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Do Violent Computer Games Make People Aggressive?

Update Date: Apr 02, 2012 09:19 PM EDT

Do violent computer games make people aggressive? Reaserchers are questioning the link.

A new study, authored by Ulrika Bennerstedt, Jonas Ivarsson and Jonas Linderoth,  shows that a good ability to cooperate is a prerequisite for success in the violent gaming environment. 

"The situations gamers encounter in these games call for sophisticated and well-coordinated collaboration. We analysed what characteristics and knowledge the gamers need to have in order to be successful," says Ivarsson, Docent (Reader) at the Department of Education, Communication and Learning.

There is a long-lasting and at times intense debate about the possible link between violent computer games and aggressiveness. One camp in the debate believes that gamers not only learn to cooperate but also to understand complex contexts, how skills can be improved, and cause and effect relationships. The opposing camp, on the other hand, is convinced that the games may foster violent and aggressive behavior outside the gaming environment.

The study turns out that a successful gamer is strategic and technically knowledgeable, and has good timing. Inconsiderate gamers, as well as those who act aggressively or emotionally, generally do not do well.

"On the basis of our empirical analysis we then address the contentious links between concrete instances of play and generic effects. As expected, the results point to "aggression" as well as "collaboration" as major components in the gaming experience, but our analysis also suggests that the practices associated with these notions are locally tied to the game," said the authors of the study.

"In a nutshell, we're questioning the whole gaming and violence debate, since it's not based on a real problem but rather on some hypothetical reasoning," Ivarsson says. 

The study was recenltly presented in International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. 

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