Here's a true story: a few years ago, given an Xbox 360 for testing purposes, I went to the Gamestop to get a new game. I like games, but I don't like games with guns or sports, because I don't particularly like guns or sports in real life, either. The guy at the Gamestop was absolutely flummoxed by my request for an Xbox game with neither. He ended up recommending the game version of the movie G-Force, which is a movie for children featuring talking CGI guinea pigs.
Violence in games is widespread, largely because violence triggers certain pleasure points in our brains. But what if we could study the brain to figure out exactly where and why--and what else could produce the same reaction?
Gaming pub Edge has a nice feature up about the effect of violence in games on our brains--in a good way. A crop of advocates are trying to use MRI machines to map brains more accurately, since MRIs are able to detect precise activity in certain areas of the brain. If we can figure out what kind of stimulus can trigger dopamine release in the brain that doesn't include shooting people, could we get gamers off of the violence kick?
Of course, there are some issues. MRI machines are both insanely expensive--like, millions of dollars--and sort of primitive, in that they don't provide the level of detail some game developers say they need to properly adjust their projects. Plus, there's the business and artistic problems of marketing and creation--it's not like game creators now aren't trying to get people to enjoy their games, after all. But it's an interesting look at how neuroscience might impact popular culture, behind the scenes.
good luck, if they can actually make a good simulator for sword fights without getting each other killed then that would be a good game.
i mean besides picking up fencing or boffer sport. who even does boffer nowadays?
to mars or bust!
The author removed both violence and sports, that only leave sex. ;-)
Violence kick and gaming, what a great article Dan Nosowitz! I, too, prefer other types of games without the use of violence in them. I also imagine that just the thought of it stops people short, like your Gamestop chap who’s well-abreast of the available ongoing Xbox games. Well, we all have our likes and dislikes for whatever the reasons… As your post really gives one pause too think about gaming in a good light, in a different way, which is positive. Good for you! Good for us too! Is it naïve to think MRIs might identify such things in the human brain? MRI machines are eye-openers in the field of medicine. No two ways about this, and man’s blessed in having this technology together with the gifted physicians who interpret the MRI findings. Is it like finding a needle in a haystack, when it comes to mapping the human brain? It would seem so. But, then again, with an open mind you never know where God’s going to lead you. Still, it’s a little like trying to see into the mind of God; through his creation of man whose physical makeup is indeed wonderment. Whether it’s from a material or spiritual standpoint, since everyone sees it differently in life’s kaleidoscope of understanding what in the world makes the brain think in the first place. Let along the kind of stimulus triggers releasing the dopamine within the human brain. Thanks for a great read!
Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Author 2012
“If you have an open mind, you never know where God is going to lead you.”
http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Mommy’sWritings.html (currently not active)
The Mommy Writings Series
Mommy, would you like a sandwich?
I've been playing video games for a long time. Now I'm young in that I was only old enough to have the required motor skills in the late 80's. But in that time I've racked up a far amount of hours. In fact I bet I've wasted a large portion of my life marveling at other people's programmatic illusions. And I don't regret one minute of it. Well maybe I could use some of those MMO grinding hours back but in general I've enjoyed my wasted time. By far shooting people is a favorite. But if you have to take away the guns I'm okay with that. As long as I have a bat or some other blunt object to use for pulverizing the bad guys that so obviously deserve it.
As for sports. I'm not a fan in real life or in video games. The occasional race can be fun but in small doses.
As for the selection available. I am truly astounded at how magnificent the video gaming market has become. I still remember paying 5 bucks for a cd with a legal copy of duke3d at a local fair. And that was cutting edge as not many places were selling PC games. Now there are more games available than any one person could enjoy. I think if you dig into the market a bit deeper you will find something you enjoy. I recommend puzzle/adventure games. There's quite a few out there that have relatively no violence and are very entertaining. And if your hearts desire doesn't exist. Create it. It's never been easier to be a software developer.
Personally I recommend embracing the dark side. See if you can get a head shot from across, jump over and teabag the d-bag before they spawn and try to do the same to you.
You've got to be kidding me? This was discovered HUNDREDS of years ago! People LIKE WINNING! People like winning against other people even more. Its not "Guns" or "Sports" that is the draw, its the competition against another human being. Guns and Sports are just the most readily obvious versions of the competition and frankly one of the easiest to duplicate.
FPS's are "Fun" because every time you "Kill" someone, YOU have won against them, even if your team looses the match you had all those little "Win" moments in the matches.
Sports work on the same level, every time you score or progress down the field closer to your goal, you get a little win. Sometimes you make a great play and get an even bigger win, and your body rewards you.
So ultimately, it comes down to, what are you "Taste" preferences when it comes to "Winning", and sadly no MRI machine or multimillion dollar study is ever going to nail down "Eveyones" taste preferences.
I personally like solving puzzles, getting through complicated mazes, and developing strategies to beat opponents. I get great satisfaction when I work out the "Perfect" strategy to beat something, which is why I tend to play RTS/TBS/RPGS/SIMS, and the like. I also find FPS's boring, and only tend to play them if the underlying gameplay or story makes the actions being taken relevant. STALKER is an excellent example of a FPS that was greatly enjoyable by me, as was most of the Hitman series, Thief and games generally like it.
Sports games I just dont get at all, I dont get watching them on TV, and I dont get playing them on a console. However I CAN understand the desire to play them in real life, and have been known to play some golf, tennis, or volleyball. But you will never catch me playing a console version of those as its just.. lame imo.
Again, I have to wonder where these people are getting funding for studies into what should be obvious to anyone with the ability to reason.
Personally, I like a lot of video games because of their plot. And frankly, a bunch of aliens from dimension Xen and an authoritarian government make a great plot. Playing on the Good vs. Evil thing that's been around since the dawn of civilization.
But then I hear I'm unique in that aspect, as I'm the only one who seems to get frustrated when others skip past important dialogue.
Violence does not make the video games these days. Everyone seems to think that thats all they are. Violence is simply a plot device or way to make a great story into a game. Video games have always been another way to tell a story and get into anothers imagination. Books, movies, games, paintings,and even songs are all examples of ways artists try to show off what is in their minds. Personally i belive video games are the best at letting your mind loose because you get to explore someone elses world in every way possible. Anyways back to the point, some people play games for winning (FPS), some play it to explore (RPGs and MMOs)and some play it for accomplishment(the desire to complete everything in a game).
Xionanx, is it? I agree wholeheartedly. I have never taken any form of drug, but I have known people who have taken, and the symptoms between hardcore gamers (like myself, MW3, Black Ops, and Runescape) are VERY similar. All anything is is an accomplishment. Why do you think people get greedy? It's the accomplishment that they have more money than you. Earning money activates the same area as cocaine in the brain, so a game with a great multi-player should have a similar effect.
It doesn't help that they throw in killstreaks, a goal to be attained. I have, for one, gotten my first streak, second, died, and started the whole shebang over again. Sometimes several times.
Maybe it's because I still enjoy going back and playing older games, but there are TONS of games with neither sports nor guns if that's your fancy. As someone mentioned, adventure games are definitely the way to go.
In a fit of nostalgia, I've recently been replaying old Sierra, Lucasarts, and Origin games. If you want modern games that are still sans excess violence, games like the "Lego" series are fun and not exactly gore-ridden blood fests. Then there are obviously the music-based games in their myriad forms. Strategy games like "Civilization" are also more of a thinking game with no visceral blood shed. The "Portal" games are also brilliant without the need for violence. Any racing game. Honestly, I can't imagine how the guy at the game story was having a problem finding something to suit your fancy!
try Minecraft! And besides, there are thousands of games out there that aren't madden or an FPS. Almost every game on your smart phone is not in any of those two categories