Game effects

I refactored the previous entry so that both topics are cleanly separated.

Here’s an interesting question: If a) we want people to be emotionally involved while playing games (e.g. if we want them to cry), and b) we acknowledge the effects described above, then it’s kind of hard to deny games have an effect on people, a strong and intentional effect. Yes yes, so do other media, and millions of people don’t go off to do stupid things. But it’s useful to keep this in mind when thinking about the effects of games. Let’s not pretend there are no effects whatsoever.

I think this is obvious, but I also think that the classical defense from game developers in the ‘Do games make one violent?’ question is, or is based on, the idea that games have no effects whatsoever, and therefore developers have no responsibility. The real question is more complicated than that.

Nathan’s point about the army (in his comment in the previous entry) reminds me that the whole idea behind the army training games and arguably all ‘serious’ games is that they have an effect on people.

Comments 24

  1. Stephane Bura wrote:

    This subject always brings me back to Brian Moriarty’s hypnotic GDC presentation (“Entrain” – and thanks again Jurie for advising me to go and see it), where he argued that there always is an influence.

    Maybe instead of wanting to “immerse” the player – is that some kind of baptism ? – we should give him the tool map his emotions into the game. In response to the previous post, what if we gave verbs to the player like “I’m happy”, “I’m sad”, “I’m interested”, “I’m bored”, “Wow! That was cool! Do it again.”, etc.
    These could affect two levels: the simulation level – the world/characters reacts if you project happiness – and the experience level – the game tries to give you an enjoyable experience. This would be especially well adapted to open-ended worlds.

    Posted 12 Jan 2005 at 10:08
  2. Stephane Bura wrote:

    Aaarrgh! I meant
    “we should give him the tools to map his emotions onto the game.”

    Posted 12 Jan 2005 at 10:10
  3. Aubrey wrote:

    I suppose that such an idea could act as a kind of adverb to the action taken. “He stabbed, happily” or “He gestured, angrily”. A sort of modifier to actions. Hmm. Worth some thought.

    One has to wonder if actions imply feelings. As such, our actions in the game are the only methods we have to communicate our opinions and sentiments. Often we can only communicate in bullets, but bullets can’t be flung “jovially”.

    Perhaps, to simplify the modifier idea, the vocabulary we give the player should be comprised of verbs which imply quite unambiguously different sentiments or emotions along with them? That way, the sentiment is somewhat implicit with the action. Better yet, any ambiguity is a blank slate, and the detail can be filled in by the player’s interpretation. Who really knows what the expression on Gordon Freeman’s face is except the player currently playing the game?

    Posted 12 Jan 2005 at 19:50
  4. Stephane Bura wrote:

    Can we assume then that the player is always frightened when something supposedly frightening (for his character) happens?

    The problem stems from what we consider the main character to be: is it a story character or the player’s avatar?
    Adverbs work great for characters because they allow the player to “play a part”. I think that verbs / words / state markers disconnected from action are needed if the *player* wants to communicate something to the game. We’re still to bad at recognizing emotion in the player – why is the player continously hitting X ? Is he angry ? Frustrated ? Does he have a fit ? Is his little brother bothering him or is the cat playing ?

    Posted 12 Jan 2005 at 22:03
  5. Jurie Horneman wrote:

    OK, one more intelligent comment that happens to reference something I’ve been meaning to write for ages and my head will explode.

    Posted 12 Jan 2005 at 22:17
  6. craig wrote:

    Can video Games Have an Effect on our Life Style?

    Recent research has shown that video games have had an effect on student learning, and resolving conflicts and aggression in the household. Violence is the most important factor that has been raised due to unfortunate circumstances resulting in murder. When playing video games, there are four main features that make it successful, which also defines how they target their audience, graphics humour, fun and violence. Playing violence related scripts has begun to manipulate a “person’s basic personality”, in which the player thinks that they are still in the game, trying to complete the mission, which has had an awful effect on our society. The active learning scheme of a video game has had a disastrous outcome and implies that this medium is potentially dangerous than the medium of film and TV. With the recent development of real life conflicts and further graphic violence in video games, popularity of these games have increased, user violent games, should make the parents aware which will hopefully stop this from occurring.

    We asked five participants to name their five favourite video games. After naming all of them they answered further question with responses being scaled as 1 meaning low violence and 7 meaning high violence. Responses of 1 were rarely mentioned, on the other hand responses of 7 was mentioned a lot. In conclusion this summarised that there are more games in the industry specifically created for violent users. The secondary quantitative average score was 86%, showing that game designers try to make it completely realistic, but don’t show how this could have an effect on their young mind.

    I looked at one game in particular, which is a good example of violence. The game “Wildenstein 3D” was selected for test purposes because of its explicit graphics. I wanted to find out about the reactions when playing the game. The game itself is made up of human characters that fight and kill guards using lethal weapons such as revolver, automatic weapons, flamethrower, and a knife. The protagonists’ role is to kill “Nazi guards in castle Wildenstein, to advance through the levels that they have created defending their rights and trying to survive”. Our results show that the graphics of the game are very violent. A talented player will see bodies and hear victims’ groans. If a younger person was playing the game, I think that he or she would be affected to a great deal, but adults would shrug their shoulder and think that this is acceptable. Our society has changed a great deal, but it doesn’t mean that we are all going insane. We can still determine what’s real and what fantasy is.

    Video games are designed for one purpose, to make the user happy and entertain. That is their main objective in life. Designers make thousands of pounds catering for our needs, designing games that they think we would like, not thinking about the consequences it has on the society and mind control.

    Teenage murders have been related to violent video game users; (located specifically in Colorado in the U.S). This has fired up public debate games having an effect on civilization. Violent games have risen in our society, and students and children have been lured into this outrage, although there have been barriers to prevent this from happening BBFC (British Board of Film Classification); they still have managed to get hold of this material.

    Scientists are continuing to research and find out exactly why this is happening, they can’t narrow it down just to violence, as there are a lot of people in the world that are said to be under the age and don’t suffer from this so called “illness”. But they are testing such exposure can produce stable changes to personality”

    The decision comes to this. Who do we blame? Is it the parents fault for prescribing this filth to their children, or do we blame TV, film or video. There is no exact answer. We still don’t know why this happens.

    Posted 11 Feb 2005 at 13:48
  7. ryan wrote:

    I think that some games don’t have a total negative effect.What I mean is that they sometimes intensify the player’s reaction time,hand-eye coordination and other skills like these.

    Posted 15 Mar 2005 at 15:54
  8. Caroline wrote:

    Hmmmm…. Right now I am doing a persuasive essay on the affect violent video games have on children. Does anyone know where I could start, or have any information on the subject?

    Posted 16 Mar 2005 at 18:09
  9. Jurie Horneman wrote:

    I would recommend asking / looking at the website of Digra.

    Posted 16 Mar 2005 at 18:16
  10. Frank wrote:

    Sounds like we all agree that violent video games have an effect, but not always agressive or negative. does anyone have any websites that also agree.

    P.s I will check out Digra, so thank u caroline.

    Posted 06 Apr 2005 at 4:12
  11. names dont matter wrote:

    i love v games but im a grammar freak. ryan ure an idiot. things do AFFECT stuff but HAVE an EFFECT. idiot

    Posted 12 Apr 2005 at 21:12
  12. Aubrey wrote:

    *Worst grammar nazi, evaaar!*

    Posted 13 Apr 2005 at 14:30
  13. clara wrote:

    I’d say proper videogames’ purposes are highly spiritual at their core.

    Posted 13 Apr 2005 at 16:33
  14. wanderer wrote:

    I have to agree with everyone on the fact that video games have both negative and positive effects. But aren’t there pros and cons for everything? I mean, sure video games make people(children and adults alike) more violent, but so does television or war for that matter. I could even go so far as to say famine causes violent behavior. Man’s instinct for survival causes him to fight to survive. While that is mostly unrelated to the topic, it is worthwhile to note that if parents don’t want their kids to become game addicts and furthermore violent citizens, then it makes sense to think those parents aren’t violent either.

    The apple does not fall far from the apple tree, right. Aggressive adults encourage, or at least accept that their child is violent. This may sound cruel or obscene, but it’s true. I say we must convince developpers that violent content in games is not always the way for a bestseller or game of the year. Am I right?

    Posted 30 Apr 2005 at 22:41
  15. farida wrote:

    i think video games have both positive & negative effect on an individual ,in my point of view is that the positive effect is depend on the one who invent the game may be it is useful & may be it contains violent actions so thats going to be the negative side but we have to control our children to avoid violent games untill they understand what is it ,as for adults i think they r mature enough to control their selves

    Posted 23 May 2005 at 3:14
  16. mechnor wrote:

    I would just like to say that games do make people more violent, but really not in a obviously dangerous way. I’m a gamer,and while I myself see now that I am more violent, it can also be traced to my parents being violent with me when I was younger. Games only make people more susceptible to do drastically violent things i.e.: instead of hitting a person, they might stab them. But this could probably only occur if someone pushed that person off the edge. The example was a bit extreme, but serves the point just fine. Also I would like to add that not all violent games lend to violent tendencies or gratuitous violence. Games like Mario or Star wars are violent in content, but realistically aren’t. Simply, the chances someone has a lightsaber are impossible and no one can be killed by being jumped on the head. Come on, that’s just ludicrous.

    Posted 09 Jun 2005 at 23:18
  17. Jurie Horneman wrote:

    Hmmm…. well, recently two people had to be hospitalised after they tried to recreate a lightsaber battle using neon tubes filled with gas (which they’d set on fire). And I’m pretty sure you can kill or at least seriously hurt someone by jumping on their had.

    What makes you so sure, given that there doesn’t appear to be a scientific consensus on this issue?

    Posted 11 Jun 2005 at 0:07
  18. Jeffool wrote:

    I don’t think that the casual violence found in video games (or movies, books, etc.) really makes people more violent. But that’s not to say that they don’t have the potential to make people more violently.

    It comes back to that whole “If games are art, why can’t they make players angry?” (And not in a “I’ve been trying half an hour and can’t beat this damn level!”-angry.) Whether that anger is carried out in a violent way or not is up to the individual consuming the art.

    If you watched a movie about the violence tied to any given political movement during the time, do you protest and try to change things or do you go out shooting people?

    Posted 14 Jun 2005 at 10:45
  19. tIMboOn hte nARutARd wrote:

    how can people condemn violent video games??

    yoiu must all surely know that violent video games are not able to make a person go out and kill somebody?! thats just stupid… and if you are think about the murders based on video games like manhunt(though i dont particularly like that idea of a game)… you must understand that the copy cat actions were due to the suroundings and the social environment of those people, and it is very likely that if manhunt (or ANY violent games, for that matter) didnt exist, a murder would have still taken place as a copy cat of a violent movie…

    so before you start discrediting games, you should look at the movies, music and television industries first as they have been around alot longer than this new gameing industry and in my opinion are alot worse for the people of to days society

    Posted 23 Jun 2005 at 4:50
  20. Jurie Horneman wrote:

    Once you figure out how people can condemn violent video games, you will know why ‘we’ must not all surely know, and why ‘we’ must not understand.

    Posted 23 Jun 2005 at 22:39
  21. tIMboOn hte nARutARd wrote:

    AH!! but i do know HOW people can condemn violent video games… what i dont agree with is WHY they condemn them, as they are a harmless form of entertainment when put into the correct hands. it is not right to bann violent video games based on the facts that they ‘inspire’ people to do bad deeds, as the perecentage of people ‘inspired’ to do something like killing a person, when compared to the amount of people who play violent video games, is negligable. banning video games is like banning driving because somebody got drunk one time and crash into a pedestrian, its rediclous.

    in my opinion, violent video games are more likely to prevent killings and beatings than to cause them, as they are a good stress relief as you can take your anger out on the game instead of the people around you. in saying this i am not incouraging youngsters to play a video game to releave their stress, but i do want to enphasise that people who do not play violent video games would not understand how they can affect people… so i suggest that before you make a decision about this ou should try a game out for yourself.

    Posted 24 Jun 2005 at 8:21
  22. Zarbon wrote:

    It’s not the video games that are making teenagers shoot at cars driving down the steet, it’s the teenagers holding the gun and pulling the trigger. The game industry can produce whatever games it wants, thats guaranteed by the First Amendment in the Land of the Brave. Besides, video games are a great source of stress relief, for young and old.

    Posted 25 Jul 2005 at 3:48
  23. baby wrote:

    people should stop making excuses 4 the violent kids because we all know that a game is not going to tell a child to go kill some 1, go and be violent. it’s who they hang around. its their choice. there is no game, i dont care how violent, that makes a kid kill someone or a game that makes one violent. its all their choice

    Posted 05 Aug 2005 at 18:46
  24. Joe wrote:

    Umm im doing a research and i’d appreciate any help on the question:
    How can the bad effects of electronic entertainment be solved and how will we find a balance?

    Posted 04 Jun 2006 at 6:54