NEW RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS POSITIVE EFFECTS OF VIDEO GAME PLAY
Two recent studies by Dr. Christopher Ferguson of Texas A&M University call into question research findings that perpetuate some of the misconceptions about computer and video games.
In June, the Review of General Psychology published Dr. Ferguson’s study titled “Blazing Angels or Resident Evil? Can Violent Video Games be a Force for Good?” Ferguson conducted an in-depth analysis of existing research on the impact of violent video game play on aggressive behavior. He found that many of these studies were marred by inconsistent findings or weak methodology and had not been sufficiently scrutinized by the broader scientific community. He also noted that the violent crime rate has dropped dramatically at the same time that video games have gained in popularity, suggesting that “the violent video game issue is a crusade in search of a crisis.”
Ferguson also reviewed emerging research on the impact of violent video game play on visual and spatial cognition, social networking, and its potential use as an educational tool. His analysis revealed that some studies have found playing violent video games is associated with improved visual and spatial cognition, and that interactive video game play can provide children, particularly shy individuals, with meaningful social interactions that may encourage social behavior offline as well. Additionally, Ferguson concluded that violent video games can provide an exciting, engaging way for children to learn educational material that they may otherwise find boring or too difficult.
In July, Ferguson and Stephanie Rueda, also of Texas A&M University, released a study that arrived at similar conclusions. In “The Hitman Study: Violent Video Game Exposure Effects on Aggressive Behavior, Hostile Feelings and Depression,” Ferguson and Rueda gave 103 young adults a “frustration task,” then separated them into four experimental groups: one that played no video games, one that played a non-violent game, one that played a violent game in which they played the “good guy,” and one that played a violent game in which they played “the bad guy.” Their results indicated that violent video game play “had no impact on aggressive behavior.” In fact, they concluded that participants who had played violent video games were “less hostile and depressed,” suggesting that the games “reduce depression and hostile feelings in players through mood management.”
These findings are in line with a growing body of research and statistics that demonstrate there is no relationship between playing violent computer and video games and real life violence, as well as those pointing to the positive effects of game play. This is also a key argument that the Entertainment Software Association will make before the U.S. Supreme Court this fall in the case of Schwarzenegger v. EMA/ESA, as it challenges a 2005 California law that would regulate the sale and rental of computer and video games based on their content.
To learn more about this important case, and the arguments ESA will make before the Court, please visit http://www.theesa.com/policy/scotus.asp.
VIDEO GAMES INSPIRE AMUSEMENT PARK ATTRACTIONS
As computer and video game play becomes increasingly common among families across the country, amusement parks are incorporating video games into rides and attractions creating an enhanced, interactive experience that is fun for the whole family.
At Walt Disney World Resort, in Orlando, Fla., and Disneyland Park and Resort, Anaheim, Calif., Toy Story Mania! is the most exciting new attraction. Inspired by Disney’s “Toy Story” films and hosted by its main characters, Toy Story Mania! transports guests into the middle of a 3-D carnival-style video game. Players earn points and reveal fun surprises by shooting virtual targets as they move through this interactive adventure.
At King’s Island Theme Park in Mason, OH, guests can enjoy the park’s newest interactive ride, Boo Blasters on Boo Hill. Riders on this attraction travel through graveyards and dungeons as they fight back 3-D ghosts and demons. Scoreboards track each player’s skill level along the way.
Several amusement parks have even developed attractions based entirely around a video game experience.
Throughout the summer at Valleyfair amusement park in Shakopee, Minn., families have been bringing their Rock Band skills from the living room to the stage. After playing MTV Games’ popular Rock Band video game, top scorers are invited to play on stage with professional dancers, singers and actors.
In Foxborough, Mass., 5 Wits Productions Inc. recently developed the interactive Espionage and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attractions. Both offer a video game-like experience that requires guests to solve computer-generated puzzles as they navigate through the themed rooms.
A new theme park currently being developed by Ruke Studios will provide guests with an even more immersive experience. Game Nation, an experiential theme park, will let visitors interact with talking cartoon animals or undergo space marine training, playing out their character’s role in a truly unique setting that incorporates traditional theme park rides with elements of virtual reality.
Whether visitors are serious gamers or more casual players, the integration of computer and video games into rides and attractions brings the family-friendly fun of amusement parks to a whole new level, and creates a memorable summer experience.
ROAD TRIP: EXPLORING THE U.S. FROM THE COMFORTS OF HOME
August is a popular month for families to take an end-of-summer road trip, but for those who just cannot get away, a number of video games can provide a fun and effective way to discover some of our country’s unique destinations. As players explore the varied geography, notable landmarks and monuments of the U.S. through these games, they can also learn about our country’s history, folklore and culture.
GameHouse Studios’ game Little Shop: Road Trip also sends players on a search for rare and antique items. In this game, players take the wheel as shopkeepers and must travel to 15 popular destinations all across America in hopes of finding unique items to sell in their ”Little Shop” store. Similarly, in Antique Road Trip USA, a game recently developed by Big Fish Games, Inc., players drive across the country to help newlywed couple Grace and James search for rare antiques to sell in their shop. As gamers search for interesting Americana, they can take in historic sights of the great American countryside and cities from Cheyenne to Carson City, Memphis to Austin. The game also allows players to interact with residents in these locations, providing a greater sense of local customs and culture.
For travelers that want more of a thrill ride, Harley Davidson: Road Trip, published by Destineer, allows players to travel across the country via customized motorcycles. Players can cruise from Miami to Los Angeles on their Harleys while collecting photos and souvenirs for their in-game souvenir books. As players travel along Route 66 or the California coastline, they become more familiar with famous cultural landmarks.
Another high-adrenaline road trip game is E-Game’s Road Trip Adventure; a game in which players must race against their competition at certain points in their road trip. Players travel through nine different towns, and cover a variety of terrain that includes mountains, islands and cities big and small, affording gamers an opportunity to explore the distinct landscapes of our country.
These games provide worthwhile learning experiences about our country’s land and culture, and make taking a road trip easier than ever before. Families now have the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful and interesting destinations in the U.S. without ever leaving their home.