August 21, 2001 10:51 AM   Subscribe

First we discovered games make kids smarter. Now they're telling us that it's destroying our children. So which one is it? I'm a little concerned seeing as I used to be quite the gamer when I was young, and even now continue playing several hours of Counter-Strike every night and when I have kids, I wouldn't discourage them from playing. What do you think? (found on a discussion on csnation)
posted by PWA_BadBoy (13 comments total)
I think one of the problems with this debate is that nobody has really studied the cause and effect aspect of the problem. I don't think any studies have truly even considered that there may not even be a causal relationship in any of this. What if these kids were just naturally unsocial and the games gave them an outlet to express themselves? Could it be that these "more intelligent" children simply find the games stimulating and fun, being able to analyze weaknesses and strengths in various techniques and strategies to truly excel at the game?
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 10:54 AM on August 21, 2001

BTW are their any CS'ers out there in MeFi-land?!? How about someone start up a MeFi CS server? Anyone? I know you're out there.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:01 AM on August 21, 2001

I think they help with hand/eye coordination. Problem solving, depending on the game. Things like that get taken for granted as a necessary part of being good at a game. The downside; my fiance's nephew, very spoiled only child, who lives in his basement with his own 26 inch TV and N64, and plays Turok and other games 24/7 if no one intercedes. His idea of friends over? Then watching him play !!
I love games, have played since I was young. So I imagine that he will get thru it, but I know for a fact that my parents would not have allowed me the same amount of hours that he logs.
posted by a3matrix at 11:01 AM on August 21, 2001

He'll get through it eventually when he gets older. DOA2 is only sexually entertaining for a couple days.
posted by fusinski at 11:10 AM on August 21, 2001

Kawashima's study looked at the brain activity of hundreds of students playing a Nintendo game...

Which game was it? Tetris? Mortal Kombat? Mario? If, as the article implies, they tested children playing one specific game, of course that's going to be limiting. Even if they played a few different console games, the type of game could make a big difference.

Let's see the scans of some kids playing The Sims; managing household economics and the needs of a few different characters might stimulate those math and reasoning centers. You mention Counterstrike; while it's a reflex-based FPS at its heart, doesn't it require a fair amount of team-based strategy? More than the average console button-masher, I'm sure.
posted by harmful at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2001

I'm a Counterstrike player. To do well in counterstrike there are a few areas where you can exceed. There may be a misconception that to succeed in CS (or any FPS) you must have superior reflexive/aiming skills. However, the player with strategic thinking can ofter beat the best shooter. It's hard to outshoot someone when they sneak up behind you. Granted, it's no chess, but there's more to this game than just spraying bullets.

One thing that bothers me about playing CS and other FPS games online is the behavior of the majority of the players. A lack of respect for others is ordinary behavior, as well as using an abomination of English known as leet speak. Oh well..

Also, I run a public server at It's up 6PM - 8AM CST.
posted by reishus at 12:08 PM on August 21, 2001

Sweeeeeeet. See you there :)
posted by Hackworth at 12:32 PM on August 21, 2001

If you raise a kid on only DOOM, you might end up with damaged goods, but I'd be surprised if this study came up with the same results if the kids were tested while playing Bard's Tale (required some amount of thought), or Bubble Bobble (requires cooperation). I'm sure there are plenty of games like this out there now, but I'm a bit out of the loop. There's just no way that all video games could slow brain development, or my brother would have ended up the kind of guy who drinks apple juice from a sippy cup. In real life, he's an Investment Banking Associate. Although I guess that isn't all that much better.
posted by Samsonov14 at 12:48 PM on August 21, 2001

I don't think the two studies are contradictory, it's just that this more recent study is being spun wierldly by the press. The headline for the article you linked to, for example, is "Video Games Linked to Learning Problems", the clear implication being that playing video games causes learning problems. But then you read the article, and they say "playing video games developes some parts of the brain, but not all of them. A kid who does nothing but play video games all day may have trouble in math because he was playing video games instead of practicing math."

It's a little like saying "Vitamin C Intake Linked to Dehydration" and then explaining "People who eat so many vitamin C tablets that they neglect to drink water may wind up dehydrated". Or saying "Math linked to Learning Problems" and then explaining that a kid who does nothing but math problems all day winds up with poor hand-eye coordination.

It seems that, as the older study showed, playing video games does have a net benefit on the child. But (duh!) he ain't gonna become Stephen Hawkings on Doom alone.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:19 PM on August 21, 2001

Great post Shadowkeeper. :)

And reishus, prepare for me to 0wn j00 later tonight. j/k
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 1:46 PM on August 21, 2001

what's the name of that server, btw? I added it, but it's not showing up as the IP address and I have so many servers in the list that I can't tell which ones are new or not.
posted by Hackworth at 6:48 PM on August 21, 2001

I don't remember. Try using gamespy arcade. It's a damn sweet little app that you can use to monitor your favorites (does a much better job than the CS internal game interface), and you can add "buddies" and see if they're on the servers you play on.

And you should definitely try out reishus' server. He's got some pretty sick mods on there and a great connection (no chokes or losses!).
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 8:03 AM on August 22, 2001

Blah, blah, blah... that's all I hear when I listen to people saying that games/music/movies/tv/etc. screw up the kiddies. Anyone remember the Dungeons and Dragons tirade in the mid-eighties? There was even that so-so (crap?) movie with Tom "Box Office Gold" Hanks: "Mazes and Monsters" that prompted thousands of parents (including former second-lady [haha] Tipper "PMRC" Gore) to jump on the bandwagon.

When are people going to learn that some people are just a little (sometimes more) kooky in the first place? Jefferey Dahmer, as I recall, wasn't hooked on video games. He was just Pure-D Crazy! But release a story saying he was a gamer, or that he watched "The Exorcist" and all of a sudden people are ready to throw stones at anyone who wants to play Counter Strike or see a horror film.

Get over it! Don't blame movies or games or music (oh my!)... blame the people who do the nutty things!
posted by crankydoodle at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2001

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