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According to Kevin Tok (in playing the game), two bases are placed on opposite

corners of the map. Three lanes branch out from the bases, and armies for both
sides will spawn along these lanes at intervals. The Sentinels are the red Night Elf
based team located on the bottom left, and their opponents are the Scourge, the
green Undead team located on the top right of the map. Both sides are vying to
destroy the Ancient of the other; the World Tree is the Sentinel Ancient, and the
Frozen Throne is the Scourge Ancient. Based on Toks study, he explains the
concept, the gameplay, the elements of the game, and its objective. Punit Lodaya, a
game expert, describes the base consisting of towers and unit-producing ancients.

The units (referred to as creeps in games) are produced automatically on a


regular basis, and they go to have a direct clash with the opponents units, and the
first fight usually starts at the center of the map. In addition, players get to control a
special unit called Heroes, who are stronger than normal units and have special
abilities. Each team can have a maximum of 5 players. Lodaya provided a more
detailed description of the game, its elements, and how many players are involved.
Another interesting study about playing the game is from Michael Waldbridge. He
regarded playing DOTA as an underground revolution. He said that DOTA is likely
the most popular and most discussed free, non-supported game mod in the world,
judging by the numbers. He said that like any other game, the concept is simple
and its strategy. The strategy focuses on levelling, getting hero kills, pushing the
enemys base with allied creeps and defending against the enemies.

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DOTA is a delight to all who play it; its surprisingly addictive and even pastiche,
mixing the highs and lows of gaming and gaming culture. DOTAs quirks,
governments, outlaws, and innovation show us that its much easier to renovate for
the masses when the masses are involved. The vision of one leader alone is
required, but never sufficient.

-Michael Waldbridge, 2008.

According to JV Aquino, playing the game serves as a platform for youth to


communicate. Teenagers who dont know initially each other can easily become
friends through playing the game, because it provides a common topic for the
teenagers to talk about. They can discuss the heroes, the items, and the tactics.
Nair Neha argues that It has been widely accepted that in playing the game, the
team wins rather the individuals. Competitive DOTA is a completely different world
in comparison to casual play, to a more extreme unlike less complex games.
Because of this, it is much more interesting to watch. Teams always come up with
innovative strategies and sometimes pull off amazing moves in matches that people
have never even thought was possible. To the DOTA Community, that is spectator
value, the complexity. Neha gives a critical analysis of how DOTA has been
evolving for several years. He shows that playing the game requires not only great
teamwork and communication, but also creativeness and critical thinking on every
aspect of the game.

He also noted that DOTA is an evolving game because it is constantly being


reworked and it changes constantly.These studies show concrete evidences why
the game is very popular in our country. Aside from being a strategy game, it is the
game for the masses. The people are not only playing the game, but also they are
helping the developers to improve the game. The final output of the game comes
from the creative and innovative minds of computer gamers all over the world; that
is its very big difference among any other games. Another factor why this game is
become popular is the fact that its free to play; you do not have to pay anything
except if you are renting a unit in computer shops.

Also, by playing the game you can gain more friends to know and get along to
develop social skills and self-confidence. If you want to know more about the game,
please see Appendix 1. Jack Rodriguez wrote about the 25 signs of DOTA addiction.
Here are some: 1. Whenever you lose a Dota game, you want to grab your weak
team mate and punch him in the face. 2. Your left thumb is always on the alt button
whatever youre doing at your computer. Maybe you want to check your facebook
friends hp bar. 3. When you get amazed at anything you call it imba. He scored
99 at his math test, imba!.You also call things that annoy you, imba. That guy is
imba, he is damn fat.

The first factor why it attracts the youth is the type of game involved. Filipino
gamers love strategy and action games compared to board and mini games. It has a
very different gameplay compared among other games. Also, it is a multiplayer
game; people can play with others up to 10 persons per game. It involves teamwork
and cooperation to win the game. We know that it is very fun to play team games
like basketball, volleyball and others; even back then when we are a child. Another
difference of DOTA to other games is the production of computer-controlled creeps.
The game does not focus only to heroes clashing, but also on how you control your
lane by utilizing the creeps. The second is that it the game employs high quality
visual effects. Aside from it has good graphics, the heroes controlled by the players
have special abilities, either a special attack or a spell.

Heroes have their unique abilities or skills, which make playing the game fair and
square. Heroes spells are visually attracting, such as lightning attacks by the hero
Zeus, fire attacks by Lina Inverse, ice attacks by Lich and poisonous attacks from
Venomancer. Not only that, if you saw the ultimate skills like Macropyre of Twin-
Headed Dragon, Epicenter of Sand King, Freezing Field of Crystal Maiden and
Sanitys Eclipse of Obsidian Destroyer, you will surely enjoy using those skills that
can make your desktop lag for a while. Some heroes abilities and items create an
aura that surrounds them. (The complete list of heroes are in Appendix 2.)These are
the reasons why some players want to play DOTA; they want to escape in the real
world they are living. Lastly, playing the game is free, except for the computer
rental. Every computer shops here in the country have this game; it is easy to install
and is portable. Everyone love free, right? PC rentals here in our country is going
cheaper and cheaper due to the exponential growth of the computer shops.
(Rudolf, Ryan. 2009)

Due to curiosity of Filipinos, many people are attracted and want to involve in
playing the game because of its popularity. Many people testify to their friends that
it is worth playing for. Others are even taught their friends and promoted the game.
Based on my observation, it is easy to learn, it is fun to play, and it is user-friendly.
Even kids 10 years and above knows how to play the game. These are the factors
why DOTA stands out among other games. PLAYING DOTA IN AN INFORMAL SETTING
laying DOTA has never been boring when it comes to playing with friends.
Sometimes, this serves as the opportunity to bond with your friends. Playing the
game does not only develop mental alertness, body coordination and strategy
planning; it also develops your interpersonal skills and it fosters teamwork,
leadership and camaraderie to be able to win the game. A normal round of playing
time ranges from 40 to 50 minutes, depending on the strategy of the team.

If one team is good and the other is not, the game can last for only 30 minutes or
so. If both teams have good strategies, the game can last for more than 1 hour. But
because playing the game for just one round does not satisfies most of the gamers,
they start another round again until they finish 5-10 rounds. If you encounter
gamers like that, it is a sign of their addiction to that game. Sometimes, gamers are
playing the game late at night up to 1am or 2am because they want to develop
strategies and enhance their playing skills. Before Warcraft III and DOTA was
released, computer shops were already built here in the country for the purpose of
providing internet connection and offer services like printing, CD burning, and
hardware repair. Computer rentals range from Php15 to Php30 per hour. The shops
are still few way back year 2003. But after the release of the game and many
people are involved in playing DOTA, the demand for computers is greatly
increased.

It led to the growing industry of computer shops. As the demand continues to grow,
people built more computer shops and business competition existed. That is the
reason why the number of computer shops in the country is growing geometrically,
and it opens almost every month. T P That is how the computer shop culture in the
country has been started. Now, computer rentals range from Php10 to Php20 per
hour, and even cheaper if you will avail promos. The competition between computer
shops is very tight. This follows the transformation of computer shops into gaming
shops. People are now going into computer shops just to play DOTA. The original
objective of computer shops has been very misleading nowadays since they are
now used for playing DOTA, not for accessing the internet. Computer shops are also
instruments to gather DOTA players to show their skills there. Teams are also
formed inside the computer shops since they enjoy playing with each other.
The purpose of forming the team is to battle other teams in their community.
Playing DOTA in an informal setting has never been fun without trash-talking. So
what does this mean? trash talk. Noun: disparaging, taunting, or boastful
comments especially between opponents trying to intimidate each other. trash
talk (verb) trashtalker (noun). (Merriam-Webster dictionary) (also trash
talking) noun informal: insulting or boastful speech intended to demoralize,
intimidate, or humiliate someone, especially an opponent in an athletic contest: -he
heard more trash talk from the Giants before the game than during the game -stop
the trash talking and stop the violence verb [no object] (trash-talk)use insulting or
boastful speech intended to demoralize: -their players do not swear or tussle or
trash-talk (as adjective trash-talking) -the worst trash-talking team they had ever
encountered Derivatives trash talker (also trash-talker) noun (Oxford Dictionary)
Thats the exact meaning of the word trash talk and its usage in the Philippines.
Opponents try to insult or boast the other team.

There are two means of trash talking: either verbally or through the game itself. It
can be also in humorous manner (ex. Hoy patalo ka naman eh, hahaha.) It is also
often used with hyperbole, a figurative language that evokes strong feelings (e.g.
Natutulog ka ba sa pansitan?). It is fun to play the game with trash talking. Some
also uses foul and strong words. For us Filipinos, trash talking in a humorous spirit
creates a good atmosphere that is conducive for players in playing the game; there
is an interaction between the two teams not only on their computer monitors, but
also on communicating with each other. Generally, Filipinos used trash talk to make
fun with each other. DOTA players also trash talk through the game itself. The game
has chat feature that can send your message to your allies or to all of the players.
Players usually use them to communicate with their teammates secretly, such that
no other opponents can hear or read the message itself.

It is also used to discuss what the players are going to do; to continue farming or
attack an opponent. Some players have also strategies on what message they will
send. If a player sends no top to his allies, it means that there is no enemy on the
top of the map; the enemy probably returns to his base to buy items or it goes to
another lane to help his allies attack another enemy. When a hero controlled by a
player dies, it has certain time to respawn; players use this time to say sorry to his
teammates or to blame his teammates of lack of support. Being a Filipino, we tend
to blame other people because they failed to do a certain task. Generally, the chat
feature of DOTA has good features and should be used wisely. Pinoy DOTA Lingo is
also used during the game. The players utter phrases and jargons that acts as a
command on what they are going to do next. The most popular word in DOTA lingo
is imba, short for imbalanced. They use this word to describe a powerful and
skilful player.

Some people say, imba naman si Mineski! which suggests that Mineski is very
powerful and he dominated the game. Another popular jargon is G.G., originated
from Starcraft and short for good game. This word has many uses: if a team
wins/loses, if a hero dies/pawned another hero. It is the universal word used in
different situations. NG means nice game; GLHF means good luck, have fun.
GLHF is often used in tournaments. TP means town portal, an item that is
used to teleport to another place near allies. B means back, which means to move
back and do not fight the enemies. Push means to progress forward, in order to
battle the opponents. Farm means to kill the enemies creeps, to earn money and
experience. KS means kill steal, used when a player steals a kill from another
player by attacking the opponent last before it dies.

The word awts! is used when a player fails to succeed in his task; the Tagalog
parody of the Engish word ouch! DOTA lingo is not only limited to events, but also
in the items used in the game. For example, Mekanism is abbreviated as Meka,
BKB for Black King Bar, and DR for Divine Rapier. Some Filipinos are fond of
gambling and betting players in the world of sports, so as playing DOTA. Some
teams must dominate other teams in order for them to earn money. Usually,
pustahan in playing DOTA involves 2-5 players per team. The money at stake
ranges from Php100 to Php5000. Not only who are playing the game is involved, but
also other people watching the match and betting a player whom they think that
will win. There are also some flaws in playing DOTA. Due to its high quality graphics,
low-end computers might lag during the game, especially when the heroes cast
their most powerful spells (can be executed by typing a single key in the keyboard)
and can be the cause of interruption of the game.

Another hard thing in DOTA is clicking an item in the inventory before using it, while
battling with enemies that require great focus. Good thing, DOTA now comes with
DOTA Toolkit that allows user to customize the keyboard settings to use items in the
inventory and also help a player cast a spell efficiently. Using the toolkit answered
the needs of the Filipinos; DOTA becomes easier to play, so it became more popular.
PLAYING DOTA IN PHILIPPINE TOURNAMENTS ecause of the big potential of the
game, some people sponsor DOTA tournaments here in the country. They want to
encourage people to play the game, and they also want to popularize it. Almost all
of the competitions are held in public places like shopping malls or in private places
like tournament rooms. Others do tournaments through Garena, which connects
online gamers.

The usual registration fee ranges from Php100 to Php1,000 per team, and cash
prizes ranges from Php2,000 to Php20,000 with freebies depending on how many
teams are participating. The most popular event handler of DOTA tournaments is
the Philippine Garena CyberCafe Alliance (GCA). Competitions are done through
Garena itself. Any participating team must play in computer shops/internet cafs
that is a member of GCA. Maximum of 2 teams are allowed per GCA Shop. The team
must submit a registration form including their GCA Shop Name, ISP/Broadband
provider of Shop and Bandwidth, Team Name (which is optional), Players names (5
Players + 2 Substitutes), Garena User Names, and their User I.D. (UID). The
registration fee per team is Php700. All players will receive freebies upon
registering. The top team will get Php2,000 per player and Php10,000 for their shop;
for the total amount of Php20,000.

The 1st runner-up will be awarded Php1,000 per player and Php5,000 for their shop;
for the total amount of Php10,000. The 2nd and 3rd runners up will yield Php500 per
player and Php2,500 for their shop; for the total amount of Php5,000. The
competition had a single elimination system; meaning you will be knocked-out of
the competition if you lost a game. After the single elimination, the final 4 teams will
have their championship match that will be the best of 3 series. Games are now
held in the tournament rooms, but over the Garena client. A winner is declared if
they destroyed the Frozen Throne / World Tree, or if the opponent surrenders. If the
game lasts for 100 minutes, the organizer shall stop the game and decide what
team will win based on their performance. The match will begin with a coin toss or
roll -100. The one who wins the coin toss or with the higher roll can pick either (a)
Sentinel/Scourge side of the map or (b) First or Second hero selection from drafting.

Irresponsibility of the teams will not be tolerated (such as missing player, late game,
etc.) During the game, proper attitude of both teams must be observed. Severe
trash talking or verbal assault will cause the teams loss of the game or
disqualification from the tournament. There will be no item and hero restrictions.
Backdooring is not allowed. This means that players are not allowed to attack an
enemy building without any creep wave. A warning or game loss is the sanction if
backdooring happens. Deliberately trapping the opponent to trees is not allowed.
The game must not be paused after the players selected their hero. Creep blocking
is not allowed; meaning you cannot cast spells to slow your allied creeps or block
the way. Creep pulling is allowed; meaning you can pull the neutral creeps to the
lane so that the allied creeps will attack them that benefit the hero.

Bug exploitation is also not allowed. If the team incurred 3 warnings, the opponent
will be awarded as the winner; the team will be disqualified from the tournament if
they incurred 6 warnings. Any competitor found to have intentionally disconnected
from the game will give that competitors team a loss B for that match. Game
saving is also done periodically. The referees decision will always be final. GENDER
EXCLUSIVITY OF PLAYING DOTA ajority of the gamers in the Philippines are male;
because most of the computer games here are strategic. Male Filipinos seek
adventures and challenges on games what they are playing. Since the release of
DOTA, players have gathered in computer shops; most of them are male. But we do
not limit playing DOTA for male only. Since it is war-themed, there are rare
conditions where you can see a female playing it. But we Filipinos accept that all
people are accepted play the game. Even if it is dominated by male, there is no
gender exclusivity in playing DOTA.

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Johannes Fromme is a Professor for Media Research in Educational Science at the
University of Magdeburg, Germany.

Contact information:

Prof. Dr. Johannes Fromme, Otto-von-Guericke-Universitt Magdeburg, Institut fr


Erziehungswissenschaft, Postfach 4120, D-39016 Magdeburg, Germany.

Author homepage

Computer Games as a Part of Children's Culture

by Johannes Fromme

1 The cultural and pedagogical relevance of electronic games

Interactive video and computer games belong to the new multimedia culture that is
based on the digital computer technology. These games have become increasingly
popular in the past 20 to 25 years, especially among young people. In the beginning
they were mainly played by youth and young adults who were enthusiastic about
computers. During the early nineties, however, video and computer games became
a matter-of-course in the everyday life of young people, including children. There is
not one single explanation for this development. Probably a number of different
reasons can be alleged. From an economic perspective one might argue that
children and youth have become important target groups for many industries, e.g.
media, fashion, music. Young people are believed to act as "driving forces" in and
for new markets and products, and their purchasing power is noteworthy. The
computer game industry obviously has been quite successful in attracting these
young customers. From a technical perspective one could point out that starting and
playing electronic games has become easier in the past two decades. You don't
need need specific computer knowledge to use a Game Boy or a television-linked
console - it is just plug and play. [1] In addition, the introduction of Microsoft
Windows has made personal computers (PCs) - to some degree - more user friendly
to operate. But in order to explain the broad success of video and computer games
it is not sufficient to take into account what happened on the part of the media. It is
crucial to see what happened on the part of the players, too. What made and makes
video and computer games fascinating for them? How do they use and value
different games? To what extent are the changing media environments of children
connected to more general social developments? Questions like these are
characteristic for scientific approaches which are interested in the social and
cultural relevance of media uses. They go beyond media-centered approaches and
try to understand how computer games are integrated into the lives of the children
and young people (Livingstone, d'Haenens & Hasebrink, 2001).

This cultural and social significance of electronic games, I propose, also is


pedagogically relevant, because any educational or teaching effort which aims at
mediating so-called "media competency," computer literacy, or ICT skills is
preceded by informal and non-formal learning processes of children within their
"computer gaming culture." About 20 years ago Patricia M. Greenfield discussed
possible effects of new media (Greenfield, 1984). She was sceptical about common
fears that new media were bad educators, because they "taught" children and
young people things like violent behaviour. As far as I see Greenfield was one of the
first scientists who drew attention to the possible positive effects of watching
television or playing video games. [2] She addressed new media as cultural artifacts
which demand complex cognitive skills from the people who use them, and these
skills and the related knowledge that come from using them are not obtained in
instructional contexts like schools, but are acquired informally (Greenfield, 1984).
Since 1984 the situation obviously has changed in one respect: schools have begun
to use computers and teach pupils computer skills. But at the same time informal
experiences with computer technology have become more common for children and
young people. Most pupils, therefore, have learned about computers before
teachers or other educators begin instruction; sometimes the pupils' skills even
surpass those of the teachers.

A better knowledge about informal learning processes and their background seems
to be necessary in order to avoid a "clash of media cultures." This metaphoric
notion implies the following: teachers, parents, and others engaged in education
and tuition are members of a generation which - during its primary socialization -
has grown up in a different media culture and has different media experiences than
the young generation of today. These (informal) experiences do not only influence
their private values and attitudes towards new media, but they also have an impact
on their educational concepts and actions. However, this coherence is usually not
being reflected. In other words, parents and educators tend to address the media
cultures of children and youth from their own generational perspectives which they
represent as an implicit norm in educational - and political - discourses (Scheffer,
1998; Wittpoth, 1999; Fromme, 2000; Fromme, 2001). This implies that "new
media" - that is media which someone did not grow up with - are often looked at
with distrust and scepticism. In addition, members of the older generation on the
whole still seem to represent what Max Weber called a "protestant ethic" (1985)
which implies a rationalized lifestyle and a specific form of self control. Parents and
teachers, for example, usually want children to use a computer for more than
playing computer games and if they accept the computer, it is mostly because they
want and expect it to lead to more serious types of PC-related activities like writing
texts or using educational or learning software (Leu, 1993).

If we look at empirical data we have to state that for children and youth computer
games "are the most frequently used interactive media" (Beentjes et al., 2001, 95).
Without going into too many details, I want to refer to three studies which support
this statement. In a European comparative study carried out in 1997 and 1998 the
number of minutes per day spent on various media were considered. Three different
interactive media were included here: the internet, the PC (not for games) and
electronic games. "Electronic games" was used as a collective notion for computer
games (PC games) and video games (television-linked consoles and portable video
game systems). On average children and young people between 6 and 16 in Europe
spent 32 minutes per day playing electronic games, 17 minutes per day using PC
applications (not games) and 5 minutes per day using the internet. To give a
comparison: 136 minutes per day were devoted to watching television). [3] The
figures varied between the different countries (see fig. 1), but in all countries (with
one exception) more time was spent on video and computer games than on the
more 'serious' types of computer use.

Figure 1

Note. Data from Beentjes et al., 2001: 96

We have similar findings in other studies which concentrated on the use of the PC
only (and did not consider consoles or portable video game systems). A recent
German study on the media use of children (Feierabend & Klingler, 2001) for
example shows that playing computer games is the most prominent PC-related
activity of children between 6 and 13.[4] In this study 60 percent of the children
said that they used a computer at least "rarely" or "sometimes" in their leisure time.
These children were defined as PC users (n=740). Figure 2 shows the computer
activities of these PC users. It tells us how many children (in percent) reported they
practised the named different activities at least once a week. On average "playing
computer games alone" is the most popular activity. The figures vary, but this
statement applies for boys as well as for girls, and it applies for all age groups of
this sample (6 to 7 years, 8 to 9 years, 10 to 11 years and 12 to 13 years). In
addition, it is quite customary to play computer games together with others,
especially for the boys (see Figure 2). This gives a first indication to relevant gender
differences with regard to the way computer games are used and integrated into
the children's social and cultural activities.

Figure 2

Note. Data from Feierabend & Klingler, 2001: 352

The third study I want to refer to was carried out by the same research association
in Germany [5] , but it addressed a different age group: 12 to 19 year olds. Again
young adults were asked to report which of the named PC activities they practised
regularly. The results (see Figure 3) indicate another gender difference: In this age
group playing computer games is the most popular activity for boys, but not for
girls. The same difference does not exist in the the 6 to 13 age group where playing
computer games (alone) is the most popular kind of PC use for both boys and girls
(Figure 2). This might lead to the following hypotheses: Girls lose some interest in
computer games when they get older and turn towards the more "serious" types of
PC use. Boys, on the other hand, mainly use the PC as a "game machine"
throughout their childhood and teenage years. But as the findings come from two
different samples and not from a longitudinal study we cannot take these as
granted statements, yet.

Figure 3

Note. Data from Feierabend & Klingler, 2000: 26

2 Research on the "computer gaming cultures" of children

Research on the media use of children is still rare. Most studies can be
characterized as youth studies. To some degree this statement applies to the social
sciences in general: When research work is done to investigate the social and
cultural lives of young people it mostly concentrates on youth and not on children. A
common argument for this focus on youth and adolescence is a methodological one.
To include children would raise questions like: Do children have sufficient reading
abilities to fill in a written questionnaire? Are their cognitive abilities sufficient to
understand the questions of an interviewer? Are their linguistic (verbal) abilities
adequate to express what they want to say? On the whole it seems doubtful that
results from empirical studies with children could correspond to scientific standards
like objectivity, reliability and validity. At first glance these methodological questions
appear to be plausible. However, some of the underlying assumptions have become
subject to criticism, the core of which being the construction of childhood in terms
of deficiency (Prout & James, 1990; Shantz & Hartup, 1992; Zinnecker, 1996; Honig,
Leu & Nissen, 1996). The critics claimed that a paradigmatic shift was necessary:
childhood should no longer be defined as a developmental stage but as something
in and of itself. This implies that children cannot be reduced to "not yet grown-ups"
but they have to be seen and respected as subjects in their own right who develop
their own and unique cultural milieus. In the 1990s considerations like that have
been prominent especially in discussions of sociologists and other social scientists.
One effect was the founding of a new section called "Sociology of Childhood" in the
American Sociological Association (ASA) in 1993. [6] Another effect was a new
interest in research on childhood matters.

How does this different view on children and childhood apply to the above-
mentioned methodological questions? First of all, research on children and
childhood has been reshaped in an attempt to approach and understand a different
culture. Therefore the main question is not whether the children are or are not able
to correspond to scientific (or other) standards of adult researchers, but whether or
not methods (i.e. forms of communication) can be developed which secure a mutual
understanding. Children live in a cultural milieu which adult researchers have to
accept and take seriously. In this milieu the children are the experts, not the
scientists.

This was one of the theoretical and methodological starting points of a research
project which was carried out by a research team at the University of Bielefeld
between 1995 and 1998 (Fromme, Meder & Vollmer, 2000). We were inspired by the
discussions to establish a new sociology of childhood although its mainstream was
somehow anti-pedagogical. I cannot go into the details here (Fromme & Vollmer
1999; Zinnecker 1996), but in our view an educational (or pedagogical) science
does not necessarily have to reduce childhood to an arrangement of protection,
preparation and development for "not-yet-grown-ups." A pedagogue may well
acknowledge the children's cultural world as something of its own right - in the
same way as he can and will acknowledge the cultural world of any other (adult)
group. However, we do not believe that this is the whole story. Some of the
protagonists of the new sociology of childhood (e.g. Helga Zeiher in Germany or
Glen Elder in the US) have assessed their approach in explicit opposition to the
research concept of socialization. They are exclusively interested in social
interactions taking place among children and would describe and analyze them as
expressions of a cultural microworld. In our view this again is a reductionist concept
of childhood, because it presupposes a degree of autonomy which is unrealistic -
and not only with regard to children. In other words: We may accept that children
develop their own cultural patterns and milieus without having to deny a concept
like socialization (Zinnecker, 1996). This, of course, requires a revised concept of
socialization. The child may no longer be seen as mere putty to be worked on by
external forces but as someone who actively participates in the ongoing
construction and deconstruction of his social and cultural world.

The scientific "discovery" of children as subjects of their own lives may well be put
into the broader context of a changing society. Debates concerning the
transformation of childhood in late modernity (e.g. Chisholm et al., 1990; Chisholm
et al., 1995; Zentrum fr Kindheits- und Jugendforschung, 1993) have referred to
complex changes which may be characterized by notions like individualization and
pluralization.

Individualization, in short, "refers to the shift away from traditionally important


sociostructural determinants of identity and behaviour towards more diversified
notions of lifestyle" (Livingstone, d'Haenens & Hasebrink, 2001, 9). The individual
has to construct his or her self more or less independently of traditional structures
and backgrounds like religion, socio-economic status, family or age. In an
"individualized" society already children are more or less forced to make their own
decisions and manage their own life-courses. [7] This is an ambivalent task,
because it may well overcharge (young) people. Pluralization mainly refers to the
diversification of options in all spheres of society. In addition, the notion draws
attention to the phenomenon of cultural diversity (Welsch, 1988). Pluralization is
closely connected to individualization, because the latter gives space and freedom
for more diversity in lifestyles, beliefs or attitudes. One of the paradoxical aspects of
postmodern societies is the permeation of cultural and economic developments.
The plurality of options and cultures is partly a result of economic impacts on
cultural developments, as it goes along with an expansion of commercialized forms
of leisure and media culture.

These considerations were part of the theoretical framework of our study. Changing
media cultures are a part and also an expression of more complex changes in
society. On this background we tried to provide a comprehensive account of
children's use of electronic games in their everyday life and of their attitudes
towards these interactive media. We focused on the "computer gaming cultures" of
7 to 14 year old children. The aim was to get a better understanding of how the
children used video and computer games, how they integrated these new media
into their leisure activities and peer groups, and how they valued different aspects
of the games. We interviewed the children themselves as experts of their media
culture, and we assumed that the children were capable of providing relevant and
valid information. The approach can be characterized as descriptive and analytical.
We did not want to teach the children anything, but we wanted to learn more about
the children's views and ideas. Therefore, we tried to avoid any normative message
or statement when we addressed the children.

Our project design was as follows: 1,111 children filled in a self-completion


questionnaire at school.

[8] Younger children got assistance from members of the research team. The main
areas covered by the questionnaire were use of computer games, social context of
use, parental mediation, preferred games and importance of leisure activities. In
addition, the children were asked to judge several features and qualities of
computer games which referred to four different dimensions: general acceptance,
visual and acoustic presentation, dramatic involvement and required competency.
Some of the socio-economic data we raised were family and household data (e.g.
brothers and sisters, parental situation), occupation of father and mother,
residence, age, gender, attended school type and nationality. About a year after this
main study had been finished (with regard to the collection of data) 21 qualitative
interviews focusing more closely on individual preferences and socio-economic
backgrounds were conducted in order to perhaps identify different styles of
computer game usage. In the following I will concentrate on the first study and
present selected findings. They do not pretend to give a complete picture of the
children's gaming culture, but may highlight some basic features.

3 The use of video and computer games

The main distinction we wanted to draw here was between regular gamers, casual
gamers and non-gamers. In a pre-test we tried to develop items which came close
to how the children would describe how often they play computer games. We finally
decided to use the following items:

I play video or computer games regularly


- several times a day

- every day

- at least once a week

I play video or computer games casually

- mostly on weekends

- quite seldom, maybe once or twice a month

- once in a while, but then maybe for several hours

- in another way

I don't play video or computer games

- never tried it

- only tried it, but didn't continue

- used to play, but don't play anymore.

More than half of the boys (55.7 percent) and about 29 percent of the girls reported
they played regularly, about 40 percent of the boys and 51 percent of the girls said
they played casually, and about 6 percent of the boys and 20 percent of the girls
said they did not play computer games (Figure 4 shows the detailed figures). Only
2.2 percent of our sample never played any video or computer game. The
questionnaire included several questions for those who did not play. The children's
answers informed us that they had

decided not to do so, mostly because they were engaged in other activities
(Fromme, Meder & Vollmer, 2000: 167-175). Lacking access to a computer or a
console does not seem to be of any relevance here. On the whole video and
computer games seem to be a matter-of-course for most of the children. But there
are significant gender differences here - and in most other areas of the study.[9]
Boys play more often and more regularly than girls do. This indicates different
media use styles, and to some extent different leisure preferences of boys and girls.

Figure 4

A second question referred to the favourite games of the children. In order to reduce
the complexity of the questionnaire we decided to ask the children to name their
current favourite video or computer game (open question). It remained the task of
the researchers to decide how they fit into our typology of computer games
(Fromme, Meder & Vollmer, 2000: 35). [10] Altogether 915 children responded, and
most of them were able to tell the name of their favourite game. The others wrote
down a short description or explained it to the interviewers (e.g. car racing, a game
where you have to arrange cards).

Boys and girls reported different preferences (Figure 5). The favourite games of the
boys were action and fighting games (33 percent), sport games (21 percent) and
platform games (17 percent). The favourite games of the girls, on the other hand,
were platform games (48 percent) and think or puzzle games (20 percent). As the
different types of games represent different contents these findings probably reflect
well-known gender differences with regard to relevant interests. We can assume
that these gender differences also are connected to the fact that most of the games
neither present active female characters (Fromme & Gecius, 1997) nor deal with
topics that girls usually show interest in - such as beauty or social relations (Schorb,
1993; Jungwirth, 1993; Kafai, 1996).

Figure 5

4 When do children address themselves to computer games?

Public discourses on computer games and children suggest that these interactive
media have gained a dominant position in the leisure time of children and have
begun to substitute more appreciated leisure activities like reading or sports.
Sometimes they are believed to contribute to a general shift towards more indoor-
oriented and individualized leisure activities. A look at the reported frequency of
playing computer games and at the economic success of gaming hardware and
software seems to back suppositions like that. However, some of our findings have
put these suppositions into question mark. We asked, for example, in which
situations the children decided to play at the PC or a console. The idea here was not
to analyze the fascinating and motivating forces of computer games, but to have a
look at possible situations in which children would tend to play computer games.
The following options were offered: [11]

- when there is nothing else to do (boring situation)

- when I don't want to do my homework

- in any possible situation (as often as possible)

- when nobody is there to do something else with

- when friends are there who play (computer games) with me

- when the weather is bad and I cannot go outside.

The three possible answers which were most broadly accepted were (Figure 6):
when there is nothing else to do (about 83 percent of the children agreed), when
the weather is bad and I cannot go outside (81 percent of the boys and about 65
percent of the girls agreed) and when nobody is there to do something else with (76
percent of the boys and 66 percent of the girls agreed). This may indicate that video
and computer games are important media to pass the time between other activities
and to fill somehow empty parts of the day. It seems that children choose this
option especially when other attractive options are not accessible. Our results thus
support what Jrgen Fritz et al. have found in their research: video and computer
games tend to be "second choice media" for most of the children (Fritz et al., 1995).

Figure 6

The answers suggest that computer games not only are relevant in situations where
the children are alone, but also when friends are present. The possibility to play
computer games with someone else appeals to boys more than to girls (74 percent
of the boys and 59 percent of the girls agreed). The children, especially the boys,
are interested in integrating the games into their peer activities. In these contexts
the children are able to compare and compete with others, to demonstrate their
progress in a game, to get help or advise on difficult parts of a game or to discuss
the games.

About one-third of the children reported they played computer games when they did
not want to do their homework for school. For them the games may be a way of
avoiding or postponing a more or less unpleasant duty. About one-quarter played in
any possible situation (boys 30 percent and girls 18 percent). This indicates a use of
computer games which is largely independent of specific situations. On the other
hand we have to be cautious not to jump to conclusions. "As often as possible" may
correspond to frequent playing, but the answer may well suit children who, for some
reason, are not able to play very frequently and would perhaps like to play more
often. We had a closer look at the children who reported they played as often as
possible: About half of them (53 percent) said they in fact played every day. This
figure is significantly above the average of the whole sample (about 30 percent, see
Figure 4), but it still leaves us with 47 percent who play "as often as possible" and
do not play every day.

5 Computer games and other leisure activities

The question of whether computer games have begun to substitute other leisure
time activities has already been raised (see above). The children's reports about
situations where computer or video games were played did not back a substitution-
hypothesis. But in that part of the questionnaire the focus was not clearly put on
leisure situations or activities. In another part of the questionnaire, however, this
was case. We could not raise detailed information about the childrens leisure
activities and confined ourselves to two questions. On the one hand we offered a
selection of activities and asked the children to tell us whether they performed each
of them "often," "sometimes" or "never." [12] The following activities were included:

- listening to music
- playing alone inside (not computer games)

- playing outside together with others

- reading

- watching television or video films

- listening to audio cassettes (tales and stories, not music)

- playing computer or video games

- playing with parent(s) (not computer games)

- playing with brother or sister (not computer games)

- going for sports

- other activities (open question)

On the other hand we asked the children to name their favourite leisure activity (see
the next chapter). With regard to the first question we get a picture which, on the
whole, can be regarded as relatively unspectacular. Compared to more traditional
activities computer games seem to be of less importance. The data presented in
Figure 7 show how many percent of the boys and girls reported performing the
named activities "often."

Figure 7

In the "top three" we find the same three activities for boys and for girls: playing
outside with others, listening to music and playing sports. The ranking, however, is
different. Listening to music seems to be of more importance for the girls, going
outside for play or sport activities are more often reported by the boys. [13] When
the top list is expanded to four items a significant gender difference shows up: 43
percent of the girls report that they often read in their spare time while the boys
rank playing computer games fourth in their list of leisure activities (Table 1).

Table 1: "Highscores" of reported leisure activities

Boys Girls

1 playing outside with others

71% listening to music 71%

2 going for sports / sport activities

67% playing outside with others

63%
3 listening to music 52% playing sports / sport activities

50%

4 playing video/computer games

38% Reading 43%

A noteworthy finding is that the children on the whole do not regard "watching
television or video films" as something they do "often." Only about one-third of our
sample said they did. But "watching television or video films" and "playing
computer games" were the two items which collected the most "sometimes"
answers (more than 60 percent). Studies that have measured time spent watching
television tell us that the number of minutes per day spent watching television
clearly tops that of audio media. For example, the average figures in a European
comparative study were 136 minutes (television) compared to 90 minutes (audio
media); the corresponding German figures in the study were 133 minutes and 52
minutes (Beentjes et al. 2001, 96). We assume that television and electronic games
- from the children's perspective - are a matter-of-course, but are not predominant
media and do not represent the core of their leisure activities and interests.

We also carried out a correspondence analysis which related the children's reports
on their leisure activities to their reported frequency of playing computer games
(Figure 4). The findings can be summarized as follows:

Boys who report playing electronic games "daily" more often "play alone inside" (29
percent compared to an average of 22 percent).

Girls who report playing electronic games "daily" more often "watch television or
video films" (45 percent compared to an average of 30 percent). There is no
evidence that the use of interactive media replaces the use of traditional screen
media.

Girls who report they "never" engage in "sport activities" also report that they
"never" play computer games (18 percent compared to an average of 9 percent,
p<0.001). There is no evidence that boys or girls who often play electronic games
are less engaged in sport activities. On the contrary, there is a (statistically non-
significant) tendency that suggests that daily use of computer games goes along
with sport activities (62 percent to 59 percent).

There is also no evidence that computer games replace reading. At first glance
there seems to be such a statistical correspondence, but indepth analysis reveals
that this is due to gender: Girls read more often than boys, but are less engaged
with the new interactive media. Within both gender groups there is no
correspondence between the frequency of playing computer games and reading.
We may conclude that computer games, on the whole, do not replace other leisure
activities like sports or reading. Instead there seem to be different patterns of
combining media activities with other (non-media) activities in children's leisure
time. Computer games do play an important role in situations when children are
bored, have to wait or have the impression there is nothing else to do. The
relevance of computer games (and maybe also television) in the everyday life of
children may therefore be seen as a measure for the relevance of individualized
"gaps" in the late modern (or postmodern) timetables of children. Our hypothesis
therefore is that media use replaces traditional times of doing nothing or nothing
special (like looking out of the window), rather than any other "activity" (also
Hengst, 1988).

6 Favourite leisure activities

The answers to the question of what activities children perform often, sometimes or
never represent the children's (subjective) perception of their leisure time structure.
In order to get more information on their leisure preferences and interests we also
included an open-ended question into the questionnaire asking for the children's
favourite activity (or hobby). Altogether 980 children (from 1,111) named their
favourite leisure activity. Most children named different sport activities. The only
media-related activity of some importance was reading, which about 5 percent of
the girls named as their favourite activity (Figure 8). Not all of the reported sport
items are selective. Some children wrote down a specific kind of sport like horse
riding, handball or football (soccer). Others referred to sport activities without
specifying the kind of sport they participated in. Several children used the term "fun
sport" which we believe is refers to sports such as climbing, roller skating or
sportive games. Zinnecker et al. (1996) have explained that children nowadays
participate more in sport activities than any other (age) group. [14] His concept of
childhood in late modernity being a "sportive childhood" gets some support here.
The gender differences, again, are apparent (and statistically highly significant) for
horse riding, football, reading and handball.

Figure 8

The reported favourite leisure activities also back the above-mentioned hypothesis
of playing computer games - from the children's perspective - being a second-
choice activity. They may like it, but they won't call it their favourite activity.

7 Social contexts of playing computer games

We tried to get some information about the social context of the children's
computer gaming cultures using questions like "Where do you get the information
about a 'good' game?" or "Whom do you play with?" Video and computer games are
mainly connected to peer relations, while parents or other adults only participate in
the margins. This seems to be true for boys as well as for girls, but boys, on
average, play more frequently (alone as well as with others) and show a greater
interest in games and related issues.

"Friends" are the most important advisers and mediators in game-related matters
(Figure 9). It is friends who know about new games which might be of interest.
There are two relevant means of communication which may supplement and
permeate each other: One option is that the children are told there is a new game
(verbal channel); another, more comprehensive option is that they see and try a
new game at a friend's home. Brothers are also of some importance, especially for
girls (35 percent compared to 23 percent of the boys). [15] The role of parents
seems to be ambivalent. The children apparently do not expect to get helpful
information from their parents, especially from their mothers. Most parents,
therefore, are not positively involved in the children's gaming cultures - besides the
fact that they often pay for the games. But parents obviously try to somehow
control the children's gaming activities from the outside, especially with regard to
time and with regard to violent games. More than 70 percent of the children
reported their parents knew what games they were playing, and about 20 percent
had experienced that their parents had forbidden that they play a specific game. So
the majority of parents have a sceptical eye on what is going on, but are mainly
practicing a negative form of intervention, and do not give any positive advice. The
children know about this and therefore sometimes don't tell them what kind of
games they are playing (about 25 percent of the children reported this).

Figure 9

Socio-cultural environments do not only consist of (more or less) relevant others,


they also consist of different media. With regard to the problem of being informed
about 'good' new computer games the children also to some degree rely on what
they find in other media. About 25 percent of the children for instance said they
were "often" curious about or liked games which had protagonists they knew from
films or television (like Asterix or Hercules). This, by the way, was significantly more
important for the youngest children of our sample (the 7 to 8 year-olds). [16]
Commercials are quite successful in drawing the children's attention to new games,
too. More than 18 percent of the children (girls 16.7 percent and boys 21.7 percent)
said this was a significant source of information for them. It seems noteworthy that
the figures for these two items clearly surpass those for the family related items
"mother", "sister" and "father". For the boys "tests in gamers' magazines" represent
a third relevant option which refers to other media (22 percent), but the magazines
obviously do not appeal to most of the girls (6 percent). [17]

What the children reported about "whom they play video and computer games
together with" (Figure 10) leads us to a similar conclusion: The games are more
often and more closely connected to peer relations than to family life. Parents are
more or less external observers. Only a few seem to participate in their children's
gaming culture. This marks an important difference from other media like television
or books which are much more integrated into family interaction across generation
borders (Lange & Lscher, 1998). In addition, we learn from this last figure that the
children's main reference group is the peer group

of the same gender. Boys prefer to play with other boys, and girls most often play
together with other girls. There seems to be one exception from the tendency to
stay with members of the same gender: brothers or sisters.

Figure 10

8 Conclusion

There is no evidence that suggests we need to be alarmed about children's gaming


cultures. Even children who are quite engaged, in terms of frequency and general
interest in playing computer games, apparently do not give up other activities and
interests like outdoor and sport activities. Our findings also do not suggest that
electronic gaming leads to social isolation. In most cases it seems to be fully
integrated into existing peer relationships. To be together with friends for the great
majority of children remains the favoured leisure activity.. The interactive qualities
of computer technology are quite attractive in situations when children are alone,
however.

In most cases, arents or other adults do not participate in children's gaming cultures
in an active (or interactive) way. Playing computer games is not - maybe not yet - a
common project of the family. On the one hand this may be regarded as something
that should be accepted or even supported, because children want and need to
have their own spheres. On the other hand it raises the question of whether or not
media education (in a wide sense) should restrict itself to controlling media use
from the outside. In my view the pedagogical task remains to actively and also
critically accompany the children's process of growing up and developing their
relationship to the cultural world. And the task remains to secure a pluralitity of
resources and challenges they can use to develop their cognitive, social, and
physical abilities.

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Endnotes

[1] Consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (released in 1985) and
the Sega Master System (SMS) (released in 1986), and portable video game
systems like Nintendo's

Game Boy (first released in 1989) not only revived the video game market after its
crash in 1984, but these new systems also on a broader scale attracted younger
players.

[2] She has continued to do research on this issue. In a more recent book
(Greenfield & Cocking, 1996) a collection of articles has been published which try to
document the role of interactive video in the cognitive and emotional learning of
children and youth. One of Greenfield's conclusions can be summarized as follows:
The introduction and diffusion of computers leads to a rise of what may be called
"visual intelligence." As modern video games demand special visual skills they
provide informal education for (other) occupations that demand such skills
(Greenfield, 1998; also: Greenfield et al., 1996).

[3] The data are based on the whole sample. This means that nonusers are
included. The percentage of users of electronic games in this study is reported to
sum up to 74. The corresponding figures for the other media mentioned here are:
60% for the PC (not for games), 32% for the internet, and 99% for television
(Beentjes et al., 1996, 92).

[4] This is not a new finding, however. Similar results have been reported from
earlier studies (e.g. Leu, 1993), but it seems noteworthy that in the past one or two
decades the most popular way to use the computer - at least for children and youth
- has been to play computer games, because this implies that from the very
beginning they got (and get) to know the computer as a toy.

[5] It is called 'Medienpdagogischer Forschungsverbund Sdwest' which could be


translated as 'Media and Education Research Association South West' (cf Klingler &
Feierabend, 2000).

[6] Jrgen Zinnecker reports that he attended the annual conference of the ASA in
Miami, Florida, in August 1993, where the newly founded section "Sociology of
Childhood" presented itself to the scientific community for the first time (Zinnecker,
1996: 32). The current list of sections of the ASA (cf www.asanet.org), however,
does not contain this section any more, but a section called "Sociology of Children
and Youth". A similar development could be observed in the German Asociation for
Sociology (DGS). In 1995 a working group "Soziologie der Kindheit" [Sociology of
Childhood] was founded, in order to overcome psychological and pedagogical
concepts of childhood. The new sociology of childhood no longer wanted to seize
childhood as an arrangement of protection, preparation and socialization, but as a
social (and cultural) form of life (Zinnecker, 1996, 33). The German working group in
the meantime has established a section "Soziologie der Kindheit" in the DGS which
exists independently from the section "Jugendsoziologie" [Sociology of Youth] (cf

www.soziologie.de/sektionen/index.htm).

[7] Individualization has do be understood as a relative concept. It draws attention


to processes and tendencies towards relatively more individualized forms of life.
With regard to children we may on the one hand describe childhood in late
modernity as being relatively individualized altogether. On the other hand we may
find different degrees of autonomy (or individualization) in different sections of
children's lives. Leisure and media activities obviously belong to the more
'individualized' sections of the children's lives (Zinnecker et al., 1993: 41).

[8] The questionnaire data were collected in 1996. In the meantime, due to a still
dynamic technical and economic development, we have different hardware and
software for games. But we assume that some of the main structural features of the
children's gaming culture are still up to date.

[9] One of the surprising results was that we did not find any differences depending
on residence (e.g. rural or urban) or on parents' occupation (e.g. academic
profession or industrial worker).

[10] We decided to deviate from customary typologies in the following respects:


'platform games' (like most of the Super Mario video games) were taken as a group
of its own instead of integrating it into the action-genre or the adventure-genre. In
addition, we took sport games and racing games as separate types each instead of
adding them to the more diffuse simulation-genre.
[11] In the retrospect we believe that further options could have been added. The
items mainly decribe situations in terms of absence (of better choices).

[12] In a pre-test we tried different scales. At first, we asked children how many
minutes they would spend per day on selected activities. This task proved to be too
abstract for them. In a second step, we tested a questionnaire which for most of the
questions offered five possible answers. With regard to their leisure acitivities they
had to select between "very often", "often", "sometimes", "seldom" and "never".
One problem with this questionnaire came out to be that it took the children too
much time to answer all the questions. Another problem was that the selectivity
between the offered choices wasnt big enough.

[13] Our instrument cannot account for multi-tasking. Of course some of the
activities may be combined, e.g. listening to music and playing alone inside. We
decided to renounce a broader and deeper approach here. On the one hand, we did
not want to reconstruct activity patterns, but the children's reflexive behaviour
towards their own computer gaming culture. For pragmatic reasons we had to
restrict ourselves and the number of questions we could include into our
instrument. Within this given frame, we eventually wanted to keep some space for a
section devoted to the question how the children valued different aspects of
computer games - a question which I cannot deal with in this paper (cf Fromme,
Meder & Vollmer, 2000: 73-127).

[14] Kinder treten damit als Altersgruppe in die Fustapfen der (mnnlichen)
Adoleszenz. Unter biographischer Perspektive lt sich von einer Vorverlagerung
und 'Verfrhung' sportiver Partizipation bei heutigen Kindern sprechen" (Zinnecker
et al., 1996: 107). ["Children as an age group thus step into the footprints of (male)
adolescence. From a biographical perspective current young people's sportive
participation begins earlier and reaches its climax earlier."]

[15] The figures for this item are based only on children who do have a brother
and/or sister.

[16] In this age group friends seem to be of less importance. Only 29% of the 7 and
8 year-olds reported they "often" got their information or advice from friends, the
corresponding figure for the 13 and 14 year-olds being about 50%.

[17] In the context of our research we had a closer look at a selection of popolar
game magazines. Out impression was that they were male oriented in several
respects (e.g. no female editors, hardly any female members in the editorial staff,
frequent use of 'insider' notions, texts and pictures often emphasized 'action' or
violence). We therefore believe it is no coincidence that female children are not very
interested in these magazines.

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2001 - 2004 Game Studies

Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the journal, except for
the right to republish in printed paper publications, which belongs to the authors,
but with first publication rights granted to the journal. By virtue of their appearance
in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in
educational and other non-commercial settings.

Aggressive Behavior Linked to Players Experiences

The disturbing imagery or violent storylines of videos games like World of Warcraft
or Grand Theft Auto are often accused of fostering feelings of aggression in players.
But a new study shows hostile behavior is linked to gamers experiences of failure
and frustration during playnot to a games violent content.

The study is the first to look at the players psychological experience with video
games instead of focusing solely on its content. Researchers found that failure to
master a game and its controls led to frustration and aggression, regardless of
whether the game was violent or not. The findings of the study were published
online in the March edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology .

Any player who has thrown down a remote control after losing an electronic game
can relate to the intense feelings or anger failure can cause, explains lead author
Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University,
who said such frustration is commonly known among gamers as rage-quitting.

That experience is not unique to gaming, says coauthor Richard Ryan, a


motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester. For example, in sports,
players may lose a game as a result of a bad call. When people feel they have no
control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression, he explains. We
saw that in our experiments. If you press someones competencies, theyll become
more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not.

To tease out which aspects of the gaming experience lead to aggressive feelings,
the researchers manipulated the interface, controls, and degree of difficulty in
custom-designed video games across six lab experiments. Nearly 600 college-aged
participants were tasked with playing the gamesmany of which included violent
and nonviolent variationsand then were tested for aggressive thoughts, feelings,
or behaviors.

In one experiment, undergraduates held their hand in a bowl of painfully cold water
for 25 seconds. They were led to believe that the length of time was determined by
a prior participant, but in fact, all participants were assigned the same duration.
Next, participants were randomly asked to play either a simple or challenging
version of Tetris, after which they were asked to assign the amount of time a future
participant would have to leave their hand in the chilled water. Players who
experienced the difficult Tetris game assigned on average 10 seconds more of
chilled water pain to subsequent players than those who played the easy version.

Across the experiments, researchers found it was not the narrative or imagery, but
the lack of mastery of the games controls and the degree of difficulty players had
completing the game that led to frustration. The study demonstrated that
aggression is a negative side effect of the frustration felt while playing the video
game. When the experience involves threats to our ego, it can cause us to be
hostile and mean to others, Ryan explains.

The researchers also surveyed 300 avid gamers to identify how real world gamers
might experience the same phenomena. When asked about pre- and post-game
feelings, gamers reported that their inability to master a game or its controls
caused feelings of frustration and affected their sense of enjoyment in the
experience.

Edward L. Deci, professor of psychology and Gown Professor in the Social Sciences
at the University of Rochester, and C. Scott Rigby, president of Immersyve, a
consortium of researchers and interactive development professionals that study
motivation and sustained engagement, also contributed to the paper.

The researchers say that the findings offer an important contribution to the debate
about the effects of violent video games. Ryan says that many critics of video
games have been premature in their conclusions that violent video games cause
aggression. Its a complicated area, and people have simplistic views, he explains,
noting that nonviolent games like Tetris or Candy Crush can leave players as, if not
more, aggressive than games with violence, if theyre poorly designed or too
difficult.

Tags: Andrew Przybylski, research finding,

Richard Ryan , video games, violence

Category: Society & Culture

Also of note is that people who play games on consoles are starting to play games
on their phones and tablets more, too. Half of Nielsen's console respondents for the
2013 study said they also played games on mobile devices; that's up from 46% in
2012 and 35% in 2011.

The good news is that we've finally gotten our priorities in order.
According to Nielsen , the average U.S. gamer age 13 or older spent 6.3 hours a
week playing video games during 2013. That's up from 5.6 hours in 2012, which
was up from 5.1 hours in 2011. If you like fun, we're trending in the right direction.

As for which systems were used most often in 2013, seventh-generation consoles
(Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) beat PCs by a percentage point 34% to 33% while mobile
phones took a distant third at 10%. Tablets followed at 9%, dedicated gaming
handhelds at 6%, eighth-gen consoles at 4% and "other" at 4%.

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