A Template for the Future Games Industry
Shadow of Plato

The Positive Effects of Games

For some time now, video games have been the media whipping boy. This has been going on for perhaps twenty years now... For a short while, perhaps ten years, prior to this, tabletop role playing games filled this role - and were linked (in an utterly spurious fashion) with all manner of unpleasant incidents. One has to imagine that if we dug into the matter, there might have been a period when the media demonised TV, and before that, movies. Perhaps there will always be a form of media which is a lightning rod for people's fears.

Because games are usually in the firing line, it's always nice to see a news article which has something positive to say, such as this coverage of a recent British Medical Journal edition:

Computer games can improve children's health despite research showing excessive playing causes aggression in the young, a new study claims.

Nottingham Trent University professor Mark Griffiths said they can be a powerful distraction for youngsters undergoing painful cancer treatment. He also argues games can help develop social skills for children with attention disorders including autism. Mr Griffith's claims are made in the British Medical Journal out on Friday. The professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University said more research must be done into both the positive and negative effects of gaming.

He said: "Video gaming is safe for most players and can be useful in healthcare. "Although playing video games is one of the most popular leisure activities in the world, research into its effects on players, both positive and negative, is often trivialised.

This isn't the first time positive aspects of video gaming have been cited... CESA, the Japanese Computer Entertainment Suppliers Association, has claimed that games provide a helathy outlet for aggressive tendencies (I can't find an online link to their report that works to cite, alas). Not that long ago, it was reported that playing games sharpened mental faculties. Not to mention the news that playing video games improves hand eye co-ordination necessary for keyhole surgery.

Of course, there is another side to this coin, such as the studies that link playing violent video games with aggression in children. And this underlines half of the problem - not all video games are violent, but the media perspective of games focuses on this element. Until recently, the top ten best selling games of all time contained only one violent game, GTA: Vice City at number eight. Now it probably contains two. (Admitedly this data is skewed slightly by Nintendo's captive market in the early days of the NES which inflates some of their sale figures to points above what the current market will bear).

It strikes me that there are two elements driving the disparity of representation for video games... Firstly, that so much development money is invested in violent video games that the current market for violent games is saturated. This creates the impression that 'all games are violent'. Secondly, because the marketing departments of games know how to plug such testosterone fodder, and do not seem to know how to promote anything else, the media presence of games - on TV and cinema trailers, for instance - seems to intensify this impression of games.

Although I do not advocate enforcing such a rule, it would perhaps be healthy if publishers commited to funding and promoting a certain proportion of non-violent games each year. This would diversify their portfolio of product, with sound commercial benefits, as well as potentially balancing out the public face of the industry.

That said, politicians always need scapegoats, and journalists need scandal. Games will remain in the firing line until we diversify the audience for games to the extent that they are as universal as film or TV. Or until some new form of media comes along and displaces games as the new lightning rod of outrage.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hello all,

The CAP network is presenting the wonderful opportunity to be part of a documentary film exploring the positive affects and skills gained from video gaming.
This documentary is specifically interested in youths ages 15 - 30 and their opinions on this subject.

Please read our mission statement for this film.

"Our mission with this film is to show that gaming is a doorway to communication and technology; creating a venue for the youth of Canada to contribute to the economical development of Canada and to have fun, thus bridging the digital divide of today. The film will present CAP youth interns as well as game companies, and other youths, displaying familiarity with games, showing how basic learning principles embedded in the games have helped them shape their future and our culture. “

If you are interested in expressing your views in this film we would love to hear from you.

Filming would happen during January. In total, the time needed for the interview will be around a half an hour for set-up and the interview will last around ten minutes at most. For those who wish to participate but are too far, we can arrange to do web conferencing.

So, if you are a gamer and believe you have gained any skills that have helped you or may help you in the future, please contact me ASAP.


Thank you


hey guys im joe

Hi Joe... what can we do for you?

hi joe!:]

I personally have never played a video game but my friends often play video games when I am at their houses. I love to watch video games that have a good story line and good cinmas. I don't like to watch the more violent games because they lack story lines. I think that none of my friends have been negatively effect nor do I believe that I have been. If you think about it normally people shouldn't throw things at each other but it is encouraged in sports such as basketball and baseball, so video games can be another nondestructive outlet for some.

Hello all :)
I'm doing my senior exit project on the topic of whether or not video games are addictive and dangerous. Of course my responce will be no, being once a pro gamer.

Devin I'll be glad to help.

Lol i did my senior exit on this subject too!!!!!!!

Thanks for the fresh comments! I've no idea where they came from, since this is such an ancient post. :)

I should put up something new about videogames and addiction sometime soon.

im doing my senior exit on it right now
my damn paper is due tomorrow XD

Hope you got the paper in okay! :)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)