Researchers are now finding so many negative links between gaming and your physical and mental health - from self-esteem to dementia, anger issues to bladder control – that they’re stopping just shy of outright blaming Halo for erectile dysfunction and Tomb Raider for the sudden surge in autism. Here are some of the many bizarre (but possibly bullshit) ways that modern science thinks video games are screwing you over.
#5. Poor Self Esteem
A study by a psychology professor at Kansas State University has found a strong link between body image and video games. According to his research, Professor Richard Harris says that only 15 minutes of playing video games featuring “extreme body types” can negatively impact your own body image. The men in the study were made to play WWE Wrestlemania for their allotted time, while the women were made to play DOA: Beach Volleyball. Though general decline in positive body image was noted across both sexes, the men more specifically reported much lower satisfaction with their lack of body oil and rage-induced veinage, while the women openly lamented about the lack of bounce customization in their quintuple-J breasts.
"Any woman not built like this is a failure." -Video games
But it’s not like all video games will make you weep openly, wishing on every eyelash that you could wake up in the morning magically transformed into a pretty, pretty princess – just the games that feature large, handsome, well-muscled men and busty, scantily-clad sex goddesses.
That’s tops like, what? 98 percent of them?
Most retro gaming is still probably okay, though - just don’t go picking up Pac-Man if you’re a short, fat, jaundiced quadriplegic. But then, if that’s the case, you’re probably not exactly bursting at the seams with sexual confidence in the first place.
#4. Male PMS
A study by scientists at Stockholm University hooked up some teenage boys to heart monitors, and then split them into two groups – giving one group a violent video game, the other a non-violent one. The results they found revealed a much higher heart rate variability in the violent group, which continued well after they stopped playing and even into their sleep that night. In general, higher HRV can cause a myriad of symptoms, from increased stress to seizures and loss of bladder control.
The other notable side effects of higher HRV - increased stress, anger and irrationality – are also seen commonly in another demographic: menstruating women. That’s right, a good portion of women’s PMS symptoms are caused by the same increased HRV present in violent game players. So basically, Halo gives men PMS – which actually completely explains Xbox Live (for those of you who aren’t gamers, Xbox Live is an online homophobia club for pre-teen Tourette's sufferers).
This is obviously disturbing news for healthy, well-adjusted adult males with a penchant for virtual murder, but on the upside, this is great news if you piss yourself every time you play Resident Evil – now you have a valid medical excuse! You're not a total pussy! There's simply too much awesome violence in your daily gaming diet.
Image courtesy of Eran Cantrell
Stanford University recently published research that hopes to better explain game addiction. They’ve posited that competitive video games stimulate men’s territoriality and dominance impulses, which they also say explains why women can “understand video games,” but their “neurology doesn’t house the same desire to conquer.”
So, there you go: Girls don’t like video games as much because there’s something wrong with their brains.
"This is the face of brain damage." -Science
Hey, ladies, I didn’t say it. That's science. There’s no use getting pissed off about it; you may as well give the cold shoulder to thermodynamics and refuse to sleep with string theory.
(Pro Tip: If you mention this fact to any women, try to explain it in exactly those words. If she tries to argue, just calmly state that it’s science you learned off the Internet, second-hand from a comedy site – that shit’s irrefutable!)
They discovered that the mesocorticolimbic center (an area of the brain tied to reward and addiction) was stimulated much more in men by putting a series of players into an MRI machine while having them play a game in which the goal was to “win territory” by “manipulating balls.” Which begs the question, is the new Teabag Wars out already? I thought the release date was pushed back after that kid in Indiana died while emulating the Rising Dragon Forehead Slapper.
#2. Speech Impediments
In the UK, a nationwide program is under consideration to begin scanning children that spend excessive time playing video games for speech and communication problems. They propose training health professionals to visit schools and administer the tests, much like they do for other health concerns such as scoliosis and ADD. That’s right: Video Game Retard Scanner could very soon be an actual profession in Britain.
"Can you tell me why you like pWning n00bs, in your big boy words?"
Apparently the concerns arose when new British Health and Development surveys revealed that a worryingly high number of young children cannot repeat basic speech prompts, have not learned sufficient communication skills and, in some cases, can’t even recognize their own name.
To be fair to video games, the blame fell on television as well as a general lack of social interaction between parents and children. Presumably they threw video games in there as a primary cause just because British scientists hate fun.
And on a related note: Suck it, Britons! Maybe we’re dumber overall here in the states, but at least Joe America can spell his own fucking name – even it is with a three, two dollar signs and a McDonald’s logo.
#1. Social Dysfunction
Psychiatrists at UCLA are pushing a new theory that technology and video games are fundamentally rewiring how the brain processes information. The idea is that time spent interacting with technology takes valuable brain power away from social skills – even some as basic as recognizing facial expressions. So, maybe you know all about casting a third tier fire shield, but you’ve traded that information for knowing what a smile is. Jesus, that’s so ridiculously awful that it sounds more like an evil spell cast by a Care Bears villain than a psychiatric theory. Other consequences of this rewiring are listed as social awkwardness, poor body language skills, general isolation and less interest in interpersonal events…
So…they’re saying that people that interact with technology a lot are…nerds?
I hope UCLA gets its funding from magical leprechauns, because their psychiatric theories are not exactly groundbreaking fare.
Putting aside the questionable validity of Professor Jock up there, the studies they’ve conducted say that the problems are getting much worse in native users of modern technology (people that have grown up using it) and are most notably present in people in their early 20s. The theory even goes further, supposing that as children learn to read in the traditional way from books, the brain builds pathways that are later used for sophisticated analysis and comprehension. These pathways take a bit of processing time to form, so when children develop using the Internet – constantly flipping from subject to subject – they drastically lower their reading comprehension.
Again, that grant money better be coming from whoring your body off to better, more successful scientists, UCLA psych department, because, Christ, just look at any comments page on the Internet. I could’ve told you that 20-year-olds have trouble with fucking reading comprehension.
"What the fuck is this thing?"
Hell, just in the comments section below this article, I bet you'll find a dozen “fags,” six “firsts!!1!” and about 27 calls for me to “STFU ABOUT HALOP N00B”’
…Actually, now that I think about it, are you guys hiring over there at the UCLA psych department? You may be the Wal-Mart of science, but at least you’re not greeted in your empty lab every morning by a fellow psychiatrist screaming “first!” because he’s been waiting in the dark all night just to brag about how he got there before you.
Read more from Robert at his own site, I Fight Robots, where you can learn more about how everything fun is going to kill you.