The documentary was originally shown on BBC 2 and is now being shown on BOB TV. BBC 2 is generally more of an entertainment channel and shows shows such as Top Gear and Egg Heads which is a quiz show.
The documentary itself starts out with describing Space Invaders saying that it was one of the most early games. New generations are growing up in a society that spends allot of time playing games in general; they also spend more time relaxing and spending time in a virtual environment.
Films used to be very controversial at one point, however now it is seen as games that are unusual and out casted in a way in society. The aim of the documentary was to examine if video games caused violence and whether or not they were addictive.
Games and games design span many generations and continents, and it just so happens that the British industries was the biggest in Europe.
There are allot of stereotypes about gamers, one of the most popular being that they are male. However there is a growing popularity in playing video games among females, and there are now many types of games that are being designed for different types of people. However the public are given stories that picture games and the gamers themselves in a very negative light, and the only time they really publish something in the news is if they can sell a story, and that unfortunately just so happens to be negative in many ways. There was a game called carmageddon which is an early-ish 3D game that allowed you to kill people for extra points. This is one example of many however as there are many games that are simply worlds that are full of violence. This means that some people may twist this as people not seeing the virtual people as being ‘real’ people, rather seeing them simply as points at best.
Professor Bushman talked about how you have to actually take part in a game, you have to be paying attention and unlike other forms of entertainment you can not simply just sit and not focus on what is going on around you as depending on what type of game you are playing it means you can end up dead. When in the game you end up seeing the world through the characters eyes-quite often as many games that are being created are first person. You are also often rewarded in games for killing people which many people, especially those who do not play games, view in a negative light, where as people who play games are usually able to distinguish between the boundaries of fantasy and reality.
Doctor Douglas Gentile did an experiment to see if people will hurt another or think they are after playing violent games. The looser will get blasted with a burst of noise and the winner has to choose just how much it hurts. They tried to experiment whether or not playing violent games would make people react in a more harsher light.
They claimed to find that after playing a video game violence increased between as much from 4 to 9 percent. They also tried to argue with their experiments that people after playing such violent games would react more aggressively than those that don’t.
Another experiment did an experiment with one group of people who played violent games and another who didn’t. They then showed the people a real clip of a violent action and found that those who had just played a violent game had less of a negative reaction towards the violence in comparison to those who didn’t play violent games. They basically stated that playing violent games desensitized people because they became used to violence in a way.
There was another theory that people who play violent games have their thoughts changed in a way, showing more aggressive tendencies and thoughts.
The documentary then went on to argue against video games making people violent. Professor Stepson talked about how violence in younger generations seems to have receded in these last few years. Backing it up with how when popular violent games get released there is shown to be a steady decline of violence for that day. The theory therefore suggests that violent games take up a persons time so that they wouldn’t be causing acts of violence in real life.
Another doctor suggested that there are other triggers that are associated with violence such as mental, poverty and family triggers however violent games are suggested to not be triggers.
It once again looped around to how games are portrayed in the media, with the media portraying bad acts that people have done being caused by aggressive and violent games simply ‘showing’ a correlation just because it sells a story.
Games are now made by everyone now, people from all different backgrounds and of different ages, both male and female. However they are still seen as being very dark forms of media, mostly because they are unknown. Or because that is how they are painted, probably a bit of both. Both comics and films were once blamed for this which sort of reiterates the fact that that they are not truly dangerous, it is simply the media that one the public to view them in such a light.
The next bit of the documentary tried to answer the question about what makes us act the way we do, and what causes violence. The first reason they gave? That violence is caused by many reasons and not just by one thing.
They looked at Tetris, and it’s twin game called Bastet, which was dubbed as the ‘evil twin’. This is because Bastet will give you the worse possible block that you will need most of the time, and an occasional block that is helpful a small percentage of the time. This means that it makes the player perceive that the game is achievable when in all actual reality it is not.
There was another experiment done by asking a group of people to place their hands in freezing water for twenty five seconds before moving on to play a violent game. Once finished they asked each person how long they thought the next group of people should have to place their hands in the water for, and many of them added around five seconds to the time they had to do. They then began to link this not to violence but to frustration instead.
They also did an experiment to see what happens in the brain whilst a person is playing a violent game, and instead of seeing the emotional stimuli part of the brain light up he instead saw that the reasoning part of the brain lit up instead and helped suppress the emotion associated with what was happening on screen. It allowed the player to regulate their emotions, not letting the violence overwhelm them and cloud their judgement, I assume for the reason of knowing it is not real.
ninety five percent of games are rated suitable for people under the age of eighteen, even though they may contain forms of violence.
The documentary then came back round to re-stating that video games can create whole new worlds, adding that they make you become the character you are playing as. Role playing as not yourself but as them instead. This immersion into a game makes you think only about what is happening in the game and forgetting everything outside of your current ‘reality’. It also for many reasons including these makes you miss being inside the game, wanting to continue playing. It then followed up with Korea, and them treating their children for the addiction of playing games.
Professor Griffiths talked about players getting rewarded by others players in the game, telling them that they did a good job, as well as being rewarded within the game itself. However addicts need more and more rewards to satisfy their addiction.
Doctor Boon talked about how dome people prefer to play games for immediate rewards rather than going about real life, such as going to school will eventually reward you with a qualification if you work hard enough. Addicts have a preference for immediate rewards, and tested this theory with a female that played twenty plus hours a week playing games, however Sophie showed a natural response to the test rather than of someone who has an addiction. They also tested and stated that compulsive gamers are more likely to hit buttons on their control before they really should.
Another statement was made that those who are addicted put it above everything else, yet that was almost rebuffed in a way by the statement that there is quite a difference between someone who is truly addicted and someone who is considered to play games far more than society says that they should.
How Video Games May Help
The theory that we learn better through play was brought up and they used the example that modern people who are brought up playing video games are better at key hole surgery, and showed you demonstrations of surgeons playing games to help them in their profession. It stated that because you have to really learn to observe what is going on around you in a video game lest you die, it trains the surgeons brain to notice any blood that may be seeping or anything else that may be going wrong whilst the surgery is taking place.
This was backed up by a group of gamers tracking smiley faces on screen. It used to be thought that people could only track up to four things, and yet gamers have shown results that people can track up to six different things, due to playing games. This means that gamers can actually focus on more, because of the level of accuracy and the ability to notice what is happening around them more than others.
Another test was conducted to see if playing games could improve people actually remembering where they needed to go better, and they found out that it worked. They had one group play Mario 64 and one group who didn’t and the group that played had growth in their brain areas for strategy, motor controlling and navigation. One theory behind this was that because you are forced to take notice of two screens whilst playing instead of one that you naturally learn to take more in. This means that playing games can actually help us train our brains for the better according to this, and because of this it allows us to transform the skills we learn and use them in our everyday lives.
They then looked into how video games may actually combat mental decline as people age. They had a group of old people play a game called neuroracer and because it forced them to pay attention to keep the car on the track whilst pressing others buttons it helped them be able to multitask better. Not only this but their attention span and memory improved alongside it. This would indicate that if people play video games continuously then they may have improved memory and attention spans as they age.
Overall the documentary summed it up that there has been no real evidence obtained for video games causing bad behaviour. The documentary’s social context was really meant for and about video games in a Western culture. It was aired in 2015 and it was done by the BBC, which means that although it is fit for viewing in other English speaking western countries it is at least partially influenced by British culture. As already stated it was more an entertainment documentary that relayed important information in a way that wouldn’t blow the average persons mind with complicated, hard to understand language. I think that they tried very hard to remain impartial during the documentary, and so you never really got a straight answer…. It kind of seemed pointless in a way because of this, and they seemed to point out lots of tests that really did not have a solid indication of whether playing violent games influences people in a negative manner. It just seemed as though they were forcing allot of research to reassure people and ended up kind of missing the point. The narrator himself was very dull and boring and kept repeating certain negative words that just seemed like he was against everything video games stood for and that they were clearly bad. It actually kind of reminded me of those documentaries that you are shown in high school were some guy drones on for ages and you kind of just try and take in as much as you can, without being put off by someone who doesn’t even seem all that interested about the topic of which they are speaking.