Tag Archives: video games

SWAG: Video games and violence

Source: wikipedia.org

Every Wednesday afternoon, Michael Kraus gathers with a bunch of faculty and graduate students at the University of Illinois to discuss a journal article about social psychology, and to eat a snack. This blog post reflects the discussion we had during this week’s seminar affectionately called Social Wednesdays and Grub (SWAG). This week, SWAG was led by Jesse Preston, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois. Her summary of the SWAG discussion follows below:

Can playing violent video games cause violent behavior? After the massacre at Columbine, it was revealed that the shooters spent much of their free time playing Doom, and James Holmes, who shot 71 people in a theatre in Aurora Colorado, was also an avid gamer. High profile cases like these seem to confirm the belief many people already hold – that the simulated violence enacted in these games is projected into the real world, with real life and death consequences. Many studies in social psychology (see work by Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman) also support the conclusion that violent video games beget violent behavior. But in a 2011 case (Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association), the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was not convinced. This week in SWAG, we read an article by Christopher J. Ferguson in American Psychologist, describing the SCOTUS decision and the role of social psychology research in making the case against video games.

Relativity, and why real estate still matters

CoitTower_40 The advent of the Internet and its associated modern communication tools seems to make physical space less meaningful. When a collaborator or a loved one on the other side of the planet is just a Skype call away, what does distance really mean? When Amazon offers free two-day shipping and burritos are delivered in minutes by automated drones, who cares about physical space? The answer will quickly spring to the minds of anyone interested in high finance, or video games, or physics: lag.

Among the mind-blowing implications of relativity is the following: the speed of light imposes a fundamental limit on how quickly information can travel through space. Our “light cone” means that we can be influenced by events sufficiently far in the past, and can have our own influence on events in the future, but that we cannot influence events happening in the present when they are not happening near us. No matter how advanced our fiber optic networks become (limited, presently, by the necessity of repeaters and the like), information can never (for instance) make a round trip of the earth in less than 133 milliseconds.