Lincoln Journal Star, Nebraska
Psychologist: Games' effects quite real
BYLINE: ZACH PLUHACEK, Lincoln Journal Star
Speaker at NWU says violent video games change 'the way you look at the world.'
Explosive sounds come from behind and to the left as flashes fill the big screen.
With each video game blast, the controller rattles the hands of University of Nebraska-
Lincoln freshman Mike Vinci.
"It's an adrenaline rush, for sure," he says.
Vinci and his dorm roommate share three televisions, seven game consoles and a complete home-audio system. Special effects from their often-violent video games physically shake the residence hall floor.
Iowa State University psychologist Craig Anderson
says it's these violent games, which also happen to be the easiest for companies to sell, that can have drastic effects on the aggression levels of those who play them.
Anderson spoke before a crowd of mostly students Thursday night at Nebraska Wesleyan
University, telling them what many undoubtedly expected to hear.
Since 1975, he said, researchers have agreed that media violence, and more recently video game violence, has the potential to increase both short-term and long-term expressions of aggression.
"In a sense, it changes the way you look at the world," he said.
The effects are staggering, Anderson said, citing research that shows the influence of media violence rivals the effects of gang membership and poor parent-to-child relationships.
"It's not too much of a surprise to me," said Harry Bullerdiek, father of a Lincoln High senior who took his son to Anderson's lecture.
The real issues seeming to confront both Anderson and his audience were why the research was still disputed by gamers and gaming companies, and why - or if - anything should be done to limit the games.
Anderson said he was unable to comment on whether political action is necessary to prevent the games from being sold to minors or even produced in the first place.
To him, most responsibility lies with parents.
His son, now 23, wasn't allowed to play notably violent video games when he was younger.
"Parents, in particular, need to see what the research literature shows," he said. "There's no regulation on these things, and it usually only takes only a few clicks to find (violent
Internet video game) sites."
The current video game rating systems, which define the appropriateness of the games for different age levels, are not mandated by law.
Anderson said a lot of games with E (Everyone) ratings, have killing as their main theme, and at least 14 percent contain violence.
Bullerdiek allows his son Bruce Bullerdiek to play most games, but "there are certain games we just don't have."
Included on the prohibited list is Grand Theft Auto, a game that has been linked to at least five violent incidents.
Bruce, who plans on studying video gaming in college, said those kinds of games were, luckily, not the kind that truly interested him. They wouldn't be the kinds of games he would want to make, either.
"I would try to avoid that," he said, "but violence, unfortunately, sells."
Reach Zach Pluhacek at [email protected]
6 color illustrations of video games (Saint's Row, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty
City Stories, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2, Dead Rising, Mortal Kombat: