent video games- a simple yet effective test. After the first examination, it showed that the group that did play violent video games had much less activation in their frontal lobe, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for things like concentration, self control, and even emotional responses. So as you can see, this is a pretty important part of the brain to be affecting and because it’s detrimental to brain processes, which only makes it harder to be a pro- violent video game supporter. However, this fact is not completely decimating to the players of violent video games since the combination of symptoms wasn’t said to cause any different behavior, let alone violent behavior. All this really proves for now, is that there is a difference in the brains of teens that play violent video games and those who don’t.

    Now, you may be saying “Everyone is different, there’s no reason to worry about this slight discrepancy.” But, it’s important to keep in mind that the groups of participants had basically no differences. The participants were all about the same age, gender, IQ, and even had about the same video game experience. So after seeing the active differences in their brains after testing in the groups, it is now enough to show that the violence found in video games can be debunked as the main cause of the lack of activity found in the frontal lobe. However, as with most experiments and research, more testing is required before we actually point any scientific fingers in one direction or the other.

    Moving away from violence, I think it’s important to address another topic on video games that never really gets the light of day. It’s often thought that video games are sexist, and that people believe that it can cause sexist tendencies in the minds of the players. We thought it deserved to be looked into, so that’s exactly what we did. The investigation we looked into was actually pretty unique, because it tested the regular behavior instead of the normal short-term behavior recorded while playing video games. Now I think it’s fair to assume the investigation was as valid as humanly possible, because the testing was counted as a college course that gave credits to the participants. We all know how desperate some people are for those credits, so I don’t doubt the results at all. The research was derived from some clever tests given in the course, in which the first test simply asked participants to name three of the games they have played the most, and to rate how much sexist content they believed was in the game. In this test, a simple 1 to 10 scale was used to get a feel for each participant, to see what their gaming experience was, and to determine what they deemed as sexist. It also helped to understand who could actually pick out sexism when it was right in their face. After a while, with plenty of time to play games, the participants were given another set of questions, but this time more specific. The participants were given several statements and asked to rate them from 1 to 10 on how sexist they thought the statements were. Some of the statements for example, were to determine the participants’ antipathy towards women, such as “Women seek to gain power by taking control of men”. Other statements were meant to test the perception of rigid gender roles, such as “Women are meant to be cherished and cared for by men.” The results showed that participants who admitted to playing games with more adherent sexism reported more hostile sexism in their rating of statements and answering of questions. It also showed that participants with more perceived sexism in games showed more benevolent sexism in their responses. So even though they meant well, they still were still showing signs of sexist undertones in their thoughts, although not nearly as strong as others.

    Now it’s important to look at this information more than just at its face value. It seems that video games can and often will influence us emotionally, even when we try to not let them do so. It was very obvious that people knew what they were being tested on, and I doubt anyone wanted to appear sexist. There wasn’t many other different factors in the testing other than the fact that males only ever so slightly showed more hostile sexism than females; showing how obvious it is that video games and their sexist undertones are the main factor here. It’s shown time and time again that video games can affect us under the surface and change how we act, even just based on these experiments alone. But, just as before, more testing and observations need to be made due to the fact that nothing is really concrete because this was a correlative experiment.

    Now at this point, you could be wondering “Where else can they go?” We’ve basically exhausted all of the typical controversy points of video games”. But, in our research, we found some interesting cases that we felt were definitely worth discussing, although they weren’t directly correlated to our other research; that topic being the physical problems that can be caused from video games and their long-term exposure. Most of the problems are concerning a somewhat newer function in the last decade of video games, which is shaking and vibration in controls. When you play video games, you might feel a little more immersed if your controller vibrates when an earthquake is happening, or a sudden movement of your controller when your character is hit. This seemed harmless to us at first, but with more research, it proved to not be so. Some doctors in Great Britain studied cases of children playing with these controllers and have seen severe cases of hand and arm pain. They said that over time, this stimuli can cause the same damage as jackhammer or chainsaw use. It really surprised us to hear this considering you would never think these completely different things could cause the same issues. There was actually a medical journal that was released depicting a victim of this problem, that being  a young boy who played video games upwards of 7 hours a day with these vibrating controls always turned on. He was plagued with hand pain and swelling for almost two whole years and the doctors said it was worse than workers using high powered drills that they had ever seen.

    We weren’t trying to scare you into turning off control vibration with that last passage, but it’s just important to know the severity that even video games can cause when not used correctly. Of course, the  manuals and health warnings that come with all consoles and games these days warn about such injuries. It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t be playing video games for too long, but it doesn’t really stop people. It’s just proof that even when video games are designed with general safety in mind that this can get easily ignored. However, there doesn’t really seem to be much you can do to protect people from themselves. But it’s also important to understand that video games can affect you on whole new levels- it’s not as simple as everyone thinks, and it really can be scary what can happen, no matter how harmless we depict video games.

    After all our research, it definitely dawns on me that I seem like a person who hates video games- but, that’s not the case. Maybe I just looked at the wrong investigations or took things the wrong way, but who knows? Instead of taking this writing as an attack on video games, try to see it more as a warning. It’s important to think about video games as a medium and as you can see, video games can change people whether or not they want that, and I don’t think that makes video games evil. I see it as more of a challenge that we need to overcome. We need to stay vigilant about our health and safety more than ever these days, and I think video games might contribute to that. A general message I see throughout all of this researching and investigating is that moderation is key with video games and that you have to control yourself, just like you’d control your video games. You can’t be hurt by video games unless you let them hurt you.



Bibliography / Work Cited / I don’t know


Stermer, Paul S. “SeX-Box: Exposure to sexist video games predicts benevolent sexism.” Psychology of popular media culture, 2015, pp. 47–55.


"Can video games cause pain ... and affect the brain?" Weekly Reader, Edition 3 [including Science Spin], 3 May 2002, p. SS2. General OneFile, Accessed 11 Dec. 2017.

Wendling, Patrice. "Violent video games affect brain, MRIs show." Pediatric News, Jan. 2007, p. 34. General OneFile, Accessed 11 Dec. 2017.


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