Gaming Aggression: It's what you play

Over the last two weeks another librarian and I worked through 3 different scholarly articles about violent video games and aggression with two sections of English composition. The goals of the assignment are to construct and prove a thesis based on proven evidence and to read and dissect a peer reviewed journal article. While forming and proving a thesis is vital, getting the students over the "fear" of a scholarly article is one of the key benefits that helps prepare them for research in other classes. Here is the common thesis the students' developed:

The short-term effects of college students playing violent video games are aggressive thinking and behavior.

Here are some of the student's findings from two of the articles:

Carnagey, Nicholas L. and Anderson. Craig A. “The Effects of Reward and Punishment in Violent Video Games on Aggressive Affect, Cognition, and Behavior.” Psychological Science, 16.11 (2005): 882-889.

· - “Violence in a video game, regardless of whether it is rewarded or punished, can increase hostile affect” (Carnagey and Anderson, p.885).

- “Rewarding violence in video games can increase aggressive affect, aggressive cognition, and aggressive behavior” (887).

Kirsh, Steven J., Olczak, Paul V., and Mounts, Jeffery R. W. “Violent Video Games Induce on Affect Processing Bias” Media Psychology 7: (2005): 239-250.

- Findings show violent video games play brings forth more obvious aggressive behavior in players (p. 247).

- A non-hostile person was brought to the level of a hostile person by playing a violent video game (p. 248). - In short term, aggression with violent video games is a proven fact while in the long term it isn’t proven (p. 248).

The discussion about playing video games and violent games was interesting. The students were able to come up with many "ifs" or "buts" for violent games and aggression. This was very instructive because the students then were able to discover how the research tried to account for these "ifs."

In addition, the students made the important distinction between speculation of violent games creating violent personalities and the evidence that showed only short term increases in aggression levels. The literature stressed the evidence in a variety of studies about the short term, but only could hypothesis about any long term increases in aggression.

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