Video Games Are Good For You, Continued


Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby writes a sensible op/ed about how video games can be and are often educational. He also puts the kibosh on the notion that video games lead to violence, to wit:

The new wisdom begins by questioning the idea that computer games cause violence. Lab tests have found that people do become aggressive right after a bout of zapping virtual enemies, but tests conducted outside labs have found no such result. For example, Dmitri Williams of the University of Illinois has tracked the behavior of a group that played a gory monster-slaying fantasy game regularly for one month and compared it with a game-free control group. The fantasy killers were no more likely to lose their tempers in real life.

Of course, this is a point that we at Reason have been making since, oh, the last century.

In addition, video games are part of the modern world of television, movies, pulp fiction, computers, the internet, advertising, and better nutrition that combined have been actually increasing average IQs for a couple of generations. This rise in average IQ is called the Flynn Effect, after New Zealand sociologist James Flynn who first reported it.

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  1. I meant to throw this out on the open thread, but just before Christmas, a federal judge blocked a California law barring the sales of “violent” video games to minors.

    And I wish this “Flynn Effect” would work a little faster. (As a friend of mine says, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which gets filled first.”)

  2. The government continues to lose on this, thank sweet justice. Federal courts have blocked laws in Washington state and Michigan, too. I’m a journalist who has reported on such efforts to make it criminal to sell these games to minors, and the whole “video games cause violence” B.S. from the left AND the right. Video games are, in fact, making our children smarter. Go fucking figure.

  3. Not to speak of the fact that in games, blogs, chatrooms, IM, and so forth today’s young people are making more peaceful contacts with people from other countries than the U.S. State Department.

  4. Well, I can attest to the fact that Dance Dance Revolution has led to an increase in synchronized foot movement among American youth.

  5. Inanimate objects make me crazy. Tripping over a power cord or something left in the hallway puts me in a tizzy of rage–complete with Tourette’s obscenities that would shame a sailor (or a Marine Corps DI). Catching the cat strolling across the counter has a similar effect.

    Video games just aggravate my tendonitis.

  6. Zelda taught my brother to count and Ultima taught him how to read. This really doesn’t surprise me at all. But don’t expect any changes in the scapegoating soon, or ever for that matter.

  7. I just bought for myself on Saturday a game called Condemned for the 360. You walk around in a first-person perspective and fight off psychos and crack addicts in abandoned malls, abandoned office buildings, abandoned subway tunnels and pretty much anywhere that’s abandoned, in the dark, with things like lead pipes and 2×4’s. It’s scary as hell.

    Sorry, back to the discussion at hand.

  8. Is it just me or does anyone else confuse “The Wine Commonsewer” name with “The Wing Commander”?

    I noticed this before but didn’t mention it…this being a thread on the effects of video games an youth and wing commander being a popular video game in the 90’s i thought it might be germain.

    Grand theft auto is a nasty nasty game…fun as all hell but if i had a child i would keep it about the same distance from children as i would draino…Just in case any libertarian’s here thought that it might be OK for your kiddies to play it…think again…or better yet play it and see how long it takes you to start running down hookers for fun or killing cops just to get your hands a gun to start you out.

  9. I agree with Captain Awesome, I learned how to read because I stayed up late playing Zelda and my Dad or sister wouldn’t read it for me.

  10. Skoric and Williams has become the poster-child for the pro-video game crowd. Yes, it’s interesting research, but the methodology of the experiment is not ironclad. What it does point out is that video games are complicated phenomena and that clearly a lot more research is needed — it’s most certainly not a slam-dunk for those who want to argue that video games have no effect on violence in the real world.

  11. I’m convinced that my son’s fingering skill on the flute is directly influenced by his fingering skill on video games.

    There’s a different kind of eye hand coordination going on in video games because in one game you may use your left thumb to move foreward whereas in another you need to use your right thumb. To be competent in a wide variety of games, you need a much more specific vocabulary of eye-hand.

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