$8.2m study to probe medical benefits of videogames
Doom to cure hoplophobia?
The alleged negative effects of videogames have been well documented. But a multi-million dollar research fund has been created to discover if they could be used as an alternative form of clinical therapy.
In the first round of funding, 12 research teams, including the Maine Medical Center and University of Southern California, have each received up to $200,000 (£100,000/€128,200) to fund one- or two-year experiments probing the therapeutic benefits of videogames.
It’s hoped the research will highlight new ways that videogame design principles could be adapted to provide some form of physical or mental benefit - aside from the stress relief often found by blasting down virtual opponents with an Uzi.
Could a Wii Fit-style game be used to treat arthritis? Or perhaps someone suffering from depression help to treat themselves with ten minutes of daily gameplay? The research aims to find out.
One of the research teams, based at Cornell University, plans to embark upon a study using a mobile phone game. Using Mindless Eating Challenge, the study is designed to examine the ways that persuasion in a videogame can be used to promote healthy eating habits in kids.
At the other end of the age scale, the University of Florida will use its funding to examine how the visual attention skills of senior citizens can be improved by regular doses of the Crazy Taxi videogame,
The University of South Carolina Research Foundation intends to pit the Nintendo’s Wii against Sony’s Eye digicam to study mobility, balance and fear of falling in post-stroke sufferers.
The funding has been provided by US healthcare centre the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The RWJF has set aside a total of $8.2m (£4.1/€5.2) to help “strengthen the evidence that videogames can be used to improve players’ health behaviours and outcomes”. Further funding will be allocated in a second stage of research. Debra Lieberman, a researcher in the Institute for Social, Behavioural, and Economic Research at the University of California, will have overall responsibility for managing the project.
A whole range of studies into the negative and positive effects of videogames have already been published. For example, earlier this month a study found that videogames can cause men to revert back to their caveman roots. Whilst a separate report concluded recently that aggressive videogame titles, such as Grand Theft Auto IV, may actually help cut the number of physical violent crimes committed.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
First it was witchcraft. Then it was communism/socialism. Then it was music. Now it's video games. We're always looking for something or someone to blame whenever someone does something bad. Quite simply, bad people will do bad things. It might be a video game that sets them off, it might be a movie, or it might just be a bad day at work (remember the incidents in the US where postal workers were killing people?). As I recall, there has only been one idiot who even remotely linked video games to violence -- that idiot who killed somebody and said something like "Life is a video game; everybody dies." Yeah, he was the picture-perfect representative of sanity, so it must have been the video games that drove him to murder.
After so many "studies" "proving" video games to "cause violent behavior", isn't it time to do a proper study? Survey as many people as possible. Ask if they have played video games (currently or in the past). Ask how often. Ask what games they played. Here's an important one -- ask them why they played those games. Ask them what, if any, effects they personally felt from playing. If possible, ask friends and family members if they noticed any other effects or changes when the person played the video games. Now here's the most important thing -- do the same study for other activities (smoking, drinking, driving, reading, visiting the park, talking on the phone, going to the mall, etc). Then you can see what effects and behavioral changes were evident in those people playing video games, and (by comparing the studies) see if those same effects and behavioral changes occurred less, more, or the same as people engaging in other activities.
That is, as I see it, the most fair and balanced method. Then again, those people against video games don't want fair and balanced. They just want a reason to get around that pesky first amendment.
It's just the same crap the other side have done before, starting off to prove that they did.
Good on these guys for fighting the good- if admittedly unscientific and biased- fight!
I take it you've never read anything of Jack Thompson, the world's craziest lawyer from (and I'm ashamed to admit this) Florida.
Look... from your PoV, which is safer after an exceedingly crappy day--polishing your rifle muttering depreciations against your idiotic co-workers, or blasting some noob's head off in multi-player HALO?
Mine's the SPARTAN-II armor, thank you...
Non-Traditional video game uses
Just last week my non-profit organization announced the winner to our first video game contest. The idea was to create a flash-based video game about Teen Dating Violence without the use of violence. Here's the link if you're interested: http://www.jenniferann.org/2008_game_contest_winners.htm
We received a fair amount of publicity mostly due to the novel (to some) concept of using video games to contribute to the "Social Good." It continues to surprise me that many don't recognize the value that video games can play in affecting positive change. Hopefully studies such as this will help to sway public opinion about the place that gaming can play in our society.
Director, Jennifer Ann's Group
ps. the HEART for my daughter, Jennifer Ann Crecente, whom the organization is named for; murdered at the age of 18 by her ex-boyfriend.
Oh yeah nothing like the asshats that the contray views getting funding oh no...
Let me guess you come down the "games cause todays social ills side" yes?