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Alex Rodriguez

Professor Spitler-Lawson
English 115 Honors
Project 3: Research Paper Final Draft
Word Count of Body: 2040
11/28/16
Impact of a Video Game
Ever since the dawn of video games in the latter half of the of the twentieth century, the
act of gaming has evolved phenomenally. Over the last forty-five years, the video games
themselves have undergone a transformation that directly reflects the technological advances of
our society. When Atari brought Pong to the common consumer in 1972, all that it allowed for
players to do was to move a cursor up or down to bounce a moving square back and forth ("How
Video Game Systems Work"). Nowadays there is a vast dynamic range of video game genres that
is as wide or more wide than that offered by movies. A player can take on any role he chooses,
whether he wants to play from the point of view of a wolf, or an outer space explorer. However,
from the start of the video-gaming era, there have been several misconceptions regarding the
effects that playing a video game can have on a person, that have withstood their rapid evolution.
These popular misconceptions have turned into stereotypical notions that paint a bad light on the
act of gaming, deeming it as an antisocial, violence-inducing, brain-numbing and exerciseinhibiting activity that only serves as a detriment to our society. Video games are not entirely
what they are made out to be.

Possibly the most popular belief concerning the personal effects of playing a video game
on a console, is that it can make a young individual more antisocial than a person who does not
spend any time playing video games. With the enhancement of voice-chat rooms across
mainstream consoles including the Play Station 4 and the Xbox One, video game players have
never had it more easy to verbally communicate with other people while playing the same game
or separate games. In the eighties, it was common in the United States for teenagers to use wired
home telephones to talk with their friends. This is what perpetuated the stereotype that can be
seen in shows like The Goldbergs. Set as a family sitcom in the eighties, this show has many
scenes where the kids in the family fight for time with the home phone (The Kremps). In
present time, console voice-chat parties are easily a suitable replacement for long phone calls.
They allow for a person to log on to their console and instantly connect with real life friends or
friends met through online gaming. Like party lines from phone calls in the last century, these
chat parties also allow for up to eight people to join at once. This can be chaotic, but it can help,
for example, a person to keep in touch with distant relatives or friends. Console chat parties also
allow for players to make their parties private, and prevent multiple people from joining without
being invited. Because of the rise in popularity of videogames lately, the truth is that those
people who detest video games miss out on the opportunity to connect with or compete against
others in a now highly social online gaming environment.
In light of the recent spike in mass shootings over the last sixteen years, negative
sentiment towards the more violent genre of videogames has grown. Popular game series like
Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto V which are heavily advertised in the internet as well as on
television networks, and are very popular among young gamers, are known to entail gun violence
and vulgar language. A common logical deduction can be made that if a young child plays games

like these, then he himself will want to take on the role as an aggressive, gun-wielding assailant.
In a study performed by the Department of Psychology at Stetson University, and the
Department of Psychology and Communication at Texas A&M International University, two
hypotheses regarding the influence of violent videogames on young people were tested. The first
hypothesis was that video game violence has a direct and general influence on increasing
aggression (Ferguson, Christopher J. et al.). The second was that video game violence [would]
interact with mental health symptoms to increase aggression in youth with pre-existing mental
health symptoms. One of the games included in this study was Mortal Kombat, which is a
player versus player game known for its violent cut scenes and bloody gore. According to the
study, in testing the first hypothesis, it [appeared] unlikely that short-term exposure to video
games results in [an] increased willingness to harm others. Considering the second hypothesis,
the study showed that youth with prior mental health symptoms were no more influenced by
violent games than those without preexisting mental health symptoms. The effect of violent
videogames on the mind of a young person is insignificant compared to the effect that parenting
has. The same study showed that parental shielding from violent content, and parental education
about violence in video games, both played a major role in the reduction of aggression among
the participants. Furthermore, this study shows that mass shootings in the United States
committed by young individuals were not and will not be exacerbated by the presence of popular
violent videogames in the households of millions of families.
In the progression of videogames in the last few decades, immersion has been a factor in
almost every innovative videogame department. This can easily be seen in the arrival of 3D
games, which opened the door for genres like first person shooters and open-world games. First
person shooters are perhaps the most immersive, because they place the perspective of their

players in the eyes of whatever it is that they are controlling. Open-world games are usually in
third-person point of view, and they place a players character in one gigantic area. Then of
course there are open-world games that are also in first person, like Grand Theft Auto V. With the
perpetual emphasis on immersion among newer videogames, the question of their effect on the
human brain has risen in popularity. It seems obvious that staring at a monitor, with many things
going on in it at once, can only result in a waste of precious brain power. However, science easily
trumps that assumption. According to a study performed by the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain
Research in Germany, a combination of faster information processing and more effective
attentional control provide the basis for the better performance of video game players against
non-video game players, when completing simple tasks like detecting random anomalies in
patterns (Mack, 2016). In this study, ninety-eight participants were separated into two groups,
based on their weekly gaming time. The group of participants who played the most frequently
performed better in every single task assigned.
Although most people probably think of the typical gamer as someone who sits in a dark
room glaring at a screen for the entirety of a day, the common person in this day and age can
easily notice that the big money in gaming does not lie in console gaming or in computer
gaming. The truth is that most Americans are typically gamers because most Americans typically
own smartphones or tablets. In fact, currently a total of 68% of U.S. adults have a smartphone,
up from 35% in 2011, and tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45% among adults,
according to newly released survey data from the Pew Research Center (Anderson, Monica).
Smartphones and tablets are the gateway to the largest gaming community of all time. Some
people like to separate console gaming and mobile gaming, deeming them as two completely
different types of activities: one as an advanced high quality experience that takes serious

dedication, and the other as a simple minigame. However, just like in consoles, smartphone
gaming has rapidly gone from 2D to 3D, and many of the classic games that were once popular
among console gamers of the past are now on smartphones. This means that many smartphone
gamers are literally playing the same games as console gamers, so mobile gaming and console
gaming are interconnected.
Definitely the most commonly discussed issue regarding video games is their
contribution to health in the American society. The general consensus among most people is that
video games are a leading factor in being overweight in the United States, and this consensus is
unfortunately true. A study conducted on men by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
came to the verdict that the men who played games weighed more, on average, than [] nongamers (Molina, Brett). The result of this study are in accordance with the general idea that
sitting for hours can lead to obesity, and it makes sense, because sitting for hours is an activity
that does not burn many calories, Couple that with fast food, and the health of the average
American citizen plummets.
Although video games have earned a bad reputation through their general effects on the
health on the typical gamer, not all hope is lost for videogames in terms of health. Out of the
thousands of existing video game types, the health/exercise genre is one that has been pushed to
consumers by video game companies ever since Nintendo released its Wii in 2006. The Wii itself
was technically designed to encourage physical movement while gaming, even though it only
allowed for swift arm movements that could easily be replaced by tiny wrist movements.
Nintendo kept innovating though, and eventually they released the Wii Fit, an extension to the
Wii that took the form of a weight scale and balance monitor, which allowed for the console to
analyze the health of the player, and put them in a series of gaming programs that effectively

would allow the user to lose weight and develop healthier habits. However, Nintendo was not the
only video game company striving to implement physical exercise in their video games.
Microsoft introduced its own extension to its Xbox 360, called the Kinect, which allowed for
control of games via the Kinects motion detectors. The Kinects functionality meant for players
to stand up and move around, instead of sitting still. The next major contender in console gaming
is Sony, and they have barely emphasized fitness in their games, up until now. Their latest project
is a virtual reality system that will somehow allow for a user to play using nothing but the
movement of his own body. This can work in tandem with something like a treadmill, which
would allow for a player to run around in their game by running around in real life, as ridiculous
as that may look. Virtual reality is the next big thing for gaming, and whole concept of it so far
encourages the use of physical body movement to play.
Popular violent video games across the planet have been scientifically proven to improve
certain functions of the brain, which control alertness and cognitive function. They are also
known for their ability to improve social behavior among children and teens. Despite the
tendency for studies to show social and biological benefits associated with playing fast-paced,
violent video games, many people still hold the notion that a psychological effect of playing
these games is the development of real-life violent behavior. This is part of the negative
sentiment toward video games that is all too common in the present era. As a result of recent
mass killing crimes committed by young individuals, many people have reacted by turning their
anger at video games. Pointing the finger at video games is a common deduction to make if one
has not thoroughly experienced the vast range of gaming communities that exist within every
video game. It is stereotypically known that it is typical for the twenty-first century parent to tell
his or her child to go outside and socialize, which makes sense from the perspective of the

parent, who sees a child staring at a screen and talking at it. This parental decision should be
made in the context of the health disadvantages caused by videogames, not in the context of
misconceptions about negative social and psychological effects that videogames actually are not
responsible for. As video games have progressed throughout their lifetime, they have become
more and more integrated in our society. They have become a part of our everyday lives, and no
matter how game-changing they may be, they will be for the betterment of entertainment.

Works Cited:
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Science & Tech. Pew Research Center, 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/technology-device-ownership-2015/>.
Ferguson, Christopher J. et al. Digital poison? Three studies examining the influence of violent
video games on youth. Elsevier, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 50, 2015, pp. 399410.
Gonzalez, Carina S. et al. Learning healthy lifestyles through active videogames, motor games
and the gamification of educational activities. Elsevier, Computers in Human Behavior,
vol. 55, 2016, pp. 529-551.
Kasumovic, Michael M. et al. Why do people play violent video games? Demographic, statusrelated, and mating-related correlates in men and women. Elsevier, Personality and
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Mack, David et al. Video Game Players Show Higher Performance but no Difference in Speed
of Attention Shifts. Acta Psychologica, vol. 169, 2016, pp. 1119.
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Gannett Satellite Information Network, 21 Aug. 2009. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
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The Kremps. The Goldbergs: Season 1, written by Adam Goldberg and Darlene Hunt, directed
by Victor Nelli Jr., American Broadcasting Company, 2013.

Tyson, Jeff "How Video Game Systems Work" 16 October 2000.


HowStuffWorks.com. <http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/video-game.htm>
20 November 2016.