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Lennart Nacke weighing in on violence in videogames on Kitchener Today

Monday, November 26, 2018

Dr. Lennart Nacke joined reporter Brian Bourke from Kitchener Today to weigh in on the societal value of games. Nacke was invited to join Bourke because interest in the negative effects of violent videogames is reemerging in the media following the publication of a meta-study showing the results of 24 studies looking at heightened physical aggression post-gameplay in youths from 9-19.

Nacke's work involves studying motivations in games. Why do people play? What do they gain by playing? How can designers better develop gameful systems to actualize their intent?

Nacke's research is not specifically focused on the effect of violence in video games; rather, he looks at motivational and behavioural outcomes from playing games. In this conversation, Nacke gave Bourke the example of how the game as a medium can be a powerful educational tool.

We learn and comprehend much better in an interactive context […] Games can be much more powerful than traditional [media] so the question becomes how can we design those games so that there is an effect that the students can actually learn?

- Lennart Nacke, on Kitchener Today

Nacke also reminded listeners that the evidence can be misleading if we don't understand how the researchers quantified violence:

-- we have to be careful about what we classify as a violent video game. In the study, sometimes they look at challenge, and competitive play in aggression… so we have to think about how they measure aggression.

How do these studies conceptualize and measure violence in videogames? How do they measure instances of aggression following gameplay - are they using self-reports or physical acts?

Nacke challenges us to consider the positive experiences that come from playing videogames. Aggression, conflict, and competition are common human experiences:

You have to think about healthy ways of expressing violence and aggressive emotions. It helps [young players] reflect on what they're currently experiencing. There's a lot of positive power.

Listen to the full interview: lennart_nacke_on_kitchener_today_with_brian_bourke.mp3