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Friday, August 19, 2005

Swedish Game Research Review

Because back in April we were still jolly, carefree and thinking that the whole world loved electronic toys, I think this Swedish study on video games went largely unnoticed:

Lager and Bremberg reviewed 30 studies from around the world that explored what effect video and computer games had on children's intelligence, aggression and weight. "We looked at how games affected spatial abilities, reaction time, aggressive play, thoughts, feelings and behaviour," says Lager.

They discovered strong evidence to suggest video and computer games are, in fact, good for you. "All the studies that looked at spatial thinking showed computer games have a positive effect," says Lager. "Playing also reduces children's reaction times."

The study discounts the link between games and violent behaviour or aggressive feelings — although a child who has been playing a violent computer game is more likely to pick up a toy sword or toy gun than a child who hasn't, according to the report.

So much for the "debate being over", as certain paranoid lawyers have tried to declare. The problem that people have is that guys like Thompson have raised the bar so high on what video games can do that it's meaningless. The witch-hunt is constantly trying to assert that video games are related to violent crimes, and yet not court nor researcher seems to agree with them anywhere on the planet.

And yet - I don't think many people would disagree that a fourteen year old shouldn't play Manhunt. Since the majority of kids of are playing Manhunt got the game from an adult, why is it so hard to ask the question ... why are parents still buying this for their kids and how can we stop it?

As long as the witch-hunt continues to blame retailers and tries to make wild associations like linking games to murder, this debate will never get back to anything resembling rational.

Update: Apparently Jason a la IGDA got punted from an NPR show on the topic. What goes on here? Is there any bit of the mainstream media willing to have an honest debate about this?

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