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A Psycho's Analysis

Posted on Monday, August 21 @ 19:05:54 PST by Joe_Dodson
Psychopaths, sociopaths, violent video gamers, lend me your severed ears.

A new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, has found that a mere twenty minutes of video game violence is enough to desensitize you to carnage and trauma. I know what you're thinking, and you're right - that is barely enough time to beat a man to death with his own arm - but keep your human skin pants on. We may not be as crazy as psychologists would have us believe. The study, carried out by Professor Nicholas Carnagey of Iowa State University and brought to our attention by Gamedaily, had one group of subjects play violent video games and another group play nonviolent video games, then exposed both to violent videos of "shootings, stabbings, prison fights, courtroom outbursts, and confrontations with police" while monitoring the subjects' heart rates and perspiration. According to the shrinks, "those who had engaged in violent games had "lowered physiological responses," apparently because they had been desensitized by the virtual violence, while those who played the "passive" games had increased heart rates and perspiration when they saw the video footage, implying that they were upset by it."

I'd like to point out that, while there is no proven link between video game violence and real violence, there is proof that psychological studies can make people do horrible things. Just ask Stanley Milgram. Also, the study assumes that increased heart rates and perspiration are signs of distress, but aren't they also common symptoms of arousal? The psychologists seem to take for granted that, in our natural state, we should be bothered by violence, without allowing that we might really be hot and bothered. After all, if we didn't have a hard-on for violence in the first place, why would we play violent games and watch violent movies?

Carnagie asserts that "Individuals who play violent video games get used to it. They eventually become physiologically numb to it," and I think he might be right. But before you name a dog after me and feed it to a wood chipper, read this Gamasutra article; it argues that the anesthetic nature of video games might actually be a good thing, helping us cope with the pain and trauma of our real lives. Instead of driving us to skin small animals and shoot up post offices, video games might actually make the world a safer, saner place. That'll be five hundred dollars.

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