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Are Games Turning Kids Into Jocks?

JonKatz posted about 13 years ago | from the maybe-rents-are-cheap-in-England- dept.

Games 205

Maybe it's time to think about becoming an expatriate. Those who still harbor illusions about the accuracy of what pols and the popular media tell us about "geeks," gaming and cyber-culture ought to read one of the most interesting series of studies yet on computer games and the young, published this weekend in the Times of London. The government-funded study by the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), finds that computer games are giving a "young Britons a level of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes." Beyond that, gamers are smarter, more likely to go to college, have more friends, read more, and get better-paying jobs than non-gamers.

Do not look for the results of this study to be reported on your local evening news in the U.S., or on the front page of any newspaper. It will not be there. Those spots are reserved for frantic stories about pedophiles, pornographers and online identity thieves.

So much for the popular view of gamers as oddballs and outcasts, cut off from the world and deprived of healthy social interaction and intellectual activity. That's the portrait widely promulgated in American media and invoked by U.S. politicians, from so-called liberal Democrats like Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, to Republicans like Attorney General Ashcroft and the President.

The British researchers, perhaps unencumbered by uniquely American pandering to so-called "moral" political interests, see it differently. "People who play games regularly seem to develop a mental state that we have seen before only in serious athletes or professionals such as astronauts, whose life depends on concentration and co-ordination," found Jo Bryce, who led the team. "Their minds and bodies work together much better than those of most other people."

Bryce conducted her research by visiting gamers, usually during regional or national competitions around England, and administering a series of psychological tests and questionnaires to nearly 100 of them. The results were then compared with those from similiar tests of athletes and others.

A separate study by the British government's Home Office indicated that those who regularly play computer games when they are young are more likely than non-gamers to go to college and get a high-paying job. They also, said the Home Office study, tended to be more intelligent. The Times also reported that Mark Griffiths, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University and an expert in computer gaming, found in a study of 800 children that those who play games "moderately" -- generally defined as no more than two hours a day -- had more friends, were better adjusted, and tended to read more.

This rational approach to kids and gaming -- a government actually providing useful information to parents and educators -- stands in jarring contrast to the post-Columbine hysteria still prevalent in America, which holds that gaming commonly leads to addictive, anti-social behavior, even sometimes to violence.

The British researchers did discover that children who use computers to excess could, in fact, develop emotional disorders. One 16-year-old boy spent 70 hours a week at his computer and suffered severe psychological problems. But then, we don't really need a study to tell us that. The same would be true of bicyclists or chess players.

More typically, the ESRC study found, subjects were averaging approximately 18 hours a week on computer games; interestingly, these kids were spending similiar amounts of time on sports or social activities.

"They seemed able to focus on what they were doing much better than other people and also had better general co-ordination," said one of the researchers. "The skills they learned on computers seem to transfer to the real world."

As gaming spreads and becomes mainstream, such findings become important. They are valuable and useful -- not only to gamers, who already know much of this stuff, but to public policy. Parents, employers and educators often appear woefully misinformed about gaming's true and increasingly significant effects. More and more, these studies suggest, parents should be encouraging their kids to game, not to stop. You have to particularly appreciate the comparison to superjocks. The nerds' revenge only gets sweeter.

cancel ×

205 comments

plagiarizing? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2191988)

from the I-wish-Katz-would-stop-plagiarizing-other-peoples- work-dept.

Re:Were there any controls at all? (2)

jbrw (520) | about 13 years ago | (#2191989)

No, it's almost certainly true.

Have you seen what counts as a "top-level athlete" in the UK?

:P

...j

Re:What the? (2)

Have Blue (616) | about 13 years ago | (#2191990)

I would say it's a sign of misplaced intelligence. That is, placed somewhere other than the troll's brain.

Bad headline (5)

Have Blue (616) | about 13 years ago | (#2191991)

You are misusing the term "jock". An athlete is one who enjoys sports. A jock is a meathead who enjoys sports and beats up geeks in high school. I assume gamers are not aspiring to become the latter.

Re:For the love of Peter (2)

Malc (1751) | about 13 years ago | (#2191994)

How about it's true title: "The Times". Americans get a bit confused because their Times has a city name in its title: "The New York Times".

Anyway, is anything outside London of any significance? Doesn't London define Englishness and all things of any cultural significance?! ;)

Why would playing a game... (1)

morbid (4258) | about 13 years ago | (#2191996)

...make you turn Scottish?
Some of us were just born that way.

Ah, another study.. Joy. (1)

BELG (4429) | about 13 years ago | (#2191997)

A separate study by the British government's Home Office indicated that those who regularly play computer games when they are young are more likely than non-gamers to go to college and get a high-paying job.

Ah.. And that's not because kids whos parents can not afford to buy a computer/console and games also have trouble paying for a good education? A child on the lower end of the social ladder is likely to end up with a poor education, that's not all that new.

Seems a lot like the studies where eating lots of butter is proven to be really bad for you. Oh, it is, but the study does not take into account that the people that do eat lots of butter more often than not stuff themselves with other health degrading junk food whenever they get the chance.

I can't help but to squeeze this in.. I have enjoyed Slashdot for a long time now, and still do.. But please, go easy on the self-glorifying content. Yeah, growing up and being a computer nerd wasn't all that socially accepted, and it did not make you the coolest dude in school. Does that mean we have to pretend like we're all-knowing just because computers happened to go mainstream? I for one am not a bit cooler than when I was in school. I'm still just as shy and my social skills aren't any better either.

Don't bother commenting on my grammar or spelling. English is not my first language.

Riiight... (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | about 13 years ago | (#2191998)

And sitting in front of your computer all day will really impress the girls...


-----------------------------

Re:I concur... (2)

Glytch (4881) | about 13 years ago | (#2191999)

You too, huh? :)

Although I often have to be careful if I go out driving right after an hours-long GT session. I live exactly one block away from a police station.

"The Zone" (1)

Chutzpah (6677) | about 13 years ago | (#2192001)

The Canadian Discovery Channel had thing a few weeks agin on @discovery.ca about how music helps atheltes get into "The Zone", a frame of mind where mind and body are one, where the athlete is working on pure instinct. They said that athletes get by far their best performance when they are in this state of mind. I know that I have gotten in that frame of mind several times while playing games, where I just seem to do everything right without thinking about it, everything becomes instinct. It's probably because gaming hones reaction times and concentration, when you're playing a fast-paced game, there is rarely time to think about what you are going to do, you just have to do it.
They also mentioned that it usually takes years of training to be able to get into this state of mind, gaming probably provides good mental training because reaction speeds need to be just as fast for alot of video games as they do for many sports. I have also noticed this sometimes when I'm coding, but not as often as when I'm gaming.

Geeks turned into jocks? (1)

craw (6958) | about 13 years ago | (#2192002)

Does this now mean that we have to beat ourselves up? This is a lot different than beating off ourselves.:)

But which came first? Question of causality. (2)

klevin (11545) | about 13 years ago | (#2192005)

Did the game playing help make the player more intelligent, coordinated and focused, or is it that people with those qualities tend to be attracted to computer/video games?

Mind you, I think the study make an important point to those who rely on such studies for information, but I think that a longer term study to look at the causalities would also be helpfull.

Re:Doh? (2)

ScottyB (13347) | about 13 years ago | (#2192007)

why doesn't he let us draw our own conculions?

I am presuming that you mean "conclusions."

(A) Katz is not the thought police, he is simply telling his opinions and conclusions; at least he is explaining his reasoning as opposed to simply stating something wtihout support, which other /. editors do very frequently.

(B) Katz is a writer, and writers do analysis. He is not an editor, so he does not simply post and give brief opinions (which, BTW, tells what /. really is. It is an opinion site, not a news site, being that the editorial staff, in charge of news, is in no way separated from the opinion staff). So, if he is going to analyze something, one would hope he would reach a conclusion, which presumably he would include.

Re:"The Zone" (1)

ethereal (13958) | about 13 years ago | (#2192008)

Is that why they play those stupid "Jock Jams" during warmup time at football and basketball games? I'm not sure that I want to be in that Zone...

Remember: it's a "Microsoft virus", not an "email virus",

we're talking about correlation, not causality (2)

jilles (20976) | about 13 years ago | (#2192011)

There's also such a thing as correlation, often misunderstood for a causal relation. The article tells us that kids who play a lot of games tend to end up in college (i.e. there is a correlation between playing a lot of games as a kid and ending up in college). It would however be misguided to conclude that playing a lot of games causes people to end up in college (i.e. playing more games makes you intelligent).

With this in mind a logical explanation of the above phenomena could be that kids who played a lot of games as a kid and ended up in college must have been playing games in the early nineties/late eighties. In those days, computers were typically not found in lower class families but rather in middle/upper class families. So the above study could be seen as a difficult way of saying that if you grow up in a middle/upper class family, you are more likely to end up in college.

Disclaimer: I have only read Katz's biased summary, not the original paper.

mind and body working together... (1)

Misha (21355) | about 13 years ago | (#2192012)

"Their minds and bodies work together much better than those of most other people."

Ummm.... I don't want to burst your bubble, Jon, but our bodies would work better if we exercised regularly. My CS friends who do nothing but play games all day are

THE CLUMSIEST PEOPLE I HAVE EVER MET IN MY LIFE!!!

As for mind being more agile, the same has been said for decades about chess, team sports (as long as it is presented right), rock-climbing, reading books, etc. The truth is: any stimulating activity is helpful for young children. Naturally, games are stimulating.


Re:Look toward auto racing. (1)

dawime (29644) | about 13 years ago | (#2192014)

Well, while I do think that games do enhance the reaction time and analytical thinking, what ISNT shown is how much computer games detract from one's social life. I know plenty of people that have their weekend activities limited to computer games and very little social interaction. Like everything in life, balanced activities will make for the well rounded individual.

From someone with experience on both sides (2)

Wah (30840) | about 13 years ago | (#2192016)

I can say that the "zone" you can reach in quake is no different from the one you can reach in competitive sports. I have felt both and they are the same, at least to the brain. A full comprehension of all the factors that effect your performance. A laser focus and the ability to act instantaneously on new information. The feeling of "flow" and ability to anticipate the reactions of your opponents.

It's the same "emotion" one way or the other, and it's a pretty good one as far as emotions go. Definitetly worthwhile to cultivate in whatever form you can experience it.
--

A couple of thoughts: (2)

hardaker (32597) | about 13 years ago | (#2192017)

1) wouldn't this apply to other games as well. the study should have (I admit I didn't actually read it) checked to see whether board games had a similar effect, or thinking games (read: D&D). Granted those wouldn't get coordination and skill (and maybe that tying actually would take them above the rest)

2) Um, without the well-developed muscles of real athleats, they're in non-competable categories. IE, it's sort of comparing apples and oranges to call computer gamers "athletes" if it brings up the idea of olympic runners.

3) So, we need a quake category in the next olympics. But does that fall into the summer or winter category?

Re:So does that mean (1)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | about 13 years ago | (#2192018)

no, but the first program executed on game machines will now be known as the "Jock Strap Loader"

thank you, i'll be here all week.

Well, it ain't helpin' me! (2)

Sun Tzu (41522) | about 13 years ago | (#2192019)

Meybe all that research doesn't apply to slow moving strategy games [starshiptraders.com] that resemble MUD's more than doom. Still, I've learned how to run a scam, and sometimes I manage to avoid one. ;)

Re:Thanks (2)

wiredog (43288) | about 13 years ago | (#2192020)

We're not all yanks!

Some of us are rednecks...

Missing Important Fact (2)

jyuter (48936) | about 13 years ago | (#2192022)

More and more, these studies suggest, parents should be encouraging their kids to game, not to stop.

While the comparison between "jocks" and "gamers" might hold true for mental comprehension, for developmental purposes, athletics provide physical development as well. As it is, Americans have horrible eating and excersize habits and are overweight overall. Do we need more sedentary activities for our kids?

I'm not saying that gaming is bad, nor am I contesting these results. There is a difference between having positive effects from gaming and actually encouraging kids to spend more time with it. In doing so, you tun the more dangerous risk of moving from moderarion into exess which will offset any gains you might make.

Coordination and concentration, not brawn! (2)

Tackhead (54550) | about 13 years ago | (#2192025)

Once again, Katz misses the point:

"a level of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes"

...does not imply athletic prowess.

It does imply "the zone" in which the top athletes are at their best.

(Old-Sk00l gamer mode on) As one who played plenty of Defender, Robotron, and Tempest - not in MAME, but using the original controls, in dimly-lit arcades, surrounded by flashing lights and bleeps from 20 machines everywhere, and a 19" monitor filling most of my view - I experienced it daily. Once you got to the point where you could make $0.25 last for half an hour or more, you just melded into the machine and became one with it. (Sorry for the new-agey crap, I don't know any other way to describe the sensation.)

The expert who runs the mile and gets his "second wind" is like the kid who becomes one with the machine. The brain switches off, the body runs on autopilot, and you don't think about what to do, you just do.

I have no doubt that some of the "jocks" in my high school achieved the same level of concentration on the football field or on the track as I did in the arcade. (I just wish I'd known back then, as I'd have had more respect for their accomplishments.)

To mention a few more areas where folks enter "the zone", I'll offer motor sport, live performance of classical music, several martial arts disciplines, and Deep-Hack-Mode programming. I'm sure there are plenty of others.

Jocks achieved their godhood on the field, but remained assholes in the hallways and classrooms. My apotheoses were in the arcade and classroom, but I remained dateless in the hallways.

It has nothing to do with jockhood or geekhood, it has to do with the difference between someone who's merely competent or proficient, and someone who's truly a master or virtuoso.

Re:Thanks (4)

jocks (56885) | about 13 years ago | (#2192026)

Oh thanks. First I make a comment about /. being a bit US centric and now they abuse my name. I am starting to feel like I am being picked on here! Yes I am from Scotland, yes my name Jock.

Damn yanks.........

The news isn't that cynical. (1)

mr100percent (57156) | about 13 years ago | (#2192027)

"pedophiles, pornographers and online identity thieves."

Maybe that's just where you live.

I've discovered that stuff above isn't everywhere. When I was in West Palm Beach, the 11 'oclock news special was that a school bus was hours late because the bus driver "got lost."

That was it. No guns, no death, no pedophiles, no pr0n.

Re:not really (1)

MattEvans (62089) | about 13 years ago | (#2192029)

"Yeah, average for Olympians, and that's makes up about 5% of society."

5% of people are Olympians? Damn. In the US, for example, there are about 300 million people. 5% of that is 15 million. If everyone lives to be 80, there will be 20 Olympics during the average lifetime. If everyone goes to the games just one, that means that the US is sending 750,000 representatives to the Olympics every four years.

Even NBC would find it hard to do that many human-interest stories. :)

Using computers does _not_ make kids smarter (1)

tentac1e (62936) | about 13 years ago | (#2192030)

As I posted before, the findings from the "study" were based onfalse logic. [slashdot.org] Just to summarize: just because you see A and B together, it doesn't mean that A caused B or vice versa. Being smart made kids more likely to play games, not the other way around.

At least half of this opinion piece consists of copying and pasting the findings of the study. What about the original content?

I find it very funny that Katz could only think of Joseph Lieberman when he was thinking about controlling a video game's content. I don't ever recall John Ashcroft (who has no need to play politics, since he is _appointed_) or George W. Bush talking about restricting video games' contents. Katz's view of unbiased reporting is to throw in a prominent Republican when he insults a prominent Democrat, just to make them both look equally bad. If Katz spent time researching for fascists who happen to be Republican, he wouldn't have had to resort to the boogeymen that are Ascroft and Bush.

I'm curious to see if he does the same thing when the sides are reversed.

Re:What the? (2)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 13 years ago | (#2192031)

Trolling, like sarcasm in general, is probably often a sign of misguided intelligence.

Hate to burst your bubble.

Re:Yes, truly Insightful (2)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 13 years ago | (#2192032)

Maybe we could get some good insights from Nicholas Negroponte [mit.edu] one of these days? He had articles in WiReD [mit.edu] too ... :-)

Sounds like emails I get everyday (1)

pogle (71293) | about 13 years ago | (#2192034)

"Beyond that, gamers are smarter, more likely to go to college, have more friends, read more, and get better-paying jobs than non-gamers."

...And if you act now, you can also make millions just like other gamers! Get some Viagra cheap! and improve your high score!! Get the X10 and be the envy of all your gaming friends!

Jeesh, isn't it kinda reckless to make generalizations without a basis case to reflect upon?

Common Sense can be summed up more concisely (1)

Ghengis (73865) | about 13 years ago | (#2192035)

This is pretty obvious stuff. (I like drawing my own conclusions, thak you very much, Katz). Athletes and astronauts spend hours practicing what they do, and therefore are good at it and can concentrate on it more and in a different way than the average Joe. Kids who spend hours gaming become good at it and can concentrate on it in a similar way that athletes and astronauts concentrate on their tasks. The reason why they have better coordination and concentration than the average kids of the recent past is that spending hours in front of a TV makes you good at watching TV, which requires minimal concentration and coordination. It's good to see that a study... the spending of a lot of money... can yield common sense results.

What the? (4)

szcx (81006) | about 13 years ago | (#2192037)

Beyond that, gamers are smarter, more likely to go to college, have more friends, read more, and get better-paying jobs than non-gamers.
You need to read some gamer forums. See how quickly those notions disintergrate. I suggest sCary's [3dshack.com] , Cut 'n Paste Extreme [voodooextreme.com] , and GameSpy [gamespy.com] . People think Slashdot trolls are bad? Gamer forums are easily 10 times worse.

God bless yellow journalism. (4)

dave-fu (86011) | about 13 years ago | (#2192039)

I'm glad to see that while we're free to rail against the post-Columbine backlash against gaming, we're also free to take findings as out of context as "they" are.
And when did playing (insert video game of choice here) start turning anyone into a jock? Being able to twitch a joystick to and fro doesn't mean you're not a klutz. It doesn't mean you're a genius, either: where's the control group in this experiment? Do we have children with access to games who choose to not play them, opting instead to ride a bike or play chess or whatever? Are we solely talking about privileged middle-and-upper-class children here with ample leisure time and parents with disposable income?
All that this survey's really done is proven that "all things in moderation" applies to, you know. All things.
Easy does it!

Re:Look toward auto racing. (1)

NTSwerver (92128) | about 13 years ago | (#2192040)

Well, I beat him away from the traffic lights the other day so he can't be that good.

------------------------

Re:Look toward auto racing. (2)

NTSwerver (92128) | about 13 years ago | (#2192041)

It might be worth pointing out that Jaques Villneuve hasn't won any races since 1997.

------------------------

I don't usually Katz-bash... (2)

Gregoyle (122532) | about 13 years ago | (#2192052)

I'm not one of the usual Katz-bashers on slashdot, but there are some fundamental problems with this article which could have been easily solved by research.

Number 1, I *did* here about this study on my local news radio station. This is not a geeky radio station in the least. Most of the ads are for retirement homes and hair-replacement treatments.

Number 2, if you look at the study (or even at any of the half decent articles *about* the study) you will find that this study did not deal with plain old gamers, it surveyed *competetive* gamers in regional and national championships. This makes a HUGE difference. I used to play Magic: The Gathering (ugh... don't even get me started on money wasting) fairly competetively, and there is a very big difference between competetive players and non. The big time players were totally focused, ruthless, and had many enormously complex strategies which they implemented without batting an eye.

When you add up those two problems, there isn't really much to write about anymore. To give Jon Katz some credit, the local news-radio station didn't mention the fact that they were all cometetive gamers either. This in itself makes spinning the "suppression" of this study as an anti-gamer sentiment even sillier.

People fear what they do not understand, and there is nothing harder to understand than someone who is really brilliant. It's not that they are richer, or better schooled. They just plain do stuff better, and learn faster. When there is no direct beneficial impact, they public's reaction will usually be fear and loathing. Galileo. Jews in Europe throughout the middle-ages (kept as advisers but publicly shunned). Geeks.

let it rest, dude (1)

tommut (123314) | about 13 years ago | (#2192053)

For fuck's sake man, how many times does a similar study have to be posted here, only to have everyone point out that just because two traits are apparent, they are not necessarily cause-and-effect related. I'm sorry Katz; I too wish that playing lots of video games would make me sexy, desirable, rich, and funny. Unfortunately, as I think both you and I can attest to, none of those are the case.

(And apologies if that's not what Katz's actual rant was about; I merely skimmed it. I don't have the stomach to take full-on Katz.)

Re:But which came first? Question of causality. (1)

nojomofo (123944) | about 13 years ago | (#2192055)

Exactly. I see too many "studies" (I hesitate to even call them that, they're so poorly done) today that show that group A is involved with activity B and exibits characteristics C, and thus B causes C, without even considering that there may be some completely different causality. Not enough people understand that the existence of a relationship between B and C does not make it causal - that needs to be shown separately.

Re:Look toward auto racing. (1)

348 (124012) | about 13 years ago | (#2192056)

Heh, I'm into auto racing sims in a very big way. I've been playing them and supporting them as my primary hobby for years.

As for any sim, specifically auto racing making me a better driver, I would have to disagree. As with any PC or console game/simulator you quickly realize that you are in fact constantly compensating for and taking advandage of the AI of the simulation. This goes for the big time simulators as well, such as airline pilot training sims. They are still computers and graphics when you boil it all down.

That being said, I tend to think that it may help condition a little more hand/eye coordination, but at the same time, planting your butt in front of a gaming console or PC for endless hours also makes you lazy, and in some opinions sort of an intravert. Is this bad? Dunno, depends on what each persons likes/dislikes are.

I do disagree with Jon on this one though. I think trying to fabricate justification for gaming, other than it simply being a fun and entertaining way to spend some time, is just stretching it to much.

Oh, and not to disagree with the above posters comment about it enhancing driving ability., Here's an interview [nascar.com] from NASCAR.Com [nascar.com] that has a driver saying basically they don't use them.

More race stuff in one place,

Before the /. effect...... (1)

rtmfm (125519) | about 13 years ago | (#2192058)

Cyber-games make children brighter Jonathan Leake, Science Editor COMPUTER games are giving a generation of young Britons a level of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes, a government-funded study has shown. Youngsters who play computer games regularly but not excessively also tend to have more friends and be better adjusted than those who make do with traditional pastimes such as reading and television. The research, funded by the government's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), challenges the common view of computer gamers as "geeks" who cut themselves off from the world and develop few social or wider academic skills. Instead, it suggests that playing computer games could sharpen young people's mental agility to a level superior to that of previous generations by exposing them to intense stimuli from a young age. "People who play games regularly seem to develop a mental state that we have seen before only in serious athletes or professionals such as astronauts, whose life depends on concentration and co-ordination," said Jo Bryce, who led the research. "Their minds and bodies work together much better than those of most other people." Bryce did her research by visiting computer gamers, often during regional or national competitions around Britain, and giving nearly 100 of them a series of psychological tests and questionnaires. The results were then compared with those of similar tests applied to athletes and other groups. She found that although there remained a minority of gamers who were obsessive, the majority had a healthy mix of other interests and varied social lives. Playing games helped them to do better in other areas, including schoolwork. "Our subjects were averaging about 18 hours a week on computer games, which sounds a lot, but they were spending similar amounts of time reading and doing sport or socialising," said Jason Rutter of the ESRC's centre for research on innovation and competition at Manchester University, who worked with Bryce. "They seemed able to focus on what they were doing much better than other people and also had better general co-ordination. Overall there was a huge similarity with top-level athletes. The skills they learnt on computers seem to transfer to the real world," Rutter said. The research may explain why some racing drivers find it useful to practise on computer games. Rubens Barrichello, a member of Ferrari's Formula One racing team, reportedly prepared for the Malaysian grand prix, a course he had never driven, by using a popular F1 computer game. Similarly, some upmarket car showrooms have ordered copies of Sony PlayStation's new Gran Turismo 3 racing game to give to those customers who are interested in any of the 150 models that it features. Tests have shown that drivers can develop the skills necessary to drive such sports cars by playing the game in the safety of their own homes. A recent study by the Home Office indicated that those who regularly played computer games when young were more likely to go to university and get a better-than-average job. They also tended to be more intelligent. Mark Griffiths, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University and an expert in computer gaming, found recently in a study of 800 children that those who played games moderately"- no more than two hours a day-tended to do more sport than those who played no games. They had more friends, were better adjusted and tended to read more. "Depending on the types of games played and the age of the children, computer games can be a positive experience," said Griffiths. Not all research shows the benefits of information technology for teenagers. A separate study by Griffiths showed that many children using their computers to excess developed severe personality problems. One 16-year-old boy spent 70 hours a week at his computer and had no friends except those he met on the internet. He once abstained for three days and showed withdrawal symptoms.

"maybe-rents-are-cheap-in-England- dept"??? (1)

rpjs (126615) | about 13 years ago | (#2192059)

Not in London (which is where most of the jobs are) unless you're comparing them to really high-rent places in the US.

More pertinently, I doubt very much that this report will have much influence on govt policy here. Read our tabloid media (which is most of it) and you'll learn that the 'net is a den of thieves and perverts, and judging by such ill conceived pieces of legislation as the RIP Act [slashdot.org] our government, specifically the Home Office that commissioned this research, seems to agree.

I'm sure this report will be ignored and buried, just like all the other research that comes up with findings the UK government and The Sun [thesun.co.uk] doesn't agree with is.

Non-Representative Sample (1)

atathert (127489) | about 13 years ago | (#2192060)

Another thing of note. The article said that the interviewees were taken from national video game events. The reason that they are at those events is because they are good at gaming. To draw a parallel, it would be saying that all athletes have a high level of concentration and drive, based on interviews conducted at the Olympics. To get statistically valid results, a wider sample set should probably be taken, including all the people who just play for fun and never compete, as well as examining a control group.

Just my 2 cents.

I've seen this (1)

Raffi Spock (128916) | about 13 years ago | (#2192061)

It was reported. In Canada, actually. The Globe and Mail had it, I believe. Gotta love Michael Kesterton.

Re:Children are the soldiers of tomorrow! (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 13 years ago | (#2192065)

Children have always been the soldiers of tomorrow
You wouldn't expect the people of the generation causing the conflict to go and die on foriegn soil would you?

nearly 100 ,wow (3)

geekoid (135745) | about 13 years ago | (#2192066)

This is based on 100 gamers at a convention. It is statistcally irrelevent.
If they found the same number of gamers under the same conditions were emotionally unstable, would the study been given and credence from Katz? probably not.
Another question, how many gamers do play sports, and socialize? are these the same type of people who would of gamed 15 years ago, before it was cool?
I'm glad there is somebody doing studies, but I don't hink we should really being using this study to prove any points.
when they do a study of 10,000 gamers streached across many backgrounds, then we'll start to have something.

Everything I Know About Sports I Learned From Doom (2)

Prof_Dagoski (142697) | about 13 years ago | (#2192073)

Lessee, run, run fast, shoot everything that moves, know the terrain. Yep. These lessons mean that I'm in a now in a class of own. 'Course that might also be due to the fact the rest of the league is nursing sucking chest wounds at the moment.

Re:Problems with your debunkment (1)

tubs (143128) | about 13 years ago | (#2192074)

> Any child who plays video games 18 hours a week probably owns a computer.

Or a playstation? Or a N64? Or even a Gameboy.

> Thus his family is most likely to be upper-middle class or higher, socially speaking

Bloody hell, spending £45 on a secondhand playstation means you are upper-middle class?

Here is one for you

Brother 1 - Played lots of games when at school, probably to excess, had a computer from age 12+ - Went to college, then University - Now works in Computers.
Brother 2 - Played games now and again, when his other brother loaded them, lost access to games when older brother moved out. Went to college - Now in the forces.
Brother 3 - Never played games, didn't really have access to a computer at all. Left School - Now unemployed.

Hmmmmmm?

I don't care what the world thinks! (1)

coldmist (154493) | about 13 years ago | (#2192077)

Those who still harbor illusions about the accuracy of what pols and the popular media tell us ...

I might believe what the popular media tells me, but I do not trust anything that comes from Poland! ;)

Say .... (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | about 13 years ago | (#2192078)

... I wonder if this works for sex too ....

otoh (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | about 13 years ago | (#2192079)

My nephew was quite a gamer, he's now 24 and in the Marines, and an officer to boot.

He is, creative, focused, moral, a fine rock guitar player, and quit deadly with many weapons.

hehe ...as a side note (more like a reader's digest story) he is recently stationed in Japan, and has a Japanese girlfriend. They were out with a group of couples, when suddenly, she (girlfriend) got up and left the room. My nephew asked, where did she go? The reply was "Oh, she's mad at you so she left to cool off"

His reply.. "Sweet"

[for non-USAinas, our women will bitch you out in any public place]

Re:Problems in the study (1)

Suidae (162977) | about 13 years ago | (#2192081)

Bryce conducted her research by visiting gamers, usually during regional or national competitions

So, who would you expect to find at regional and national competitions? A cross section represantive of the typical game player? Or maybe above average players?

Or could it just be... (2)

Eric Gibson (166760) | about 13 years ago | (#2192082)

that people with naturally better hand-eye coordination, and concentration are better at games, and so they are more enjoyable to them and tend play them more than people that have slow coordination and concentration? Hmmm, ya think?!

Re:"The Zone" (1)

sniglet999 (168561) | about 13 years ago | (#2192083)

Mod this up!

More than 'Geek gamers are better, faster, stronger cooler', it demonstrates how a person can reach a competence level where he/she 'knows' how to do something well, rather than 'bending' the mind/body to do it.

I dunno 'bout you folk, but Need for Speed has GREATLY improved my racing performance in the Real World(tm).

Re:Christ. (1)

sqlrob (173498) | about 13 years ago | (#2192085)

this is why you WON'T see it on the front page of any respectible paper (meaning the NY Times) is because their editors are still intelligent enough to discriminate between news and crappy fluff pieces.

You mean those self-same papers that advertised DOOM as the cause of Columbine? Real nice discrimination there.

But if gamers are 3733t superjocks? (2)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 13 years ago | (#2192090)

Doesn't that make them 'bad'?

Will Katz be writing about how gamers with better computer and Quake skillz are bullying the poor soccer & RPG players???

Careful (1)

LNO (180595) | about 13 years ago | (#2192092)

This is a potentially dangerous situation.

I played NFL 2k1 on my Dreamcast and became pretty good at it. I told myself "Hey, I can do that!" and tried to tackle a 6'6" 300lb guy from behind. Let me tell you, that was a mistake.

The game definitely did not turn me into a jock.

Re:Children are the soldiers of tomorrow! (1)

jmu1 (183541) | about 13 years ago | (#2192095)

Ender? Is that you?

Correlation (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 13 years ago | (#2192097)

More not-so-exciting adventures in the land of correlation vs. causation. Yeah. We also get laid more, but has anyone done a study on that? It's not like you're in a real class of your own if you just play video games these days anyway.

Parents encouraging kids to game (1)

Coq (204365) | about 13 years ago | (#2192105)

I can't wait for parents to live vicariously through their children playing games. Could you imagine your dad getting exited over your domination of "Crazy Taxi"?

Re:Look toward auto racing. (2)

phaze3000 (204500) | about 13 years ago | (#2192106)

Of course, rather ironically, Formula One starts are know done via 'launch control' software, meaning all the driver has to do is put their foot to the floor, and the computer takes care of little things like wheelspin.

--

Yes, truly Insightful (2)

jgaynor (205453) | about 13 years ago | (#2192107)

The First Time:

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/07/22/1952 24 1&mode=thread

I'll normally defend John to the grave against all the trolls but this crap is just occuring way to often. If you write for a site you should at least read it to not double-post

Re:Look toward auto racing. (1)

CoreyG (208821) | about 13 years ago | (#2192108)

This is also how Jacques prepared for his first Formula 1 season, by racing the tracks on a PlayStation video game. In that season he set the record for most points scored as a rookie with 78. Those 78 points were enough for second place in the World Championship. While it helped that he'd raced in IndyCars and F3, it's still an impressive feat, especially when you consider the fact that he hadn't raced many (if not all) of those tracks in real life before.

Or maybe it's the other way around (1)

ehiris (214677) | about 13 years ago | (#2192112)

Maybe people that don't posses these abilities are unable to have fun playing games.

What fun would it be playing a game if you can't concentrate on it or be coordinated?

Doh? (1)

Cirvam (216911) | about 13 years ago | (#2192114)

More obvious stuff from Katz. Although this does relate to the previous articles about games and kids, why doesn't he let us draw our own conculions?

Re:Garage sales speak otherwise (1)

update() (217397) | about 13 years ago | (#2192115)

Yeah, but the gamer subjects in the primary study were mostly found at regional or national competitions. You may well be right that poorer children spend more time at the PlayStation but I bet the competitors with the money, organization and mental horizon* to attend national competitions are heavily skewed towards the upper and upper-middle class.

Come to think of it, the biggest hole in the study is probably that the kids at competitions, who are obviously the most skilled, competitive and energetic, are wildly unrepresentative of gamers as a whole. Maybe the conclusions are accurate for Thresh and the like, but they're being applied to every kid with a console.

* A term I made up to describe how poor children tend to be unaware that there's a world outside their neighborhood.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Were there any controls at all? (2)

update() (217397) | about 13 years ago | (#2192116)

My bias stated up front: I very strongly doubt that video games are giving "young Britons a level of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes."

That said, did this study involve anything resembling real case controls? All I see is "Bryce did her research by visiting computer gamers, often during regional or national competitions around Britain, and giving nearly 100 of them a series of psychological tests and questionnaires. The results were then compared with those of similar tests applied to athletes and other groups."

It sounds to me like this study is comparing different social classes and deciding that any factors that correlate with gaming must be caused by playing games.

My favorite part, by the way, is the instance of "doesn't translate well to American" at the end:

Next page: Dyke builds fortune as property developer

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Why didn't you just copy and paste the whole thing (1)

Zelxyb (217422) | about 13 years ago | (#2192117)

I read this earlier in the week. Why did I just waste my time?

Re: Were there any controls at all? (1)

netmouse (217638) | about 13 years ago | (#2192118)

It sounds to me like this study is comparing different social classes and deciding that any factors that correlate with gaming must be caused by playing games.

Quite so. It's an unfortunately common myth in the media that correlation translates into causality. In this case it's very easy to see the probable reverse causality: People who have superior concentration and coordination are more likely to be found at gaming competitions than in normal nonathletic social circles.

The study selected its subjects in a way that biased the study. The only real way to determine causality would be to randomly select 100 tykes and assign who gets to play computer games and who doesn't. Then take a look at their coordination, athletic participation, and social skills five years later. Unfortunately, that's unethical, but when you read a study like this you kind of wish they'd do it anyway.

In any case, studies of high performance competitors aren't really going to tell you much about everyday people.

--netmouse

Re: For the love of Peter (1)

netmouse (217638) | about 13 years ago | (#2192119)

How about it's true title: "The Times". Americans get a bit confused because their Times has a city name in its title: "The New York Times".

There's also The Chicago Sun Times and, well, anyway, there's at least a dozen American papers with "Times" in the name. And I would say the vast majority of Americans don't read the "New York" variety...

--netmouse

it's: contraction of "it is"
its: possessive form of "it"

Doh, yourself (2)

netmouse (217638) | about 13 years ago | (#2192121)

why doesn't he let us draw our own conculions

Help! Help! I'm being oppressed! You're telling me Katz is being obvious! Why not let me draw my own conclusions?

Oh wait, expressing an opinion (and pointing to a study) doesn't stop me from having my own conclusions. Wow. That's a relief.

Problems in the study (5)

boots111 (221583) | about 13 years ago | (#2192122)

Unfortunately, you will notice a decided lack of a control group in the study. One might argue that the entire populace is an implicit control group; however, that would only reveal one's ignorance. First and foremost, we should recognize the social class to which these kids most likely belong. Any child who plays video games 18 hours a week probably owns a computer (or at least his family does). Thus his family is most likely to be upper-middle class or higher, socially speaking. While this is not true for every kid there is most like a very strong statistical correlation. Now we should recognize the fact that children of such classes are already fairly likely to go to college and get a better than average job anyway

Similarly the do not mention any control group for how like situated children, score on the same battery of test. Thus, the finds could have just as easily been summarized as "well off kids found to do better in life" Of course no one wants to hear that...

not really (2)

unformed (225214) | about 13 years ago | (#2192124)

Bryce conducted her research by visiting gamers, usually during regional or national competitions around England, and administering a series of psychological tests and questionnaires to nearly 100 of them. The results were then compared with those from similiar tests of athletes and others.

I'm a gamer, yet I can barely walk straight. I have no hand-eye coordination, and few athletic skills. But I am a gamer, and not a very good one.

Her choice of subjects completely screws up the experiment. That's like going to the Olympics, and using data to claim that the average mile can be run in 3 minutes.

Yeah, average for Olympians, and that's makes up about 5% of society.
---
Furthermore, being athletic doesn't make you a jock. Being obsessed with sports and having no intelligence whatsoever makes you a jock. I know a damn well large number of people that could probably be very good at any sport they played, but the don't. Just because certain people have certain traits, doesn't mean they fall into a group of people who often also have the same traits.

Re:Thanks (1)

Bahamuto (227466) | about 13 years ago | (#2192125)

Man oh man, why dont' I have mod points now!?! Mod him up!!! Underated +1

Re:70 hours in front of a computer (1)

Bahamuto (227466) | about 13 years ago | (#2192126)

Damnit man I was drinking Pepsi at the time, warn me next time, almost went up my nose.

don't be selfish make all your variables public!!

Re:Look toward auto racing. (1)

canning (228134) | about 13 years ago | (#2192127)

here's an article [canoe.ca]

Look toward auto racing. (4)

canning (228134) | about 13 years ago | (#2192128)

Jacques Villeneuve (Formula One champion) attributes some of his reaction speed and mental quickness to playing video games. He is know as being one of the best starters in Formula One.

Geeks are fast, strong and pissed off, look out.

Next on Fox, "When good Geeks Go Bad"

For the love of Peter (1)

Tychoma (235497) | about 13 years ago | (#2192133)

The Times is a national paper, not a local one. If you have to call it anything, call it the UK Times or something like that.

It Didn't work for me (1)

wackysootroom (243310) | about 13 years ago | (#2192134)

When I was a kid, I played Metroid and Legend of Zelda for Hours on end. I did not have any more friends, no girlfriend, and I got my ass kicked in every sport that I played, got beat up every day, and mocked. The only thing that the games did do is make me wanna go out and kill people. Video games are bad and should be banned because they turned me into a geek.

One does not preclude the other (1)

delorean (245987) | about 13 years ago | (#2192135)

Good grief, you bunch of stereotypers!

Being intelligent does not preclude athletic prowess or competitiveness; and athletic prowess and competitiveness does not preclude intelligence.

grow up-- it's not us vs. them; it's not Bill Gates vs. Michael Jordan (like that insipid email about 'nerds rule'

Maybe its the other way round (2)

kelliher (246737) | about 13 years ago | (#2192136)

People who are gamers usually possess a PC. Lower income families often don't possess such a machine and also kids from such families often don't go on to college and well paid jobs. Thus the fact that many gamers go to college may be due to the fact that they are typically from a middle class 'comfortable' background and not due to superior skills acquired from said gaming.

Upper middle class or higher? (2)

truthsearch (249536) | about 13 years ago | (#2192137)

Any child who plays video games 18 hours a week probably owns a computer (or at least his family does). Thus his family is most likely to be upper-middle class or higher, socially speaking.

Ummm, Game Boy Advance: $100. Sony Playstation, $300. The poor family (near poverty) who used to live across the street had a console and more games than I did. Computer games != home computer, and therefore computer games != upper-middle class or higher.

---

Studies are needed (2)

truthsearch (249536) | about 13 years ago | (#2192138)

Without studies (i.e. "scientific" proof), most people don't want to believe certain things. When the general feeling is that computer games cause problems in kids, and common sense is ignored (or maybe changed), then a study is needed to prove otherwise. I agree that a study is certainly not needed to know this information. But for the general population to swallow it, a study is absolutely necessary.

---

70 hours in front of a computer (5)

truthsearch (249536) | about 13 years ago | (#2192139)

One 16-year-old boy spent 70 hours a week at his computer...

At my company that's considered a dedicated employee.

...and suffered severe psychological problems.

Good thing we have a comprehensive mental health plan.

---

what's with slashdot? (1)

metalhed77 (250273) | about 13 years ago | (#2192140)

do ALL editors think they deserve an editorial now?

----------
www.shockthemonkey.org [shockthemonkey.org]

These same kids are also more likely to be obese.. (1)

Deag (250823) | about 13 years ago | (#2192141)

They might be a little sharper mentally, and computer games probably contributes to this. But the level of obesity among children today is a hell of alot higher than it was in the past. And spending a few hours a day sitting playing computer games before moving on to other "hobbies" such as watching televison isn't helping. Diet probably has a lot to do with it as well, but the fact remains that children are fatter, and that can't be healthy.

not jocks (2)

Proud Geek (260376) | about 13 years ago | (#2192144)

I played a lot of games when I was in school. I still do, actually. Anyway, I can testify (with the benefit of hindsight) that gamers such as myself were much more likely to be jerks than jocks.

Of course, most jocks were jerks also. The difference was they were more attractive to girls.

Re:Yes, truly Insightful (2)

stu42j (304634) | about 13 years ago | (#2192148)

No, this article is not redundant because we now have the added value of Jon Katz's opinion! :)

Re:Garage sales speak otherwise (2)

freeweed (309734) | about 13 years ago | (#2192150)

mental horizon - A term I made up to describe how poor children tend to be unaware that there's a world outside their neighborhood.

Heh. While I agree with this statement, watch a movie like 'Clueless' some time, and tell me that this doesn't apply even more so to the really affluent :) People in general don't realize just how big and varied the world really is.

Garage sales speak otherwise (5)

freeweed (309734) | about 13 years ago | (#2192151)

Any child who plays video games 18 hours a week probably owns a computer (or at least his family does). Thus his family is most likely to be upper-middle class or higher, socially speaking.

You know, I've seen this comment repeated many times throughout the various /. articles on kids and gaming recently, and I have to disagree. At least here (Canada), more affluent kids tend to play a lot LESS games, as their parents can more readily afford spending the hundreds (and thousands) of dollars necessary these days on things like sports equipment. Poor kids just don't play hockey any more, they can't afford it. Never mind when kids become teenagers, and the 'rich' ones have cars and seemingly unlimited allowances, while the poor ones get stuck with last year's Nintendo and a couple of games, grand total cost maybe $100.

I've noticed a STRONG correlation when I browse the local garage sales. The better areas of the city tend never to have classic games or consoles for sale, it's all much more expensive goods. The 'poorer' areas all seem to have a Nintendo/Playstation/etc. And it's NOT because they need the money - I've gotten in the habit of asking 'why are you selling this?'. Most common response? 'We just bought the newer version'.

Re:Look toward auto racing. (1)

mustrum_ridcully (311862) | about 13 years ago | (#2192152)

Could it possibly have something to do with the fact he isn't driving a good car e.g. Ferrari, McLaren or even Williams-BMW ? He's an ex-world F1 champion so his driving can't be that bad...

Not necessarily a cause and effect relationship (1)

jjjpinkojjj (318040) | about 13 years ago | (#2192154)

Those young'uns who play computer games _moderately_ are probably already well-adjusted and well-rounded. I see no evidence to indicate that playing computer games moderately contributes to these attributes, but is rather a side effect of their inherent personality types. "Everything in moderation" - Aristotle

Mod this up! (1)

why-is-it (318134) | about 13 years ago | (#2192155)

I think that members of the media should be required to take a first-year psychology course and a statistics course before being allowed to interpret and analyze "news" like this.

It is not a controlled study in any way, and at best, the authors of this report might have uncovered a corelation. Of course, there is no way of knowing at present which direction the corelation is (do students with naturally high co-ordination and concentration play vids or do students who play vids develop better co-ordination and concentration?).

There is a value in corelational studies however.
Corelation != causation, but if there no corelation, there is no causal relationship.

Interesting, but hardly newsworthy at this stage.

I concur... (3)

krugdm (322700) | about 13 years ago | (#2192157)

I can attest that all my hours playing Gran Turismo 3 have helped me learn the skills needed to take corners here in town at 90 mph, and if necessary, to use other cars to help me out if I come in too fast!

Re:Maybe its the other way round (1)

UnForeSeen Prophet (413149) | about 13 years ago | (#2192162)

I have to disagree with you. What sparked my intrest in computers was infact videogames. I am not from a particularly affluent background, my first access to a computer (apple) was at a community center. Once I finally recieved my own pc (8086) my interest in the latest video games of the time caused me to constantly upgrade my machine. Can you guess what i do for a living today??????

Children are the soldiers of tomorrow! (2)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 13 years ago | (#2192163)

Since everything on the battlefield will most likely be run via remote anyway... Games are basic training for skills they'll eventually need to serve in the remote controlled army of whichever dark overlord has the biggest market cap at the time... We have administration games for tomorrows administrators. Field games or FPS for tomorrows field soldiers. Tactical games for tomorrows officers... It's a "brave" new world!
--

For the love of GOD! (1)

kypper (446750) | about 13 years ago | (#2192167)

Won't somebody please think of the children!

Screw 3...

well.. (1)

PYves (449297) | about 13 years ago | (#2192168)

If you consider that the people who are playing these games are doing so during the time where they used to watch television, the results are not too surprising seeing as how I have a hard time finding a less mentally stimulating experience than tv (especially considering what these kids were watching (ahem, *mon)

The most interaction you get from tv is changing channels, messing with the volume, and throwing hamburgers at Callista Flockheart trying to get her to eat more because she looks under-fed.

the more exercise a brain gets, the better it works. Interaction is better for you than no-action.

-PYves

some thoughts on this issue (1)

fa098h23fra (462115) | about 13 years ago | (#2192176)

Those spots are reserved for frantic stories about pedophiles, pornographers and online identity thieves. This story was posted on /. immediately following a story on identity thieves.

"Their minds and bodies work together much better than those of most other people."

Really? I only notice my ass getting bigger after too much gaming, but maybe I'm not targeting the right muscles when I drag the mouse around. Oh wait a sec, maybe it's because mine is optical and there is less friction due to the lack of a ball. That makes sense. The whole focus of this study and article seems silly to me. Maybe since I live in the real world, instead of the sensationalist wired columnist's, where somehow nerds are fighting an apocalyptic battle royale with parents and jocks.

Does anyone else notice that they are an avid gamer and still manage to be a completely normal, emotionally well adjusted person? Most are, and we don't need a scientific study to show it. And the odd exceptions either go on a rampage or write pseudointellectual articles filled with cliche's in an effort to drive others to the same level of madness. On a side note, Max Payne rules!

Minor correction (1)

Mr. Muse (464095) | about 13 years ago | (#2192180)


Republicans like Attorney General Ashcroft and the President

Although the prez is a ReBloodlican, the A.G. can't be considered to be one.

Just ask his constituents.
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