Survey Research Unit: Multiplayer Video Games
Assignment: Read the following sources carefully. Take a position that defends or challenges the claim that:
Multiplayer Video Gaming is a positive activity for teens and young adults.
Refer to the sources to support your position. Avoid mere plagiarism or summary. Your argument should be central. The
sources should support or defend this argument. Refer to the sources as Source A, Source B, etc.
Source A: MSNBC: Researchers tout positive effects of video games (Lewis)
Source B: Science Daily: How Does Online Gaming Affect Social Interactions? (University of Jyvaeskylae)
Source C: Reuters: Video games teach more than hand-eye coordination (Sullivan)
Source D: Psych Central: 1 in 12 Teens Addicted to Video Games (Grohol)
Source E: MSNBC: Does game violence make teens aggressive? (Kalning)
Source F: SF Examiner: Obama: Video games are a health concern (Furtado)
Source G: Pew Research: Teens, Video Games and Civics
After reading the articles, taking notes, and thinking about the information, develop your argument. What is your position?
Develop an outline in which you present your ideas and evidence in a logical order.
Source A: Researchers tout positive effects of video games
Gamers get high marks for problem-solving, careful risk-taking
By George Lewis
updated 4:35 p.m. PT, Thurs., May 19, 2005
LOS ANGELES - If you're in the $10 billion-a-year video game business, L.A. is the place to be this week, at something
called "E3," the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It's an enormous, raucous trade show, where the likes of Sony, Nintendo and
Microsoft show off their latest game boxes as they shoot it out for the hearts, minds and fingers of America's youth.
The noise from hundreds of video games going all at once is deafening. This collection of high-tech toys raises the perennial
question: What are these games doing to our kids?
Some who've studied the subject say, surprisingly, video games, played in moderation, can actually help young people
develop mental skills that will serve them well in adult life.
"It's not the button pushing that's important," says Mitch Wade, an information consultant for firms like Google and Rand
Corp., who co-wrote a recent book called ―Got Game.‖ "It's the problem-solving. And we saw that when we surveyed
professionals who grew up playing video games. What's a surprise is that they're better at things you need in business — like
team play and careful risk-taking."
Wade says smart businesses are learning to take advantage of these skills, like multi-tasking.
Another surprise: It isn't just young males playing video games these days.
Twenty-two-year-old Tanya Jessen tests game software.
"I've been playing games since I was about 5 years old," she says.
So what's the downside to all of this?
"About one out of eight gamers, youthful gamers who play games, develop all of the patterns similar to an addiction," says
Dr. David Walsh with the National Institute on Media and the Family.
The gamer generation is already bigger than the baby boomers, more than 90 million strong. So one thing is clear: Their
strengths and weaknesses will have a huge impact on society.
Source B: How Does Online Gaming Affect Social Interactions?
Adapted from materials provided by University of Jyvaeskylae
ScienceDaily (Sep. 20, 2007) — Online multiplayer communities are social networks built around multiplayer online
computer games. Members of these communities typically share an interest in online gaming and a great deal of the
interaction between them is technologically mediated. Marko Siitonen from University of Jyväskylä studied social interaction
in online multiplayer communities in his doctoral thesis of speech communication.
Online multiplayer gaming is a playground which can give us clues about the future of social and technological
developments, Siitonen states.
Online multiplayer games enable the formation of lasting relationships
Online multiplayer games typically encourage interaction between players: some go even as far as demanding it.
Collaboration with other players may be a prerequisite for making progress in a game, or a game may be based on
competition between players.
Typical online games can be played fairly independently, without seeking closer contact with other gamers. However, social
interaction is a strong motive not only for playing multiplayer games, but also for forming lasting social relationships with
other gamers, Siitonen says.
Online games are based on the possibilities of computer networks. This shows in the scope of modes of communication that
typical multiplayer games offer. A single game can support communication based on text, image, and sound. In addition, a
game may provide tools for interaction between two people, as well as enable communication between whole groups and
In addition to using the modes of communication offered by games, members of multiplayer communities may keep in touch
face to face, over the phone, via email, or in IRC, Siitonen explains.
Long-term interaction lays the foundation for a feeling of community
Social interaction between members of multiplayer communities shares similarities to interaction in face-to-face groups.
Shared values and goals are the basis on which a shared understanding and a sense of community are built on.
Negotiating values and goals is an ongoing process that takes place throughout the existence of a community. They are
reflected e.g. by how new members are accepted in the community and by how the roles that are significant to the operation
of the community are cast. Disagreement concerning these issues may lead to conflicts within communities, yet solving these
conflicts can serve the purpose of strengthening or changing the community’s foundations.
The traditional building blocks of identity, such as appearance or age, are often insignificant in multiplayer gaming
communities. A 13-year-old French schoolgirl, a 27-year-old Swedish housewife, and a 44-year-old American engineer can
all be members of the same community. When the members never meet face to face, they form perceptions of each other
based on e.g. how active or reliable they think the others are, Siitonen describes.
Forming images of the other members can be quick in a technologically mediated environment. Still, reputation based on
long-term social interaction does have real significance in online multiplayer communities. Activity and motivation are
emphasized in technologically mediated communication, and the most active members often hold the leading positions in the
Online multiplayer communities are susceptible to changes. Old communities perish and new ones are born constantly, and
gamers frequently shift between communities. However, the social networks and personal relationships that form the base of
these communities may survive even though the disbandment of a community. It is possible that a new multiplayer
community rises out of the old one’s ashes.
Siitonen used interviews and information gathered by participant observation as the data for his study. The observation data
was collected from two different communities within an online multiplayer game called Anarchy Online.
Source C: Video games teach more than hand-eye coordination
By Andy Sullivan, Reuters
Posted 11/24/2004 5:46 AM
WASHINGTON — Video games, often maligned as having little or no redeeming value, are becoming a way for firefighters,
soldiers, currency traders and college administrators to hone their skills.
Although entertaining shoot-'em-ups like Microsoft Corp.'s Halo 2 still dominate the $10 billion video game industry, a new
breed of designer is crafting programs that teach more than just hand-eye coordination.
"Serious games" demonstrating everything from flying a jet plane to negotiating a hostage crisis are used to train workers
who can't afford to slip up on the job.
Firefighters can use HazMat:Hotzone to learn how to respond to a chemical-weapons attack, George Soros wannabes can
learn the ins and outs of currency trading with Forex Trader, and college administrators can use Virtual U to wrestle with
angry professors and meddlesome state legislators.
Developers say serious games are especially effective for younger workers who have grown up with Madden Football and
Grand Theft Auto, but designers need to incorporate the irresistible appeal of these mainstream hits in order to keep
"Without addiction, you're out of business," said Pentagon consultant Jim Dunnigan at a recent conference. "Serious games
have to attain their addiction from the inherently addictive elements of the job."
The U.S. military is by far the largest buyer of game simulations, accounting for roughly half of the $20 million to $40
But Dunnigan and other industry boosters say these games could soon command a significant chunk of the $100 billion
corporate and industrial training industry as the level of technological sophistication increases.
"Gaming only in a few years has hit a level of ubiquity and visual capability where people are going, 'Wow, we can do some
real cool stuff,"' said Ben Sawyer, president of Portland, Maine, consulting firm Digitalmill.
"We're certainly not going to look like Doom," he said, "but by using game talent, we're going to make it as fun as we can."
America's Army harnesses state-of-the-art game play to win new recruits for the U.S. Army, taking players from the rifle
range to bombed-out desert cities. It ranks as one of the most popular online games, with more than 4 million registered
Other military games focus on equally important survival skills, like Arabic language and etiquette. Users of the Rapid
Tactical Language Training System can stumble through conversations with animated computer characters, rather than actual
Iraqi citizens who might take offense at the wrong hand gesture.
"Instead of shooting people, you're talking to them and trying to win their trust," said Hannes Vilhjalmsson, a research
scientist at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute who helped develop the game.
Will Interactive's releases focus on leadership skills, putting players in situations where there is no clear right or wrong
answer. Players must decide what to do if they don't have enough chemical suits for their troops, how to get a wounded
soldier to safety, or how to defuse a tense hostage situation.
Realism is key to the games' effectiveness, CEO Sharon Sloane said: "Until you engage someone emotionally as well as
cognitively, you cannot effect behavior change."
One way to do this is to put the action where the players are. Some researchers are ditching virtual reality for the real world.
One project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenged participants to stop a biological attack spreading rapidly
across campus. Using Internet-connected handheld computers, players could determine who was "infected" and search for
vaccines to stop the spread of the virus.
In Zurich, Switzerland, students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology used handheld computers to find an imaginary
bomb that had been planted on campus, but things turned ugly when they locked up other players suspected of sabotaging
There is such a thing as too much realism, said Steffen Walz, the game's designer.
"I think people will start playing games where they cannot tell anymore whether they are part of the game or not," he said,
"and we have to think about ways to prevent that."
Source D: 1 in 12 Teens Addicted to Video Games
By Psych Central News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 20, 2009
A new nationwide survey suggests that approximately 1 in 12 teens show signs of behavioral addiction to video games.
Teens who answered the survey admitted to skimping on chores and homework, lying about how much they play, showing
poor performance on tests of homework, and struggling to to cut back on video game playing without success.
The survey was conducted nationwide on 1,178 children, aged 8 to 18.
It found that 8.5% of those who played video games exhibited at least six of 11 addiction symptoms that are commonly used
to diagnose pathological behavior. The symptoms were based upon criteria adopted from the diagnosis of pathological
Douglas Gentile, the study’s author, noted that the study “yields far more questions than it answers.”
“It’s not that the games are bad,” said Gentile, who is also director of research at the nonprofit National Institute on Media
and the Family.
“It’s not that the games are addictive. It’s that some kids use them in a way that is out of balance and harms various other
areas of their lives.”
On average, the number of symptoms per person was small: boys typically exhibited more than two, while girls less than two.
But more boys exhibited at least six symptoms — 12% of all boy gamers vs. 8% of girls — enough to be considered
Symptoms included spending increasing amounts of time and money on video games to feel the same level of excitement;
irritability or restlessness when play is scaled back; escaping problems through play; skipping chores or homework to spend
more time at the controller; lying about the length of playing time; and stealing games or money to play more.
Those who were considered to be “pathological gamers” by the researchers had been playing for more years than non-
addicted gamers, spent twice as much time playing games and received poorer grades in school.
They were also more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and have health problems
exacerbated by playing for long hours (hand and wrist pain).
Gamers who showed signs similar to addiction were also more likely to have a video game system in their bedroom.
However, having a TV in the bedroom and using the Internet for homework were not found to be a differentiating factor.
Type of school (private, public, parochial, home schooling) was not a factor, either.
Overall, 88% of youngsters surveyed said they played video games at least occasionally. On average, they played three or
four times each week, with boys playing more often. Boys also played longer, more than 14 hours per week, while girls
played more than nine hours.
The study was published in the latest issue of Psychological Science.
Source E: Does game violence make teens aggressive? (excerpted)
Researchers say parents should look closely at findings of new study
By Kristin Kalning, Games editor
Friday, December 8, 2006
Can video games make kids more violent? A new study employing state-of-
the-art brain-scanning technology says that the answer may be yes.
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine say that brain scans of kids who played a violent video game
showed an increase in emotional arousal – and a corresponding decrease of activity in brain areas involved in self-control,
inhibition and attention.
Does this mean that your teenager will feel an uncontrollable urge to go on a shooting rampage after playing ―Call of Duty?‖
Vince Mathews, the principal investigator on the study, hesitates to make that leap. But he says he does think that the study
should encourage parents to look more closely at the types of games their kids are playing. “Based on our results, I think
parents should be aware of the relationship between violent video-game playing and brain function.‖ Mathews and his
colleagues chose two action games to include in their research -- one violent the other not.
The first game was the high-octane but non-violent racing game ―Need for Speed: Underground.‖ The other was the ultra-
violent first-person shooter ―Medal of Honor: Frontline.‖ The team divided a group of 44 adolescents into two groups, and
randomly assigned the kids to play one of the two games. Immediately after the play sessions, the children were given MRIs
of their brains.
The scans showed a negative effect on the brains of the teens who played ―Medal of Honor‖ for 30 minutes. That same effect
was not present in the kids who played ―Need for Speed.‖ The only difference? Violent content.
What’s not clear is whether the activity picked up by the MRIs indicates a lingering — or worse, permanent — effect on the
kids’ brains. And it’s also not known what effect longer play times might have. The scope of this study was 30 minutes of
play, and one brain scan per kid, although further research is in the works.
Larry Ley, the director and coordinator of research for the Center for Successful Parenting, which funded Mathews’ study,
says the purpose of the research was to help parents make informed decisions. ―There’s enough data that clearly indicates that
[game violence] is a problem,‖ he says. ―And it’s not just a problem for kids with behavior disorders.‖
Increasingly, parents are more accepting of video game violence, chalking it up to being a part of growing up. ―I was dead-set
against violent video games,‖ says Kelley Windfield, a Sammamish, Wa.-based mother of two. ―But my husband told me I
had to start loosening up.‖
Laura Best, a mother of three from Clovis, Calif., says she looks for age-appropriate games for her 14 year-old son, Kyle.
And although he doesn’t play a lot of games, he does tend to gravitate towards shooters like ―Medal of Honor.‖ But she isn’t
concerned that Kyle will become aggressive as a result. ―That’s like saying a soccer game or a football game will make a kid
more aggressive,‖ she says. ―It’s about self-control, and you’ve got to learn it.‖
Ley says he believes further research, for which the Center for Successful Parenting is trying to arrange, will prove a cause-
and-effect relationship between game violence and off-screen aggression. But for now, he says, the study released last week
gives his organization the ammunition it needs to prove that parents need to be more aware of how kids are using their free
time. ―Let’s quit using various Xboxes as babysitters instead of doing healthful activities,‖ says Ley, citing the growing
epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. And who, really, can argue with that?
Source F: Obama: Video games are a health concern
By Matt Furtado, Video Game Examiner
June 15, 2009
Video games are now a health concern. That’s what President Obama is saying anyways.
During a speech to the American Medical Association, President Obama made a
comment about video games being a factor in unhealthy lifestyles.
This is nothing new for President Obama. He has previously stated that he feels that
video games have hindered academic achievement growth in the youth, and now it’s
hurting our health. He had this to say:
―The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we
can avoid illness and disease in the first place. That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the
health of our children. It means quitting smoking, going in for that mammogram or colon cancer screening. It means going
for a run or hitting the gym, and raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing
Full speech available here: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2009/06/15/text-of-obamas-speech-before-the-ama/
Source G: Teens, Video Games and Civics (excerpted)
September 16, 2008
Video gaming is pervasive in the lives of American teens -- young teens and older teens, girls and boys, and teens from
across the socioeconomic spectrum. Opportunities for gaming are everywhere, and teens play video games frequently. When
asked, half of all teens reported playing a video game "yesterday." Those who play daily typically play for an hour or more.
Fully 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games. Additionally:
50% of teens played games "yesterday."
86% of teens play on a console like the Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii.
73% play games on a desktop or a laptop computer.
60% use a portable gaming device like a Sony PlayStation Portable, a Nintendo DS, or a Game Boy.
48% use a cell phone or handheld organizer to play games.
For most teens, gaming is a social activity and a major component of their
overall social experience. Although most teens play games by themselves at
least occasionally, just one-quarter (24%) of teens only play games alone, and
the remaining three-quarters of teens play games with others at least some of
65% of game-playing teens play with other people who are in the
room with them.
27% play games with people who they connect with through the
82% play games alone, although 71% of this group also plays with
Teens may encounter both pro-social and anti-social behavior while gaming. As discussed above, games are often played
with others. In multiplayer game play, different people control different characters in the game, and make individual choices
about how to act and what to say in the context of the game. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of teens who play games report seeing
or hearing "people being mean and overly aggressive while playing," and 49% report seeing or hearing "people being hateful,
racist, or sexist" while playing. However, among these teens, nearly three-quarters report that another player responded by
asking the aggressor to stop at least some of the time. Furthermore, 85% of teens who report seeing these behaviors also
report seeing other players being generous or helpful while playing. We found no relationship between parental monitoring
and teens' exposure to these experiences.
Civic dimensions to video game play.
Neither the frequency of game play nor the amount
of time young people spend playing games is
significantly related to most of the civic and
political outcomes that we examined -- following
politics, persuading others how to vote,
contributing to charities, volunteering, or staying
informed about politics and current events. There is
little evidence to support the concern that playing
video games promotes behaviors or attitudes that
undermine civic commitments and behaviors. At
the same time, there is little evidence to support the
idea that playing video games, in general, is
associated with a vibrant civic or political life. The
frequency of gaming was related to only two civic
and political outcomes -- political interest and
protesting -- with differences only emerging
between the highest and lowest frequency of game play.
Playing games with others in person was related to civic and political outcomes, but playing with others online was not.
Among teens who play games with others in the room:
65% go online to get information about politics, compared to 60% of those who do not.
64% have raised money for charity, compared to 55% of those who do not.
64% are committed to civic participation, compared to 59% of those who do not.
26% have tried to persuade others how to vote in an election, compared to 19% of those who do not.