This is a video about games and violence, but it’s actually about the nature of games on computers in the abstract.
I actually had a whole part at the end that I cut out about psychology studies on the impacts of game violence, but it simply didn’t fit the whole “spacial” element enough to warrant keeping it in the video. I also didn’t want to accuse an entire branch of the social sciences of not understanding videogames (although, going by the studies they release, they don’t).
I really hope we see studies that observe the impact of violent imagery in a game. Most of the studies I’m aware of do this in really broken ways – by comparing a violent game like Mortal Kombat or Quake 3 to more passive, peaceful games like Myst or The Sims. And these studies usually show the same thing; that short term aggression indicators like blood pressure, heart rate, etc are way more common in so-called violent games.
But of course they are! Comparing the physiological impact of a highly competitive fast-paced game like Quake next to an almost passive, mostly cerebral, and non-compeitive game like Myst is like comparing the physiological impacts of an intense game of street basketball with a light game of croquet – one is by design going to get your heart racing and the other is not.
And while I’d never claim to be learned on the subject, I’ve yet to see any studies that really attempt to compare Quake 3 to a stripped down feature-less version of Quake 3, or a game that compares a traditional game of chess to Battle Chess. We need to make sure we’re taking the mechanics out of the equation for these studies or else we’re just comparing the impact of mechanics on human emotion and not that of violent imagery.