Video Games: the good and the bad.

We covered at least a good example of the ugly recently.  For the good and the bad, I’m  going to draw on the Scientific American site.  First, the  good:

research has shown that video games can improve mental dexterity, while boosting hand-eye coordination, depth perception and pattern recognition. Gamers also have better attention spans and information-processing skills than the average Joe has. When nongamers agree to spend a week playing video games (in the name of science, of course), their ­visual-perception skills improve.

Then the bad:

[There’s is] the popular theory that they are responsible for increasing real-world violence. A number of studies have reinforced this link. Young men who play a lot of violent video games have brains that are less responsive to graphic images, suggesting that these gamers have become desensitized to such depictions. Another study revealed that gamers had patterns of brain activity consistent with aggression while playing first-­person shooter games.

This does not necessarily mean these players will actually be violent in real life. The connections are worth exploring, but so far the data do not support the idea that the rise of video games is responsible for increased youth violence.

As for gender differences:

Video games activate the brain’s reward circuits but do so much more in men than in women, according to a new study. … the men showed more activity in the limbic system, which is associated with reward processing. What is more, the men showed greater connectivity between the structures that make up the reward circuit, and the better this connection was in a particular player, the better he performed. There was no such correlation in women. Men are more than twice as likely as women are to say they feel addicted to video games.

Given the other benefits, one wonders if games could be made which women got more pleasure from, and what they’d be like.  And of course we must forget another benefit for women we discussed before:  10 hours of video games virtually eliminates the difference between men and women in spatial acuity..

Children as Child Pornographers

Following on from Monkey’s post a while back, it seems there’s quite a disturbing trend going on back in my homeland. Teenagers who take naked pictures of themselves are being prosecuted as child pornographers. When they text them to their friends, they’re charged with distribution, and the friends are charged with receiving child porn. I’m not surprised, on reflection, that the images they make are classified as porn. It’s harder than I’d initially imagined to find ways to exclude these images from a porn definition. (Intent? Well they intend to share them and they intend to sexually arouse. The fact that no money changes hands? Quite rightly, this doesn’t matter in other child porn cases. Content? No reason to think that’s any different. Who’s taking the pictures? Well, a paedophile could get a child to take the pictures.) But it seems really obvious nonetheless that the kids shouldn’t be prosecuted. As noted in the comments to Monkey’s post, one of the things about child porn is that the kids are legally unable to consent. Surely that also means they are legally unable to blamed for the act.

Hmm.. I’m having doubts now… Teenagers who shoot people are rightly held responsible. Any philosophers of law out there want to help out?

Maybe a better fix would be to define ‘child pornographer’ and ‘recipient of child porn’ in such a way that only adults could fill this roles?

Sexuality Studies targeted.

From wmst-l (which I highly recommend, by the way):

Lawmakers in Georgia and Florida are beginning to use ‘budget cuts’ as an
excuse for targeting programs and courses on sexuality, queer and women’s
studies. Georgia State University is being forced to testify TODAY in front
of the state senate about ‘questionable’ faculty research and course
offerings on sexuality. At Florida Atlantic University, the administration
is trying to suspend the Women’s Studies program.

Please help us by signing this petition, and forwarding this to anyone
else who may be interested in signing on. We have the support of several
hundred academics so far, we need more.

McCarthyism is alive and well in these states. Your state could be next.