Game talkOnline is more intense

 Posted by (Visited 3414 times)  Game talk
Oct 182007
 

Newswise Social and Behavioral Sciences News | Online Multiplayer Video Games Create Greater Negative Consequences, Elicit Greater Enjoyment than Traditional Video Games Among Students

While both multiplayer and traditional single player video games present a double-edged sword, Smyth’s research found that online, socially integrated multiplayer games create greater negative consequences (decreased health, well-being, sleep, socialization and academic work) but also garner far greater positive results (greater enjoyment in playing, increased interest in continuing play and a rise in the acquisition of new friendships) than do single-player games. The study is published in the October 2007 issue of the bimonthly peer-reviewed journal CyberPyschology & Behavior (Vol. 10, No. 5: 717–721).

  21 Responses to “Online is more intense”

  1. [...] Online is more intense » This Summary is from an article posted at Raph’s Website on Thursday, October 18, 2007 This [...]

  2. So, perhaps coming up with an MMO that has a real-world socialization component might be the best of both worlds. You might start out on an mmo by yourself, but perhaps having critical aspects of the game work only in a face to face context…

  3. I’d love to see the study and see if it tracked socialization, health, well being, sleep, etc for those who participated in the study before they got involved with MMORPGs… in other words, did the researchers find that MMORPGs exacerbate or mitigate existing behavioral patterns?

    And does this pattern continue as involvement with an MMORPG lengthens… does someone who’s played the same game for years exhibit the same sort of tendencies, or is the effect mitigated over time?

  4. The first thing we learned when I was in my senior year at college, majoring in Public Relations, was that any study or survey can be designed to give the results desired (or the results can be interpreted to back up whatever pre-conceived hypothesis you may already have if you’re not careful). As a result, I don’t pay much attention to various studies…they tend to be somewhat lacking in real-world application.

    Case in point…the real news in this study was that they’ve perfected time-travel, since obviously they took a group of students back to the year 2000 to do the research. According to Associated Press, the study was conducted as follows:

    Smyth divided 100 student volunteers randomly into four groups. One got tokens to play at a local arcade, a second played the adventure game “Gauntlet: Dark Legacy” on a Sony Corp. PlayStation 2 console and the third played role-playing game “Diablo II” on computers.

    Only the fourth group, which played MMORPG “Dark Age of Camelot,” also on computers, had online interaction.

    It seems to me that the researchers seemed to think that “a game is a game is a game”, and that games several years old would have the same effect (and give the same results) as current offerings. Shouldn’t it have been conducted with arcade games, Halo 3, Portal and World of Warcraft?

    While I agree with their conclusions for the most part, I have to question just how much the research team knew about the subject they were studying…unless there existed some reason to use various representatives of the last generation of games.

    Link to AP article here.

  5. “The first thing we learned when I was in my senior year at college, majoring in Public Relations…”

    Well if you learned it in a senior PR class it must be true. Darn shame all those scientists never took the class, think of all the wasted years they could’ve saved.

  6. I’ve seen the same thing in hard science. When I was a graduate student, I’ve seen scientists, even good ones whose work I highly respected, be a bit… shall we say… cavalier about interpreting data. They can often dismiss data that does not support their hypothesis as “bad data”. Yes, I’ve seen teams with papers in Nature and Science do this. They mean well. They are not cooking the books or falsifying data. There are real live judgment calls on the quality of data, even in the world of hard science and those judgment calls often error on the side of supporting the hypothesis.

    The pressure to publish or perish works directly against the scientific principle. In reality, you can’t publish a “we had this hypothesis, but it turns out that the data did not support it” paper, but only ones with positive results.

  7. I should add that this was in the context of Biology and Biophysics at the cellular level. The experiments themselves are highly prone to trouble; contamination, fluorescent markers affecting the property being measured, etc. The judgment calls have wider latitude in wet work than elsewhere.

  8. Well if you learned it in a senior PR class it must be true. Darn shame all those scientists never took the class, think of all the wasted years they could’ve saved.

    Ironically, social scientists have researched a process called “framing.” The problem is not the research though. The problems are actually with the necessity of fundraising for scientific research and with the misuse of scientific research in decision making. Framing the results of research to ignite controversy is an all-too-common tactic used to demonstrate public interest in the research to grantors. Likewise, relying on research to direct decision making is also an all-too-common practice.

  9. @David
    There are always judgement calls to be made both in designing research
    and in interpretation of results. That’s why transparency and the ability
    to replicate are so important in science, both natural and social.

    @Morgan
    Yup. The fact that orthodox economists are always looking for any flaw
    in research on cognitive framing has always kept people like Kahneman
    & Tversky on their toes.

    As a practicing social scientist, I’m painfully aware of the pitfalls
    that await a researcher; and sometimes even if you’re aware of it a
    problem can’t be avoided.

    But to claim that “any study or survey can be designed to give the
    results desired (or the results can be interpreted to back up whatever
    pre-conceived hypothesis you may already have…”? I call BS.

    A critique of a study is one thing, a blanket dismissal of of scientific
    research is quite another

  10. David: I should add that this was in the context of Biology and Biophysics at the cellular level. The experiments themselves are highly prone to trouble; contamination, fluorescent markers affecting the property being measured, etc. The judgment calls have wider latitude in wet work than elsewhere.

    Your observation isn’t specific for Biophysics, it’s probably even more visible in social sciences which can be exceedingly interpretative and thus close in on philosophy… You are right. Academia as a system is encouraging hypocrisy. 1) Collect data. 2) Realize that the data isn’t telling you what you need. 3) Concoct something theoretical about it anyway, something that is in line with existing contemporary or fashionable research. 4) Wrap it all up in a rhetorical manner which makes it look better than it is, without leaving the reader with any substance, but a feeling of substance anyway because the discussion is seemingly thorough, then exit by telling the reader that this research is important because it shows that we need more research on this particular topic. A rhetorical game which brings many good people with integrity to despair.

    The world would have been better if data and competing interpretation and theories were published on wikis in a collaborative manner… Maybe in 500 years.

    ((Do we really need research to figure out that social games are engaging and time-consuming..?))

  11. Just for the record, I was not attempting to give a “blanket dismissal of scientific research” in any way. I do, however, stand by the statement you quoted from my post:

    “any study or survey can be designed to give the
    results desired (or the results can be interpreted to back up whatever
    pre-conceived hypothesis you may already have…”

    I’m sorry, but this is a true statement. I am not saying that this happens every time, with every scientific undertaking, and no where within my post did I say that. However, I would be interested in your example of a study or survey that can NOT be designed to give the results desired, or have the results interpreted to back up whatever pre-conceived hypothesis the scientific team already has in place.

    That is the statement you have, as you so eloquently put it, “called BS” on…which means, of course, that there is an example that proves otherwise. Again, re-read what I said…I did not say that this is the case in every study…I DID, however, give my opinion on the matter. There are many scientists and sociologists that do their best to make sure they get the most accurate results possible…there are just as many that do what it takes to get funding, support or interest.

    I agree that a blanket dismissal of scientific research isn’t called for, but neither is a blind adherence to every study conducted, with open arms and a welcoming attitude.

  12. A critique of a study is one thing, a blanket dismissal of of scientific research is quite another

    As he pointed out in his defense, he only said “any study or survey can be [framed]“.

    I also agree with the following:

    I agree that a blanket dismissal of scientific research isn’t called for, but neither is a blind adherence to every study conducted, with open arms and a welcoming attitude.

    Scientists are investigators. Everything is suspect.

    Do we really need research to figure out that social games are engaging and time-consuming?

    No, but we need research to confirm our suspicions.

  13. No, but we need research to confirm our suspicions.

    Really? I don’t sense this need in me, I might need new perspectives, that might be useful… And what makes my (and your) research “suspicions” and this researchers findings not “suspicions”? Anyone who studies virtual worlds over a long period of time (even in their leisure) gather data and analyze their findings continuously. The difference between this and a so-called formal study isn’t earth-shattering. When are you willing to elevate something from “suspicion” to useful? When it is turned into countable units? There is more to describing reality than positivism.

    And, how can you trust the findings from a limited laboratory experiment to apply to NEW games? That would be quite unscientific, wouldn’t it? “All swans are white” and so on, except in Australia. The (positivistic) scientific method would only hold under the assumptions that what is being studied is stable and easily measurable. Games aren’t, gamers aren’t, culture isn’t.

    Note: all (useful) research of complex social phenomena have a strong subjective component. It’s a peculiar perspective, which might be useful, but not The Truth. Research does not provide the truth, at best a (limited) possible truth and hopefully a plausible explanation expressed in terms of causality. Though, this is difficult to establish in the social realm, and thus it becomes a interpretative (highly subjective) layer.

  14. Note: all (useful) research of complex social phenomena have a strong subjective component. It’s a peculiar perspective, which might be useful, but not The Truth. Research does not provide the truth, at best a (limited) possible truth and hopefully a plausible explanation expressed in terms of causality. Though, this is difficult to establish in the social realm, and thus it becomes a interpretative (highly subjective) layer.

    Okay…this is what I wish I had said. Here here!

  15. Really? I don’t sense this need in me …

    Debating the merits of the scientific method is a discussion worth having in only the right circles. For the most part, this level of critical thought is esoteric and best left to scientists. With that, I shall quote an unnamed scientist:

    Gödelian incompleteness and Popperian falsifiability together necessitate that outside of a formal system of limited application, a “truth”, to have any measure of rational support, must by necessity, always be provisional, incomplete and falsifiable, in other words, there must always, at least hypothetically, exist some evidence which would permit that supposed truth to be rejected. This implies that outside of formal systems, the truth of a thing is not an absolute, but encompasses a range of probabilities which will have varying truth values (i.e. from “false” through “insufficient evidence to adduce a truth value” to “true”) depending on the evidence for or against such a thing.

    All belief is essentially irrational, as belief can only occur where acceptance is not compelled, for if acceptance is compelled, then belief is not required to accept that thing. Belief is thus the acceptance of some thing as being provisionally true where: contradictory evidence exists which throws doubt upon or compels the rejection of the thing being accepted as truth; or where insufficient evidence exists to compel or suggest acceptance of the thing as truth.

    All “truths” are incomplete, provisional and falsifiable. Anything that is provisionally true is at least theoretically falsifiable. The scientific method is the only effective means to establish provisional truths. Irrational belief is not a component of the scientific method. Rejection of evidence is not a rational action. Fabrication of evidence is not a rational action.

    …and that is why all properly conducted scientific research is more trustworthy than instinct and untrained observation, why criminal investigators are not immediately persuaded by testimony, and why most civilized people in this world do not still burn witches at the stake. Smart people need—no, they require—research to affirm or negate their assertions before they commit to a decision.

    Quite simply, “trusting” research is not about blindly accepting the results of any and every scientific experiment or market study. “Trusting” research is about recognizing that the more information we gather, the less risk of prejudicial determination, and the larger our context for making an informed decision. Granted, in-depth research cannot be conducted all the time, especially in time-limited situations; however, I think you’ll find Sutton’s Hard Facts at least somewhat interesting.

  16. Hmm… IIRC Popper’s positivistic falsification argument is partially a definition of what questions he considers to be scientific and partially a
    a critique of how research is done in the natural sciences. I believe his ideals are not at all common in practice, researchers tend to spend time backing up their hypothesis, not destroying it. Very human.

    “Trusting” research is about recognizing that the more information we gather, the less risk of prejudicial determination, and the larger our context for making an informed decision.

    Oh, ok. Well, I’d rather say that the more models we have for interpreting the world, the more likely we are to consider alternative and useful viewpoints/angles. “Hard facts” are usually not all that useful, our social reality is often too complex and personal to be grasped properly by simple theories. If research can provide decision makers with 3-4 perspectives rather than 1-2 perspectives then it might be for the better, if research makes decision makers trust only 1 perspective then it is bad. :-)

  17. Well, I’d rather say that the more models we have for interpreting the world, the more likely we are to consider alternative and useful viewpoints/angles.

    I don’t think there’s a direct correlation between more models and likelihood of considering more models. That’s akin to the argument that the more choices available, the better. Barry Schwartz, in The Paradox of Choice, makes a strong case that too many choices (or abstractly speaking, models of possible futures) can be debilitating, even paralyzing. The more choices, the less we investigate each unique choice, and the more we rely on the processes that practices, such as branding, manage to help people make decisions.

    If research can provide decision makers with 3-4 perspectives rather than 1-2 perspectives then it might be for the better, if research makes decision makers trust only 1 perspective then it is bad.

    There are situations where alternate approaches, and the mere availability of alternate approaches, to problems can be disastrous…

  18. @inhibitor

    Sure thing. I’ve been collecting data on U.S. biotechnology companies over the last 16 years. I’ll send you a copy, a transparent description of where it came from [as we always have to do when sending something off to to a journal] and even some raw data to get a feel for it. Then I’ll ask you to use the data to show that a relationship exists there. Of course you have to provide a transparent description of what you did. We’ll send the results to Morgan & Ola ok? If you believe you can use the data to show anything I ask for, I’ll post my email address so you can get in touch.

  19. The positive effects were how much players enjoy the games and “a rise in the acquisition of new friendships”. The former could hardly be comparable to lack of sleep, poor health, and failing grades. And the former is undoubtedly an illusion. Social network “friendship” is no substitute for real friends.

    Interestingly the report didn’t look at simple online multiplayer gaming such as Bridge or Chess, only MMOGs vs single-player.

    Yehuda
    http://www.come2play.com

  20. Oops:

    … the latter could hardly be comparable …

    Yehuda
    http://www.come2play.com

  21. Argh. I did it again. Latter, former. Well, you know what I mean.

    Grumble.

    Yehuda
    http://www.come2play.com

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