How Video Games Impact Emotional Expression?

Video game history began in October 1958, where a physicist by the name of William Higinbotham showcased a basic tennis game, similar to the 1975 hit Pong. And as with everything new to the world, video games almost immediately picked of negative criticism, also, that criticism seemed to only grow as video games progressed throughout the decades. In 1976, Death Race, the first contentious video game was released and was pulled off the shelf because its content was found unsuitable for play, the idea of a game based around vehicular homicide was something the world wasn’t ready for, thus it was pulled off of shelves.

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But the real controversy didn’t arrive until 1997 when a lawsuit was made for the parents of three victims of the Heath High School shooting of 1997. “Anti-video games activist and attorney Jack Thompson file the first of what are to be a large number of lawsuits claiming video games are responsible for violence perpetrated by teens.”(NCAC, 1997) It was this same argument and others like it that birthed the question of whether or not video games lead to violent behavior, and the notion was that they did.

This idea of video games causing violence and thus, ultimately, being bad for you, carried on into my childhood where I was constantly told how bad and violent they were, inspiring me to conduct my own research on the topic. The vast majority of past research focuses on short-term effects of video games, which I will address, however, research dealing within the moment and longitudinal impacts are scarce. People shouldn’t be allowed to use video games as a scapegoat for who or what is at fault for causing violence in adolescence. My research will revolve around these will also taking a look at these impacts in the context of solo play and cooperative play.

“General” Sources for Video Games and Expression

Results were broad ranging for research that studies short-term impacts. A research report titled Measuring problem video game playing in adolescents (Salguero R. & Moran R., 2002) holds results saying essentially that; excessive gaming, measured with PvP, can spur problems that eerily resemble a dependence syndrome. The method & results within this remain similar to the majority of other research. According to Self-transcendence and Self-oriented Perspective as Mediators Between Video Game Playing and Aggressive Behaviour in Teenagers, there’s a definitive correlation between video game playing and aggressive/antisocial behavior.

The (Espinosa P. and Clemente M., 2013) there is a direct effect of the amount of video game played on aggression, even when violent content is controlled, the results still emerge similarly. Griffiths (1999) took a more formal approach by allotting play time to subjects, during that they would play a genre of games and have their aggression monitored. This method could interfere with the accuracy of the results by putting the young subjects in such a mechanical process, a process that could very well make them uncomfortable in a way that inhibits their emotional expression.

Another very similar study (Olson, Cheryl K., Kutner, Lawrence A., Baer, Lee, Beresin, Eugene V., Warner, Dorothy E., Nicholi II, and Armand M., 2009) looked into the link between violent video games and violent/delinquent behavior. The results showed that there is a noticeable link between M-rated video games and delinquent. The method used was monitoring and analyzing the behavior of the subject. This made me wonder if there are any benefits of violent video games. Similar experiments with similar result took place with Colburn (2010) but through the perspective of an idea known as the social learning theory. This study found that there is a noticeable correlation between video game play and teen aggression. The study also says that the development of hostile behavior/aggression will come playing multiple violent video game’s or playing on a regular basis. Colburn makes use of the method of social learning theory (SLT). A process based on behavioral analyzation.

I wanted to know what other people saw as the issue with video games so I found an article, The Real Problem With Video Games (Schiesel, 2018) by Seth Schiesel, this article claims that video games causing violence isn’t an issue because there’s no real evidence connecting the two, as Schiesel said, “Decades of research, after all, have failed to find any significant relationship between playing violent video games and behaving violently in real life.” Schiesel then goes off to claim that the violence among youth spawns from creative writing educators seek to foster because the United States Secret Service and the Department of Education studied violence in schools, they found that 37 percent of attackers exhibited an interest in violence in their own writings, such as poems, essays, or journal entries, while only 12 percent exhibited an interest in violent video games. This claim seemed very brazen but it’s actually well supported. This new perspective shies away from the traditional black and white view of video games either causing violence in youth or not. It opens up a middle ground of there being an outside catalyst and with this new middle ground supported by data, both sides could discuss it without having to have a mental clash over the role video games play in youth violence.

Fact or Fiction?: Video Games Are the Future of Education is an article that presents multiple perspectives on the topic of video games. One such perspective is that of the teachers who wish to educate, supply new forms of learning and new concepts via video games. Some people even believe video games to be the new learning format of the future. Opposing views argue that video game skills cannot be translated into higher test scores or grades. I agree that the jump from video game high scores to high test scores doesn’t seem all that plausible, however, it seems as though this argument is centered around the test scores and not the actual learning that gets done by the children, thus, depreciating the value of the arguers claim.

Alternate Uses for Video Games

In life most problems don’t have one solution, most of them can be solved with different approaches. Take for example depression, you can’t just pop a few pills and be cured, they may be effective but interacting with people, getting out the house more and, for many people, various personal ways. This article explores the impact of a video meant to target depression in teens and its other users as well. The video game was successful in its goal of lowering depression. Video games like this will revolutionize the gaming world and experience with their innovative ideas, ideas that utilize video games as alternate sources of interaction or, in this case, healing. The study, published in the latest issue of BMJ, has shown that the game was at least as effective as counseling in helping treat depression and anxiety in a study group of kids averaging 15 years old. According to the editor, “In fact, it worked better, reducing symptoms of depression more than treatment as usual.” (Medgadget, 2012) Sparx seems like a promising new way to combat depression.

As a kid I never just played video games, to fully enjoy the game I had to submerge myself into that virtual reality, in that state, when I played, I felt as if I was the character completing the quests and missions, it was the only way for me to play the game. According to, the moderately liberal media source, The Atlantic’s article, The Good and the Bad of Escaping to Virtual Reality via Monica Kim, If virtual reality becomes a part of people’s day-to-day lives, more and more people may prefer to spend a majority of their time in virtual spaces. This can be beneficial, to an extent of course. Imagine you’re doing an essay on city life in China but the only resources you have at your disposal are articles and movies that you’ve watched, that won’t make for a great essay because one, you’re reading from mainly the point of view of others and two, for the most part, you’re watching stereotypes.

But here’s potential a solution, create a virtual reality video game in which the objectives are centered around exploring China, while you rack up achievements, you’ll be inadvertently learning about China in a way that doesn’t bore you and won’t fell hard to memorize. I can agree with the author that, this technological paradigm shift brings a level of immersion unlike any that has come before it, primarily because there has been no innovation like virtual reality until the arrival of virtual reality, cell phones, and the internet may allow you to connect to places around the world via communication, images, and research but VR will place you in the desired environment, enabling you to interact with foreign lands from the comfort of your own home.

However, I don’t particularly agree that virtual reality can become integrated into the day-to-day lives of people or that they may prefer to spend a majority of their time in virtual spaces. One reason is that Kim claims that VR will absorb all the attention of everyone when that’s not the case. People are still human, we thrive on human interaction, so people will still interact with one another away from VR, while you could argue that people could simply interact via VR, yes that is possible but you can’t go to the park, play sports, go out to eat, the movies, or even walk to school together with VR, you have to take time away from it and people will. This is a unique and innovative way to use a video that involves zero violence.

Cooperative v Solo Gaming

My research also looks at gaming impacts but in the scope of cooperative gaming versus solo play. Ewoldsen, David R., Eno, Cassie A., Okdie, Bradley M., Velez, John A., Guadagno, Rosanna E., DeCoster, Jamie.’s article (2012) looks at the difference in behavioral impact co-op and PvP gaming. They concluded that playing video games co-op and PvP, neither yielded serious results as to negative emotional expression, gender wasn’t a significant factor. The method utilized was having 119 participants play Halo II and later have their behavior and behavioral shifts monitored. However, they don’t speak about emotional expression in terms of solo vs co-op.

However, results yielded differently for Greitemeyer T. and Cox C. (2013), they arrived at the conclusion that co-op gaming leads to increased cohesion, causing more trust & cooperative behavior. The method used 52 subjects that were paired up and assigned either a co-op game or a solo game and their scores and team behavior were monitored and logged. For me, this raised the question of whether or not co-op games lead to more emotional expression than solo. The results for Noah J. Adam, Sotaro Shimada, Atsumichi Tachibana, Bronner S. (2015) were more alternate than different, it held a few similarities.

The results depicted that sympathetic tone changes during cooperative gameplay. The research determined that game playing with sympathetic tone often leads to higher scores, however, there were higher stress levels among players. Meanwhile, it was the opposite for solo players with somewhat lower scores but also less stressful. The method utilized was having two locations, an area where cooperation and teamwork were emphasized, and an environment where solo achievement was emphasized, both groups played “Tengen Tetris”, player scores (solo and co-op) were then logged and compared. This raises the question of whether solo or co-op gaming leads to heightened emotional expression.

Video Games Studies with a Gender Component

Most studies either neglected to take into account gender differences or stated that they were negligible. However, Adachi, Paul J.C., and Willoughby, Teena’s (2016) takes that into serious consideration. This article looks at the correlation between competition and adolescent aggression. Results showed there was a correlation between competitive game play and aggression. The method used was to take a roughly 50:50 male-to-female group and have them play competitive video games or compete in games, their behavior was then recorded. This raises the question of whether it was the competitive gaming or competition in general that caused the increase in aggression.

I plan on using a mixed method of observation tally and interview questions. This topic is rarely researched and when it is, the researcher looks only to prove their current bias. But to ensure that my research doesn’t follow a similar path I plan to base all my research off in the moment assessments of myself and others who play video games in participation with my experiment. Does playing video games actually lead to aggressive/delinquent behavior? More specifically, does video game content impact the type and how much emotion will be expressed?

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How Video Games Impact Emotional Expression?. (2019, May 06). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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