Do Brutal Video Games Desensitize Players to Violence?

Breaking down a new study that looks at the psychological effects of violent games

mortal kombat

Midway

If you spend your free time killing and maiming people and/or aliens in a virtual world, does this have any effect on what you do in the real one? Psychologists have been trying to answer that question, or some form of it at least, for a while, and Cognitive Daily has an interesting review of one of the latest papers on the subject.

The paper looks at how people react to violent scenes in movies after playing video games. Those who played violent games prior to watching the clips seem to become desensitized--their heart rate doesn't jump as much, and based on a measure called galvanic skin response, they become less aroused, too, relative to people who played non-violent games before viewing.

The writers point out a few flaws with the study, and the readers post a few equally insightful responses, but the paper does bring up some interesting questions about the ramifications of all these brutal games. Not all of which may be negative. This should become an even hotter topic in the next few days, as the debut of the latest Grand Theft Auto game approaches.