The debate has been ongoing for over a decade: Do violent computer games contribute to aggressiveness among young players?
Now, the argument takes a new twist as Swedish researchers question the entire presumption that playing computer games has anything to do with violence.
In a recently published article, they present findings that show that, more than anything, a good ability to cooperate is a prerequisite for success in the vicious gaming environment.
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.
Study authors Ulrika Bennerstedt, Jonas Ivarsson, Ph.D., and Jonas Linderoth, Ph.D., have published their study in the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Bennerstedt is a doctoral student and research assistant in the Department of Education at the University of Gothenburg.
The Gothenburg-based research group spent hundreds of hours playing online games and observing other gamers, including on video recordings. They focused on complex games with portrayals of violence and aggressive action where the participants have to fight with and against each other.
“The situations gamers encounter in these games call for sophisticated and well-coordinated collaboration. We analyzed what characteristics and knowledge the gamers need to have in order to be successful,” said Ivarsson.
Researchers have found 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.
“The suggested link between games and aggression is based on the notion of transfer, which means that knowledge gained in a certain situation can be used in an entirely different context.
“The whole idea of transfer has been central in education research for a very long time. The question of how a learning situation should be designed in order for learners to be able to use the learned material in real life is very difficult, and has no clear answers,” said Ivarsson.
“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,” he said.
Source: University of Gothenburg